On Monday morning, I packed us a picnic lunch, bundled everyone into the Jeep, and we headed off to see Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse. My husband choose the scenic route there, around the coast with an ocean-view most of the way. He and I enjoyed looking at the huge, beautiful houses but Sunshine got tired of the hour-and-a-half drive.
There were plenty of picnic areas at Fort Rodd Hill, though we shared our table with the wasps. We ate quickly and then headed for the Upper Battery. Sunshine enjoyed climbing the stairs or running around the hills while my husband and I read the descriptions.
After the Upper Battery, we followed the trail in a counterclockwise route around the area. The Searchlight Engine Room surprised us, as it’s tucked into a hollow in the hills. In fact, much of the “fort” was like that—well hidden in the hills or underground. Most of it was also open; there were very few areas that we couldn’t go. In some places, there were voice or video recordings to watch or listen to (though several of these didn’t work).
The fortifications here were first built in 1878 to defend the harbour. They became more important during the World Wars, especially after the bombings at Pearl Harbour. As new threats emerged, the fortifications changed to meet them. Guns were updated, anti-aircraft weapons were added, searchlights were powered by different means. The men stationed here never saw action, however, other than practice drills, and the fortress was closed in 1956.
Fisgard Lighthouse was built by the British in 1860, almost entirely out of local materials. Exhibits in the lighthouse tell of the keepers who lived hard, lonely lives out there for very little pay. One woman served beside her husband for eighteen years on the light and was willing to remain alone there as the keeper when he died. She was told that women were not allowed to be lighthouse keepers.
Sunshine and Lily got in free and admission was about $7 for my husband and I. The batteries and lighthouse were very spread out, so we took the stroller with us and Sunshine and Lily took turns riding and being carried or (for Sunshine) walking. Most areas were accessible by the stroller, though taking the Snugli for Lily and letting Sunshine walk might have been easier.
We spent a comfortable three hours touring the grounds—with my husband’s military interests and my love of history, it was a fun afternoon.