"Madame, bear in mind That princes govern all things--save the wind." -Victor Hugo, The Infanta's Rose

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Hangin' in the Hamptons

No, not those Hamptons. While the tony social elite may gather on the east end of Long Island, from Westhampton to Montauk, I'm referring to the delightfully tacky working-class resort of Hampton Beach. Situated along New Hampshire's tiny 17-mile long Seacoast, Hampton Beach is a family-friendly town that features all sorts of typical summer amusements such as a boardwalk, arcades, rinky-dink souvenir and t-shirt shops, and plenty of junk food like pizza, fried dough, and salt water taffy. There are free concerts every night at the beachside sea shell bandstand, as well as nicer restaurants that offer succulent fresh lobster and a variety of other fine seafood. While there are a number of Atlantic beach towns north of Boston such as Salisbury, Rye, York and Ogunquit (to name a few), nothing can top Hampton Beach for it's perfect combination of kitsch, ample accommodations, and of course, sun and sand.

I've made this pilgrimage to Hampton Beach due to its revered place in my memory, as this was a frequent vacation destination (along with Lake Winnipesaukee) when I was a child. I recall many a year here spent splashing in the surf, and playing pinball and skee-ball in the arcades. Although many of the older games I remember have been replaced by modern video consoles, I was pleased to see that skee-ball has persevered and appears to be as popular as ever. One can still spend five or ten bucks to win enough prize coupons necessary to redeem for some plastic trinket worth perhaps fifty cents at best. The fun of doing so, however, is priceless.

Saturday night featured a free concert by a Billy Joel tribute band called "The Strangers". Despite lead singer Jon Abrams total lack of any physical resemblance whatsoever to The Piano Man, the band did a remarkable job at recreating the music and "feel" of an actual Billy Joel concert. From the instrumentation, to arrangements, vocal phrasing and inflection, I could close my eyes and reasonably believe that I was listening to the real thing, and it was quite enjoyable.

On Sunday morning, I buzzed up and down the boardwalk a few more times on my little blue scooter before heading out to continue my travels, and paused for a few minutes by the beach to reflect on all the fond memories this spot holds for me. To my delight, I experienced a brief yet perfect moment of Zen when everything came together; the pleasant nostalgia was amplified by the warmth of the sun on my face, the sound of the crashing waves and squawking seagulls mixed with the laughter of children, the smell of the salt air, and the view of brilliant blue sky and endless ocean in front of me. Everyone has found at least one sacred place in their lifetime, and this is definitely one of mine. Tacky or not, it will always be so for me.

What about you? Do you have a sacred place, either former or current?

3 Comments:

  • At 8/23/2006 08:19:00 PM, Blogger Meander said…

    you look so happy and peaceful...great photo of you!

     
  • At 8/28/2006 01:20:00 PM, Blogger Janelle said…

    I definatley have a sacred place. I will be going past in in the next day or two so I will stop and take some pictures. Keep an eye on my blog for the up coming story!

     
  • At 8/28/2006 11:01:00 PM, Blogger Chandira said…

    :-)

    Sounds just like where I was this weekend Longbeach, WA. Salt water taffy, popcorn, fries, and Jake the Alligator Boy. I'll post a photo of him tomorrow..

    My sacred place is my old home town, Galstonbury, England. Much missed.

     

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