Monday, April 29, 2013

Family Adventure Day

Yesterday was beautiful, sunny and high 60's, so we decided it was the perfect day for a drive out to the seashore. We have lived here for more than a decade now and still had not ever been to Plum Island, even though we've been to Newburyport several times, so it seemed like a well-overdue outing. The girls were so excited to run on the beach that they could barely stand the hour's drive out there and practically dragged us through the parking lot and over the dunes.

It was a bit chilly and very windy out on the sand, but the sun was warm and bright and there's something nice about saltwater air and the sound of waves crashing. Maggie said, "Oh, thank you for bringing us here! It will be a great story for my Sharing Time next week at school!"

The girls immediately kicked off their shoes and began frolicking.

I have to admit that I find the ocean a bit scary and foreign. I guess I'm still just a land-locked tallgrass prairie girl at heart.  We live less than ten miles from the shore - there are usually seagulls hanging out in our Target parking lot and sometimes you get a whiff of salty air on windy days - but I almost never think about the beach. I have absolutely no desire to actually get in the water and still have never been all the way in wearing a bathing suit! The water is freezing and full of scary, scaly critters with teeth. Plus it's enormous. Scary massive. Unfathomable depths of water full of kraken. I'll stay on the sand getting burnt, thank you. Hopefully with an ice cream cone to self-medicate.

My girls, on the other hand, are New Englanders and beach bums down to their little sandy toes. Maggie especially can not be corralled once her feet hit the boardwalk. Despite several reminders that it is still Spring and not Summer, that the water would be extremely cold, and that we did not bring bathing suits, Maggie insisted on wading in the waves. She immediately began pushing farther and farther from the shoreline as we called her back in and warned her not to get her skirt and sleeves wet.

Less than ten minutes after we pulled into the beach parking lot, Maggie was in over her knees when a biggish wave swept in and pulled her off her feet into the water. Mike nearly ran into the ocean in his sneakers, phone and camera in his pockets, as she struggled to her feet, but she staggered out of the water in her soggy sweater just as he reached the end of the sand.

Dude, it's COLD out here in April when you're soaked in frigid seawater with no change of clothes!

We put the girls in the car to warm up while we debated whether to just go home (two hours of driving for ten minutes of fun and ten minutes of horror!) or to find someplace to buy Maggie a dry outfit. Problem was, Newburyport is picturesque and quaint but doesn't have anywhere to shop for practical items like children's underpants. I quickly found a consignment store downtown on my iPhone internet connection (yay, Technology!) where I was able to snag a Ralph Lauren polo knit dress, some pj shorts, and a pair of tights for $20. (Yay, Resourcefulness and Cash Money Problem Solving!)

Maggie said, "I don't think I'm going to want to tell my class about this part of the story."

Maggie also wore my fleece the rest of the afternoon, so I was cold. Oh, the sacrifices mothers must make for their wayward daughters! But we pressed on...

We headed back out to Plum Island to see the southern portion of the island, which is a national wildlife refuge and a state park. We couldn't access most of the beaches along the length of the island because the piping plover birds were mating (that was a fun conversation with the girls!), but we were able to get out of the car at Sandy Point State Park at the furthest end of the island.

The girls waded in the tide pools, climbed the rocks, and collected shells. Mike and I admired the frothing waves, tried to stay warm, and herded Maggie away from the surf and any deep puddles.

I'm not wearing any underwear!

Basking in her Good Child status, as smug second-borns are wont to do


Puddle Jumping

Shell Hunting

Rinsing off and organizing their collection

When we finally got too cold to stand it anymore and had enough shells to feel like we accomplished something but not so many that we would look conspicuous leaving the Wildlife Refuge, we piled back into the car and headed for the mainland. Maggie requested calamari for dinner (I'm serious.) so we sort of stumbled on The Clam Box in Ipswich, which is a Massachusetts landmark. The line was relatively reasonable, so we feasted on fried fries and fried onion rings and fried clams and fried squid, with a side of ketchup for color. Kate ordered chicken fingers (sigh) while Maggie pulled the legs off her calamari and ate them one by one, gleefully and deviously singing, "I'm eating fried baby squids!!"

Watch out, you Kraken! Maggie Jane is coming for you this summer, and she ain't scared a nuthin'.

After we tallied all the points and deductions in the car on the way home, our final assessment was that it was a successful Fowler Family Adventure Day.


  1. Wish we'd been there! Mom

  2. What a delightful story...and all without underwear!! It looks like a beautiful place for picture taking! You'll have to take me there sometime when I come visit.

  3. Amy, there were quite a few people there taking pictures with real photography equipment, not just iPhone photographers like us. The western side of the island is salt marsh, so there's tons of wildlife there as well as the ocean side. And the north end has quaint beach cottages and a light house! Gorgeous!


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