I got a little ahead of myself yesterday in discussing the first day of school without recounting the previous week, when I took vacation time but didn't actually go anywhere -- a first in my adult life. We were thinking of gong to Jersey, but Ben's father and stepmother visited us over the first weekend to see the new house, so it seemed redundant to follow them back down to their place and risk driving back on Labor Day weekend. So we just hung out. Fortunately the weather cooperated -- it was sunny all week (and in fact, all month).
We didn't sit at home the whole time, though. One day we went to Horseneck Beach, which was fabulous. The water was warm enough to swim in for extended periods, which is why I opted for a beach south of the Cape rather than Crane Beach in Ipswich -- nice dunes but freezing water and it costs and arm and a leg to park. Anyway, the water was great, with little waves just the right size, quality sand for castles, and a snack bar so we could munch sandy hot dogs. Yum! Plus I had the last-minute foresight to bring a beach umbrella that was originally going on the outdoor picnic table which we don't have any more. So Ben could spend long periods reading in the shade while we girls cavorted in the sun, water and sand. Ben is not really a sun guy and isn't crazy about sand because it's so messy. I'm not crazy about grit covering everyone and everything either, but to me it's worth it for the waves and salty air. Ironically, another reason I chose Horseneck is because it has showers, but they were closed by the time we wanted to use them, even though the beach was still open for another couple of hours. Humph. Ben's bathing suit was dry and pretty sand-free, but we girls opted to remove our suits and wear just coverups for the ride home -- coverups for Sarah and Becky being two of my T-shirts.
Our other family outing was the Boston Harbor islands. I vaguely remembered visiting Georges Island as a kid. The girls were impressed by the fortiness of it all, especially the ramparts up top and the dark caverns underneath. Ben and I had a parentish time, which means pretty good except we had to trade off carrying a heavy knapsack stuffed with jackets and long pants we didn't need, plus piles of snacks and trash as the islands don't provide trash receptacles.
On the way back we stopped for a bit at Spectacle Island ("Skeptical Island" to Sarah) but it was pretty hot, so we hung out at the visitor's center rather than hiking up the paths that wind around hills made of fill from the Big Dig. It seems that the island was home in the past to anything deemed too smelly or gross for the mainland, including rendering horses into glue, quarantining the sick, dumping tons of garbage, a plant for rendering trash into grease, etc. Before that, there were two resort hotels that were eventually shut down for gambling and prostitution. Now I can say with some caution that this is one state project that's turned out well, what with remaking a nasty island into a park with a swimmable beach plus cleaning up Boston Harbor itself. As for the Big Dig itself, I fully expect more disasters to emerge due to corruption and/or incompetence. The only question is whether another Big Dig tunnel or bridge collapse before or after a preexisting and neglected tunnel or bridge does likewise.