posts tagged with 'beach'

the weekend's seaside adventure

This past weekend we took... not a vacation, entirely, but a trip at least to Cape Cod. Like we've done in the past, our church ran a retreat at a hotel in Falmouth; as a staff member, it was my privilege to help run the child care. Which was complicated slightly by Saturday's nor'easter. Never mind, it's always fun to be at the seaside! With full knowledge of the forecast we made the best of Friday's sunny weather with a stop at our second-favorite beachside playground on the way down.

the boys on the merry-go-round at the beachside playground in Falmouth

feels like vacation already

Our next stop was Woods Hole, where we met our best homeschool buddies at the aquarium. Last year the kids dashed through the exhibits in record time, but this time everybody was in the mood to really take things in, and we lingered for a while at each tank.

looking at a fish tank at the aquarium

engrossing

While in Woods Hole we also took in the museum where you can play in the replica Alvin's cockpit, and played on the little beach in the center of town. The mamas got coffee.

Then we all went to the hotel to check in. While the freshly caffeinated mamas took care of that, the kids and I explored the beach. It wasn't too cold to put our feet in the water—it never is, for us—but it was very cold. Numbingly cold. Luckily there was a tropically warm indoor pool nearby where we could warm up.

Zion, fully dressed, wading in the indoor baby pool

wading pool

In past years the retreat has included dinner, but we cut that this year to save on costs. So we went out to eat instead. It was wonderful; besides the quantities of fried seafood and french fries the kids were delighted by the touch-screen drink dispenser, and took in a startling quantity of pink lemonade with lemon, cherry, and strawberry flavor shots. "Mixing is fun!" they said.

the boys eating at Seafood Sam's

mmm, fish dinners!

We woke up the next day to howling wind and spitting rain. Leah laughs at bad weather, and took off before dawn to run a half marathon. That left me to see to packing up, but the kids are big now: they did a fantastic job of loading backpacks with everything they would need for the day and cramming everything else in the duffels, all in plenty of time to get down to breakfast before almost everyone else. That meant we could get a prime seat by the window, for the first time in the three years we've been visiting this hotel. We enjoyed watching the wind and the light-ship on the horizon for a while; and also the buffet.

Zion pouring ketchup onto his plate of sausages, bacon, and danishes

elegant ketchup

I kind of wondered breakfast by the window would be the closest we'd get to the ocean that day, it was that stormy out. Plus I was in charge of 32 elementary school kids. But while we did spend about six hours playing (very happily) in a windowless conference room, I did take a few brave souls out into the tempest to explore the beach and the secret pond. The pictures don't do the wild weather justice: the wind was blowing something fierce, but it was blowing directly out to see so it flattened the waves right out. They were probably something to see by the time they reached Connecticut...

kids walking along the windblown beach

adventurous

Oh, and we swam in the pool too. But I was having too much fun to photograph that. All that, and we were still home by 7:00. Maybe not a vacation, but a delightful adventure.

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a family vacation story

Harvey and Zion running from big waves

late september seas

At the end of September we took another trip down to Truro to stay at Grandma and Grandpa's beach house. This time it was just us; the Bernsteins were otherwise engaged and the friends we invited couldn't make it. So we had the house, and the vacation, to ourselves. Which was novel! We realized, as we sat down to supper the first night there, that it was the first purely family vacation we'd taken since Harvey was a tiny baby, nine years ago. I think we earned it!

Because it was well past Labor Day it wasn't only the house we had to ourselves, but pretty much the whole place. As soon as we arrived we headed right down to the beach, where we knew there'd be no trouble finding a place to set up our stuff.

Zion and Lijah wrapped up in towels on the windy beach

our private beach

One reason we were interested in hitting the beach right away was the forecast: the Wednesday we drove down was mild, but there was cold weather predicted for Thursday and rain for Friday. So we had to seize our one beachy chance! Of course, while the air was mild the water was not; it took some effort to get in, even for Mama in her wetsuit. The waves also made it a little challenging, at least for the kids. This beach is on the bay side and is usually as calm as a pond, so the two-foot breaking waves felt pretty big. Most of us did make it in at last, and Harvey and I at least spent a good hour or so playing in the water. Pretty good for September 26!

We needed some supplies for supper so after we dried off we drove into Welfleet to visit the wonderful grocery store there, with wood floors and shelves and a not terrible selection of things to eat. After stocking up we drove down to the harbor to take a walk. The evening light was beautiful, thanks to the gathering clouds.

the setting sun turns the air over Welfleet Harbor dusty yellow

peaceful evening

The clouds had settled in to stay when we woke up the next morning, which is why I told the boys not to pack swimsuits for our trip to Provincetown. I thought that made sense; besides the clouds it was windy and cold. We wanted to go visit Race Point Beach, where I assumed we'd walk a little, be impressed by the giant waves, and then look for somewhere warm to visit. I should have known better.

Harvey and Zion getting wet in the waves

waves are too much fun

You know how it is: they thought they were just getting their feet wet. It really was cold and windy, though, so we couldn't exactly swim, even leaving aside the fact that the waves probably would have killed us. Good thing swimming isn't the only fun thing to do at a beach!

Harvey jumping off a sand bank

yahoo!

(I really wanted to do a flip off that bank, but it turns out that at 41 I don't have it in me any more.) So we jumped and walked and collected crab shells until the roaring wind—which made any non-shouted conversation impossible—drove us crazy and away. Done with the wind but not yet with the ocean, we drove a couple minutes to another beach on the other side of the point, which presented a completely different aspect: calm, quiet, and mild. With no waves to speak of we watched the tide not creep but race up the beach, and the boys had fun playing real-life Forbidden Island (while I forbade them to get their second suit of clothes wet).

Next we visited Provincetown proper. The boys and I had a great time walking on the long long breakwater (pictured here) while Leah cuddled up with her book in the car to have a break from the wind. Then we tried to find somewhere to park to let us check out downtown, but even at the end of September the place was hopping. I don't go on vacation to battle for parking, so to the moans of the boys who had seen a plush Pikachu in a store window I pointed the car out of town. They were mollified when we found a quiet skate park to play in.

Then we turned for home, but I wasn't totally done exploring and asked the family if they would mind checking out just one more beach. And they were glad they said yes, because Head of the Meadows was the best one yet. The sun had come out by then (as may be seen in the picture that tops this post), and though the wind was still at full force there was a big dip in the beach that blocked some of its force. And even better, the dip held a considerable pond. Which spelled the end for the second suit of dry clothes.

the boys getting wet

going in

I wasn't tempted by the pond, but while the boys frolicked I was watching the waves, and finally I couldn't resist. Fear of sharks kept me from really swimming, but I did go in enough to get my clothes—my only clothes, since I didn't think to bring spares—soaking wet. It was worth it. Then we headed home.

Friday we woke up to steady rain. Leah wanted to get the house clean for a prospective renter who was coming to look at it, so I took the boys over to Welfleet to go to the library there. We'd wanted to visit it ever since we first noticed it last year, but who has time for libraries when there are beaches to visit! Except in the rain, of course. I'm glad it rained, because the library trip wasn't just a passable consolation prize, it was one of the best parts of the vacation. There was a giant collection of comic books, including the long-sought-out Hilo book 4, which absorbed Harvey and Zion; Lijah was delighted by the toys. An assortment of old cooking gear was his favorite, and he and I enjoyed imaginary play with the various strange objects. It was very cozy with the rain pouring down on the skylights.

But we hadn't brought anything to eat, so at maybe 1:00 I dragged them away for lunch. Leah had packed everything up, so after lunch we said goodby to the house and headed home for real; stopping on the way, of course, for some ice cream. It's not a vacation without ice cream! Even Rascal got some.

the boys licking cones

like you do

It was a good time. Family vacations are nice; let's do one again some day!

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the latest in beach vacations

This past weekend we enjoyed a getaway to Grandma and Grandpa Bernstein's house on Cape Cod. Lots of other people were headed that way too for Labor Day, but they live so far down the Cape that we escaped most of the crowds. There was certainly plenty of room on the beach to play with the new inflatable boat Grandma bought.

the boys and Grandma Beth playing with a raft in the calm waters of Cape Cod bay

vacation boating

The second day there were a few other kids on the beach, which was nice. The boys traded a turn in the raft for a go on their paddle boards. Then later they all caught fish together—that day there was an amazing river of small fish swimming along the beach, just a couple feet from the shore, and by afternoon they were so concentrated you could just put your hands in and pull them up. We got maybe 30 or 40 in one bucket before I started feeling sorry for them and made the kids turn them loose.

Harvey's hands filled with little fish

like catching fish in a barrel

Our vacation time also included some adventuring a little further afield;

the boys walking on a bridge over salt marsh

the expansive National Seashore

some quality resting time;

Mama and Lijah napping on the beach in a nest of towels

cozy

and, of course, some Pokemon practice.

Harvey and I playing pokemon on the big vacation house porch

anywhere and everywhere

It was a lovely few days; we liked it so much we're planning to go again in a couple weeks!

the sunset over the bay

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beach vacation

It got really hot the middle of last week, so we were glad we had a cool place to go: Leah's parents' house on Cape Cod. It has a private beach.

the calm waters of Cape Cod Bay

cool waters

We left home Thursday afternoon, and it wasn't hot then; it was raining. The rain made for a dreadfully long traffic-plagued trip there, but we didn't mind too much. Mostly, we enjoyed the chance to chat, play with the iPads, or sleep, as appropriate by age and maturity level. Then when we got there we were treated to a terrific thunderstorm that passed just overhead. Luckily we were all unpacked before it hit.

Friday day dawned coolish and hazy, but by mid morning the mist had cleared and the temperature was rocketing upwards. So we headed to the beach—the one just a couple minutes walk away, with no waves so even the littlest of us could feel comfortable swimming in the beautiful cool water.

Lijah chest deep in water, Harvey and Zion swimming beyond him

getting into it

The only problem was we got a little carried away enjoying the sun, sand, and water, and by evening all five of us were suffering from some combination of sunburn, dehydration, and heat exhaustion. Good thing we'd had so much fun, so it felt worth it.

The next day, after making solemn vows to drink water and apply sunscreen on a regular schedule, we split up: Leah and Lijah to spend more time at the quiet beach, the bigger boys and I on a cycling adventure to find some big waves. We drove a ways to the Cape Cod Rail Trail, with the thought of riding a segment to the National Seashore visitor center and thence on the bike path over the dunes to the Coast Guard Beach. I have fond memories of taking that trail as a young person myself, and wanted to introduce it to my own cycling boys.

Missing the turn off the rail trail meant we had a couple extra miles at the beginning of the trip that we didn't need, but never mind; it would have been too short otherwise. Then we enjoyed a picnic lunch outside the visitor center before taking to the roller coaster of a trail to the beach. It was every bit as lovely as I remembered.

Harvey and Zion cycling on a tree-shaded bike path

swoopy

Shorter, too. Those kids are better cyclists than I was at that age (Zion especially got lots of compliments as he powered his little bike up the hills). Before we knew it we were at the beach, where we joyously confronted the awesome waves.

Harvey and Zion standing in the wash of the big waves

wave hello

Actually, they were a little too awesome for the kids to engage with them fully. But they still had a lot of fun running and jumping in the wash of the breakers, and then making sand castles in a futile effort to hold back the fast-rising tide. Then to show that getting knocked over by waves wasn't so bad I put on something of a comedy performance, letting them have their way with me. I lost some skin but it was worth it!

The water was a lovely temperature and the oceanside breeze was charming (as long as we avoided the deadly burning rays of the relentless sun). But of course we got all hot again on the ride home, so it was convenient that right where we had parked the car there was ice cream available.

Harvey and Zion licking ice cream cones in front of a wall decorated with buoys

ice cream Cape Cod style

Back at the house we collapsed for a few hours: all that fun was hard work. But after dinner I had a little more energy and invited Leah out for a walk. That sounded good to everyone else too. The flies were too terrible to be anywhere but the beach, but the beach is always a fine place to be.

the boys playing on the beach at dusk

day is done

Sunday we met up with some friends who were also staying in the area (we know them from church, so it was appropriate plan to meet them just in time to skip church together). We thought we were going to do a hike, but it was so blazing hot we couldn't manage it. Just like last time! But this time we had friends to share our complaints with, so they didn't seem so bad; and it seemed like a reasonable thing to do to just sit down by the water and throw some stones. The kids didn't have swimsuits; of course that didn't stop them from getting wet.

Zion and Matthew wading in the ocean in their clothes

oh well

All that didn't take long, so we had plenty of time to enjoy a relaxed lunch of fried food together. (Relaxed for us; other patrons watching our crew of wild children seemed to be a little worked up. Come on, we were on the beach—deal, people.)

the kids sitting around a picnic table, Rascal lying in the shade under it

the lunch crowd

The best part was we had already packed up the car, so with lunch over we could head straight home to Bedford. The traffic-free trip was smooth and easy, leaving the boys plenty of time to play with their friends in the neighborhood before bed.

Now that's a vacation. It was wonderful. And exhausting. So now we're resting. Or trying to; it's close to 90° in the house right now. When can we go back?

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wet day

Harvey and Zion swimming in Walden pond

in the big water

Today was a hot one—though not as hot as forecast—so we did our best to spend as much of it as we could in the water. We started the day off with a visit with our friends in Lowell... we expected to be luxuriating in air-conditioned comfort, but in the event we spent the whole visit outside in or around their lovely new inflatable pool (luckily there were spare swimsuits for the boys, since we were not at all prepared!). Even just a foot-and-a-half of water was plenty for hours of fun.

Zion and Lijah playing in Havana's inflatable pool

in the small water

I didn't go in that pool—though I got splashed plenty! Then when we got home Harvey and Zion ran next door for an hour of swimming in the neighbors' beautiful new above-ground pool. I didn't go in that one either; I was taking a nap. Getting splashed is tiring!

To continue the theme of ever-bigger swimming opportunities, I dragged the boys away from the pool in the late afternoon to head to Walden Pond, where we planned to meet yet more friends (and also Mama). We brought a picnic supper, and while we waited to be hungry enough to eat it we all—me too finally—had a delightful time in the water.

Lijah playing in the pond

not crabby at all

Unfortunately, when Mama showed up it made Lijah remember how tired he was from all that outside time, and he became not the most relaxing beach companion. So the two of them headed out early, but as it turns out they didn't miss much—just moments after they left lightning and thunder had us scurrying out of the water and running for home ahead of the rain. It's not that I minded too much getting wet; just that there was no rain in the forecast, and everything—bikes, tools, laundry on the line—was out at home.

We made it back just in time—or almost just in time. The bigger boys and I got wet one more time as we raced to bring everything in. We didn't make it to the ocean—our thought for what would be the next step up from the pond—but the thunderstorm was plenty big. And just as wet!

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who says we never do anything?!

Yesterday we at a picnic lunch and a picnic dinner, in two separate state parks. That wasn’t the plan for the day; I had thought to have a pretty quiet day at home, working and playing here like we’ve been doing a lot of the time lately. We did have an early-morning trip to to the grocery store planned, and I expected that that would be all the excitement I could handle. Only then friends invited us to join them for a walk at Great Brook Farm state park. On such a beautiful day, how could we resist?!

Harvey and Zion playing by a pond

out and enjoying life

It was indeed lovely; we played around the pond, looked at the livestock, and took a walk through the woods and fields. Then to top it all off we got ice cream—one small dish per family, to share. Hey, we're not made of money! Everyone was worn out and satisfied as we headed home.

But we didn't stay there for long. Harvey just got new swim goggles the other day, and he's been trying to arrange our first summertime trip to Walden Pond. I mentioned in passing that we might be able to head that way at dinner time—some day, when we hadn’t already spent nearly four hours exploring the great outdoors. But no, he was determined. So not much more than an hour after getting home from Great Brook we’d packed another meal and took to the road again. I was worried, with everyone but Harvey—me very much included—showing signs of dangerous tiredness, but the nearly empty beach was just what we needed and the boys ran, swam, and played for a solid hour and a half. Me, I lay on the beach and tried not to fall all the way asleep when they were in the water.

the three boys playing in the water

peaceful evening swim

Besides all the fresh air and exercise over the two excursions, we also got to see all kinds of amazing wildlife. At Great Brook the pond was full of tiny frogs, bullfrogs, and fish—including a catfish that came up to strike a cheerio one of the kids through in. We also saw lots of chipmunks and observed ants and dragonflies; Zion found a snakeskin to bring home. Walden Pond had less variety, but more excitement when a bald eagle flew across the pond to land in a pine tree down the beach. (“I didn’t see it!” Lijah tells me. He has a hard time seeing his shoes when I point them out to him, never mind a bird moving fast several hundred yards away.)

a frog in the pond

ribbet

It was all super fun. And exhausting. It took til this evening to finish washing all the tupperwares. But as we loaded the things into the car in the beautiful cool of the evening, I reflected that, some days at least, following the moment wherever it leads can be pretty nice too.

Harvey, Zion, and Havana walking in the woods

getting away from it all

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maiden voyage

As I mentioned, we bought a canoe. Then we had to wait while we procured paddles, life jackets, and some means of carrying the canoe to the water (in the meantime we played with it on land). All those objectives were achieved by this morning, so in the middle of the day we took a trip out to Walden Pond to see if it floats. It does!

the boys in the canoe on Walden Pond

out on the water

We've been to the pond hundreds of times, but none of those trips were as exciting as this one. From the dangerously steep, rutted lane down to the boat launch and the violent rocking of the boat as Zion and Lijah stepped aboard for the first time it was clear that this was a new level of adventure. The smaller boys, who didn't have paddling to distract them, were pretty nervous at first; Lijah especially looked like he wanted to kiss the sand at our first stop, on the other side of the pond. There, the boys explored for a few minutes and we had a picnic lunch. After about half an hour of paddling all around the pond, though, even Lijah was starting to get used to the motion. Then, as the sun broke through the clouds, we completed our circumnavigation and approached the old familiar beach—but so different, seen for the first time from the sea! Also there was nobody else there.

towels drying on the canoe pulled up on the beach

relaxation

The boys ran around a lot and swam a little, while I lay in the sun and thought about how lovely it is to be alive (and also some about Pokemon). Then they put the boat back in the water and experimented to see how tippy it really is. It's pretty stable, actually, but if you really want it to go over it sure will! I think it made them feel a little bit better about this whole boating business. Harvey, certainly, was emboldened enough to try a short solo voyage of his own!

Harvey out in the canoe by himself

practicing boldness

Harvey tells me it was a the best adventure we've ever done. Here's to lots more—even better!—in the months to come.

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social studies on site

Never mind that we're meant to be studying Lowell... when we heard of a class in pencil-making offered at Walden Pond on Monday afternoon there was no way we could miss it! It turns out that the folks there put on all sorts of awesome programs—if we had been paying attention we could have been enjoying interesting classes every day of the week. As it was, we were just in time to catch the last Monday offering of the month.

the boys sitting with other kids listening to a park ranger

pencil school

A lesson about pencil-making totally makes sense at the park: Thoreau's family were in the graphite business, and Henry was apparently an innovator in pencil manufacturing (as well as so many other things). The class was a little oversold—we didn't really get to make pencils, but we learned a whole lot about historical pencil-making, the Thoreau family, and life in the 19th century generally. And to be fair, the kids did get to make a pencil... by dropping a lead into a pre-drilled hole in a pre-sharpened bit of stick. Then they got to take their pencils home, which I guess is the important thing.

Harvey with the Thoreau statue, the pencil in Henry's hand

with the master

Of course, since it was a Walden Pond on a desperately warm early fall day, we also made sure to leave plenty of time for swimming with friends. Now that's how you do a school day!

Lijah at the beach sticking out his tongue

happy at the pond

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kicking off the homeschool year

Harvey holding up his

third grader

We enjoy following the Bedford Public School schedule when it suits us. The buses came for the kids this morning, so we figured we could get going too.

Zion holding up his

first grader

With two big kids to get educated we need to be more focused than ever before. In the hopes of getting off to a good start we spent the last couple weeks building systems and previewing expectations. For day one, at least, it seems to be working.

the boys working at their desk

so far so good

Of course, we're flexible too. We squeezed in the morning's work around a visit to the doctor to get physicals for the two school kids, and then in the afternoon when it warmed up we took off for the pond.

Zion and Lijah swimming in shallow water

the place to be on a hot school day

Hey, all the work was done by then anyway! All but phys-ed, that is; some vigorous swimming was just the thing after all that mental effort. (Harvey showed us all how it's done by treading water for 66 seconds!)

Harvey swimming a little ways away from the beach

3rd grade swimming

We also went to the farmers market, picked my parents up from the train station, visited a library, and went out to dinner with friends. That's a homeschool day!

We're using Jonathan Bean's wonderful book This Is My Home, This Is My School to focus our thoughts a little bit these first couple weeks. We read it twice today and thought about the roles each of characters played in the homeschooling life of their family, as we talked about what homeschooling means to us. Then Harvey and I looked at the art, and tried our hand at our own version of Jonathan Bean's messy-on-purpose ink, watercolor, and pencil art. I'm pretty happy with how mine came out... Zion liked it too, so he took a picture.

my painting of our house

truth

You can ask Harvey if you want to see his. Suffice it to say, we all agree with the sentiments. Homeschooling 2017-2018 is off to a fine start.

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back to our Cape house

The end of last week we were on vacation on Cape Cod. That's the sort of thing you can get away with when you have a house to visit there. We had two lovely summery days and one foggy rainy one, and we attacked all three with vacation energy.

Mama and Lijah walking on the beach

vacation

We got to Truro after lunch on Thursday, and spent most of the afternoon on the beach. Unlike last time, the water in Cape Cod Bay was plenty warm enough for swimming.

Harvey and Mama waving from the ocean

ocean wave

Besides spending lots of time in the water, Harvey also got to practice keeping the acrobatic kite aloft. Grandpa appreciated having someone else interested in it.

Ira helping Harvey fly the kite

grandfather-grandson bonding

Zion's role was to launch the thing again when it crashed, which he enjoyed. He and Lijah also made sure to take plenty of time to just sit and relax.

Zion lying on the beach, Lijah sitting wrapped in a  towel

comfortable

The next day was cloudy and drizzly, with serious rain in the forecast. Harvey and I brought our bikes; thinking we wouldn't want to miss better weather with the family later we figured a damp morning would be the perfect time for a ride and headed out. Our first big stop was Welfleet center, where of course we visited the toy store.

Harvey with the bikes outside of a toy store in Welfleet

we got somewhere

Then we explored a woodsy path that led us just about to Rt 6; seeing it we figured we might as well try the other side of the Cape and see if we could make it to the Atlantic Ocean. We did—not that we could really see much when we got there.

Harvey playing in the ocean waves on the foggy beach

who needs sky?

At least it wasn't pouring rain, though the drizzle that had started up as we approached the beach led us to change into our swimsuits a little early, to save our clothes from a soaking. We had the beach to ourselves, and we played in the waves and watched a seal swim just a few yards away, but we didn't stay long—I was a little worried the skies would open. Naturally, soon after we left the beach the rain dried up and started to get hot as we picked our way towards home. It ended up being a 14 mile ride—here's an approximation of our course—and Harvey did great, even with all the hills he had to walk up.

After lunch at home the torrential rain showed up, but by dinner time it was clearing up again. How about another walk on the beach! Rascal swam and swam, then decided he was done.

wet Rascal relaxing on the misty beach

he got all his exercise already

Saturday we started to get bored with playing in the house and going to the beach, so we went out for a hike. Unfortunately even the hikes on the Outer Cape are pretty beachy.

Harvey and Zion walking on a path by a dune

a new kind of hiking

Great Island in Welfleet is a lovely place, but it wasn't quite what our tired kids were looking for—especially when the flies started biting. So we beat a retreat, a little acrimoniously. Never mind, on the way back to the car we got to see two tortoises and five hundred fiddler crabs, and watch the tide race in, which cheered us all up immensely. Well, almost all of us; Lijah actually fell asleep in the carrier.

We had planned to meet Grandma and Grandpa in Welfleet for lunch—with our hike ending early we had some extra time, and while Leah relaxed with the sleeping boy and an audiobook the bigger boys and I set out to explore Welfleet Harbor. Only we didn't get very far, because we had to build a sandcastle strong enough to stand up the incoming tide.

Harvey and Zion working on a sandcastle

it's working!

(We actually did it, too; on the way back to the car later we saw we had built it right exactly on the high tide line. Beat that!)

After a lovely lunch we did explore the harbor, and Zion decided he was in love with the waterfront. I know the feeling. He and I at least felt pretty relaxed and vacationed at that moment.

Zion sitting on the rocks by the harbor watching the sea

he likes it

(Unfortunately then we had to go back to the house and pack up, which didn't go as well as we could have wished. But we made it home, and we learned some lessons for next time! Which might not be for a while... right?)

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