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Lighten up! A weird family vacation at a lighthouse

I started this day cleaning windows - cheerfully. As an avowed housework-hater, this represents considerable personal growth. But you could say I cheated: These particular windows are 65 feet off the ground, at the tippy top of a hauntingly beautiful old lighthouse.

My family, some friends and I have come to this place, at the very end of Dungeness Spit, to serve our tour of duty as lighthouse keepers. I'll have much, much more on this singular experience in blog entries and mag articles to come. Suffice it to say that it's enough to get me to climb up 74 stairs - and then a ladder! - before breakfast, Windex in one hand and coffee cup in the other, to clear away the thin layer of scum left by the salty air on the diamond-shaped panes. These are panes that have seen storms and disasters at sea, high-altitude bald eagle fights, naval air and sea maneuvers, and, most recently, a tow-headed 8-year-old boy, hoisting the stars and stripes with his Grandpa for morning flag duty.

Anyway, these windows. There are 33 of them, and at least half are cracked or leaking. Seems there's no money to fix them since the US government got out of the lighthouse biz. Now, volunteers - like my family - help keep up this 151-year-old piece of gorgeous state history. The New Dungeness Light Station is the oldest lighthouse in our state; heck, it's even older than our state! It's also one of twelve lighthouses in the running for a big renovation prize. If it wins, those cracked windows get replaced - for free! Three clicks to vote - a little finger high-five to history - and you can help restore the New Dungeness Light Station. No Windex necessary.

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