Breezy Point Scenes

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Breezy Point, Queens, New York.  July 2015.

Graceful sleeper, you midnight dreamer

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Last week I biked out through the dunes east of the city with no particular plan and no real idea of what I would find.  A few spur of the moment turns off of the main path and I wound up here, acres and acres of ruby red on all sides.  Except for the sound of the crashing waves on the other side of the dunes, it was silent, and I stood alone, a little frightened and also a little bit happy, in this otherworldly dream-scape, just me and the creeping fog.

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Fort Ord Dunes State Park.  Monterey, CA. October, 2014.

The sea sang a love song

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Pacific Coast Highway near San Louis Obispo, CA.  September, 2014.

Well beyond the waves

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Bainbridge Island, Washington State. July 2014.

High as the flame will rise

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As a post-wedding treat, the bride and groom put together a little campfire on the beach at Puget Sound.  Happy to be together as long as possible, everyone gathered on the beach around the flames, watching the sun set behind the Olympic Mountains, toasting marshmallows, and trying to stretch out the evening, the laughter, the hugs and the togetherness just a little longer.

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It’s Friday, I’m in love

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East coast weekends have been few and far between this summer, but it’s been nice to explore other parts of the country.  There have been a couple of exceptions, like a brief, lovely visit to Breezy Point in Queens to see family.  We had cool and windy weather, and we basked in a few dramatic sunsets over Manhattan and Coney Island from the beach house deck.

This weekend is another one on the east coast, though again away from home.  We’re making a whirlwind trip up to the north shore of Massachusetts for a few family celebrations, and if we are lucky, some good seafood and a quick trip to the beach.  Fingers crossed.

Hope you have a great weekend!

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Drive fast, go north

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Traveling north on Route 1, where the cliffs rise straight out of the sea, the air smells like strawberries, and the sunny skies are suddenly overtaken with a rolling wave of fog.  West coast summer, I love you so.

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Where nothing at all needs saying

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And the moon swam back

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One day the one you battle might be me

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Wanderings: Carmel-by-the-sea

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It’s been really wonderful to be a short drive away from the beautiful town of Carmel-by-the-sea.  I love walking around the adorable cottages in town and we’ve had amazing meals at La Bicyclette, Cantinetta Luca, and Mission Ranch, but my favorite part is getting there a few hours before dinner and walking around the beautiful beaches.  The sea layer creates a dramatic evening sky, and I love watching the surfers, feeling the fine white sand between my toes, and clambering over the amazing cypress trees.

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Wanderings: Asbury Park

Some cities will always photograph well; I’m drawn back to the loveliness of New York and Paris again and again.  Lately though, I’m in love with small town Americana, preferably by the seaside on a cloudy day.  I like the contrast of new and old, the unabashed use of color, the giant structures tempting fate right at the edge of the waves.  I had so much fun taking photos, that I practically had to be dragged back to the hotel to get ready for dinner.

Wanderings: A quiet weekend on the Jersey shore

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Life often gets in the way of special days.  Some days, anniversaries give way to demands from work, and some years we set aside birthdays to be present for milestones in the lives of people we love.  And that’s alright.  We make other time to celebrate each other.

This year our anniversary got sidelined by demands from my job, so at the last minute we used an invitation to a baby shower in New Jersey for the following weekend as an excuse to plan a last minute getaway.  A historic hotel in Asbury Park had an open room that overlooked the sea, and before we knew it, we had rented beach cruisers and set off south along the boardwalk.

It was cool and breezy, and we spent lazy hours biking down the boardwalks of town after town along the Jersey shore, the beaches still quiet in the days before the summer season.  Sometimes we stopped for coffee or food, or to warm our toes in the sand and collect sand dollars, all the while enjoying the crashing waves and each others company.

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Wanderings: Beach birthday in Galveston

We had to travel to Houston for a wedding celebration over the weekend that my Mister turned thirty.  I lived in Houston for a few years when I was very young, but haven’t spent much time there as an adult and was at a bit of a loss for things to do for a fun birthday.  Houston is a huge city and I was nervous about driving on so many highways, and getting lost or stuck in too much traffic especially on a day we meant to have fun.  At the last minute, the Mister, who grew up along the coast in New England, suggested that we drive out to Galveston and spend his birthday bumming around on the beach.  A brilliant plan!

Getting into Houston late on a Thursday night, we set out early Friday for the hour long drive to the coast.  We couldn’t have timed a trip better if we’d planned it out months in advance.  It was late enough in the season that all the spring breakers were back in school, but too early for summer vacationers, and we found ourselves with a warm, quiet island mostly to ourselves.  As a birthday treat, I sprang for beach cruiser rentals and since we were the only customers, the bike shop let us park our car in their lot for free!  We spent hours riding up and down the sea wall, taking in the golden haze, enjoying the ocean breeze, the sounds of the waves, and the frequent flocks of pelicans flying just above us.

We found a popular local lunch spot called Shrimp & Stuff—what a name!—and tucked into giant baskets of fried shrimp and oysters and hush puppies.  I chased seagulls with my camera and the birthday guy flung himself over crashing waves.  We drank giant sweet teas, chatted with locals, rode our bikes some more, and sat on our towels, staring at the ocean, losing ourselves in its sounds and smells, and tried to forget that there was anything else in the world except for us and the sun and the sand and the sea.

Wanderings: Isla Saona

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The highlight of our trip to the Dominican Republic was definitely our visit to Isla Saona, a small tropical island off the south-eastern coast of the mainland.  Conjure an image in your mind of a tropical island and it would likely mirror Saona’s white sand beaches and clear green waters.  Saona is a protected national park, which is evident by the pristine beaches, dotted only with a few thatched cabanas and day-trippers who have been dropped off by speedboats and catamarans.

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Sailing on a catamaran

Sailing on a catamaran

To get to Saona, we were driven from our resort to nearby Bayahibe, a small sea-side town.  At Bayahibe we were taken by motor boat out to a large catamaran which would take us and a large group of very enthusiastic Canadians to Saona.  Sailing on the catamaran was great fun.  Sometimes we’d lounge on the netting that spanned the boat’s hulls, soaking in the sun, and sometimes we’d relax in the shade and enjoy the dance party the Canadians were engaged in on the catamaran’s deck.  The rum was flowing freely and there was A LOT of dancing.

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Once we approached Saona, small motorboats took us from the catamaran to the shore, where plentiful beach chairs were spread out and a Dominican barbeque was being prepared.

The waters were mesmerizing; clear and warm and green as any I’ve ever seen.  It was tempting to doze off in one of the hammocks that dotted the sandy white beaches, but I was too enchanted with the sea and could hardly pull myself away from it.  We floated along the sandbars, found conch shells, and made friends with more Canadians (both Québécois and Torontonian, who, upon meeting, immediately engaged in a rum-fueled debate over which part of Canada was superior).

When it was time to go, we piled onto two long thin speedboats, which dropped us off into the shallow waters of a natural sandbar, some distance away.  We waded around in water that felt much too far from shore but only came up waist high, drank more rum, and marveled at the huge starfish that lived on the sand in those shallows.  As the light began to fade, we piled back into the speedboats and proceeded to race each other across the ocean, cheering and taunting the other boat, and nearly bouncing out of our seats with every wave we hit—a pretty exhilarating way to end an amazing day.

Look at those green, green waters

Look at those green, green waters

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Racing speedboats back to the mainland

Racing speedboats back to the mainland

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Wanderings: The Dominican Republic

Beach

Beach

We’re well into winter now and I’m starting to feel the chill in my bones.  We have a lot of traveling to do later this year, so a warm weather getaway isn’t in the cards right now.  Instead I’ve been curling up under a fuzzy blanket with a stiff drink and browsing through photos of warmer days.  Right now, I’m loving these photos from last winter, when the Mister and I snuck away for a few lazy, sun-soaked days in the Dominican Republic.

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Typically when we travel we try to find an apartment in an interesting place and explore a new country on our own.  This time, however, we were worn out from a tough year of work and politics, and we decided to book an all-inclusive trip through CheapCaribbean.com.  It came highly recommended by a colleague who grew in the Virgin Islands, and it’s my new favorite travel site.   We found so many great rates on all inclusive package deals and our trip was wonderful and stress-free.

Poolside cabana

Poolside cabana

For five perfect days, we stayed at the Grand Bahia Principe resort in La Romana, Dominican Republic.  The resort arranged to have us picked up at the airport and from that moment on we had no logistics to worry about.  Food was readily available at the resort, excursions were just a matter of flipping through a colorful booklet, and cocktails were included and plentiful.  Wireless internet was only available in the resort lobby, which made it very easy to disconnect.  There were plenty of chairs available at the beach or by the pool.  As all good resorts should, there was a bar in the pool, and we quickly became it’s little satellites, never straying too far.

Pier gazebo

Pier gazebo

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Wonderful open air lobby

Lobby

The perfect place to shelter from the once-a-day 15 minute downpours

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Lush, lovely greenery around our balcony

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Gardens from the balcony

Gardens from the balcony

Dominican sunset

Dominican sunset

Wanderings: Santa Cruz

Amusement park on the Santa Cruz board walk

Amusement park on the Santa Cruz board walk

While in California we had hoped to have a chance to meet up with a couple of good friends who live in the Bay area.   We’d all been traveling a lot, only had part of one day free, and they have a baby, so when our friend hit on the solution of meeting up half way in Santa Cruz, we thought “Perfect!”  On Sunday morning, we rented a car and made the hour long drive north.

Beach baby in her french duds

Beach baby in the outfit we got her in Paris last year

Santa Cruz Beach

Santa Cruz Beach

Getting some quality snuggle time

Getting some quality snuggle time

I’d never been to Santa Cruz before and it was really the perfect town to meet up for a few hours.  It was still a little foggy when we arrived, so we parked near the boardwalk, got espressos and drifted down to the beach to watch the volleyball players.  Not long after, our friends arrived with a beach blanket and picnic food.  We set up a few feet up from the water, snacked and caught up, and dug in the sand with the baby, all the while watching athletes complete a triathlon along one stretch of the beach.

Boardwalk

Boardwalk

Pat the Beard-y

Pat the Beard-y

Once the sun had burned through the fog and we’d had a chance to soak up the warmth, we packed up the blanket and headed over to the boardwalk to check out the amusement park and the arcades.  It was fun to see the baby taking in all the lights and sounds and the movement of the rides, sometimes wide-eyed and sometimes squealing in delight.  We hadn’t seen her since last summer when she still so tiny and sleepy, and now she’s practically a pro at walking.

Selfies from the chair lift

Selfies from the chair lift

Chair lift

Chair lift

Hi!

Hi!

We women snuck off on our own to ride the colorful chair lifts high above the park, and the men and the baby wandered around the rides and booths below.

Nom nom softserve.

Nom nom softserve.

Playing well so we can win her a big prize

Playing well so we can win her a big prize

We combined all our tickets and got her this sea horse.  She approved.

We combined all our tickets and got her this sea horse. She approved.

Like the end of any perfect summer trip, we indulged in vices treats like corn dogs and chocolate dipped ice cream cones.  We wandered into the arcades and did our best to win enough tickets to buy the baby something cute, and when we came up short, we fed more money into the token machines so we could win more tickets.  Eventually we racked up enough tickets to get her a soft blue sea horse on a bendable stick, and she rewarded our efforts by laughing and repeatedly giving it kisses.

Making friends

Making friends

Such a cool theatre and I want to see Mason Jennings!

Such a cool theatre and I want to see Mason Jennings!

Wanderings: Monterey

After a satisfying hour of looking for sea glass

After a satisfying hour of looking for sea glass

After nearly two weeks spent in California, I’m finally home and it feels strange to no longer be two blocks from the ocean.  I already miss the crashing waves and smell of eucalyptus.

Bougainvillea

Bougainvillea

Beach path leading down to Monterey Bay

Beach path leading down to Monterey Bay

I worked via laptop most of the time I was away, so it wasn’t really a vacation.  Still, it was amazing to walk down to the bay when I was done for the day and work with the windows thrown wide open because the weather was so lovely.   I’ll likely be back again in early December and I’m already making lists of things I didn’t have time to do this time.  Longer bike rides and boating, the aquarium and the markets.

A little strip of beach near Cannery Row

A little strip of beach near Cannery Row

Wandering around the neighborhoods before dinner

Wandering around the neighborhoods before dinner

California was golden days and the perfect blend of warm and cool.  Now I’m home and the heat seems to have burned off for the year.  It really feels like the start of autumn and I’m looking up and waiting for the leaves to change.  Its been more than five years since I was last in school and summer blends into the other seasons with no clear delineation.  This year feels different.

Candy shop along fisherman's wharf

Candy shop along fisherman’s wharf

Kayak crossing

Kayak crossing

I want one of these perfect little bungalows

I want one of these perfect little bungalows

Cormorants and gulls

Cormorants and gulls

Dunes

Dunes

Brown pelican and the marina

Brown pelican and the marina

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