Tag Archives: Amelia Island Lighthouse

Everyone needs an enjoyable day

sunrise, Atlantic Ocean

Sacred moment.

By Bruce Stambaugh

In my dreams, this is how I pictured retirement. Only, this particular day wasn’t a dream. It was a blissful reality. From sunup to sundown and beyond, the day had been uplifting in every way.

After considerable effort, the sun finally broke through the usual cloudbank that persists over the Atlantic Ocean’s Gulf Stream. I embraced dawn’s golden glow that shimmered in the quiet sea from the horizon to the shore.

I photographed the sunrise, and after a simple breakfast, we said our goodbyes to friends who had been visiting for a few days. They needed to return to their new home in North Carolina to finish settling in.

fairbanks bed and breakfast, Fernandina Beach FL

The Fairbanks House.

Then it was off to tour Amelia Island’s historic lighthouse with friends from Millersburg, Ohio, Carl and Judy. Their daughter was a student in my wife’s very first kindergarten class. The couple had secured a condo one floor above us for a month.

We were more than happy to show them the island. They enjoyed similar perks of the barrier island. The Amelia Island Lighthouse was just one of them.

The guided tour was so full that another van had to be used to shuttle the visitors to the sheltered icon. The all white lighthouse with a black top stands nearly hidden on a bluff in a residential neighborhood three-quarters of a mile west of the ocean beyond the beach, beyond the towering sand dunes, and beyond Egans Creek Greenway.

At night, the nautical light flashes its salient signal above the live oaks dripping with Spanish moss, across the dormant, brown reeds of the salt marsh, across the protected dunes at Ft. Clinch State Park, across rooftops of condominiums and beach houses, and finally the beach itself. The lighthouse beacon brings personal surety to seafarers relying on impersonal electronic guidance.

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After the lighthouse history lesson, we gawked up the monument’s spiraling granite steps and snapped a few photos. We headed for an early lunch at a local eatery that boasted offering the best burgers on the island. Their milkshakes are pretty good, too, especially when consumed amid congenial company while sitting outside in the warming winter sun. This was Florida after all.

We strolled the streets of this historic town with our friends, viewing its quaint cottages, stately mansions, and inviting bed and breakfasts. Wherever we walked, people were out working, raking dried leaves and fallen palm frawns, scraping peeling paint, patching roofs. When you live in a tropical climate, property repair is non-stop.

We relaxed in the laziness of the afternoon and took in the sunset down by the river in front of the bocce ball court. The pesky no-see-ums, gnat-sized insects that you can’t see but feel their fierce bites, couldn’t deter our enjoyment of the orange and gold, pink and blue living art exhibit.

After a light supper, Neva and I completed the fulfilling day with a quiet evening together watching college basketball on television. She multi-tasks with jigsaw and crossword puzzles while I just enjoy the game.

You don’t have to be retired or be in some exotic locale to have similar experiences. Only look all around you. Examine the place where you are. Listen to the people you are with.

Work or play, engage in the activities at hand. Appreciate, absorb, inhale, touch, and improve your particular environment wherever you may be, whatever your life circumstances.

Why? Because. Every now and then, everyone needs a day like this day.

Amelia River FL, sunset

Nature’s art show.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2017

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Discovering a gem of a gem

Harbor sunset by Bruce Stambaugh

Sunset at the harbor, Fernandina Beach, FL.


By Bruce Stambaugh

It seems no matter how much planning my wife and I do for each trip we take, we find at least one unexpected gem along the way. Amelia Island, Florida was just such a place on a recent trip to the Sunshine state.

The unpretentious island initially was to be no more than a one-night layover to our final destination, Sarasota. It didn’t take long to realize what a diamond in the rough we had found. The island’s natural amenities alone deserved a closer look.

Amelia River by Bruce Stambaugh

A typical scene of live oaks and palmetto palms along the Amelia River.


On the way home, we stopped at Amelia Island for a two-day self-guided tour. Once we started to uncover the island’s riches, we could have spent two weeks there.

Steeped in history and oozing with natural beauty, Amelia Island’s chief charm seemed to be its modesty. Just inside the Florida line from Georgia, I sensed the island and its people knew what they had, but just didn’t want to flaunt it.

Main Beach by Bruce Stambaugh

Main Beach on the Atlantic Ocean, Amelia Island, FL.


On the Atlantic Ocean side, Main Beach runs the entire length of the 13.5 mile long island. In the off-season, resident and migrating birds far outnumbered the exploring humans combing the beach or local teens windsurfing.
Pippi House by Bruce Stambaugh

The Pippi Longstocking House, Old Towne, Fernandina Beach, FL.


On the inland side, historic Fernandina Beach graces the island’s picturesque waterfront. Here’s where the island’s modesty reigned. The beautiful little town was actually settled three years before St. Augustine, which bills itself as the oldest in the country.

Fernandina Beach lost its historic distinction when the Spanish conquistadores massacred the French settlers and all the island’s indigenous people, too. An open grassy square in the old town section still marks the spot.

Ironically, one of the many distinctive houses in the town stands adjacent to the infamous slaughter. The old place was used as the setting for the 1988 Pippi Longstocking movie.

Amelia Island lighthouse by Bruce Stambaugh

The Amelia Island lighthouse.


Back in town, the oldest bar in Florida was temporarily converted into an ice cream parlor for a scene in the movie. The island’s elementary children were recruited for an ice cream fight until the reality of the hot Florida weather melted the main prop. Colored mashed potatoes were instant replacements to complete the filming.

Well-preserved historic buildings make up the impressive downtown. Locally owned restaurants serve locally caught seafood, while upscale boutiques attract shoppers from near and far. Stately, well-maintained homes from bygone years line the north-south streets off of the main drag.

To say Amelia Island’s attitude is small town would be an understatement. A fender bender outside our hotel brought four cruisers.

Wild Spanish stallion by Bruce Stambaugh

Wild Spanish stallions still graze on the many isolated islands near Amelia Island.


The desire to keep things as they are reaches far beyond the town itself. An outstanding state park features a Civil War fort. Egan Creek Greenway runs down the middle of the island for birders, joggers and bikers to enjoy. A charming lighthouse, still in operation, keeps watch over it all.

Take a boat cruise and you discover even more gems about this unheralded island. Rare birds, bottle nosed porpoises, wild Spanish stallions, and salt truncated live oaks are all part of the treasure chest of Amelia Island.

Bailey House by Bruce Stambaugh

The Bailey House, one of many well-maintained historic homes in Fernandina Beach, FL.


Even in the two additional days of exploration, we couldn’t uncover all of the island’s hidden nuggets. That will make our next visit all the more exciting.

Fernandia Beach, FL by Bruce Stambaugh

Just some of the old buildings is historic downtown Fernandina Beach, FL.

Egan Creek Greenway by Bruce Stambaugh

The Egan Creek Greenway in the center of Amelia Island provides opportunities for birding, biking, jogging and walking.

Humphreys House by Bruce Stambaugh

Humphreys House, getting a new coat of paint.

Baker House by Bruce Stambaugh

Baker House, Fernandina Beach, FL.

Prescott House by Bruce Stambaugh

Prescott House, Fernandina Beach, FL.

Meddaugh House by Bruce Stambaugh

Meddaugh House, Fernandina Beach, FL.

Tabby House by Bruce Stambaugh

The Tabby House is appropriately named.

Fairbanks House by Bruce Stambaugh

Fairbanks House, Fernandina Beach, FL.

Depot by Bruce Stambaugh

The old railroad depot now serves as a welcome center near the waterfront in Fernandina Beach, FL.

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