College tours and visiting family and friends brought us to the East Coast in steamy summertime, a dose of the dog days of summer for my children of the fog.

New York City was our first stop, to visit my mom and show the kids more of my childhood haunts. Urban campus tours, museums, a day at Coney Island, a New York Yankees game, Citibikes jaunts and a touristy trek to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island; all really just interludes between pizza slices for my teen boys.

The second half of our visit involved a trip to Northampton, Massachusetts, more college tours and a visit with my best friend since first grade. Warm nights, cookouts, old friends and plenty of local specialties including whoopie pies: a cookie/pie/cake treat made of two round mound-shaped pieces of chocolate cake with a sweet, creamy filling sandwiched between them.

Because we were unaccustomed to the muggy heat, each fun-filled day was punctuated by the need to get in water and consume copious amounts of ice-cream. Luckily, we found a number of great spots in the Pioneer Valley.

Western Massachusetts is lush farm and orchard country where produce stands and ice cream shoppes abound. Traveling with teen boys, at least one thing is clear: regular feeding is paramount, so we stopped at a number of these ice cream stands and enjoyed every single cone.

While touring a few of the many colleges in the area, we went for a dip in a local river and made our way to Chapel Brook, a not so secret rock slide into a chilly stream. It was epic fun, with a dash of danger. I was ever so tempted to join in the slide, but since I was traveling alone with the kids I opted to just document the action.

From Northampton, we rented a car to travel to a few other colleges on our way back to NYC. It was a pretty direct route, but I was tense even though I had learned to drive in NY and CT and have been driving the crazy California freeways for two decades. It was actually enjoyable driving and we made it to the first campus with plenty of time to spare before my son’s scheduled interview. In Connecticut, I planned to drive through Westport— where I had lived for one year in the 70s—and show my kids the house and take a dip in Long Island Sound.

Compo Beach figured into my early childhood and I thought my boys would enjoy the warm bath water as compared to the freezing Pacific they know so well. We tried to drive to the beach, but when told the cost for a brief dip would be $30 (weekdays, and $50 on weekends and holidays), I remembered a small public cove, nearby, and we stopped for a ceremonial dunk.

It was magical and the memories flooded back of clam chowder, clam digging, days at the beach, family bike rides and not wanting to get out of the water despite my pruning, sunburnt skin. My sons were smitten. They could not believe how warm and welcoming the water was, no fear of sharks or terrifying undertow, just frolicking and it was free! I’m sure a lot has changed in Westport, but for that one hour time stood still.

Filed Under Connecticut, Cycling, Driving Trips, Massachusetts, New England, Northampton, Uncategorized


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