Today was a birthday celebration! You might be asking, “Edder! Who’s the lucky recipient?” Well, the answer you seek is a lighthouse! You read that right. Our very own Heceta Head Lighthouse turns 124 years old! It was a great event where the lighthouse hosted a celebration open to the public with free food and music (I ate so many hot dogs). I was fortunate enough to play a part in the celebration with Matt Zeppieri, a recreational forestry technician, by setting up a table and engaging with visitors and discussing Siuslaw National Forest and its many wonders.
Heceta Head Lighthouse is one of 11 lighthouses sprinkled along the coast. You wouldn’t be able to tell from looking at it, but it’s over 100 years old! It was built on March 30th, 1894, to improve maritime navigation and reduce the number of accidents (which it ultimately accomplished). It was originally powered by a five wick kerosene fueled lamp, but became electric back in 1934 and fully automated by 1963. From shining light onto the sea for nighttime navigation to lighting up its past for educational purposes, the lighthouse and lightkeeper house now serve as interpretive centers that provide tours to share and inform visitors of the site’s rich history.
The lighthouse is situated in a scenic viewpoint on the Oregon coast, and what a view. The moment Matt and I arrived, I couldn’t help but take a few minutes here and there to enjoy and immerse myself in the scenery even as we set the table. We began set up upon arrival (after procuring some hot dogs, of course; we needed our energy). Brochures, maps, posters, and stickers were displayed and each of us took a side of the table ready to engage with people. It was all very straightforward. People came to our table drawn by the maps, and we would ask them questions, such as “Are you from the area?”, “Have you been to the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center?”, and “I see you’re looking at our Snowy Plover brochure. Did you know they’re a species of special concern?” It was great way to engage with a person or group and start a conversation. Also, it probably helped that we had stickers. Who doesn’t like bird stickers?? *holds up Common Raven and Marbled Murrelet stickers*
This experience was very educational. I learned that I retained a good deal of knowledge about our Western Snowy Plovers, the dunes, and Cape Perpetua. On the other hand, it highlighted that there’s still a lot left to learn about Siuslaw National Forest, such as routes, information on recreational activities, and the neighboring cities. Overall, our table event was a success in which people showed interest about our topics and we had fun getting to know our public and discussing their own personal stories of the forest. It showed me firsthand that each person has different levels of knowledge and it’s up to me to be able to adapt and cater to each different type of individual.
Once the day ended, we packed our items and decided to hike the small trail to the lighthouse and explore the area before heading home. Yet again, Oregon surprises me with its scenery. We were greeted with a sight of the lighthouse overlooking the ocean. I made in just in time to see the sun hover over a calm ocean. Even more exciting, I was able to spot a sea lion basking on a rock. Definitely a great way to end an even greater day. As the sun was about to set, Matt and I took in the view one last time and began our descent to the parking lot to head home. As we journeyed back down the trail, I couldn’t help but wonder what new experiences like this awaited me in the next few weeks.