Monday, August 26, 2013

At My Secret Getaway Spot - Another Ewan Sighting!

Sunset from the beach in front of our hotel
 I recently heard Garrison Keillor say that happiness is boring. We don't want to hear or read about anyone else's happy life: "Oh, I love my job, my kids are great, everything's wonderful!" What's satisfying, Keillor maintains, is to commiserate - to share how crappy things are, or the stories of the awful things that have happenend but that you've survived. And he's right. No one wants to hear about my blissful vacation. Well, if you're reading this, and you keep reading this, that's exactly what you're going to read about, though there were some crappy bits too. So, if you want to know about the crappy bits and/or the Ewan McGregor part, you must read on through the good stuff.

The other aggravating thing about this post is that I'm not going to tell you where we went. My husband and I stubbornly refuse to advertise this wondrous place we go to as often as we can afford to because we don't want anyone else to know about it. Oh, plenty of people do, we just don't want anyone ELSE to know. My close friends and family already are aware, and some have begun vacationing there. Well, that's enough. NO ONE ELSE GETS TO KNOW. (Hint: it's about 2 and 1/2 hours from New York City by car and requires a ferry to get there. In other words, it's an island. I've said too much.)

So, we drive out there on Sunday August 11th, arriving about 3:00, this is after sending the child off to friends in Mexico City the day before, and frantically cleaning, packing, and filling the ice chest and food basket. We thoroughly enjoy the drive on a breathtakingly beautiful day while listening to the new David Bowie album (sensational!) and this great Johnny Cash/Bob Dylan duet LP. We stop for lobster rolls at our favorite diner that hasn't changed a whit since 1959, or so we imagine. On the ferry, we get out of the car and Jon takes pictures of me, all the while the anticipation building, as we see our island approaching. We get to the hotel, built in the '20s, a perfect blend of rusticity and elegance, and are given free drink tokens as we wait for them to ready our room. They've had a busy weekend. Before we can say bob's yer uncle, the room is ready. It has a partial water view of the bay and a full view of the salt-water pool. Again, nothing here is over the top - everything is understated and charming, even the pool. We change into bathing suits and go for a swim - it's a bit chilly because they don't heat it, but it's lovely anyway, and we enjoy tequila and oj via our drink tokens, lying there after the swim, soaking up the late afternoon rays, incredulous that we're here. We go to get ready for dinner and this is where I lose my bathing suit cover up that I took out to the pool and never put on. I never did recover it. Dinner is at the hotel, on the deck overlooking the bay  - they have a nice prix fixe menu, but Jon has the steak frite from the regular menu. I have the freshly caught swordfish and freshly plucked bay mussels and its all incredible.

The next day it's drizzly. Hmmm, ok. We take a drive out to a long spit between two beaches and explore the flora of the area. Jon photographs. We come back and hunker down in the hotel common area which is like a super comfy, huge living room, and do some writing. We love to do this on vacation, especially there. We also go into honeymoon mode back in our room if you know what I'm saying nudge, nudge, wink, wink. (TMI? Oh, sorry.) For dinner we get take out from one of the few soul food restaurants we know of anywhere other than Harlem, and, oddly, this island, which tends to mostly consist of white folk. We'd rather it didn't but it does - nothing to do about that. We enjoy a nice dinner at the little table in our room and are happy. The weather clears and we go for a long walk along the shore. We watch a movie in our room. It's chilly in there, no heat, and since I've lost my cover-up and don't have much else with long sleeves, I ask for another blanket from the hotel and this becames my make-shift bathrobe.

Tuesday it's pouring rain. Really? We buck up. We go to the island library summer book sale, which we always look forward to, and find some treasures. We drive around doing some reconaissance, because a book I'm currently writing takes place largely on this island. We plan to write off the vacation for research, which is legit because I'm doing a lot of it here. We do some more writing and more canoodling, though we're also dying to kayak. We keep waiting for a break in the weather. When it comes, we decide not to chance it with the kayaks but go for a walk and get caught in a downpour.
I have my small umbrella but it's hardly sufficient. We go for dinner at a burger place which is delish! And naturally, as evening falls, the weather clears up. We enjoy a jazz duo in the bar area. I've perfected the art of sitting and staring at the bay. I rarely do nothing, but here, I've come to embrace it.

Wednesday the sun is out though it's a little chilly and breezy. Gorgeous, really, but too cold for a swim. This is the day for the long hike we've planned, through the nature preserve which makes up 1/3 of the island. We plan to do a 6 mile hike because we feel we need the exercise and because we  also feel intrepid. And though the trails are all mapped out with plenty of signage, we go the wrong way at first and have to double back, adding an extra mile to our hike. But we press on. The day is exquisite. 

We pass through deep forest, sunlit foliage, golden fields of grass and wildflowers, past cliffs overlooking the bay - the sky so blue, the air so warm yet the breeze so cool it makes you want to weep with the sheer, sheer beauty of it. We could not have picked a more perfect day. But a seven mile hike is a good 3 hours, up and down hills and over rough terrain and at about hour two we're ready to be done. Jon is stopping often to take photos and this irritates me as it means just standing around when I'm already tired. He's on a fungus kick, taking pictures of all the intersting mushrooms and tree funghi. 

We continue on, as we have no choice, our feet beginning to ache, our legs tired and our water almost gone. We make it, obviously, but we're quite worn out. We go back to the burger place for a lunch of salads, then head to the hotel to chill. Tonight is the big BBQ at the hotel, and after that, a band, and we hope, dancing, so we better rest up. The BBQ is epic. So much food you can't believe it and a grilled, fresh-caught tuna so tender it melts in my mouth. But we see more and more people coming: on boats from across the bay, from the nearby Hamptons (whoops! another hint) and the line for the
food is growing and growing. We're glad we got in it when we did. We finish up eating and the band starts. They are a great group doing early rock and roll, blues, Johnny Cash (again!), etc. We are dressed for swing dancing, me in my vintage dress, unlike everyone else in their resort wear, and we take the floor before anyone. Because no one else there has had the couple of years of swing dance lessons that we have, we wow them. There's a crowd forming, not just to see the band, we imagine. We're good, we think, we show off a little, people compliment us. We meet a nice couple and have fun getting to know them between dances. Then, I see HIM. Standing by the door to the deck. Same hair style, same beard as when I last saw him ( He's a slight man, trim, neat. He's wearing slim white pants, rolled up in a cuff and a boaty shirt. He's hair is russet red. There's no mistaking him - after all, I've seen him up close and personal. I've SPOKEN to him. He's smiled at me. But this time, I don't approach him. Ewan wants to be incognito. I point him out to my new friend but she doesn't know who he is. Really? He doesn't stay long. He's with his family. I wonder if he's seen me dancing and is impressed. Anwway, Jon and I poop out about 10:00 and go back to our room, which is right across from the bar. The party keeps going and going. The band stops, but recorded music goes on and the people, the mob, are drunk and do not leave. We hear it all from our room. We turn on the loud fan and try to go to sleep around 12:30. The party continues. Soon, the bartender starts to clean up and the door to the bar opens every five minutes then SLAMS shut. This goes on til almost 3:00 am, when Jon finally calls the front desk to complain. Then, the bartender finally seems to be aware that there are guests staying in the place and begins to close the door quietly. We're not happy. 

We wake up at 8:30, darn it. Anyway, the lovely full breakfast that is included with the room ends at 10:00, so we can't dilly-dally. Jon demands reparations at the desk and they refund us $100 bucks, which doesn't seem enough. But since we've decided to stay over another night beyond our reservation, they upgrade us to a really nice, full water view room, so we feel better. The day is spectacular. We take our inflatable kayaks out to a more remote area of the bay and boat vigorously for quite a while. Our friend from the city then comes out and meets us - she's hanging with us for the rest of the day. We swim in the bay while she takes a kayak out, then we go back to the hotel and lounge by the pool for the rest of the afternoon (in the shade, thank you), drinks in hand. I swim, but the water has grown quite chilly. We dress for dinner and eat on the deck of the hotel restaurant again, and they comp us a lovely bottle of local wine. That's nice. We say good-bye to our friend and go down to the lawn where there's a fire pit. We nab two chairs and when the fire goes out, the weird family that was already hanging out there beats a retreat. I ask the hotel to re-light the fire and they do. The moon is beautiful. We've purchased a sweatshirt apiece at the only clothing store on the island so we're warm now. A couple of ladies and a young boy come to join us and we fall into easy conversation with them. They're very funny, and soon we're talking and laughing like we've known them forever. Finally I get some appreciation for my Ewan sighting!

Friday. We must leave. We must say goodbye to our island paradise. It's so sad. We have breakfast, greet our friends from last night with another few guffaws, then pack up. We check out and go for one last walk. Before we leave, we call a realtor about a cottage we spy, with a water view, that we desperately want. It's listed for under a million! Oh good! If only we'd won the lottery! Well, we can dream. We meander home, stopping at a farm stand and a thrift/antique store. We listen to a podcast of Prairie Home Companion all the way, and this is where I gain the insights from Garrison. I think he wouldn't mind the rambling-ness of this post, since he rambles so, though I realize this is not as entertaining as his. Still, the trip was well worth recording if not entirely, dear audience, worth reading about.