Another time, when my wife and I were dating, we took a day trip to Craigville Beach and laid out on the sand.
It was a windy day and all I remember is that the sand was blowing in our face and we didn't even go in the water.
We also attended a wedding on Cape Cod.
For a long time I let that middle experience dictate my views on Cape Cod - I didn't think I'd enjoy spending extended time there.
Then last week happened.
My wife gets credit for planning this one - she thought of it way back in the winter. She found the place where we stayed, she picked the days we went...she was the mastermind.
She found a place called The Ocean View, on Craigville Beach in Centerville, and we went with most of her family for a couple of days.
The timing was right - some towns were still in school (due to added-on time from snow days and the hurricane), so the beach was pretty empty. (It didn't hurt that it was also a Wednesday-Thursday trip rather than a weekend.)
The Ocean View is across the street (and a parking lot) from the beach. Our room was perfect - we all stayed in a big suite, and I can not tell you as a parent how convenient it is to be able to walk to the beach rather than having to pack everyone up in the car and wipe off the sand and dry off wet bottoms before they sit on the car seats etc. etc. etc. The picture at the top of this post is the view of the hotel from the beach. This picture is a view of the beach from in front of the hotel.
The days were perfect too - sunny, the Cape wind (which I've now decided is a thing and not just a coincidence that the wind happens to pick up whenever we're there) acted like air conditioning on muggy days rather than a source of annoyance, and the water was the calmest I've ever seen.
The last time I went to the beach it was July 2009, and that was a particularly stormy summer, I think. The days we spent at the beach in Montauk were sunny, but the water was churning. It was rough - there were a couple of times I went in the water and I started making my way back to shore and didn't know if I was going to make it back. I got my butt kicked. I still have scars on my knee from those days when the waves crashed me down onto the sand. (Is it coincidence that it took me four years to get back in the ocean? Maybe. But maybe not.)
This time the ocean was like a pool. Literally. The waves gently broke on the shore and I was thrilled that my daughters showed no fear wading into the water or sitting on the sand and letting the waves splash on top of their legs. (This fearlessness might become dangerous on days when the ocean is rough, but I'll cross that bridge when we come to it since we visit the ocean so infrequently. I'm just excited right now that we're dealing with the opposite of the usual with my daughters, which is excess caution.) It was a great beach vacation.
I'm looking forward to building on this momentum and doing other water-related activities with my girls. It's also not out of the question for us to take a day trip to the beach now, knowing that it wouldn't be a waste of our time.
I took a trip to Martha's Vineyard a bunch of years ago and I loved it - the beach reminded me of Montauk, which for me is the ideal against which all other beaches are measured. After my previous experiences on Cape Cod I just never thought it would measure up - I didn't like the shells in the sand. And that wind. My goodness.
I still prefer Montauk because it's where I spent so much of my childhood summers. There are great family memories from the beaches there. But now I have my own family of five. And we have had one great vacation experience in Montauk (well, we were a family of four then) and now another great vacation experience on Cape Cod.
And at the end of July my wife and I are going to another wedding on the Cape. She had the great idea that we should make a weekend out of it. At the time she booked it I wasn't too thrilled about that.
Now I can't wait to go back.