Monday, May 19, 2014

Montauk Madness

Be careful about throwing out half-serious invitations to the Skaggs' because we will take you up on it.  We're up for anything adventurous and will drop work and school to explore.

The kids and Kevin played hookey on Friday.  We woke early and grabbed a trusty Zipcar around the corner to join our friends Alina and Tom and Luke (and a group of their friends) in Montauk, NY.  The group has been going annually for many years and I think Alina might not have expected me to jump at the chance when she mentioned in passing, "you should join us sometime."

Montauk is at the very end of the tip of Long Island.  Normally a two to three hour drive, we took our time on Friday making many stops along the way and didn't arrive until dinnertime.  First, we lunched in the famed Hamptons.  The Hamptons include many small towns in the area and is home to some of the most expensive real estate in the entire United States.  It's a very popular destination for monied New Yorkers to summer (yes, the verb, to summer).  

From there we headed just north to the home and studio of the famous painter Jackson Pollock and his wife Lee Krasner. 

I've been wanting to see their studio ever since we watched a documentary about him with the kids and then took them to see several of his paintings at the Museum of Modern Art.  Now the kids have seen enough of his paintings to be able to quickly identify them at The Met or the MoMA or in a book.  Drip and splatter painting hold a special appeal to 6 and 8-year-olds.

After her death, Lee Krasner left the house and studio to be kept as a museum.  If people lost interest, she said, they could be sold and put towards her foundation that gives grants to struggling artists.  I have a feeling interest won't be lost for a long time.

The most amazing part was seeing the floor of their studio.  Covered in paint splatters, it was a piece of artwork itself.  And given that his paintings sell for millions of dollars, I'm surprised that we were allowed to walk on it (even in the booties they gave us).

We were toured through their main house (a very small, modest home that was bought for them by Peggy Guggenheim, the famous heiress/art collector) and then drove down the road to see their graves, side by side (even though he died 30 years earlier than she did and with his mistress at his side).  

From there we took the one lane road the rest of the way to Montauk.  Montauk was first settled by the Dutch in the early 1600s who found the Montaukett tribe already living there.  It is an old fishing village which is now a very popular destination with young surfers and New Yorkers who can't quite afford The Hamptons (although the properties we saw would hardly be called affordable) and is filled with motels and bars and health food stores and surf shops.  It is absolutely beautiful with six state parks, gorgeous beaches and the fourth oldest lighthouse in the country.

We climbed the 137 steps to the top and got to see the amazing unobstructed views.

This is where I found out about Holden's fear of heights.  He gripped my hand the entire way up.

We spent some more time on the beach and then walking around town, checking out the fishing docks.

And then a couple hours before sunset we met up with the rest of the group at the Montauket Hotel.  It's at the top of a hillside and is the place to be at sunset with a drink in your hand and a lobster roll on your plate.  We lucked out and came to Montauk on the weekend of the annual Montauk Music Festival, so everywhere we went we were serenaded by live music (look for the band at the top).

Ella is happiest on the beach.  She could play in the surf and sand for hours and hours.  So it didn't take much convincing for us to agree to spend a few hours on Sunday doing nothing but hanging out on the beach.  This time we discovered a short hike down to Ditch Plains beach and the kids played and built a sand kingdom while we read and walked and relaxed.

See, it doesn't take much to win Parents of the Year with her.

We took our time getting home on Sunday too, with a stop over in Sag Harbour.  Sag Harbor is a village on the northernmost tip of Long Island and is a very old whaling town.  From its being settled in the early 1700s until the discovery of petroleum in the mid-1800s, it was a very important and busy place with whalers who would sail from there to capture and kill whales to use their oil (blubber) to light lamps.  We toured the local Whaling & Historical Museum to learn more than we ever wanted to know about whaling.

There were tears on Monday morning when the alarm went off.  The kids didn't want the weekend to end.  It's always hardest to return to a routine after such a fun weekend.


  1. Holden and I could have stayed on the ground together. I hate heights.

    1. Yeah, she won't even go on the roof with mom and dad to fix the cooler.

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