I'm still gonna write up your requests, don't worry. Just have other stuff going on too.
I've been dealing with a lot of stress lately. The reasons why aren't really important. But even my writing here has gotten really uptight, I know it. It almost doesn't even feel like a blog anymore when I read back some of my posts over the last few months. It's like reading a really boring book. Or a newspaper column. You know, I like some of my posts here, but almost all of the best ones were written in 2007 or earlier.
I need a real vacation, I need to go somewhere far away for a long time. I need to escape from New York. But I can't, not this year. So we drove out east as far as we could for the day to try to get away, first to the North Fork of Long Island and then to Montauk. Can't go any further east than Montauk without swimming.
We hit wine country first. Did some tasting, bought $100 worth of wine at Paumanok vineyards. There was nobody there so early on a Thursday, it was great. Apparently on weekends a lot of people come from the city and use these places as cheap bars, but it was really quiet yesterday. Paumanok has great wine, too.
If you don't know Long Island wine country (and I didn't myself before yesterday), it's really like the Napa Valley of the northeast. And it's only about 20 years old. The North Fork is just nothing but wineries and vineyards for probably 20 miles, with the odd goat farm thrown in here and there, and farmers selling fresh fruits and vegetables from stands on the side of the road.
We also hit Pindar vineyards, where we got a guided tour of their process and did some more tasting. Pindar is bigger, and there were a bunch of people there, but I didn't like their wine as much. It's cheap table wine; Paumanok does better-quality (and more expensive) stuff. I did feel a little less intimidated at Pindar, though - at Paumanok, I felt like I had to be on point about my wine knowledge, because they won't leave you alone there. Most people like that personalized attention, but it just made it harder for me to wind down.
We originally planned to eat dinner in Greenport, one of the last towns on the North Fork, and then come home. But it was still way early, so we decided to drive down to Montauk, on the South Fork. Weren't really sure how to get there, but the GPS seemed pretty confident it would only take an hour. I guess it thinks we can drive underwater.
The ferry rides were actually pretty cool, and unexpected. This area of Long Island is not very crowded, so there's no need for a long bridge between the North Fork and Shelter Island, or Shelter Island and the South Fork. You can get out of your car and lounge around, which we did, and at that point it was a really nice day with a cool sea breeze to break the summer heat.
This is the kind of house I want when I get old. I want to retire in a place like this. Huge house, invisible from the street, private beach in an uncrowded little town. And I want a boat that I can tie to my own little dock. I'm so sick of urban life. I live in the suburbs now, but it doesn't really feel like it. We may as well be in Queens. We're only a mile away, and it's basically the same. And I work in Manhattan.
We finally got to Montauk at around 5PM and headed for the lighthouse.
This was just outside the lighthouse. This cloud ended up dumping massive amounts of rain on us later. Luckily we had made it back to the car by then. Actually, we got really lucky with the weather - first there was this cloud that started spitting just as we were walking to our car, then the skies cleared completely just in time for us to have an outdoor dinner. Then as soon as we started driving home, it poured again - and it didn't stop until the next morning.
The lighthouse, on the very eastern tip of Long Island. The nice thing about this area is that almost nobody lives here, so you can come out and be almost alone by the water. When I was younger, I lived in California for a while, and I remember lots of places where you could wander around along the ocean completely undisturbed by anyone else - even near busy areas of town. The northeast is not like that. The northeast has beaches that are either jam packed full of people all the time, or they're private and you're not allowed on. It is tough to find places where you can just go to the water and be by yourself.
Montauk is like that, at least parts of it. There are some busier areas too, but not out by the lighthouse.
There is actually a real beach too, not just the rocky stuff above.
After the lighthouse, we hit a local seafood place along Montauk Highway for dinner before heading home. This was actually the low point of the trip, so I won't dwell on it.
This trip was not enough. But it's nice to get out of here sometimes.