The view from the waterline at Gurney’s Resort and Seawater Spa
Our original plan this year was to spend Thanksgiving with my in-laws, up in Amherst, Mass, however, a last minute change in plans had us unexpectedly travelling east instead of north, to Montauk, NY, otherwise known as “the end”. This year, Thanksgiving fell on my mother-in-law’s 60th birthday, and to celebrate this milestone the family opted to rent a suite at Montauk’s famous Gurney’s Resort and Sea Water Spa, and spend the long weekend on the beach.
Normally, travelling to Amherst is never that hard. Sure, the 3 hour ride from our hometown has it’s own challenges, but once there the town itself is not much different than Long Island. Every box store is there as well to feed the 5 local colleges, so we never fret about anything we might leave home by accident. We also stay in my in-law’s home, so we have every comfort of a house as well. We were nervous as heck, travelling to a hotel on a holiday weekend, but I believe in the end we ended up victorious!
This Thanksgiving the weather was AMAZING! 65 degrees in Montauk in the middle of December is unheard of! We were afraid of letting down the kids, knowing that it would be torture for them to see a beach outside of the hotel room, but unable to enjoy it. Luckilly, this was not the case! Once we arrived and settled down, it was not long before we were skipping rocks, making sandcastles, and enjoying the warm air.
Following beach time, we took full advantage of some of the other activities the hotel offers. They have an outdoor “ice skating” rink, that is made from synthetic ice, a type of poly plastic. The boys and their cousin had a great time pushing themselves around. Neither of my children have been on ice skates before, but seemed to have no problems getting around. The softer plastic flooring also calmed the nerves about falls. Following ice skating, we next took advantage of the indoor saltwater pool. The boys had a great time swimming with their grandma.
Once we were all exhausted, it came time to eat. YES!!!! My brother-in-law keeps kosher, and so finding kosher food out in Montauk on the holiday was going to present a slight issue for him. My mother-in-law had the perfect solution, which was to bring a complete home cooked top to bottom kosher Thanksgiving meal out to Gurney’s with her. The room service crew there was amazingly helpful, coming with a cart to pick up all the food from the suite’s kitchen, and bringing it to their ovens in their kitchen to heat all the food. They returned about an hour later with our piping hot food, and we had a wonderful and filling meal out on suite deck. Here we all are, toasting to love, life, family, and giving thanks for all that we are blessed to have.
As the night wore down, bellies full, we headed back to our room to get the kids in bed. My wife was pretty exhausted too as she had run in our town’s 5 mile turkey trot that morning. My eldest son went off to his cousin’s room for a sleepover, and we kept the little one with us. A few years back, my wife purchased a travel cot on amazon. At the time, I ridiculed her for it. I thought it was something we’d never really use. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It’s been used well over 100 times at this point, by both kids, on countless trips. Similar to a folding tailgate chair, it’s given us a toddler size bed anywhere we’ve gone, without having to rely on hotel cots. The kids have found it very comfortable too, and they have both slept pretty well on it. It didn’t take long for the little guy to fall asleep.
With my wife and kids fast asleep, I couldn’t miss the evening NFL game. My brother-in-law and I found an open local dive bar, and settled in for a couple of beers and watched the Chicago Bears upset the Green Bay Packers. By the end of the game, we were pretty much exhausted ourselves, and headed back to the hotel.
The next morning we packed up the car and grabbed some pancakes and coffee at John’s Pancake House in downtown Montauk. Delicious food and hit the spot, as they say. No trip out to Montauk is ever complete without a trip to the famous Montauk Lighthouse, a 200 year old original lighthouse at the Eastern most tip of Long Island.
After walking around the grounds for a little bit, looking for seals and watching the surfers, my 5 year old and I decided to be brave and climb to the top of the tower. I was nervous he wouldn’t have the energy to make it to the top of the 100+ step climb, but then I remembered, this is the kid that jumps out of bed every morning at 6 am, and flights going to bed until 10 pm most night, without barely sitting down at any point in between. My wife and 3 year old stayed down below, as the staff would not allow him to make the climb. Not that I blamed them, it was a pretty steep climb, and he no doubt would have had a difficult climb. When we got to the top, the views were amazing! My wife was waiting near the bottom,and we were able to wave down to them from the top.
After making our way back down, we found ourselves hungry again. We drove back into the town of Montauk, did some shopping and walking around, then grabbed a few slices of pizza (and bathroom breaks) before beginning the 2 hour drive home.
While this Thanksgiving was by no means “traditional,” a great time was had by all of us, from the unseasonably warm weather (we never put on our jackets!), amazing views and facilities at Gurney’s, enjoying a wonderful home cooked meal “on the road,” and a trip to the top of the Montauk Lighthouse, there were tons of smiles and laughs, with plenty to be thankful for. This trip seemed effortless and easy, perhaps being almost 6 years into this parenting thing, we’re starting to figure out how to keep everyone happy, sleeping arrangements agreeable, bellies full, and bladders empty.
On a final note, my wife and I are big fans of “The Affair” on Showtime, and kept getting excited every time we’d pass a location that we recognized from the show. Here’s two of these locations, the Montauk Train Station and the Lobster Roll Restaurant.