2012 Vacation Day 4 - Monday: sand, breakers and sun...

Cooled off nicely last night, considering it was a pretty hot day. Decided to take a run over to Fire Island, a barrier island that consists of a massively long beach, dotted with numerous little towns. It is pretty much car free, so several ferries run to back and forth.
From where we are in Old Bethpage, it is about a 30 minute drive. We are going to stop in at the Framingdale train station to pick up our tickets for tomorrow.

Talked to a couple of nice train workers who helped us buy our tickets from the automated machine. The one guy was super nice... lots of laughs. Made our way to the ferry docks, and it was a zoo. Cars and people everywhere. Parking is valet style, tons of young guys in yellow shirts jockeying cars all over the place, moving at warp speed. Bought return tickets for Ocean Beach, one of the many little towns serviced by the ferries. The terminal was small and jammed with people heading to the beach. The big disappointment was that they do not allow bikes on the ferry. I can certainly understand this given the masses of people, but it sure would have been nice to tool around on our own. Of course, this woul have also been contrary to all the bike rental spots we saw. Of course, looking
around while waiting, there were lots of SUV strollers heading over, as well as massive beach coolers and assorted wagons hauling chairs and gear. Oh well, no biggie.

The trip was only 30 minutes over, and was it jammed packed...almost sardine like. Water was pretty calm, the only waves being made were by the assorted massive yachts and speedbats zooming by. Once we were disgourged from the ferry, a typical little beach town was before us. The ports are on he interior of the island, and the beach is the entire other side. The shops and restaurants line the port side, and all the houses and roads stretch out to the beach. All the roads are golf cart sized, as that is the largest motorized vehicle here. Lots of bikes and trikes, and hundreds of little carts and trailers. Nearly every house has a bike rack and at least one cart or trailer of some sort for supplies. Residents and tourists bike everywhere, and there are 5mph speed limits on the cart roads. Good police presence, on bikes of course.
very cool bikes with massive wheels...

Walked the strip a bit, then headed to the beach, which was only 300 to 400 hundred yards away. Along one of the walkways to the beach, we spied this deer munching tasty leaves off any tree he wanted... right in a backyard.

The beach was amazing! It simply went on as far as the eye could see in both directions. The surf was rolling with breakers, and lots were enjoying them. The lifeguards were keeping a sharp eye on the people in the water, as the warning flags were yellow. Actually at one point someone must have given them a scare as they went it action... it was quite impressive. One took off after the person, diving through the surf, but before she did this, a lifeguard right behind her had snapped a line to her waist belt and fed it out while she swam. Pretty impressive. Their training and mutual support was very evident.

The sand here is very coarse, almost the consistency of kosher salt. Very white as well. We ventured out into the surf a bit, the water chilly at first but easy to get used too. There is some undertow even in knee high water, there waves receeding can be really felt pulling at you and the sand under your feet. Easy to see how undertow can be so dangerous, even if you think you are in shallow water. Lots of people enjoying the beach, and tons of sun worshipers. Serious heat coming off the sun, and with the cool water, you could be fooled into thinking you are not burning, but you are. If you don't have lots of sunblock on, you could be in for a nasty burn. Sat around for a bit, then made our way back to town to grb some lunch and a cold beer.

Found a typical looking beach spot, and the local micro brewed beer was cold.

Caught the ferry around 3:30, and were back at the campsite in less than an hour. We both had a refresing shower to clean up. On the walk back from the showers, I saw that the guy across from us was out polishing his Jeep Liberty. As I had seen him doing the same thing this morning, I mentioned this to him and he just laughed and admitted as much. We had a great chat. Gus is retired from the construction trade, and worked for the Teamsters for a long time as a business manager...whatever that entails. He tows the Liberty behind a massive motor coach, a simply beautiful rig. He loves to talk vehicles and told me all about the Liberty, which has a Mercedes diesal in it, one of 2000 units they brought into the States a few years back, but this diesal was no match for the 400hp Caterpillar beast that pushes his motorcoach. He and
his wife full time in the motorcoach, but they do have a condo in Florida that they spend a couple of winter months at. Just simply a super nice guy. He was most interested in the Alto, so naturally I filled him in all about it. As we were talking, another man walked over and started to chat with us. He and his family are from Germany, and are over here renting an RV for 4 weeks. They are making their way back from visiting PEI.

I mentioned to Gus about going to Manhattan, and he told me he worked in Manhattan for 40 years. He told me all about that and mentioned a few things to see and do, as well as some travel tips. A little while later, Gus wandered over and offered to give us a lift to the Farmingdale train station in the morning, how nice is that?  He insisted, so we gladly accepted. We did a little more organizing to go, and we are in good shape.

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