FIELD NOTES: Watch Hill, Fire Island

It was a rainy weekend to say the least. As I wrote about here, I was so excited to head to the beach for a weekend away. My good friend, Lauren and I were looking forward to some  solid beach time along with grilling and girly chit-chat over red wine. But the best laid plans, huh?

Around 3am I woke up to the gentle plunk, plunk, plunk on the tent and I thought to myself, here we go. But by 6am I was waking up about every hour to what sounded like a streaming waterfall above. A quick check of the radar confirmed: the rain was here to stay. 

Unfortunately we decided to cut our camping weekend short. Lauren and I downed a few piña coladas at the bar while we waited for the ferry, operating on a rainy day schedule. We then opted for dinner at my favorite local taco joint instead of grilling in the rain. Rest assured, birthday celebrations were had despite the lack of a beach day. 

However it's worth mentioning the details of our adventure, because had the weather behaved, this would have been the perfect spot for a weekend away. Watch Hill has a nostalgic quality to me as my parents and I used to take our boat there when I was younger. I hadn't been back since, but I was neither surprised nor disappointed to find that it looks exactly the same.

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This national park is home to both a marina and campground with easy access to the beach. Those without a boat can take the LIRR to Patchogue and then walk around the block to the Davis Point Ferry. Ferry tickets are about $9 one way for the 30-40 minute ride. If you're more interested in a day trip, LIRR has a beach getaway package for $30.25 round trip.

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Campsites should be booked early in the season as they seem to fill up quickly. I use the term camping loosely — there's still running water, bathrooms, and showers. It helps to have a hearty tolerance for bugs though. I recommend bringing the good stuff when it comes to mosquito repellant. There's no avoiding them so the best you can do is deter them from biting. Though the general store had the bare necessities, any groceries should be brought with you.

It's definitely a trek out there, but to me that's part of the appeal. My camera seemed woefully out of place, and it was clear we were outsiders when many of those on our ferry had friends or family greeting them at the dock. But one look out over the boardwalk, to the slender sand dunes and wide expanse of ocean, and quite frankly that was welcome enough. Until next time, Watch Hill. Until next time.