My dad's birthday is on July 14th, and in the past my parents and I have gone on our "big trip:" Hawai'i, Alaska, Seattle and the Pacific Northwest Coast, etc. But since my mom retired from teaching, they've been taking full advantage of her ability to travel any time of year. The past few years they've gone on their big trip with some close family friends. So our new tradition is to go to Montauk for my dad's birthday. I played hooky on Monday, 7/13. We drove out in the morning and stopped at Montauk Bake Shoppe for jelly-filled croissants. Then we spent a good part of the day at Hither Hills State Park. It's a beach/campground on the far west end of Montauk.
Paradise does indeed exist. It was a beautiful beach day. Perfect. There were hardly any waves, so it was easy to take a relaxing dip in the ocean. Since Hither Hills is a campground, they have a bathhouse with showers. After almost losing a limb to shower-induced frostbite, we walked around town until dinner.
I've written briefly about Montauk before, when I posted my Montauk Summers Spotify playlist. When I was 6 and 7 years old, my parents rented a house in Montauk for the summer with the same "travel buddy" family friends. So many of my most cherished childhood memories stem from our summers in Montauk, so it's a very special place to me.
A lot has changed since the mid-90s. Over the years, the New York City bourgeois culture has slowly crept in and dug its immaculate manicured fingers into the once quaint little village. For example, the family-owned single screen movie theater is now a SoulCycle studio. But at its heart, it's still the same rustic beach town I grew up loving so much. It has this unmistakable salt water smell that has the slightest hint of fish and low tide, and I find it so comforting.