Forget squats! Get a workout just as good and with a breathtaking view, climb the Gasparilla Island Lighthouse in Southwest Florida.
Foggy, Foggy Morning
A foggy morning typically calls for a lighthouse. On a Sunday morning earlier this month, I was driving through the fog toward Boca Grande to climb the 105-foot tall Gasparilla Island Lighthouse. The Barrier Island Parks Society controls the lighthouse and its 7.4 acres. Because the fog was thicker than pea soup, a representative from the Barrier Island Parks Society called. She said because of the fog, there would not be much of a view from the top.
After consulting with my friend and former radio show producer, Kim, we pushed our 9 a.m. climb to 10 a.m. with hopes the fog would burn off. To pass the time, we checked out Gasparilla Island State Park and walked the beach then enjoyed breakfast at the Outlet Restaurant at the Innlet on the Waterfront.
Come 10 a.m., the fog was still thick, but, it didn’t matter. I was not there for the view but for the experience of climbing 134 steps in this historic structure.
How a Lighthouse from Delaware Ended Up on Boca Grande
This range lighthouse has an interesting history. It was built in 1881 just north of Lewes, Del. In 1918, the lighthouse was decommissioned. It was then disassembled and shipped to Miami in 1921. Bolt by bolt it was reassembled in its current location in 1927. On Jan. 1, 1932, a 4th Order Fresnel Lens was installed and lit.
Restoration Bolt by Bolt
Restoration of the lighthouse began in 2016 and included replacement of 2,000 deteriorated rivets, 14 new wooden pulley windows, and 5,000 pounds of new paint applied inside and out. By the way, according to the Barrier Island Parks Society website, specialized Tnemec paint was used, which is not unusual. But, that paint costs about $500 a gallon. Yowza!
During the restoration, the U.S. Coast Guard decommissioned the lighthouse in 2017. However, because of its restoration, it is now open for public tours several times a month, with August and September being the exception because of the heat.
Climb Through History on Boca Grande
Which leads me to my experience. Although there was not much of a view from the top, I was more impressed with walking the historic steps up the cylindrical stairway. To reach the exterior platform, I climbed a short ladder and scrunched under a small doorway.
I could see a bit through the fog and what I saw was beautiful. A docent who waited for us at the top, shared some of the lighthouse’s history and kept us on schedule. Each tour is 20 minutes which does not seem like much time but it was perfect.
Lighthouse Leg is Worth It
The next day, I did not regret missing a workout because “lighthouse leg” had caught up with me. My legs were sore and will vouch that climbing a lighthouse is much more fun than doing squats.
Visit the Barrier Islands Park Society website to view the lighthouse climb schedule. Book your reservations early because only six people at a time are permitted in the lighthouse. (220 Gulf Blvd., Boca Grande, FL 33921; Tel: (941) 964-0060).