I have never yet managed to visit Heceta Head in anything other than a raging gale. (Thank goodness for the car overlook where I could park and sketch in comfort while the Pacific threw bathtubs of icy spray at my windows…)
But then again—what better way to see firsthand exactly what lighthouses are for?
As a lifelong landlubber, I don’t often get to see lighthouses from the side they’re designed to face. So as you can probably imagine, not only was I gleefully waving back at the folks on the breakwater—I was also practically hanging off the side of the boat to get a better look at the beacon.
You already know I’ll drive hours and hours out of my way for roadside attractions, but I’ve also been known to make some ridiculous detours and extra-long pit stops for lighthouses. As a result, I have a lot of sketchbook drawings similar to this one. I could probably keep this blog going for half a year on lighthouses alone, but then you’d be well justified in jumping ship on me. So I had to make some tough choices this week. In the end, I let geography be my…er…guiding light (sorry): this week we’ll be making “stops” on the Atlantic coast, the Pacific coast, and right in between, on one of the Great Lakes.
I’ll start in the east today, with the only lighthouse that was guaranteed a spot this week. Maine’s Nubble Light has a special place in my heart because I used to come here with my grandfather, who loved lighthouses more than anyone I’ve ever known. He never seemed to mind the tourists that would descend here (or if he did, he never let me see it)—after all, the view is so spectacular it’s well worth braving a crowd.
Still, though, it’s even better if you can manage to have the place to yourself for a little while. On this day Cape Neddick played host to myself, the Tailor and my mother—and not a soul else.
Well…maybe one other soul—or at the very least, a memory. In a way, these sketches are a tribute to the man who gave me a love of lighthouses.
Well, I started the week with a West Coast icon—so it seemed only fitting to end with the grand dame of the East River. What I love most about the Brooklyn Bridge is how familiar it feels to me, how solid and timeless. I can’t imagine New York without it—and after more than 130 years, I’m pretty sure the city feels the same way.
To continue this week’s bridge theme, let’s head north and check out a couple of Canadian feats of engineering. These two bridges have very little in common with one another—except that they both kind of gave me the heebie-jeebies.
I think the main thing was the sheer distances spanned here, by two relatively skinny structures. In the case of the Confederation Bridge that connects Prince Edward Island to the mainland, the span is eight miles long. That’s comparable to some of the wider stretches of salt water in Washington state, but thanks to the water depth here, you won’t find bridges like that around my neck of the woods. So even though the crossing to PEI took just a few minutes, it felt like traversing a little ocean.
And as for the world’s longest covered bridge? Well, now that was freaky. And creaky. And saggy. And rattly. And…well…long. It took me almost as long to walk across the Hartland Bridge and back as it did to drive the Confederation Bridge—plenty of time to freak out a little bit. (My fear of heights didn’t help, either.)
But you already know I have a major thing for covered bridges. Heck, I’d already crossed the entire province of New Brunswick just to see this one thing. This was definitely not the moment to chicken out.
Last week’s posts all revolved around a central theme—I liked how that idea worked out, so I hope you’ll forgive me if I run with it for awhile. This week? I’ve got bridges on my mind. And what American bridge is more iconic than the fabulous Golden Gate?
I must have drawn this thing from every angle by now—from up on the deck, from the air above, in rain, shine or fog, facing north-south-east-west. Heck, I even made it the star of my San Francisco print (which was inspired by this very day, this very sketch!).
But when I ran through my sketchbooks for today’s post, I kept coming back to the ones drawn from spots perpendicular to the span. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about that profile that just gets me every time.
I have whole sketchbooks devoted solely to San Francisco—maybe I should just go ahead and start one that belongs to the Golden Gate alone. It sure knows how to steal a scene, doesn’t it?
The Friendly Toast is a masterpiece of kitsch—sort of the Wall Drug of diners (except the food is excellent!). Come hungry, and bring a sketchbook—you’ll have plenty to keep your pencil occupied while you wait.
This was a long, hard day of driving, but there was a reward at either end of it: California poppies at the finish, and Morning Glory at the start.
Whenever I’m on the road, breakfast is usually the restaurant meal I crave the most (and often at weird, non-breakfast times). And since diners are among my most beloved hangouts, that seems to fit. So this week I’ve put together a bit of a tribute to the humble diner, and will be posting sketches of a few of my favorites.
In the meantime…pass the hashbrowns!
Confession: I planned an entire leg of my trip around this place. Now, pretty much all of the central California coast is worth any detour, if you ask me, but when it comes to the kitsch category, Castroville’s got a permanent blue ribbon in my book. And while Giant Artichoke is not quite technically a duck, considering that all the fruit stands inside are basically mini-ducks themselves, I figure it’s close enough to count.