Digest>Archives> April 2000

The Lighthouse People, Bob & Sandra Shanklin are "All Pau"!

By Sandra Shanklin


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Bob & Sandra Shanklin are "All Pau."

In 1987, we set out on a quest to photograph every lighthouse in the U.S. It was a long path we had ahead of us and we truly didn't realize the magnitude of what we were attempting. We have traveled by every type of boat imaginable, and many different aircraft, as well as driving rental cars, hiking, and wading underwater paths.

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"The Lighthouse People" at their first ...

In 1997, 10 years later, we had photographed every standing lighthouse built by the U.S. government in the continental United States. Due to the expenses involved, we despaired of ever getting to Alaska and Hawaii, and thought we would be content with what we had accomplished.

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Photo by: Bob and Sandra Shanklin.

Then, in May, 1998, out of the blue, a wonderful private company gave us a grant to finish our quest. With the grant, and the help of the U.S. Coast Guard, we were able to finish photographing every lighthouse in the United States.

In September of 1987, we photographed our first lighthouse, Portland Head, Maine. On February 3, 1999, on the north end of the Big Island, we photographed our last lighthouse, Kauhola Point.

Hawaii is wonderful. There are lighthouses on five islands. We started with the three on Oahu, Barber's Point, Diamond Head and Makapuu Point. Makapuu is in an especially beautiful place, sitting on a high cliff and it is a fairly long hike to get there. The lens at Makapuu is not a Fresnel lens like many lighthouses have or had, but a HyperRadiant. As far as we know, there are only two of them in existence. This lens is much bigger than a first order Fresnel.

Diamond Head is easily photographed from a park right beside it. We got lost one day on the other side of Oahu, looking for Barber's Point. We drove all over that side of the Island looking for it. We went as far as the road would go on that side. We thought it would be near the Barber's Point Naval Station but couldn't see it. Finally that night, we called some friends in Washington, and they told us where it was. It was so surrounded by industrial buildings that it was hidden unless one knew where to look for it. The next day we found it and finally photographed it. Then, a night or two later, we went to a luau and the bus pulled up, where else? Right beside the Barber's Point Lighthouse. We were able to photograph it at sunset.

We went on, by helicopter to photograph the Kalaupapa Lighthouse on Molokai. It is a tall slender tower and in our opinion, one of the most beautiful lighthouses in the islands. We were rushing to take our photos, as we just had a short time to get it done, and, in my rush to photograph the lighthouse, I stepped back off the stairs, onto a round lava rock, which rolled, pitching me head, or I should say, nose first onto those hard cement steps. I cut the end of my nose, which bled like a head wound, but I kept taking my photos, with blood running from the end of my nose down the back of the camera. I still have a small scar to remember it by.

Back in Honolulu, we booked some inter-island flights to both Kauai and Maui. On Kauai we visited Kilauea Point Lighthouse, the only lighthouse in the Hawaiian Islands readily accessible to visitors, and Nawiliwili Light, which required permission from a guard, and a long ride down a bumpy road. As soon as we had photographed the two lighthouses on Kauai, (our mission), it started to rain, so we were not able to do much sightseeing.

We went on to Maui, where the weather did cooperate. Such a beautiful place. We photographed the Lahaina Harbor Light, which is called "the oldest lighthouse in the Pacific." This is not the earliest lighthouse, but is on the site of the earliest. We also verified with the Coast Guard that Pauwela Point Lighthouse no longer existed except as a beacon on a pole.

There are many small "light structures" in the Islands that we did not search out. (Light structure is a term given us by the head of Coast Guard Aids to Navigation in Honolulu.) After returning to Honolulu from Maui, we booked a flight to the Big Island, Hawaii. We landed at Kona, and in our rental car, drove directly to Hilo where we stayed at "Uncle Billy's Hilo Bay Hotel." (An experience in itself). The next day, despite torrential rain, we drove to Cape Kumukahi to photograph this fascinating lighthouse. It is a tall metal structure, the most powerful beam in the Pacific. As often happens to us, the rain stopped long enough for us to photograph the lighthouse. The light has been through several volcanic eruptions. At one point, the lava flow stopped, split and flowed around the lighthouse, but consumed the keepers houses and outbuildings, although the keeper and his family escaped with their lives.

After checking out the Volcanos National Park, we headed to Kona, taking a side trip on the way to Kapaau at the north end of the Big Island to find information on getting to Kauhola Point Lighthouse, our last one. We were told it would be very difficult to access and not to try to attempt it in our rental car as the road was nothing but deep mud due to the current rains. We were also told not to try to hike the road as we would never make it in the mud. We were determined not to leave the Hawaiian Islands until we photographed Kauhola Point. Asking around Kapaau, we were directed to Bill and Sandie Wong, at ATV Outfitters, who arranged to rent a 4-wheel drive vehicle to take us out there as soon as the rain stopped.

We had to wait in Kona for the torrential rains on the north end of the island to abate. It was not raining in Kona, so we were able to play tourist while we waited. The lava fields are just stunning. The flowers were wonderful along the roadside in Kona-Kailua. We stayed at "Uncle Billy's Kona Bay Hotel," wandered through the tourist shops and drank Kona coffee. We were able to sightsee, and yes, we went to another luau.

Finally the call came, we would go to Kauhola Point the next morning.

The day was windy, but no rain. Our driver, Bill Wong, was descended from Chinese workers brought over to labor in the sugar fields. He had great knowledge of history, myths and stories of the area and kept us enthralled with his stories the whole trip.

The road was almost impassible, even in the 4-wheel drive truck. Bill informed us that if the truck slid into the muddy ruts, that it would be the end of our trip. Luck (or fate) was with us. After slipping and sliding in the muddy ruts, our vehicle finally came into the clearing, and there it was: Kauhola Point Lighthouse.

While we were photographing, Bill stood between us and the cliff, because the wind was blowing very hard, with gusts up to 70 miles per hour. (He didn't want to lose us over the cliff, after all the trouble it took to get us out there). After we had photographed the lighthouse, Bill took our photo in front of it. He said, "Now, you are All Pau." (Hawaiian for All Done.)

And so, on the north end of the Big Island we achieved our goal to photograph every lighthouse in the United States.

You can find us on the Internet at: www.TheLighthousePeople.com

This story appeared in the April 2000 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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