It is the end of our month long summer visit to NY and NJ and we are back out on Long Island…on the south fork, past all of the Hamptons, on the eastern most point of Long Island…in Montauk…also known as The End…
There are few places in my mind that can rival Montauk in terms of land and seascapes…if you like the beach of course. The Long Island (Block Island) Sound is on the north coast and the Atlantic Ocean is a mere 3 miles south and at some points even closer.
It took us 2 1/2 hours to get out here from NYC. Not bad considering C1 and C2 had their party bags from Dylan’s Candy Bar in the backseat to keep them occupied and every 10 minutes I was asked, ‘How many Angry Birds gummy sweets can I have now mummy?’ As I was too busy eating another salted bagel from 54th Street and 1st Avenue, I was not in a position to advise them to be ‘sensible’.
Anyway, it has been 3 years since we have been back and it is the first time CSr is with us in Montauk, so C1 and C2 want to show, as he is now known in the U.S., ‘Daaad’ around. (No longer ‘daddy’ –Good Save Mum– but more on that later). So…we are off to the Montauk Point Lighthouse…which we have climbed 3 times, and daddy, oh ‘sorry’…DAAAD, has not.
On the way to the lighthouse, we stop at Camp Hero, which the U.S. Army built during WWll, and which was subsequently used by the U.S. Airforce. Behind us we see a long range radar built in 1958 that is still active…I think.
Of course C1 and C2 now want to get closer as they think this may be a secret landing spot for alien invaders. In fact, they are not far off as this particular radar complex became local legend surrounded by conspiracy theories and is known as the Montauk Project.
But we are getting hot walking around and still have a lighthouse to climb so agree to leave exploring the concrete bunkers and discovering time travellers for another day and move on.
As we approach the lighthouse, I can see the enthusiasm waning as quickly as the shoreline during high tide. It doesn’t help that there is a sign at the ticket office that there is a ’30 minute wait to climb’. I try to block it from the others’ view and quickly usher them up the hill.
Inside, we show Daaad the history of the lighthouse and I am quite proud that my kids now know a bit of American History. The Lighthouse is the oldest of its kind in New York and was authorized under President George Washington in 1792. Inside there are wonderful replicas and models of how the seascape has changed over the years and beautiful stories of all of the volunteers and their efforts involved in preserving it…oh and there is also a queue …a VERY long line that goes around the building.
Having been here before, I am pretty sure it is actually MORE than 30 minutes to climb the 137 iron steps to the top of the tower but we are here and I am ready to climb, so I keep my mouth shut. Daaad, however, announces that he is ‘sort of’ getting hungry and has now ‘kinda’ set the tone for the rest of us…hasn’t he…yep!
C1 immediately aligns himself with Daaad and says ‘NO WAY am I waiting’ and goes on to remind me that we ‘already climbed 199 steps of the Cape May Lighthouse’ (Jersey Cows), so we don’t reallllly need to climb this one, now do we? Hmmm…C2 now also declares his allegiance with a rather emphatic NO. I am definitely outnumbered… and hot… and also quite hungry, so quietly acquiesce, but not without a few guilty comments thrown around for good luck. I am desperate for a lobster roll anyway.
As we drive around a bit more before eating, I am reminded that Montauk has historically been a fishing village and surfing spot (and still is!), but was unique from the Hamptons with its campsites, beachfront condos, apartments and low rise motels.
Sir Mick might be surprised to know that the Memory Hotel, where the Rolling Stones wrote their song while staying with Andy Warhol in Montauk (during their tour in 1975), is still showing No Vacancy Signs during the month of August! But I digress…
Yes, Montauk has changed and there is much debate whether the change is for the good or not. In the last 5 years, new hotel cum fashionable restaurants have opened such as Navy Beach, The Surf Lodge, Crow’s Nest and Ruschmeyers, to name just a few.
Businesses and merchants for the most part, seem delighted but I could not help but notice that every 4th or 5th house is for sale. I don’t know if the signs reflect real market demand… or if perhaps some of the money that has been recently invested was somewhat overextended… or perhaps some long term residents are having a punt at a high selling price…OR maybe even a combination of all three?
Regardless, house prices do not seem to have declined AT ALL, and anyway, as I am only in the market for a mouth watering lobster roll, …let’s get crackin’!!!
We are at Duryea’s, a seafood wholesale distributor on the north shore that has an outdoor dining dock, with semi self serve and is BYOB. As you place your order and wait for your number to come up, it is the most spectacular setting for watching the sun go down.
But I think it may have been a mistake letting C1 share Daad’s 1 and 1/4 lb. lobster as C1 manages to devour the right claw and half the tail by the time Daaad rips off just a tentacle to dip into the warm butter. C2 has local fluke and eats every morsel, and I have my very own lobster roll. I did at least offer to share my potato chips (crisps) and cole slaw with Daad.
At $24, it is not cheap…especially when you can go inside and buy 3 – YES 3!!! – 1 and 1/4 lb lobsters to take home for $28!!! But without a house on the water, or a pot to cook the crustaceans, I would beg borrow and possibly even steal to sit here on a mosquito free evening watching my family eat and enjoy fresh fish and seafood, as the sun sets over the Long Island Sound.
As we drive back to where we are staying, I see in the twilight that we are sun drenched and fish fed with fatter tums and bigger bums. I have moved C1 and C2 no less than 8 times this trip but it has been worth it to see all of our (okay, MY) friends and OUR family. (xxx)
It is indeed The End of summer but it’s time to go ‘home’…new projects for me, back to work for Daaad, a new school year for C1 and C2 and home to friends that have been missed. Let it begin.
Lighthouse, compliments of Absolut Drinks
1 part Kahlua
1 part Rum
Mix ingredients into chilled glass, drink after the beach
Repeat when the sun goes down and toast the end of summer