I had my first taste of the East End in my twenties when a cousin of mine worked at Gurney’s Inn. As a resident of Nassau County I was in awe of the beauty of Montauk. There was one time my boyfriend (who is now my husband) and I drove all the way to Montauk for the day to see the lighthouse. I remember thinking, “wow this is some trip for one day but it was so worth it!” Years later as our family grew we began to think of vacation ideas for us and our three children. Where could we possibly go to relax on a no frills, no fuss vacation? All we needed were bathing suits, flip flops and a place where the beach and the pool would be at our fingertips: Montauk!! The drive out to Montauk was still as long as I remembered, but was so worth it! It was exciting to know we didn’t have to get on a plane or train to reach such a beautiful place and leave behind the hustle and bustle of everyday life. We loaded the car and hopped on the Long Island Expressway. Ultimately we found ourselves on Route 27 where we drove through the beautiful towns of Watermill, Bridgehampton, East Hampton and Amagansett. As we reached our familiar landmarks such as Daniel’s Hole Road, East Hampton Airport and Stephen Hands Path, we would think, “oh we are getting closer!” We would drive through Amagansett, past Astro Pizza and the Amagansett Farmer’s Market. Then the road would open wide with nothing but trees and land that we would equate with being “out east.” Finally we reached the beginning of town. IGA, Mini golf, and John’s pancake house; oh, we are here! We would roll down the windows and take in the smell of the ocean.
The Atlantic Terrace would be our stomping ground for that week in July for many years. Sometimes we vacationed alone, other times with family or friends. Every January we would make our reservation for the room on the courtyard so that we could open our door, set up the table and barbeque. We would rise early and have breakfast at the café and then head down to the beach. At night we would sit on the beach and gaze at the stars. It was the perfect hotel for us. We would walk to town to get homemade fudge and ice cream; it was tradition. If there was inclement weather we would catch a movie or take a trip to Amagansett to stroll around the shops and always stopped for a slice at Astro’s Pizza. And we would make our way to the lighthouse, where it all began. Each time we would sit the kids on the giant rock right outside the lighthouse. From year to year we would see them and their love for the “East End” grow. We would meander along the water’s edge balancing on the slippery rocks. We collected an assortment of seashells and the kids would squeal with delight if we were lucky enough to find a starfish.
As our children grew older summer jobs and schedules prohibited us from our traditional week long vacation in July to Montauk. It was a melancholy feeling realizing our vacations there had come to an end. Then we were lucky enough to find a home in East Hampton that we could purchase and it has become our “beach house.” The “long” drive out East has become so familiar and routine it doesn’t seem long at all. Even though our children have different schedules they can all make it out to the Hamptons sometime and enjoy the familiar things they remember from our Montauk days. They are even discovering new places and developing their own traditions: Cyril’s, Stephen Talkhouse, and Superica in Sag Harbor. The familiar Stephen Hand’s Path has now become the true landmark when we say “oh, we are here, out east” to what we now call “Paradise.” The long trek from Nassau County is so worth it!!!