NY Adventures: The Atlantic Ocean & the Fire Island Lighthouse

I feel like I’m prefacing each of my blog posts with the same stuff, but I guess that’s what happens when you’re absent from your blog for 8+ months…. Sorry again about that… =/

In my last post when I shared my husband’s proposal and our engagement photos with you all, I mentioned that my posts were going to be sort of jumbled and out of order while I caught up with everything. Well… that’s partially true.

See, I have this list of posts I want to get written about adventures I’ve had while living in NY… things like this post where I share seeing the Atlantic Ocean for the first time, and others like when Mr. Envoy and I went to Central Park, or when I saw a solo harp concert at Carnegie Hall. All of these posts will come in due time, and I do plan on doing those posts in chronological order! The jumbled/out of order mess will probably come when I finally get my wedding pictures back and share my wedding day with you all, or as I’m moving across the country (which is happening in a week! CRAZY!) and steal Mr. Envoy’s laptop to blog about the day’s driving adventures before passing out.

So I guess I should just apologize for the messy-ness of my future posting and hop right to it!


After Mr. Envoy and I found an apartment and moved our minimal belongings from our hotel to our new apartment, we had some time to kill while we waited for our furniture to get here from California and before he had to check into RS NY (Recruiting Station New York). I started looking up relatively cheap things that we could to see some of the area, and one of the things on my list was to see the Atlantic Ocean for the first time.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a southern California girl born and raised. Before moving out here the farthest east I had ever been was to Chicago and they aren’t exactly known for their ocean front views. I thought it would be neat to see a brand new ocean, so Mr. Envoy and I made plans to head over to Robert Moses State Park to see the Atlantic Ocean, and as it turned out the Fire Island Lighthouse happened to be on the same island as the park! Neat! Mr. Envoy had never seen a lighthouse before, so we decided that we would have to check that out too.

Our apartment was only a quick 15 minute drive from the beach. Long Island’s beaches are a little different than the ones back home, and by different I mean we had to drive over a couple bridges to get to where we could actually see the ocean. There’s a couple long and narrow islands that run parallel to Long Island’s south shore, so depending on where you are on Long Island, if you’re looking south you’re probably seeing some sort of bay and not the ocean.

We got to Robert Moses State Park fairly quickly and headed down towards the lighthouse. When I was looking at it on Google Maps it looked like we might be able to drive up to it, but in reality it was blocked off, so we turned around and headed for a parking lot.

After paying the parking the fee we headed for the beach and I caught my first glimpse of the Atlantic Ocean. It really looked a lot like the Pacific to be perfectly honest with you, just… much calmer, although not quite as blue. The Pacific Ocean definitely gets a point for being a very pretty ocean, at least based on what I had seen of the Atlantic.

I also noticed that the beach was much quieter than I expected. Back home the beaches always seemed so loud to me, although that may have a lot to do with most of the beaches butting up against the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway), so all of the sounds from the highway come floating down to the beach. Or maybe it’s all people there that are always packed in like sardines yacking away with each other. Or maybe it’s both.

Either way this beach was eerily quiet to my southern California ears, especially since the beach wasn’t exactly empty. But then again there definitely was no sardine-style cramping going on here.

After trudging across the hot sand towards the lighthouse I decided that my feet needed a break from both my flip flops and the hot sand. I’m not exactly a big beach bum, so it’s easy to forget how annoying and exhausting it is to walk on the sand. Especially when you’re in flip flops. Ugh.

Thankfully the water proved to be just what my feet wanted to cool off. I was expecting to feel a biting cold when the water lapped at my feet, but was pleasantly surprised to not have to run away screaming like someone was chasing me with an axe. Quiet beaches and warmer water? So far it’s 2-1 Atlantic Ocean. The ball’s in your court Pacific Ocean, step up your game.

Since my feet had officially experienced the Atlantic (they got to experience the Pacific not even a month earlier in this post so a foot comparison was entirely necessary), I convinced Mr. Envoy to let me snag a couple pictures of him to prove that he did in fact join me on this excursion.

After we had our fill of the beach, which honestly didn’t take long since there’s only so much enjoyment you can get when went down there with no swimsuits, we started the long walk to the lighthouse. It was a ways off, but we got to walk along a boardwalk that stretched from the beach through a marshy area to get there. Which meant loads of bugs… my favorite! Except it’s not because I hate bugs. Seriously.

It was a pretty walk though at least, and we even got to see a bunny! :)

The lighthouse is operated by the Fire Island Preservation Society, which was created in 1982 to help stop the demolition of the lighthouse and continue to preserve it for future generations. On May 25, 1986 the lighthouse was brought back as an active lighthouse to aid navigation along the coast, which is pretty neat if you think about how just a few years earlier people wanted to demolish it.

The very first Fire Island lighthouse was built in 1826, which stood 74-feet tall. This lighthouse was ineffective because of it’s height though, so it was taken down and the stone was reused to build the terrace for the lighthouse that currently stands on Fire Island. The new lighthouse was constructed in 1857 and stands at 164-feet tall, which made it much more effective for navigation. All that remains of the first lighthouse is a circle of stone, which Mr. Envoy and I saw when we reached the lighthouse.

The current lighthouse has been restored to what it looked like back in 1938, just after electricity reached the island. I love how it looks, especially the contrasting black and white colors.

Next we headed into the large grey building that connected to the lighthouse. It was set up like a museum with old pictures of the lighthouse and various tidbits of information along the interior walls of the building.

The main draw though was the original lens from the lighthouse. The lens is called a First Order Fresnel Lens, which would flash a white light every minute. It is 16-feet tall and the light from it could be seen as far out as 20 miles.

This lens was installed in the lighthouse in 1858, but in 1933 it was removed and placed on display in Philadelphia until 2000. In 2007 it was returned to New York and placed in storage and was returned to Fire Island in 2011.

I’ve always been fascinated with historical objects so I really enjoyed seeing the lens. It’s amazing that it’s in such great condition considering that it’s 150 years old! It is as massive as it looks and is absolutely gorgeous.

I’m glad we visited the Robert Moses State Park and not only saw the Atlantic Ocean but also the Fire Island Lighthouse. I wish we could have climbed to the top of it while we were there, but flip flops and 192 steps to the top of the lighthouse just weren’t a good combination. Maybe I can talk Mr. Envoy into a quick trip over there to check it out before we move since we live so close :)

If you want more information about the Fire Island Lighthouse or the First Order Fresnel Lens, check out these links:

Fire Island Preservation Society
History of the 1858 Fire Island Lighthouse 1st Order Fresnel Lens
First Fire Island Lighthouse: 1826-1858
Return of the Original 1858 1st Order Fresnel Lens to the Fire Island Lighthouse
Return of Fire Island’s First Order Fresnel Lens
Fire Island Lighthouse

<3 and harp strings,

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