We kicked off this trip in the perfect way - at a New York Islanders game!! Dan grew up on Long Island and became a die-hard Islanders fan during the 80s when they won 4 Stanley Cup Championships in a row. Their arena isn't getting any younger, and there's talk of moving the team to another city, so we figured we'd better get out there before everything changes!
After 9 years of watching their games on TV, I finally got to see one live!
Ahhh, the glory days
Ahhh, the glory days
After the game, we spent the rest of the day driving around Dan's old haunts. We stopped to take a picture of the house where he grew up. His parents moved to Williamsburg, VA a few years ago, but they owned this house for almost 40 years!
We also saw his elementary school, Lee Road
Dan drove me around some of the neighboring towns & showed me where his family used to attend church, the high school where his dad worked, and some of the restaurants & movie theaters where he'd meet his friends on the weekends. We saw most of his old workplaces and drove out to the beach to make sure the Jones Beach tower was still standing (it was). He said it felt like coming home, and it was fun for me to hear all his stories.
We ate dinner at Cafe Bacci, an Italian restaurant he remembered, and then stopped for dessert at International Delight Cafe. They had about a million gelato flavors to choose from!
Fact: Gelato on a warm waffle is delicious!
The next morning, we continued driving along the NE coast of Long Island, and saw the cutest towns along the way.
Port Jefferson was my favorite town of the day
We stopped for about an hour to hike around Wildwood State Park, where Dan's family went camping when he was a kid. His memory astounds me! He took me to the exact site where they pitched their tent, then led me through the woods to a secret trail he remembered leading to the beach. I can't even remember where I parked my car when I go to a store.
This is the unlikely-looking trail that leads to the beach.
Hello, Atlantic Ocean!
Then we hit the road again and drove to the very NE tip of Long Island to see the Orient Point Lighthouse. Isn't that the perfect East Coast scene?
At Orient Beach State Park
We saw a sign for historic Horton Point Lighthouse which is now a museum, and decided to check it out.
The next day, we drove along the SE coast of Long Island. This is where the famous Hamptons are, and Dan had never driven that far out. I think we enjoyed the NE coast more with their picturesque yet normal towns with schools, churches, & parks. The SE coast was more sparsely populated and touristy. When you did see neighborhoods, they were mostly the gigantic mansions near the water that come to mind when you hear about movie stars vacationing in the Hamptons. Most of them were gated for privacy, so we didn't bother taking many pictures.
We made it all the way to the SE tip of the Island to see Montauk Point Lighthouse.