You know how Marie Antoinette built a little farm at Versailles and pretended she was some quaint country girl, even though what she really dug was being Queen of France? That’s what it’s like when city people go camping. Ok, so not really, but kind of. Anyway, I spent the weekend camping at Hammonasset Beach State Park in Connecticut, and here are some cultural gems I picked up along the way.
Day 1: First order of business is always setting up the tent. I was surprised to find that the camp ground at Hammonasset Beach State Park is mostly flat open space, so it feels like you’re camping on a giant football field rather than in the scenic woods. However, if your one of those city people who fear stray serial killers when you decamp to the country, the open space actually has a nice calming effect at night. After squaring away the tent and meeting your bug bite quota for the day, take the winding road down to Meigs Point beach (the helpful lady at the registration desk says this beach is the one with the least number of kids of all the beaches in this state park). To beat the heat, head inside on of the local movie theatres. Remember, the longer the movie, the longer you get to feel the AC…and that’s how I ended up seeing the latest Harry Potter movie! Grab some fried clams and ice cream for dinner, and call it an early night back at the campsite.
Day 2: On weekend getaways, day 2 is typically the only day where you get to spend 24 hours in the same spot. Make the most of it. The two events that dominated my day 2 on this particular camping trip were a wine tasting at Chamard Vineyards and seeing the pony rides at the 37th Annual Clinton Bluefish Festival. Remember what I said about Marie slumin’ it on the farm? The paradox continues through the generations. Still, the very, very best part of day 2 was an unplanned visit to the Book Loft in Clinton, CT. It’s a used bookstore located in an old house that was only minimally renovated and still includes the basic features like a kitchen sink. I can not stress enough how much I adore used book stores in old houses where the books are placed around appliances like ovens and refrigerators. Really. I love it more than WaWa.
Day 3: If you’ve been grabbing your breakfast at the Stop and Shop so you can eat it in the parking lot of the beach before the crowds descend, the last day of your trip would be a good time to dust the sand off your ass and check out a local diner. Specifically, pay a visit to the Shoreline Diner & Vegetarian Enclave. (Yes, that is the full name of the restaurant, and no I wasn’t being snarky about it.) They have a great menu full of essentials like boozy breakfast cocktails, waffles with ice cream on top, and healthier options for any true vegetarians you brought along. Before you pay the cashier, make a mental list of all the things you still have to do: buy postcards, visit the beach one last time? Get ‘em done, then get outta town. The weekend’s over my friend, and it’s back to city life we go.