Saturday, August 1, 2009


The trip to Long Island, New York began on the 25th, the start of a two week vacation with my two kids, to visit friends and family, enjoy the beach and food that can only be found in that corner of the world (Carvel soft ice cream and New York style pizza!). The choice of when to go was determined by the performance of Echo & The Bunnymen at the All Points West Festival scheduled for August 2nd. I have to thank my sisters for their hospitality taking us in and caring for us from beginning to the end of our stay.

Although I love the mountain west, I grew up on Long Island and really miss the ocean, fond memories of hanging out on the beach being the lure calling me back. The sugary sand beaches. A watery wilderness that seems to be alive as endless rows of waves approach the shore. Riding the surf rolling in off of the Atlantic. First stop on the trip was a drive to Juliano's for pizza, spending sunset at the beach and getting my first taste of Carvel in a year. That was the pattern of life during much of this vacation.

One of my goals this vacation was a 3 day hike down a 21 mile stretch of Fire Island with the kids and one of my sisters. The first half of this journey was past several towns serviced only by ferries, providing us with ample opportunities to pick up food and water. We began the trip at Robert Moses State Park, passing almost immediately through a nude beach which startled us all, ending the journey at my favorite beach at Smith Point. The best footing was just above in the surf where the sand was hard packed by pounding waves, shoes and sandals giving way to bare feet.

The second half of the trip was through the Fire Island National Seashore where we were left virtually to ourselves. Although we were in one of the most populated metropolitan areas in the country, our walk was down almost empty beaches, mile after mile.The waves pounded the shore relentlessly, filling the air with an ever present roar. Fog, rain, sunshine, lightning and wind changing the mood of the landscape during our walk multiple times per day and night.

Climbs the foaming wall
Enter the door on its crest
Pass through the green room

A child's voice calling
Heard for a fleeting moment
Soon to be a man

The gray wind blowing
Dark green seas endless churning
Rain pelts wet sand

Moisture laden air
Haze obscures the horizon
Many shades of gray

Curls upon itself
A foam flecked tube of dark green
Crashes, then it dies

Meets the sandy shore
Having traveled across the sea
Sings its last hurrah

Dark clouds rolling in
Blocks the setting sun's last light
Waves singing all night

Baggy trunked surfers
Bellies on their boards, waiting
For the perfect wave

Sound that's deafening
Row upon row of foamed waves
Never ending roar

After 3 days of walking on the sand we were all nearing exhaustion. Reaching Smith Point was welcome relief, because it meant the comforts of home would soon be at hand. Although the others were anxious to leave, I could have kept on going the remaining 8 miles to the end if this piece of Fire Island. I was informed by the park rangers that camping in that direction would be prohibited. Why should that stop me, considering the same could be said for the previous two nights we spent out on the beach (at least without a free permit).

Although I was extremely tired that evening, I pulled out a Van Halen bootleg CD from their 1995 Balance tour, Crack the Secret, one of my favorite years that they performed their classic sound. Excellent soundboard recordings from two shows on that tour: the January 27, 1995 show in Arnheim, Holland, with a few additional songs added from the their November 1, 1995 concert at the Budokan in Tokyo, Japan. The beginning and end of the Balance tour. A really rocking collection of their music that had me dancing in the street in front of my sisters house late into the night, flask in one hand, a cigar in the other. After such a glorious hike and listening to some of the best music performed by Van Halen, I was in heaven! I went to sleep in the tent set up in the backyard, where I was able to spread out and inhale cooler and fresher air than could be found inside the house. That was my home for the remainder of the vacation.

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