On the “Job” At North Head Lighthouse – Cape Disappointment, WA
We’re back at “work” (and I use that term veeeery loosely) which means it’s time to update you all about what exactly we’re doing.
Those who follow the blog know that we like to volunteer in the summer months. In fact I’ve written extensively about volunteering & previous jobs in our volunteer section HERE. The volunteer jobs are something we truly enjoy. They allow us to “settle down” during the kid-crazy summer months in great weather at spots we love while giving something back to history and the community. We are partial to the NW coast and we are lighthouse nuts so combining those two is like a match made in heaven. We don’t do this for the money (no pay involved), but we *do* get some benefit in the form of a free full-hookup campsite for the month. Plus I can’t deny that our overall expenses reduce during our hosting months -> we travel less (less gas $$), shop locally (less grocery $$) and pay zero camping fees. You won’t be able to clear a living with what we do, but you can definitely enjoy beautiful areas at very low cost and that’s part of what we love about the flexibility of fulltime RVing.
So, what are we actually DOING?????
We are what you officially call Lighthouse Interpretive Hosts. Our “office” here in WA is North Head Lighthouse, a lovely old lady dating back to 1898 with her light perched 194 feet above sea level atop stunning pillow basalt cliffs. She’s still an active aid to navigation with a Vega Industries VRB-25 lens and 2-flash every 30 secs signature. She sits on one of the most dangerous sections of the WA coast (over 200 shipwrecks have happened within 20 miles of her) which also boasts to be one of the windiest (and foggiest) to boot. What is unique here is that most of the original lighthouse structures are still intact including the keepers residence (where you can overnight), barn, carriage houses, coop and oil houses. Plus, she’s even got a ghost story (ooooooooo).
We get to work via a short (less than 2 mile) drive to the grounds followed by a gorgeous 1/4 mile hike along the cliffs to the lighthouse. Once there we start the easy job of overseeing visitors & tours into the lighthouse itself. Here’s a few details:
Hours -> There are a total of 4 couples hosting at the lighthouse and we split the day-shifts. Each pair of couples has 4 days “on” followed by 4 days “off”. During your “on” days you have a 3 1/2 hour shift, either 10am-1:30pm or 1:30pm-5pm (one couple does the first, the other the second & you swap around each week). There are a few extra details opening up & closing down the lighthouse so it ends up being around 4 hours per day. Total volunteering time averages out to around 28 hours per week (combined = 14 hours each person). It’s a very light schedule.
Duties -> This is a simple lighthouse with a downstairs workroom and a tower with 69 steps up to the lens room. One person stays downstairs in the workroom, takes cash for the tours ($2.50 each, 17 and under free) and organizes groups to the top (8 people allowed at a time), while the other person greets people in the lens room and completes the tour there. Unlike some of the other lighthouses we’ve worked at there is no “formal” tour process here, so it’s up to the individual couples how they want to run their shift. Both Paul and I like to give a brief history of the lighthouse and what life was like back in the 1900’s, with more details if folks are interested (we usually gauge individually). If visitation is slow we typically end up chatting longer. If visitation is high we’ll be more regimented. There are a few extra duties before & after closing such as wiping down surfaces for dust, opening/closing the till & opening/locking the lighthouse. Overall it’s a very easy job and all you need is a love of lighthouses and comfort speaking in front of groups.
RV Lodging -> Like all the jobs we’ve done previously the State Park in WA offers a full hookup campsite within the state park grounds in return for your hosting hours. At this park most of the lighthouse hosts are in the “Lakeside loop” which is near the park entrance and has 30 Amp/water/sewer sites with good Verizon signal (we’re getting 2 bars 4G). Only negative is that these sites are on grass right next to the most popular tent camping area in the park which can get very busy. You can choose if you wish to be placed in the main camping pods further back from the entrance (nicer sites, more privacy), but these latter sites have zero (or very close to zero) Verizon connectivity. So, there’s a bit of a compromise in campsite choice.
And honestly that’s it!!
For a mere 14 hours per week of chatting with folks about lighthouse history we get to stay in a gorgeous state park right on the coast with miles of dog-friendly beach to boot. Compared to our previous lighthouse jobs this is the lightest schedule we’ve ever done. I really like the 4-day on/4-day off schedule since it gives you a nice chunk of time to yourself outside of hosting duties. The lighthouse here is older (more musty) and needs renovation, plus the host campsites are not nearly as nice as some of our other positions (we used blocks under our jacks due to some sinking in the grass & we’re closer to the bathrooms than we’d like), but we’ve got great internet, a gorgeous beach only minutes away and you simply can’t beat our “office” view. Overall the experience is turning out to be pretty much exactly as we expected and we love being part of keeping history alive for this fine old lady.
We’ll be here for the entire month of June telling (mostly) true stories about the lighthouse so if you’re in the area come on by for a tour and a “hi”. And if you’ve got questions about lighthouse hosting fire away below….
Related Blog Posts -> On Lighthouse Hosting
- Volunteering as Lighthouse Hosts -> What Do You Actually DO?
- Volunteer Hosting At Cape Blanco Lighthouse
- Back on The Job – Lighthouse Hosting At Coquille River Lighthouse, OR
- Back At “Work” – Lighthouse Hosting At Cape Blanco Lighthouse, OR
Related Blog Posts -> On Volunteering
- Volunteering On the Road Part I – Why Do It?
- Volunteering On The Road Part II – Where To Look For Openings
- Volunteering On The Road Part III – 4 Steps To Securing Your Dream Job
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