posts tagged with 'vacation'

hitting the beach hard

We're on vacation in Truro again. We made the most of our first day away from home, stopping at the beach in Eastham for an afternoon of play in the surf... and the best part of it is that, since the puppies stayed back home, Leah could join us! Of course, we're missing them, but we're also relishing the unaccustomed freedom and have high hopes for the rest of the vacation. Lots more beaching to come!

two beaches

Basically what we did on vacation was go to the beach. As on past visits, we divided our swimming time between two beaches: one on the Bay side in Truro within easy walking distance of the house, and the other at the National Seashore in Eastham. Each had their appeal!

Zion and Elijah running from the waves on the beach in Truro

all beaches are best

The Bay side beach is easy to get to: a seven-minute walk away or, new this year, a two-minute bike ride (though none of us dared to stair-ride the giant multiflight wooden staircase down to the sand). It tends to be calm, and pretty empty since the only people who can access it are the ones who have houses in the neighborhoods above the bluff. This year there was actually a little chop the first day we were there, which was fun. When it's calm it's great for swimming, and it's always great for walking in the morning or evening.

the boys walking along the shore of calm Cape Cod Bay

peaceful

Our other favorite, Coast Guard Beach in Eastham, is far away. In fact, there are accessible ocean beaches much nearer to hand, especially in early June before the sticker parking restrictions kick in. But those beaches aren't accessed via the world's most fun bike path, the Nauset Path, that runs over the dunes for a little over a mile from the free parking at the visitors center to the beach. This year, on his geared bike, Lijah was able to ride the whole thing!

Elijah biking up the second-to-last hill on the path to the beach

almost there!

The main attraction of the beaches on the ocean side is the waves. This year they weren't particularly big, especially when we arrived a bit after 10:00, but that was alright: we had some intense experiences last year that may have soured one of us on even talking about waves for the past ten months. They were enough to be interesting to the boys! We were also not deterred by the cold water; I overheard someone saying that it was 57°F, but it felt at least 65° and Harvey and Zion at least spent two solid hours mostly submerged. Lijah and I had to take breaks, but we still had lots of fun.

Harvey and Zion playing in the waves

moderate breakers, immoderate fun

The only bad part about the outing, in fact, was how hard it was to find ice cream afterwards! The first three places we visited were closed (that's not counting Ben & Jerry's, which was too expensive to contemplate). We were saved by PJ's Family Restaurant who had reasonably priced cones and awesome flavors (campfire s'mores!); everything we could want, in fact, except shade. So we ate in the cemetery across the street.

Zion and Elijah eating ice cream

at least we weren't sitting on the graves..

That was an outing. Lots of fun, but also tiring. So that evening we were glad to make another visit to the quieter beach. And then again the next morning, and...

sculptures of tiny rocks we made on the beach

when you're on the beach for the sixth time in three days...

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to the Cape!

We were only away for three days—two nights—so I have no excuse for ignoring the blog all last week. There's even proof that I'm even able to blog from the road! But vacationing is tiring, and it took me the rest of the week to recover from all that fun. Now we're trying to get back to normal, so here's the tale of what we got up to on our delightful escape.

Zion standing on a breakwater looking at the Canal

new vistas

We left early on Monday morning. Not as early as the boys wanted, but it wasn't so easy to get everything ready and packed as a single parent (Leah was already on the Cape for her conference; we were going to join her). It was especially stressful because I was worried how all the plants would do: the extreme heat that made a trip to the seaside look extra appealing was also a threat to my poor seedlings. But we got everything squared away in time to hit the road before 9, which I think is pretty respectable. And with lunches packed, we had plenty of time to stop along the way!

Our first side trip was just after the bridge over the canal. All the years we've been visiting the Cape we've gone over it—and noticed the bike paths running on each side—but never stopped for a visit. No more! On the spur of the moment I took the exit after the canal and then followed the signs to the Canal Visitor Center. Which, it turns out, was both closed and not contiguous to the bike path, but it did have a parking lot and a gravelly path along the last little bit of canal to a beach, which is probably even better. I didn't let the boys get too wet, since we had a ways to go yet and no way to easily access the dry clothes in the car, but we still managed to have a good bit of beachy fun exploring, skipping rocks, and collecting shells.

the boys walking towards the calm beach

we haven't done this in a while!

At the canal it was still too early for lunch, so we got back on the road aiming to hit the National Seashore visitor center at lunchtime. We pulled in a couple minutes before noon; when the boys objected I reminded them that it *would take a little time to get the lunches out of the car and find a spot to eat and all. After lunch we took a walk on the trails around the salt pond. There's a short guided path stuffed with informative signs telling us about some of the plants and the history of the area, but what I mostly noticed was the proliferation of invasive species that were battling it out for control of the area.

Harvey and Elijah walking on a path towards the Salt Pond

oceanside hike

The walk was a little more than a mile, which felt too long for boys who were eager to get to Truro and the beach there. But they endured it, which I appreciated because I was really enjoying the chance to wander and explore. That's the best part of traveling! Well, one of the best parts. The snacks and the audiobook are also pretty nice, and the boys appreciated those unreservedly. There was also an unexpected treat: drinking fountains are open again! We really missed them last summer, and it was thrilling to be able to get a drink on the road again. And necessary in the 90°F heat!

Zion drinking from a drinking fountain

a long-awaited treat

That was just the drive there—after that we actually had a few days of vacation. But it was enough adventure enough for a post of its own. The rest will have to wait... maybe I can milk the trip to fill a whole week of blogging!

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reporting live from vacation

It turns out that going away is hard for me now! Like Sophie in Howl's Moving Castle I found myself coming up with all kinds of reasons why I shouldn't leave home, and despite the boys' excitement I maybe didn't hurry all that I could have this morning. Still, we got out at a very reasonable time, and after a couple delightful adventurous stops we arrived here in Truro a little after lunch, in plenty of time for a long and relaxed vacation afternoon. And while I didn't do everything I had hoped for at home, I did manage a lot of it. One glaring failure was forgetting to pick the strawberries: I kept putting it off as I ran around doing other things, then it slipped my mind before the end. It's disappointing, because they're doing really well and some of them will definitely go bad before we get home again. Is the time on the beach worth it? I'm not sure! As I say, leaving home is feeling hard! Two more days of the trip; we'll see how I do.

what I did on my summer vacation

We spent four days on the Cape last week and, while we didn't do everything we hoped to, we certainly hit the high points! The main things we were looking forward to in a vacation was going to the beach and spending lots of time sitting around reading and playing games, and the weather cooperated perfectly, with two rainy afternoons for curling up and warm enough weather that we could swim any time we wanted to. Including once in the rain!

We left home right on time on Tuesday before lunch, and had a quick and easy drive all the way to Truro. On the way we listened to Diana Wynne Jones' The Year of the Griffin, our current vacation audiobook; it was little hard to remember what was happening since last time we heard the story, on the way home from camping more than a year ago, but we put it together somehow. When we arrived it wasn't long before everyone was in the water!

the boys in the water with Grandpa, Leah walking to join them

this is what we've been waiting for!

Well, almost everyone: it took the dogs a little while to get used to the idea of waves, even the little waves on the bay side beach that we could walk to from where we were staying at Leah's parents' house. They had it figured out by the end of the day when we took an evening walk on the beach, as pictured at the end of this post. It was hard for everyone to go to sleep in a new place, but eventually we managed it; one of the boys even fell asleep in the bed assigned to him!

The next day dawned cooler and overcast, and with rain forecast for the afternoon we scheduled some essential outdoor activities for the morning hours. The boys went to play tennis with Leah and Grandpa—he's an skilled player, and provided both slightly-larger kid model tennis balls and mostly patient expert instruction. I took a bike ride.

my road bike by the shore of a little pond

seeing the sights

In the afternoon the rain seemed to be holding off, so everybody except me went out for a walk on the beach. Of course, it started raining mere moments after they left, but that didn't faze them. In fact, Harvey and Zion took the opportunity for a rainy day dip in the ocean, never mind that they were wearing their clothes. One advantage of this sort of vacation over camping is that laundry facilities are easily accessible! When they got back (and put their clothes in the dryer) we settled down to some card-playing and reading.

The next day was warmer but just as overcast, with the addition of fog and possible thunderstorms. Leah and I are limited in our ability to sit still in a place where we don't have chores to do, so soon after breakfast we packed the boys up for a hike. We went to Great Island in Welfleet, which, as the most promising hike within range of Truro, we've attempted before. The last two times we defeated—or at least kept from doing any "hiking"—by hot sun, gnats, and sandy trails that are just about like walking on a beach, so we figured a day where the fog was coming in ever-thicker would be perfect for another try.

Leah and the boys hiking among the marsh grass at Great Island

the island looming through the fog

We did get farther than we ever have, but once again detoured to the beach before we reached Great Island proper. It's just as well; not only do I learn that dogs aren't allowed on the island, the beach was empty and beautiful. The humans collected lots of rocks and shells, the dogs collected gross dead birds, and the boys and dogs enjoyed the water (one of those groups wished they had brought their swimsuits).

the boys and dogs wading in the ocean in the fog

the ocean is irresistible

After we had enough (and conveniently just as other people started to fill in) we headed just down the road to Welfleet Harbor. Leah and the dogs took a rest in the car while the boys and I played on the playground, walked on the town beach, and ordered some take-out fried food for lunch, which we brought back to the house. We were disappointed of our thunderstorms, but it did start raining right on time just after noon, so we settled in for another round of games. "Code Names" was very engaging for everyone but Elijah.

Leah and her mom thinking hard about Code Names

intense competition

We originally planned to stay through Saturday morning, but we missed our house and decided to leave Friday evening. Before we took off, though, the boys and I needed to do the most important adventure of the vacation: the bike ride to the ocean beach with the big waves! They did not disappoint.

Lijah looking at a crashing wave

crash!

After the beach we stopped for ice cream on the way back to the house. Now that's vacation! Grandpa very kindly prepared us a take-out order of hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill, so as we made our weary way home even our dinner on the road was still vacationy. It was all lovely. We'll be ready to do it again in a year or so.

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vacation time

We spent the most of the past week on vacation in Truro on Cape Cod. It was fun and exhausting in equal measure, which I think means it was a good vacation. We missed our Maine camping vacation this year, for the first time in like fifteen years—Maine didn't want us. That was sad, but Truro was a reasonable consolation. The only problem with it was it meant leaving the tomato plants. I don't know what it is, but our time away from home always seems to coincide with peak tomato season: we were away later, but the tomatoes were later too. I left five or six almost-ripe Pruden's Purple tomatoes on the vine, which made me pretty nervous; happily, nothing happened to them while we were away and a tomato sandwich on new bread was just the thing to make coming back home feel worthwhile. Yay for vacation... now bring on September!

summer vacation

The boys are just coming to terms with the idea that we won't be going camping in Maine this summer. Leah and I haven't missed a year in Acadia since we've got married, which of course means none of the kids have missed at least two nights camping in Bar Harbor every year of their lives. So that's kind of tough. As Zion has said more than once, "stupid Covid." But that isn't to say that everything is terrible. Sure, we're stuck at home. But with everything the way it is, home is actually feeling pretty vacationy!

Zion and Lijah in swimsuits by the fire, Zion enjoying a smore

our life these days

At least for Leah and me, the thing that does the most to make every day feel like vacation is getting to eat outside at least two meals every day. Breakfast outside in Bedford isn't much less special that breakfast outside on the Cape, and our fire is just as good at suppertime as any we've ever had at a campsite. Sure, we're missing out on all the delightful attractions of those locations—but we have our own kitchen! (Young people: when you get old you come to appreciate kitchens at least as much as beaches.) And of course we have some serious flexibility in our work hours that's letting us take as many exciting outings at the pandemic allows. The dogs have walked in every woods inside a 30-mile radius, and we've done plenty of cycling and even some swimming. Only one boat trip so far this year, but we've got that leak patched up now so more of that will be coming. So while Covid is indeed stupid and we're really going to miss camping with our friends, things aren't entirely terrible around here. At least we'll always have smores.

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annual Cape trip

Harvey and Grandpa playing in the raft, Lijah diggin in the sand

beachy

We started off July with a trip to Grandma and Grandpa's beach house. It's a pretty sweet deal; this is the third season they've owned it, and we're starting to get used to visiting. It's nice to know what to expect on a vacation (check out the similarities between the picture above and this one from last year). Of course, we also try and work in some novelty. This trip we stopped for dinner on the way at Friendly's in Plymouth.

Zion and Lijah looking at an ice cream sundae at Friendly's

Friendly ice cream

I promised the boys I'd take them to Friendly's when I got word that the last one around here would be closing; then we didn't make it before they actually did close. Happily they're still hanging on in a few locations, one of which was just moments out of our way off the highway. My turkey club supermelt and Reeces sundae tasted exactly the same as when I had the same meal the last time I ate at Friendly's, ten years ago. Consistency is a selling point. We reached the house just in time to walk down to the beach for the sunset.

the sunset over Cape Cod Bay

a show just for us

We spent most of the next day on that same beach—splashing in the water, lazing in the shade of the umbrella, and paddling the inflatable. The sun was super hot, and I was a little nervous after getting a sunburn at the pond a couple days previous, so I didn't have quite as much fun as I might have otherwise. Just enough to get a little sunburn.

The next day Harvey and I started the morning by cycling into Welfleet to get some bread so we could make a picnic lunch. We tried to take an off-road path, but within a dozen feet of the entrance we were swarmed by masses of deer flies. The road it was. I enjoy the riding in Truro and Welfleet: the roads over the rolling dunes feel like downhill both ways. To me, at least. To Harvey the way home felt pretty uphill. He didn't die, though!

Picnic in hand, we loaded three bikes in the car and headed to the other side of the Cape to see some ocean waves. Coast Guard Beach is the best place for free beach parking; Harvey, Zion, and I could bike from the visitor center, and Mama and Lijah took the bus (which Lijah enjoyed for its own sake!). The waves were pretty small when we hit the beach at around 10:30, but as we swam and played they gradually ramped up. Never huge, but definitely big enough to play in!

Harvey and Zion preparing to ride a moderate-sized wave

here comes one!

One was so big it knocked Lijah over, so he retreated to the blanket, where he promptly fell asleep. Vacationing is hard work!

Lijah sleeping on the beach with my cap over his face

recovering

On the way back to the house we stopped for ice cream, then managed to stay awake to enjoy a lovely cookout and a peaceful evening drive home. We got in the door at around ten; I think I'm still tired from all that fun. I should have taken a nap too.

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Christmas and New Years report

The recent holiday season was not our finest. All of us were sick off and on, with varying degrees of seriousness; for my part, I was pretty much knocked out with illness two separate times over the ten day span. And leading up to Christmas I did a bad job focusing on what Leah wanted, so my presents for her were not what she was hoping for. The boys had plenty to unwrap. Harvey made some sweet gifts for his brothers, including the stuffed blue triangle with eyes and a smiley face that Lijah desperately wanted (plus a house for it to live in!). I made Zion his bow and arrow. And there were lots of legos. We opened some here at home, then headed for my parents' house for the rest, and for the assembly phase.

the boys building new legos in their grandparents' living room

all they need

There was also a fire to sit by and plenty of delicious food, starting with brunch and going continuously from there through supper. We sang some songs to work off the calories.

My brother and his family came up on the 27th, so on Friday we had a second Christmas celebration with them: more of the same, only even more relaxed. Thankfully there weren't too many more presents to open, since Harvey and Zion at least felt by the afternoon of the 25th that they'd gotten more than they ever wanted. It can be a little overwhelming. All they really wanted was to play with their cousin Nisia—and meet their baby cousin Esther! We did those things.

I had thought of having a New Years Day brunch, but then we got an invitation to spend the day with my cousins, who we barely ever see. So I figured we could do a New Years Eve brunch instead. There was plenty of food and plenty of board games.

lots of food on our table

all the food for the year

When everyone got tired of our house we all moved on to the next event, a pot-luck supper at our friends' house. There was more food and more board games, plus Super Smash Bros for the kids. All was perfect except that I was too worried my fever would come back to be able to have a drink. Never mind, that meant I was sharp enough to completely dominate a game of Stone Age. The competition was all-consuming, so I was pretty surprised when we finished up and I noticed it was already 9:30. Yikes! More than late enough for us, so we went home and went to bed.

New Years Day the cousins cancelled on us, after hearing about the plagues we were suffering (Nisia came down with a fever New Years Eve). Since she already had all the food, my mom invited us to come anyways; since I had already made two quiches, I said sure. At least this time we took a walk. The kids had fun, even if they chose not to show it in pictures.

Harvey and Zion sitting on a bench with Nisia and Grandma

the light of the new year

All in all we had a pretty good time, but we're also glad to see the tree come down and the schedule go back up on the chalkboard. All that eating and relaxing is hard work!

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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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