posts tagged with 'vacation'

vacation number 1

One stressor of summer is finding time to get away. When can we possibly have room in our schedule for vacation trips?! Well, now’s the time. We’re gearing up to head north for our annual camping excursion on Wednesday morning, and the second half of last week saw us enjoying the ocean on the Outer Cape.

the boys walking along the edge of the ocean in the evening

it's so big there's lots to enjoy

Oh, did we enjoy it! It was hundreds of degrees hot when we left, and still very warm by the seaside, so being in the water felt like a good plan. Our trip down was built around a visit to the National Seashore, so the boys and I worked hard to pack up the car while Leah delivered the dogs to their vacation accommodation, all so we’d be able to get on the road in time to get to Eastham by lunchtime. We just made it and enjoyed a relaxed meal in the shade before getting the bikes–all four bikes!—off the amazing new bike rack and hitting the bike path to the beach. The older boys zipped off right away while me and Elijah went at our own pace; he noticed that, for the first time, he was able to do the whole hilly ride without walking even once! And for his part, Harvey commented that the ride gets shorter and shorter every year. Funny that!

Elijah riding over a bridge over a salt marsh

the best ride

The air at the beach was still warm and the sand was blazing hot, but the water was comfortable: mid-fifties Farenheit, way warmer than usual! The waves were disappointingly small when we arrived but built nicely, so there was plenty of wave action for all (but no blood or other serious injuries). Elijah was excited to figure out body-surfing for the first time in the shallower part of the waves, and sad that he didn’t learn until the last third of our beach time. Leah had a work meeting to take and walked rather than biked, so she didn’t have as much time in the water as we did, but what she had was plenty for her. Us boys could have stayed until it got dark, but we had a dinner date so with some reluctance we dragged ourselves away.

the boys playing in the waves

wave action

Of course, dinner with the grandparents was delightful and we were happy to settle in to their lovely (air-conditioned) house. After dinner and some quiet time we went for a walk to enjoy one of the most interesting attractions of the Outer Cape, so unusual for the East Coast: getting to watch the sunset over the ocean!

Zion and the sunset at the beach

Zion silhouette

The next day dawned cloudy and hazy, and we hung around the house for a good while before we got bored enough to organize an expedition into Welfleet. First there was some shopping: we browsed the toy store idly for a good half hour before I decided I’d help finance the purchase of souvenirs, then seriously for another 15 minutes until the boys picked out what they wanted (a puppet, a stuffed dog, and some sticky putty). Then Leah and her mom went to check out some of the more sophisticated shops while the boys and I got the bikes off the car and headed out to explore the town and harbor.

the boys eating fried food at a beach picnic table

exploring the food options

We did a little off-road riding, played on a playground, and had a light lunch at the seafood place (you can’t visit the ocean and not get some fried seafood! Even if one of us is a vegetarian and another said he preferred chicken). There was some frustration and grumpiness, but we resolved it in time to enjoy a happy hour of beach time. Mostly digging.

Elijah behind a sand castle

it was a group project

Zion and Elijah wading way out in shallow water in Welfeet Harbor

no swimming at low tide

Back at the house a visit from older relatives kept us indoors for the afternoon, but after dinner we took another walk on the local beach. The resident connoisseurs were disappointed in the lack of sunset display, but we didn’t mind: waves on the bay more than made up for it!

the boys watching waves

this is supposed to be the calm side!

The next morning the picture couldn’t have been more different: sunny and flat calm. I got in a quick dip early early, and then we were all down at the beach by 8:30 for a couple hours of swimming and hanging out.

the boys on rafts in the calm blue water, Leah on a towel on the beach

the life

And that was it! After lunch we needed to head home in order to pick up the doggies and water the plants, which just barely didn’t die in the extreme heat. It was a great trip but did feel super short… so it’s a good thing we have another one to look forward to soon!

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in the waves

Our Cape trip last week was mostly about playing in the waves. With Hurricane Larry somewhere in the mid-Atlantic we expected some heavy surf; in the event I don't think it made much of an impact, but there was plenty of wave action for everybody anyway.

Harvey breasting a wave at Coast Guard Beach

testing them out

As I mentioned our first stop on the trip was Coast Guard Beach in Eastham. We parked in the visitor center lot and the boys and I rode our favorite bike path in to the beach—and this time Elijah made it the whole way without needing to push up any hills! Leah doesn't bicycle these days so she walked, and very much enjoyed the rare opportunity to be out by herself without the dogs. We got to the beach at right about high tide, and the waves were big enough to be fun without being at all threatening. Best of all, they were pushing right up the beach without a lot of rolling chaos, so all the boys were able to body surf without a problem. As the tide went out it got a little more challenging, but no one was seriously injured and all would have been happy to stay even longer than we did. But dinner in Truro awaited!

The beach on the Bay side in Truro is usually pretty sedate, but on Wednesday a steady wind out of the southwest was pushing some pretty good swells against the sand at a 45 degree angle. Expecting calmer waters the boys had the inflatable boats with them, and we spent an exciting couple hours launching them into the surf, riding the swells, then being pummeled back to shore. So fun!

Zion and Elijah launching an inflatable raft into two-foot breakers

waiting for the perfect moment

a view of the launch efforts from above, on the bluff

they're some noticeable waves

the boys playing on and around the raft in the ocean

but once you're in, it's all easy!

There were so many waves packed into those two days that we didn't even mind when Thursday was cool and rainy. We needed a break! Of course, even on the beach it's not all action: we know how to do a vacation right.

Elijah resting on the beach with his legs buried in the sand

what he does when he's not in the water

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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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