Monday, August 17, 2015

SUMMER 2015 Block Island and the Hamptons

Do any of you remember this expression?
It came from a Pantene shampoo ad campaign years ago.  It has since been spoofed and parodied by comedians and been on Tee shirts, bumper stickers, etc.
It's been on my mind a lot lately but with a slight twist:
Don't hate us because we have the most fabulous mission in the world.
Ha! Ha!
But seriously...
We can't help it if we are surrounded by all this natural beauty and history and have the opportunity to see and experience it.
Sure we could sit in our apartment all day while Dale makes and takes his calls or...
we can be out and about enjoying all this area offers.
We choose the second option.
As a reminder, our mission basically consists of Dale being available by phone 24/7 to advise and counsel the nurses and missionaries in 9 missions here in the NorthEast.  The missionaries call the nurses or the mission presidents' wives with their medical problems.  If the nurse or president's wife doesn't know how to handle it they call Dale.  He discusses what is going on with them, then calls the missionary himself and talks further with them about the problem. Then he advises usually one of the following:
I know what it is. Here is what you need to do...
Take the prescribed medications I will order for you.
Go to an Urgent Care.
Go to a specialist.
Go to an Emergency Room right away.
Or , in unusual cases, he has the option of calling specialist in any field (the church has provided a list) to counsel with them.
He then, of course, has all the follow-up calls with the missionaries and the nurse.
He also has to send in reports each week to the Church's Mission headquarters in Salt Lake City.
We were told that we can go anywhere within our 9 missions as long as he has his phone and can be contacted.
So we do!

Next month we are going to the Maritime Provinces in Canada for zone conferences. And once there, we will have been in all of of 9 missions except Long Island and Bermuda.  Bermuda is part of the NYNY South Mission. We decided to go visit Long Island last week so we can say we visited all our areas. (well, except Bermuda.  That seems a little much even for us :) !)

We were hoping to meet the Eckerts while there.  They are a husband wife team, both nurses, serving that mission.  Sadly, we couldn't coordinate with them.  They are amazing and do an incredible job there.  They help Dale tremendously and make his and their mission president's job a lot easier.

First Stop: Block Island

It was named one of the last great places in the western hemisphere by the Nature Conservancy.
More than 44% of the island is preserved.  Besides the ever present sea and beautiful beaches there are rolling hills, lush farmland and stunning vistas every where you gaze.
 It is a mere 7 miles long and 3 miles wide.  28 miles of walking trails, 365 fresh water ponds (amazing considering its size!), 300 to 400 miles of stone walls ( reminded me of Ireland).  17 miles of beaches. All free. (and free parking!) and all gorgeous!
One K-12 school with 117 students.
It is ferry accessible from Rhode Island (of which it is part), New York (Long Island), and Connecticut.

It has been on my Bucket List for as long as I can remember.  Dale had never heard of it.  How do I know about these places?  I'm not sure.  But I think Coastal Living magazine is responsible for  my knowledge of many of them.

All I do know for sure is...


Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket and Mount Desert Island and Balboa Island are my other loves.

I don't know what it is about me and islands, but something about them speaks to my soul.  I have been in and loved beautiful, charming coastal towns and villages but they do not hold me spellbound like the islands do.  
I try and picture myself living there year round.  Would I get island fever? Could I stand the long, cold winters?  I like to think I could.  I like to think I would savor the quietness and indulge in the 'gentle hobbies' of reading and crafting and projects by the fire over the winter and long walks, reading by the sea,  biking, and gardening in the other seasons.  And visiting with friends year long. 
It all appeals to me. A slower pace in a place time 'forgot'. 

We took the 8:30 am ferry from New London, Connecticut which is about an hour and 45 minutes from our apartment.  The ferry ride to the island is about an hour and 15 minutes.
I am also crazy over lighthouses and I saw more than I ever dreamed of in such a short time on the ferry there and to Long Island. Heaven!  The photos aren't the best as I was about to be blown overboard by the wind and had a pretty unsteady hand but you can get a taste of my delight!

I'm saving some for the return trip.  :)

Ferry passengers.  Pretty comfy.

Elder B doing his thing.  
See? Working all the time.

Arriving into Old Harbor, Block Island.
 Port on one side, beach on the other.

The first thing we did we when arrived was rent a moped.  It is very safe to drive one there because there are hardly any cars. In fact, the only traffic jams we saw were of bikes! It was almost comical. I didn't get a pic but I have never seen so many bicycles in my life outside of Holland. 
Since the island is so small we were told we could see it in 2 hours.  We took the challenge!

First stop was the Southeast Lighthouse.  
This one is running for a tie vote for my favorite lighthouse so far with the Nubble Lighthouse in York, Maine.

 The view from the lighthouse porch.
We both agreed that this is the best lighthouse keepers house so far.

Isn't it marvelous?

Just around the corner from the lighthouse are the Mohegan Bluffs.  A hundred steps lead to the beach.  A favorite surfing spot. 

We then toured around the middle of the island on our way to New Harbor.

I regret not stopping for more pictures ( this one was taken while driving) but we were just savoring the ride.  I have to say I have never smelled an island more lovely than this.  Never smelled pretty much anything better than this anywhere.  Bayberries and roses are planted all along the roadsides and those two pleasing scents mixed with the sea salt air is a heavenly combination!
See what I mean about it looking like Ireland? Love stone walls.

Painted Rock
It wasn't until after we had whizzed by here and were back in town that I found out about this fun island tradition.  It's one of those locals only thing.  It is literally just a big rock by the side of the road that has been painted and repainted thousands of times with messages ranging from crazy to wedding proposals  to presidential welcomes.  It started in 1062 as a Halloween prank by 2 teenagers.  Since then it receives a facelift almost every single week.  

The Oar Restaurant
We stopped at New Harbor specifically to see this establishment. I had heard it was worth a look.
Fun and Fabulous!

Popular place!

Kids were catching crabs off the docks and rocks with string just like we do back on Balboa Island.

 North Lighthouse

 So happy to finally get to try Del's lemonade!
It is famous in Rhode Island.
We have to say it may just be the best we've ever had.
It's kind of a mix of frozen lemonade and perfect homemade lemonade.

 I am seriously thinking of this for my next car.  
A bug convertible! Of course I would get a different color and add the bells and whistles like daisy hub caps, etc.    ;)

Teeny tiny gave yard.

Darling farmhouses with little farms and gardens were scattered everywhere. 
So inviting.

We headed back to the other end of the island to turn in our moped passing mile after mile of a gorgeous beach and beautiful homes, all the while breathing in that delicious scent of bayberry and roses. 

I have to say that was one of the most pleasurable 2 hours I've spent in a while.  The fresh sea air, the lovely scented air, the wind in my hair and the sun on my back, breath-taking was exhilarating and yet somehow peaceful at the same time.  Pure bliss. 

After our ride we walked to The Spring House Hotel for lunch on their porch overlooking the grounds and the sea.  We shared lobster fritters and fish tacos savoring the view. 

After lunch, and after Dale made a few more phone calls, we explored the town of Old Harbor on foot.  

(did you notice the butterfly?)

 This is Kid Beach. Calmer waters. This entire stretch of coastline that you can see here is known as Crescent beach but it is made up of at least 4 beaches with names of local interest. 

Cute!  They've named it the Doll House but it's a home to some lucky people. 

And of course no trip to an island would be complete without some homemade ice cream.

Quaint little movie theatre.

Just before getting on our return ferry at 4:55, we checked out the action at Ballard's Beach.  
Good ol' fashioned fun happening right here. 

Ballard's beach was the party music, dancing, bigger waves. 

 Terrible pic but this lifeguard was pretty chill... not sure I'd want her watching over my kids.  It looked like she was painting her toenails when we got there.  

Perfect day. Saw and did pretty much everything on our list. 

Some of the homes on the way back to New London.

We took the 4:55 ferry home because we were catching the 7:00 ferry to Orient Point , Long Island that same day both from the same dock in New London. 
I heard about this from a doctor I see here.  He mentioned  at one visit that he goes to Long Island every summer with his family and stays at the beach for a week.  I was surprised he would go so far when Cape Cod is right here.  He said the main reason they go there is because the water is warmer. Long Island gets the Gulf Stream but the way it curves at the end on Montauk, it 'kicks' the current out to sea, by-passing New England. And, it doesn't take that much longer to get there due to the ferries.
An hour and a half ferry ride to Orient Point, then you take two very short ferries from Greenport to Shelter Island and from Shelter Island to Sag Harbor. 
As it was going to be dark when we got there we opted to take the 'long way around' to our hotel in Southampton  and save the  little ferries fun for our return trip home.

Lighthouse at dusk.

The car ferry to Long Island.  We took a smaller, passenger only ferry to Block Island.

Since we weren't able to meet with the Eckerts who are on the Western part of the island towards NYC, we decided to focus our time exploring the Hamptons and Montauk at the extreme Eastern end.

Our first day there it poured, thundered and lightninged with the force of a tropical storm all day until around 5 pm. The rain came down so hard you could barely see through your windshield.  We didn't complain.  We both know and acknowledged that we have been extremely blessed when it comes to weather on our trips. This really was the first time it interfered with any plans.
We still went out and explored the major villages of the Hamptons as best we could but gave into the weather and went to a matinee in the afternoon (along with just about everyone else there!) 

The following photos were all taken in East Hampton.

A Ralph Lauren shop.

 The theater.

 Another Ralph Lauren shop.
There were at least 4 different Ralph Lauren stores in this one village.

 The lovely drive down to the beach.

 The privacy hedges edging the loooooong driveways leading to the incredible estates. 

#1 Beach in the U.S. according to DR. Beach. (not this year...he changes it every year)

 I'll take it!

The next day was absolutely glorious.  Our plan was to head for Montauk , the 'wild' child of Long Island- not really part of the Hamptons and at the very tip of Long Island.  A favorite spot for surfers and the younger crowds.  

11 windmills are scattered through out the area.  Two have been made into homes. They were used primarily as grist mills, grinding grain into flour.  

We heard this was a must see stop...the favorite fresh-from- the -farm stand in the Hamptons. 

Very Americana!  Loved it!

The Surf Lodge in Montauk
Ok.  Prepare for some serious photo overload here.  I had seen photos of this place in magazines and really wanted to see it in person.  
It supposedly put Montauk on the map with the hip young crowd years ago with its cool, surfer, trendy vibe.  I thought it was awesome!  It's fairly expensive and the reviews said it is showing its age-worn and dirty cushions, etc.,  and it's party central at night so we didn't stay there but I'm so glad I got to see it. 

 Notice the outdoor movie screen.

 I did this in the vintage mode to go with the 60's vibe.

  I absolutely love love love this lighting treatment!
I have seen pictures of it at night and it is stunning!
Maybe I'll do something like this over a patio of my own some day. 

 But this effect is pretty stunning in its own right.  Love the pattern the shadows make.

Surf Lodge...I love you!

(although the reviews were is looking pretty ratty around the edges close up.)

Navy Beach Restaurant on Navy Beach, Montauk

 Amazing, yes?

 Finally!  A good photo from a waiter! :)

The Famous fried chicken.  
What makes it famous, you ask?
Soon after the restaurant opened, Martha Stewart no less (who lives in the Hamptons), came to try it out.  She loved the fried chicken so much that she reserved the entire restaurant and held one of her birthday parties here.  

But the real reason (well, besides the fact that is right on the sand and so fun and fresh and wonderful) I wanted to eat here is because Paul McCartney frequents it.  He also has a home in the Hamptons.  I'm pretty sure he doesn't spend the busy tourist season here but still, one can never miss an opportunity.  :)

 Yes.  They serve you your food on these lounge beds.

 The interior was beautiful as well.

 Very rocky beach.  Couldn't find a heart rock though.  :(

Love these clouds!

In the parking lot.

George Washington !

 Searching for marine life (or sea glass for me).

 The surfing village of Montauk.

Rushmeyers, Montauk
Here is another quirky,trendy, fun place that draws the younger crowd.  It also gets pretty rowdy at night and is getting pretty grimy around the edges.  Great idea though!  Just needs some sprucing up.

It used to be a summer camp years ago and someone creatively made into a hip and happening hotel.  

 I really liked it but it needs a major overhauling before I would stay there. 

Montauk Harbor
We love to stop by as many harbors as we can.  We find them fascinating with their great mix...everything from huge yachts to hard working fishing boats.  

A couple of friends stopped to pose for me. 

We stopped at Hither Hills State Park Beach on our way back.
 We found it interesting that the lifeguards here were old and grey (like us!)

You know us and our ice cream fixation by now.
We heard this was also a must try so we stopped here and shared some fresh peach homemade ice cream.  Good stuff! Cute place!

 We caught it at just the right time because there was a line out the door the last time we drove by here - and that was when it was raining! 

Another of Dr. Beach's Best Beaches... Main Beach, East Hampton.
This made the top 50 this year.

 A few differences between these beaches and H.B....
no swimming after 5 PM when the lifeguard leaves
they have bath houses for rent
and gorgeous homes share the dunes with you.

Our hotel was just minutes away from the Shinecock Hills Golf Course, ranked #5 in the U.S., so naturally we had to at least go by and see it.


My very favorite food on the earth is a fresh from the oven, homemade, chocolate chip cookie.
If I could only eat one thing before I died, that would be it.
Better than lobster, steak, sushi, you name it.
Nothing beats it in my book.
I heard about this bakery when we were in NYC but didn't have time to go there. They say it has the ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie.  When I found out there was one in the Hamptons, I was ecstatic.
Said we were going every day.  Made it 2 out of 3. 
Hello! Pure scrumptiousness and perfection right here ladies and gentlemen.

Whoever "they" are, were not lying this time when 'they' said this is THE best! 
Heaven in your mouth.
A little crunchy on the outside but 
ooey gooey melting chocolate soft goodness on the inside.
And HUGE!  One cookie equals 4-5 normal sized ones.  Believe it or not, I couldn't finish this.  And it still tasted just as good and just as perfect later that night. 

This was another bakery which others claim have the best Chocolate Chip Cookie.
We found it, went in, saw the cookies and left without even trying them.
Small, very thin, and very crispy hard. 
While that may be one person's definitive idea of a perfect cookie (maybe for dipping in milk?),
but it is not ours.  
LeVain's wins!

Alright- so we are in the Hamptons, right?  It seems just about every celebrity there is has a house here. Want to see what some of them look like? Here you go...

Notice the pond at the back of the property.

Beach and ocean in your front yard, marsh and pond in your backyard.  

They are everywhere too. Not just a few.  Every. Where. 
You can't see many of them but you can see the long hedge lined drives that lead to them. 
I call this the land of hedges and hydrangeas. 
Hedge trimming is a full time big business here. 
We just missed the peak of the hydrangea season.  Most were on their way out but still they were everywhere as well.

 On our final day here we chose to visit the historic district of East Hampton first. 

Beautiful old cemetery in the middle of town.

Another windmill.

We popped into a little museum and saw this exhibit.

We were wondering if they ice skate on this pond in winter.

This answers our question. :)

An entrance to one of the homes.

The homes in the historic district are of a more "modest"scale.

I love that quote and I know I used it last summer as well but I couldn't help but think upon it over and over as I walked hand in hand with my companion down these pleasing, tree lined, tree shaded sidewalks on a picture perfect summer's day.  Not too hot but warm enough to appreciate shade and a slight breeze. Perfect.

I must say the Hamptons are among the most beautiful places we have been. Everything is gorgeous here.  Gorgeous homes. Gorgeous properties. Gorgeous beaches. Gorgeous villages.  Gorgeous tree lined streets.  Gorgeous gardens.   All well kept and groomed tidily. All charming.   One can certainly see what draws the rich and famous here. 
 I didn't get a lot of photos from the other villages or even the main street in East Hampton because we were there during the rainstorm. 

After leaving East Hampton, we headed to Sag Harbor. 

The old vintage cinema. Now half art gallery and half working cinema.

This town is about as All-American as you can get. American flags flying everywhere. I adore it.

Farewell Hamptons. Hello Shelter Island and the South Ferry.

Then onto the North Ferry  to Greenport then on to Orient Point and the Cross Sound Ferry back to New London.

We pulled into New London harbor just as the sun was setting. Magical ending to a magical trip. 

The beauties and wonders of nature and the gifts and talents of mankind always give us pause and set our hearts rejoicing.  
We are so grateful to have seen and experienced this part of our wonderful world. 


  1. That island was made for you!!! Love it all. So glad you are living the dream :)

  2. that's it...i'm moving to an estate in the hamptoms and eating martha's fave fried chicken everyday while i lounge beachside. are you kidding me?? so crazy beautiful!

    and that levain glad you finally tried it because i have been wondering about the hype myself. it does look too crunchy on the outside and too cakey in the middle for my taste, but ill take your word for it!