When I was growing up, I didn’t live a simplified life – I watched a lot of TV, I lived among conveniences and my dad was always a tech buff. Life was certainly comfortable. But my favorite memories of my childhood were not among those lived at home, but the nearly weekly trips we took to the Rhode Island shore.
Almost every weekend from April to October, we would spend the weekend camping at the Charlestown Breachway – a small, non-descript state park that was nothing more that a dirt parking lot adjacent to a beach and a waterway/jedi that lead the ocean water into the inland salt ponds. Although tent campers were not allowed (no facilities), people still came in swarms with their truck campers and modest trailers to park on small lots with no electricity or hook-ups to enjoy the peace and quiet.
No electricity meant no TV’s, no phones, seemingly no connection to the outside world. It was as if time stood still. Time was filled with spending hours at the beach – and not just soaking the sun. Instead, we flew kites, swam in the ocean, walked the shoreline in search of cool shells and rocks, went crabbing for bait and then went fishing with said crabs, played in the salt ponds, hid and played fort among the giant boulders, plucked sea roses, caught butterflies and fireflies, ran with cattails, counted shooting stars, and rode bikes up and down the dirt roads. And I say “we” because there were always a group of kids camping with their families at any given time and being there by myself with my parents, I was forced to be outgoing and make friends with strangers.
In addition to this campground, we would sometimes venture out into the surrounding towns and get fresh clam chowder or clam fritters at the seafood shacks, take pictures of lighthouses, go to the weekly flea market (where I would buy embroidery floss to make dozens of friendship bracelets), and buy fresh lobster literally off the boats as they pulled into the small ports nearby.
Breathing in salty air all day made for deep sleep at night, not even including the sound of the crashing waves that lulled you to sleep. This place was my early introduction into the life of simplicity and learning how to entertain myself with my natural surroundings and for 6 months out of the year, I spent the better part of every weekend there – from the time I was about 5 until I left for college.
When I lived in CT in my adult years, I made the trek down to the shore a couple times a year but once we moved to CO, it became a once-every-couple-of-years endeavor. Still I have the fondest memories of this place and it holds a very special place in my heart.
This past week, we had the opportunity to spend two nights camping in the same campground of my childhood, while visiting family in CT for my niece’s graduation…and I fell in love all over again. Because there are only 75 sites and no fancy landscaping or extensive facilities, it is rarely crowded. Most people go to the other “prettier” beaches nearby. This place, however, is my little slice of heaven. And sure, most of the modest campers have turned into full-blown RVs, a la Tour Bus style, with cars and generators in tow – most of the park is still as it has always been. And to boot, they replaced the nasty dual stall bathroom with 8 new composting toilet outhouses – which impressed me greatly.
I knew that moving to Colorado would land-lock me for some time – a difficult feat for a girl who practically “grew up” at the shore. The lure of the mountains helped to offset any pangs for the water at that time. And for the last 5 years, I’ve been okay with that. But lately, the nomadic lifestyle is tugging at me and Rhode Island is calling my name the loudest.
David and I have lots of places we want to live including: Oregon, Vermont, Idaho, Maine, California, Montana, Canada, Italy, etc. And so we know that we will not likely ground ourselves in one place for long. We moved 8 times in our first 7 years together, including 4 cross-country moves – something I jokingly refer to as a sign we are meant to be together if we haven’t divorced yet through all those moves. However, the current housing market also means that we aren’t going to be leaving anytime soon.
Regardless of an impending move or not, this trip reconnected me to a piece of my past and I was absolutely inconsolable about leaving after only being there for a couple days. Nonetheless, it was great being back in a simple, beautiful, calm place to remind me where I started on my simplicity journey and it fueled me to continue on the path.
Do you have a favorite “simple” spot? Please share with me and the readers!