For the second weekend in a row, central CT was gifted with unseasonably mild weather. Since we don't often see temperatures that begin with fives (or even fours) in January, once again it was time to get out and get the stink off!
A few years ago a friend and I got into the habit of taking off season Sunday afternoon trips to the beach for a sunset hike and dinner at a local restaurant. I dubbed the excursions Beach Walk Sunday. Eventually as it often tends to do, life got in the way and the visits fell by the wayside.
Last Sunday when the thermometer hit 50, I decided it was time to clear the schedule of mundane tasks and resurrect the beach trips. So we jumped in the car and headed to Hammonasset State Park in Madison.
Due to a late start we didn't get down to the shore until four in the afternoon, half an hour before the park closed. Sunset was at 4:45 so I knew we'd have at least an hour before park rangers came around with bull horns to chase us out. If we didn't dilly dally that would be plenty of time to grab a few pictures and take a quick hike.
Conditions were overcast and foggy. Not the greatest day for picture taking but I gave it my best shot. The ocean was incredibly calm and uncharacteristically silent.
Because I'm not a fan of mob scenes I've never been to Hammonasset in the summer. From what I've heard and occasionally seen on the news I don't appear to be missing anything. Most of the CT shoreline is privately owned so people seeking a beach experience have few options. I'll gladly take the sunset walks in the off season and pass on the traffic jams, even if it means passing on the cheeseburgers, hot dogs and ice cream.
|No food today|
|My definition of a crowded beach|
No sunset to enjoy this trip. Below is a picture I took at Hammonasset a couple of years ago. I never get tired of watching sunsets over the ocean. One of the rituals I have at the beach house I rent every summer is to plant my butt on a lounge chair in the sand every night with a glass of wine and watch the sun set.
From the beach we made a bee line to Bill's Seafood in Westbrook. Bill's is a shoreline institution of part clam shack, part sports bar and part Irish Pub. During NFL playoff season, especially when the New England Patriots are Super Bowl contenders, Bill's is definitely a sports bar.
At this time of the year I enjoy Bill's for the same reason I enjoy the beach. Last Sunday it was relatively quiet-busy but not crazy. In warmer weather, I prefer sitting on the outdoor deck overlooking a tidal river, but in January a table by the window in the bar works just fine.
As far as the food goes, it's nothing fancy but it's good and the fish is fresh. When I'm in the mood to throw caution to the wind, I go with something fried. On this visit I chose the blackened swordfish special with wild rice and string beans. Comfort food extraordinaire.
After another weekend in the 40s we're supposedly heading into the first extended deep freeze of the winter next week with daytime highs in the teens and nightime lows in the single digits. One more opportunity to get out and get the stink off before hunkering down. Where should I go?
A few months ago, Jack at Hartford Daily Photo asked me to do some occasional guest photography for him while he winters in Florida. On Wednesday, Jack used one of my photos from this trip on his blog HERE. Thanks Jack!