Westhampton Beach, NY: Family time, Sunsets, Sunrises, and Tiny Beach Shacks

A few days ago Ben and I returned from a trip back to the Motherland, aka the East Coast.   We had a great time and I tried to capture most memorable moments with my camera, but that wasn’t always possible.  Some highlights not pictured below include teaching my little sister Bridget how to jump over waves and which ones to dive under, boating with my family and getting temporarily stuck on a sandbar (or two) at dead low tide, indulging in absurdly good raspberry croissants, using the outdoor shower, kayaking with Ben and Bridget through the marshes, checking out crab pots in the bay marked by barnacled buoys, and getting tossed and tumbled hard by the waves.

Without exaggeration, it took me at least three days once I was back in Colorado for the room to stop undulating and for the water in my ears to dry up.

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When I halfheartedly suggested that we go clamming, I truly was not expecting much. The tide was low but questionable and the neighbor had offered us only one rusty clam rake, which I knew wasn’t enough for four people.

We waded into the warmish ankle deep water, down a short trail through the marsh behind the house. Tiny snails, miniature crabs, and discarded mussel shells dotted the surface of the sandy bottom, but every time you picked up a foot or dug in slightly, a huge cloud of brown muck would rise up, obscuring all of the surrounding area.  For fairly dainty people like ourselves, this was a bit unnerving.  Yes the water was pretty shallow, but there were some seriously sharp objects lurking beneath our toes, not to mention the prehistoric horseshoe crabs with spiky backs and tails designed to puncture, snoozing about one inch below the sandy surface (in reality, we accidentally slaughtered at least five of these poor guys while we were out there… RIP).

We started off slow and timid but within a half an hour  we had spread out and travelled at least a hundred feet into the bay, towards a more distant sandbar. While we had once trepidatiously prodded at the sand, now we dug in vigorously with our heels and toes, twisting our feet into the sand, congratulating one another with every new clam, and simultaneously trying to out-clam each other.  Before long we had filled up two buckets with clams- more than enough for dinner, especially considering only three people out of seven would eat them.

It’s not often you get to catch your dinner with your toes.

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Meet Daisy, the adorable and sweet Redbone Coonhound with a knack for inspecting her surroundings and winning the hearts of humans, despite her frequent bad behavior and separation anxiety.  How can you resist those jowls?

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One of the things I was most looking forward to about going back East was meditating on the beach, and it did not disappoint.  It is indescribably lovely to sit down in the sand, with the damp sea breeze on your face, listening to the crashing of the waves, the caws of gulls and chirps of piping plovers, noticing the occasional invisible sand bug creeping up your leg, and feeling the warm to cool sensation on your eyelids as the sun weaves in an out of clouds.  If you get the chance, I highly recommend it.

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One night after dinner, Ben and I took a stroll down to the beach to have some quiet time and catch the last of the evening light.  It’s a lucky moment when the sun streaks through a break in the horizon creating a beautiful yellow ray- in this case, between the roofs of  multi-million dollar oceanfront vacation homes.

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As if I needed any more confirmation, this trip validated the fact that I am an ocean person through and through. I don’t know if it’s the endless expanse of water that reveals the enormity of the world, or the relentless power of the waves that makes me feel small, or the salty breeze that ruthlessly tangles my hair and reminds me that there’s no reason to try to be something I’m not, but it’s clear to me that I need to live near the coast some day.

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The first day we tried to wake up for the sunrise, we failed.  By the time I blearily rubbed the crusty stuff out of my eyes it was already 7:15 and the sun was pretty high.  But the next day we persevered and the sky rewarded our effort. There is really nothing like waking up for a sunrise. Sunsets are great, but they are so accessible, whereas sunrises are like special secrets when you experience one. It’s something I would like to do more often, especially when there are views like these.

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“Ben, can you walk off into the distance?” “Yeah, just like that.”

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One of my obsessions in this big world is tiny things, specifically tiny houses. I love the idea of minimalism, of a small space forcing you to spend more time outside, that limits your material possessions.  A lot can be said for spacious homes as well, but I have a major soft spot for the tiny ones.

There is a famous street that runs through Westhampton Beach called Dune Road, dividing the bay from the ocean, where countless triple story vacation mansions are crammed one after the other.  They have replaced the beach shacks that have either been knocked down or washed away during hurricanes.  Despite the odds, a few little shacks have remained intact and I admire their tenacity.

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These are the Beehive Bungalows, aptly named one room shacks designed as vacation rentals with both bay and beach access.  I came by here with Ben one morning to take photos of them and the owner came out to welcome us and give us his card.  So nice and adorable- I hope they survive.

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This is not a house but it’s still darn cute.

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On our last night in at the beach we were treated to a gorgeous sunset, so I took the opportunity to play with my new camera…

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My model making his go-to face.

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Ben’s first attempt taking photos with my camera and I’d say he came out with a pretty nice portrait!

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Thanks for reading!

One thought on “Westhampton Beach, NY: Family time, Sunsets, Sunrises, and Tiny Beach Shacks

  1. great writing, brings me right back to the beach, the familiarity of the gorgeous beach at the end of Dune road; Westhampton Beach, marveling at both the mansions and beach shacks en route, noticing the changes due to mother nature’s occasional wrath… a lovely trip down memory lane for me, thanks!!

    Like

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