LIGHTHOUSES, HOT CHOCOLATE & YOU – 2009
January 16 - 18, 2009
by Tom Kenworthy, NELL President
Friday January 16, 2009 was a
cold day with temperatures forecast to be in the single digits with a
chance of snow. But that didn’t stop 95 hardy NELL members from
travelling to the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Newport RI for our annual
Lighthouses Hot Chocolate and You.
Once all members that had material for the event packages arrived at the
hotel, the envelopes were stuffed. The packets, which included the first
issue for 2009 of the NELL Beacon, our quarterly newsletter, were given
to the attending members. All other members will be receiving their copy
of the Beacon via USPS within the week.
At 8:45 a.m. Saturday we met in the hotel lobby where all members were
informed that Coast Guardsmen Pat Moran, DC1 and Saulo Casdello, EM2
would be joining us to open each lighthouse enabling us to climb them.
We then visited our first lighthouse of the day -- Goat Island/Newport
Harbor, located on hotel property, right outside of the hotel. Saturday
the 17th was a beautiful sunny, clear, crisp, very cold day. We were
lucky it wasn’t windy. If it was, we never would have been able to stand
in line like we did waiting to climb.
After climbing Goat Island we went to Castle Hill Light. We parked in
the Castle Hill Inn parking lot and then walked the approximate length
of a city block thru the woods on snow/ice covered ground. Seeing the
tower and lantern room thru the trees made the walk worth it. The line
moved fairly quickly. Then the wind decided to pay us a visit and the
temperatures seemed to plummet. It got very cold, very fast. We had to
speed up the line to allow everyone to climb without having to return to
our cars to warm up.
Breaking for lunch after Castle Hill, we then headed to Point Judith. We
expected to take our group picture there before climbing the tower but
nature had different plans for us. We thought it was windy at Castle
Hill, but arriving at Point Judith we immediately realized that that was
just a cool breeze. The wind at the Point was unrelenting and made
things almost unbearable. It was so bad the only group picture we could
manage was of members standing in line to climb. Even then, the members
were reluctant to stand facing the camera as that meant they had to face
the wind. The folks that were lucky enough to be waiting inside the
tower didn’t want to come out. After the picture taking, many of us
lined up behind the tower letting it block the wind.
EM2 Casdello unlocked the boat house so we could get some relief with
many members waiting their turn in the “comfort” of that shelter.
Then into our cars for a warm drive to Beavertail Lighthouse Museum and
Gift Shop. Our last stop. There we were very warmly welcomed by the
association members who treated us to hot chocolate and homemade
cookies. All made by members of the Beavertail Lighthouse Museum
Beavertail was not as windy as Pt. Judith but all the members were
gathered inside enjoying the cookies and hot chocolate while waiting for
the Coast Guard to arrive to open the light. Thinking that would be an
excellent time for the group picture I made that suggestion and was
informed that no one wanted to move as they were all in line -- not for
hot chocolate -- but to climb the light as soon as it was opened. So
much for that idea. I was not about to ask 95 people to go outside and
loose their place in line and risk a “mutiny”. About 40 minutes into
climbing and with dusk approaching fast, the Coast Guard made the
announcement that it was to dark in the top of the tower to safely
continue climbing (no lights installed there) so they had to shut things
down and put the light back on to continue serving as a navigational
With LHHC&Y 2009 ending, some members headed home while others went to
dinner planning to stay the night and visit several more area lights
before heading home the following day. But when we awoke to a couple of
inches of fresh snow on the ground with freezing rain coming down, many
of us decided to have a warm breakfast and immediately head home. Some
members stayed, did some shopping and visited Conanicut North before
leaving for home, hoping the roads would be in better condition. But
that was not to be with a forecast of 6 inches to a foot of snow as you
travelled further north.
It was good to see many of our new members participate in our first
event of the year and their first LHHC&Y. I believe everyone had a
wonderful time and that hot chocolate will remain a fond memory for all
-- even with the bone chilling wind and cold.
I know for one couple this Lighthouse Hot Chocolate and You will be very
fondly remembered and always hold a special place in their hearts.
I’m referring to long time NELL members Alan Ells and Yadiira Tarnliella.
When they returned to their hotel room Alan did something that he so
ardently wanted to do in the lighthouse but didn’t due to the extreme
cold. Alan proposed to Yadiira ---- who very happily accepted.
Congratulations Alan, and best wishes to you and your bride to be!