Monday, September 6, 2010

The Rockaways

The other day my wife and I decided to go to the beach. From the South Street Seaport there is a ferry that drops you off at Sandy Hook. When we got down to the pier we were informed that the Sandy Hook ferry wasn't running, so we decided to go to The Rockaways. We were astonished at how few people had decided to go to the beach on such a lovely day. We thought that we would have the beach all to ourselves, perhaps sunbathe naked. Who knows.

When the ferry dropped us off there were a few people that wandered in different directions, a few people that got into cars and drove off from the ferry parking lot, an old gay couple waiting for their friend to show up and give them a ride to the beach that they normally go to, and us. There was really nothing there at the ferry landing/parking lot, except the on-ramp to an interstate. After walking for a few minutes we found the entrance to an old military base, Ft. Tilden. Then we found out that if we walked through the base there was a beach on the other side. So away we went.

When we got to the beach we discovered there were all sorts of amenities: bathrooms, beach supplies, picnicking, and a snack shack. The snack shack even had beer. It was about this time that we realized that we had left Manhattan with only a credit card and not much else. We had worn bathing suits , sensibly. We had brought towels. We had brought a great and wonderful thirst for some ice cold beer, but no cash.

We asked where the closest ATM was and not a single person had an answer. An ATM machine was a much rumored novelty but they had never witnessed its magic firsthand. So we decided that maybe we didn't need beer right away and we would lie out on the beach for a while and take in some sun. The beach was very empty though not so much so that we could sunbathe naked, though not that far off. As soon as we picked a good spot, got settled, and reclined on the sheet we had brought, then the sandstorm began. At first I thought that it would pass quickly and this is something that just happens at the beach from time to time. But no. I was quite wrong about both the severity and the duration of the sandstorms. They continued unimpeded for sometime, so that the entire sheet we were on and everything we had brought with us was covered with sand. The top of my head, where I had been lying, had been sandblasted and was covered in a layer of very fine smelling beach sand. My wife did not look pleased.

Clearly the beer situation could not continue unaddressed with these sandstorms running wild. We decided to walk to an ATM there was rumored to be in the adjacent city, many, many miles away.

Luckily a couple we met after about 20 minutes of walking, in the old military base, agreed to give us a ride to the ATM after we had explained our situation. Sand, beer, etc. We thanked them vigorously and offered to buy them beer but they were interested in going off to a beach that they knew about and had once been to before, one that sounded more secluded than the one we had found, one where perhaps all sorts of nudity occurred.

So, we sat on the benches and ate lunch and drank cold beer. Watching the people head out to the water where the sandstorms were.

The water was very cold, we told ourselves, too much so to go swimming, sadly - and the sand was very difficult, almost impossible. There was the camera to think about, you see. So I took some pictures between the sandstorms when I felt that there was a break in the action. There was not very much to take pictures of, at least not very much that interested me, but I walked around with the camera and beer just in case. The day was beautiful and the there were just enough clouds in the sky that the day was prevented from being terribly hot.

The day passed through us, the sun warmed us, the cold beer pleased us. We sat and watched and talked and took pictures, all day long.