Thanks to the coronavirus, this summer was a washout when it came to taking a vacation. First of all, where were you going to go? Like most Long Islanders, we spent the summer without ever leaving the Island. I got an email from New York State EZ-Pass, wondering whatever happened to me.
We were planning a Florida trip when the world stopped spinning in March, also causing our mid-May plans to return to Chincoteague Island in Virginia to be scuttled. Venturing out of the house has been limited to just a few hours at a barbecue or some other outdoor activity with close relatives and friends.
Deciding that it was now or never to do something before I have to break out the shovels from the shed, we met up with some family and friends at the Haven Montauk in mid-October. Although most of Montauk was open for some business during the summer, they seemed to have rolled up the sidewalks early this fall.
Some restaurants are open, but only on the weekend. Others have cheery window signs that say, “See you in the Spring!” It seems that the motels and hotels didn’t get the memo informing their patrons wouldn’t have a place to eat dinner.
We found reasonably priced rooms at the Haven Montauk (formerly Blue Haven), just a few hundred yards from Gosman’s Dock. For less than $150 a night, we booked a mid-week excursion, rode the complimentary bikes, took advantage of the outdoor seating area and had a rollicking time at the nightly firepit. The fact that we were just a few miles from downtown Montauk was irrelevant. We brought food with us for lunch, had bagels for breakfast, and enough adult beverages to keep the party going. We even ordered takeout pizza.
We searched for an hour trying to find an open restaurant one night. We shunned the Shagwong (they wouldn’t let us use the bathroom while we were on the waiting list) and triumphantly located South Edison Seafood around the corner. On our last day, we went to IGA for supplies and had ourselves a BBQ back at the Haven. We even had fresh fish caught by our friend Billy off the jetty by Gosman’s.
The odd thing was it didn’t feel like Montauk. Not that we would have been sunbathing or swimming no matter where we stayed in mid-October, although a heated pool would have been nice. When you think of Montauk, you think of beaches, restaurants and nightlife. Our nightlife consisted of listening to music for my age group and making fires on the beach. I can’t say the same for the young-uns, but our days of pounding music and crowded nightspots are thankfully over.
That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy smelling like smoke for three days as we stream music by the fire pit. Friends and family are what vacations are all about. The laughs, the good times, the remembering (or trying to remember). It’s a chance to get away from your day-to-day activities. It’s a shared experience and takes you away from your dining room table or back yard.
Let’s face it, we’re no longer spring chickens. We have different lives and obligations. We’ve helped our children grow and prepared them for this thing we call life. They don’t need us 24-hours a day anymore. Now it’s our time to relax and let loose.
Although this pandemic has put a crimp in group activities, it has robbed us of the one thing we don’t have anymore. Time. We are not going to get a do-over in 2021. The clock didn’t stop in March and it certainly doesn’t restart just because the calendar turns to 2021. Nobody has a crystal ball for the future.
But with friends and family, there is no clock to worry about. Getting together and reminiscing about your lives is timeless.
Unless it goes past nine o’clock. At our age, we shine ‘til nine…
Paul DiSclafani, a Massapequa resident, is a Press Club of Long Island award-winning columnist (2018, 2020) and an Anton Media Group contributor since 2016.