Over the nearly six years that I have owned my 2012 Honda Accord, each time I cross a new 10,000 mile mark, I try to mark the occasion with a road trip. For instance, I crossed the 50,000 mile mark on a visit to Boston. 90,000 miles saw a visit to Plymouth, Massachusetts. I crossed the 100,000 mile mark on the way to visit historic Newburyport on Cape Elizabeth, Massachusetts. 150,000 miles was ticked off the list on the way to celebrate a dear relative’s birthday at an aquarium in Connecticut. 160,000 miles happened while driving to my favorite beach resort town: Cape May, New Jersey.
As 170,000 miles neared, I was well and truly stumped, however. I wanted something unique, a long road trip to let the Accord stretch its legs, while also satisfying my need for exploration. I kicked around some ideas, but nothing seemed to fit. Enter my wife to the rescue. “How about we drive the entire length of Long Island to visit a lighthouse? Would that work?”
Would that work? Would it ever! Come along, then, on our Long Island adventure!
The Drive to Long Island (and a Big Duck)!
Our road trip adventure – a drive across the 118-mile length of Long Island. The name certainly fits – only Whidbey Island in Alaska is lengthier (via Peakbagger). Our drive to 170,000 miles had begun!
Except whoops… I intended to pass the milestone during the drive to Long Island, but didn’t do the math correctly and ended up passing it on the way home from work the previous day. This, then, would become the “post-milestone celebration drive.”
Our journey took us across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge between Staten Island and Brooklyn. This 60-year old bridge stands over 280 feet above the water. Low railings mean you can see down. All the way down. For this intrepid explorer with a fear of heights, it was a white-knuckle drive.
“Look, you can see Manhattan!” my wife exclaimed. I kept my eyes on the road, gripped the steering wheel with two hands, and stared straight ahead. Photo credit – wife.
I also couldn’t help but think back to a video shot earlier this winter, when the Verrazano Bridge was closed due to high winds. In the video below, you can see the bridge moving up and down, and the cables making an eerie noise like something from a horror movie:
As we headed east through Long Island on NY-27, we saw signs for “The Big Duck.” Always up for a roadside oddity, we got off the highway and explored the town of Flanders, until we came across this! The Big Duck is a cement building constructed in the 1930s by a local duck farmer as a way to showcase his ducks and duck eggs for sale (via Wikipedia).
One of the most interesting attributes – the eyes are actually tail lights from a Ford Model-T.
Since 2004, the Big Duck has been owned by Suffolk County, which utilizes it as a gift shop. Montauk Point Light
After driving through some of the most opulent towns I have ever seen, we arrived in Montauk and picked up lunch at Naturally Good Foods & Cafe. The reviews raved about the yellowfin tuna salad, so I ordered the tuna salad sandwich (with tomatoes and sprouts on wheat bread), and my wife had “The Bruce” (tuna salad, avocado, tomato, and sprouts on a gluten free wrap). We got back in the car and headed to one of the prettiest picnic spots I have ever seen.
As we entered Montauk Point State Park, we could see our destination in the distance.
Montauk Point Light sits on the easternmost tip of Long Island. Since 1797, this lighthouse has guided mariners around the rocky coastline.
After paying $8 to park, we were rewarded with this view. We took our lunch and set off to find a suitable spot for a picnic.
Not a bad spot for our lunch, am I right?
Access to the grounds around the lighthouse requires buying a ticket. A $12 ticket gives you entrance to the museum and allows you to wander around the buildings. We decided to save our money, however, as the lighthouse itself is closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. I’ll look forward to coming back after the pandemic, when ascending to the top of the lighthouse is an option.
The sandstone lighthouse, which stands 110 feet tall, was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2012. In addition to the lighthouse and the keeper’s home (which is now the museum), the smaller white tower is for aiming guns that were emplaced around the eastern edge of Long Island during the First and Second World Wars.
The light can be seen up to 18 nautical miles out to sea.
We made our way down to the beach, which was much different than the sandy shores of Cape May! Our only companions were some seagulls enjoying a lunch of their own…
This seagull prefers its lunch on the rare side, apparently. (Author’s note: this was the least yucky of the photos I took of this gull – I’m sparing my readers the shots of the gull actually eating the fish).
Erosion is the biggest threat to the lighthouse currently. Montauk Light sits atop a bluff, to which the sea is creeping ever closer. In the near future, a major reconstruction project is scheduled to begin which will strengthen the rock wall that supports the bluff’s base (via Wikipedia). Parrish Art Museum
Our final destination for the day would be a fascinating art museum, with a couple quick pitstops to see a historic windmill and a wharf with ties to the whaling industry.
Our first stop was Hook Windmill in East Hampton. Built in 1806, the windmill operated as a gristmill until 1908. It has been a museum since the 1970s (via Wikipedia).
Our next destination was to the port town of Sag Harbor. This windmill is a replica of the Beebe Windmill that once stood near this spot. This one was built in the 1960s to commemorate the history of the whaling industry in Sag Harbor (via Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce).
This is Long Wharf in Sag Harbor, once home to a thriving whaling industry in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Standing at the edge of Long Wharf offers a tremendous view of the harbor. In the distance, on a peninsula, is Cedar Island Lighthouse. Built in 1839, this structure suffered a devastating fire in 1974. It is now being restored as a bed and breakfast (via us-lighthouses).
And here’s another great view from Sag Harbor!
Twenty minutes after departing Sag Harbor, we arrived at Parrish Art Museum. Parrish was founded in 1897, and showcases works from two art colonies on Long Island. It moved into this mammoth structure in 2012 (via Wikipedia).
Entry into the museum is timed (to control the number of guests indoors). We arrived before our scheduled entry time, so we spent time exploring an outdoor art installation called Field of Dreams. This is Bonac Blind, one of the many cool works of art on the grounds.
One of my personal favorites: Tokyo Brushstrokes I & II by American artist Roy Lichtenstein.
My wife’s favorite piece was Two Orchids, by German-born Isa Gezken.
My inner 8-year old loved The Hooligan by American artist Jim Dine.
The centerpiece of Field of Dreams is four bronze sculptures by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa, each originally carved in oak. Each sculpture has its own title: this is Wilsis.
When it was our time to enter the museum, we were thoroughly impressed by the artwork on display. An entire gallery was devoted to works by students from local schools.
This turtle was created by a middle school student – these kids have some talent!
After enjoying the work on display in the student gallery, we moved onto the permanent collection. This is a small section of Mysticism for Beginners by American painter Ross Bleckner, an enormous canvas that covers an entire wall of a gallery.
Both my wife and I loved Sentinel by Simone Leigh.
Perhaps my favorite piece, however, was from the student gallery: The Wheel of Misfit Toys, created by students from a local elementary school. I’ve never seen such a creative interpretation of a color wheel. Parrish Art Museum is a fantastic place to spend an afternoon!
Rather than driving four hours home, we stayed for the night in central Long Island at a Home2Suites hotel. We ordered takeout from Dos Mexicuban Cantina, a restaurant in Miller Place, NY, that synthesizes Mexican and Cuban cuisine. My wife went healthy with the roasted veggie quinoa shrimp salad. I went the other way entirely – a cubano sandwich, the effects of which I tried to offset with a side salad. The highlight of the meal, however, was the fresh guacamole – so good! The Return Trip
While we had beautiful weather for our explorations on Saturday, our luck ran out for the drive home Sunday morning. Rain and heavy fog were our constant companions. The top of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge disappeared into the fog bank like something from of a Stephen King novel.
It was like someone used Photoshop to erase the top of the bridge from the picture – so creepy!
Regardless of the bad weather, the Accord brought us home safe and sound. With 170,000 miles now firmly in the rearview mirror, our quest for 200,000 miles continues. Onward! The 170,000 Mile Update
After nearly six years of ownership, how is my 9-year old car holding up? With over 170,000 miles on the odometer, it continues to hum along like a sewing machine, eating up miles with ease. I recently took the car for routine maintenance. Did it need repairs? Were there looming problems discovered? Is this the end of the Accord as we know it? Keep reading!
I took my car for service at Burns Honda in Marlton, NJ, where most of the work is completed on the vehicle. It was due for an oil change and tire rotation. Did the technician uncover problems galore?
Turns out, the car is in great shape! The mechanic did suggest a four-wheel alignment, which was completed. I also asked the technician to pull a sample of used oil from my car’s engine. I’m shipping that off to Blackstone Laboratories for an oil analysis, which will give me a better understanding of the engine’s wear and tear after so many miles. Stay tuned for that report in a future post! Wrapping Up
Although I’ve visited friends and attended a wedding in Long Island, this was my first visit for Open Road Ahead-style exploration. The beautiful homes and fascinating people-watching in the Hamptons are worth the drive by themselves. Add to it a cool lighthouse, historic windmills, and a must-see museum, and you have the makings of a great weekend.
Parrish Art Museum’s grounds are free to visit and open daily from 11:00 am – 5:00 pm. The museum itself is currently operating on timed admission throughout the day. Tickets are $12 for adults, $9 for senior citizens, free for children under 18 year old, and free for students with ID.
Thanks for coming along on this (sort-of) milestone drive through Long Island, along the open road ahead!
‘Til next time.