Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Is Nantasket that Fantastic?

People from all over the south shore flock there to get their beach fix. Adults hold fond memories of their childhood there. It is the famous Nantasket beach in Hull, MA.

Located in Hull, as far as I'm concerned Nantasket is not convenient or near anything. Although we have gone there in the past to take pictures of the kids in the winter, I had never been to Nantasket to swim.

We did not go out of our way to go there, we had to be in Hingham for something in the afternoon so I suggested that we try that beach for a couple of hours. The parking is $7 for the day, and there is 2 hour parking on the street. Just be careful to NOT park on a yellow curb. Apparently yellow curb=$20 parking ticket.

We arrive at the beach, find parking, and unload the car. There are many parking lots yet many of them were at capacity at noontime. The beach itself was also at capacity. Here's the thing about Nantasket-there's not much sand. Not that the sand isn't nice or thick and cushy. It's that the beach front is only maybe 10-45 feet depending on the tide. At high tide there is no beach front.

Arriving late in terms of a beach day, we had to carefully pick our way through the crowd, making sure not to knock anybody out with the beach bag or lawn chair. I found a square of space not yet claimed, yet I still felt like I was somehow invading somebody's personal space...but oh well. Kids ran into the water and the only thing left was the chairs and the bag. Those aren't too noisy.

The kids ran into the water and proclaimed "It's so cold!!" I tested the waters and agreed. Nantasket's water is very cold. Not Maine water cold, but very cold for Massachusetts. After a little splashing around we decided to check out the main drag. We put the chairs in the car and headed into "The Dream Machine" to give the kids a few minutes at the arcade.

Here's the reason people love Nantasket: Nostalgia. It is like a mini Hampton beach. There are arcades and souvenir shops. You can lick an ice cream or munch on french fries as you walk down the road while looking at tourist trap souvenirs. There is even a playground that looks exactly like the one at Hampton beach. (The bathrooms are quite nice too;)

It is definitely an experience everybody should have, and right now there is a carnival set up right by the ocean. That's a very nostalgic experience. As far as the beach's stand-alone quality, I would give it a 3/10. If you add in all there is to do around the area-it goes up to about a 7.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Reids Ultimate Breakfast in Brockton

So today our adventure was Reid's Ultimate Breakfast in Kmart Plaza at 2021 Main St, Brockton. My husband woke me up early because he had a doctor's appointment and suggested we head over to his grandmother's fave breakfast hangout.

The best part is the price. For $2.99 between the hours of 5:30-8:30 a.m. you have a choice of the following (all include coffee)

2 pancakes
2 french toast
2 eggs, homefries and toast
2 biscuits with gravy (and there is sausage in those biscuits)

Cheaper than McDonalds and with a homey flair, the waitstaff is friendly and the regulars flood the place. Not only was my french toast cooked perfectly, the coffee was good and I was definitely full after my meal...that only cost $2.99!

Last week when I went to IHOP with just my husband we waited an hour for our food, and it cost twice as much for half the people.

The only downside, every time an order is up the cooks ring a doorbell to alert the waitresses. You start to block it out after awhile, and it has its benefits. The food is hot and fresh and isn't sitting under a heat lamp for any amount of time. I recommend that you check it out.

After our early bird specials, we headed over to Kmart to buy Dillon a pair of jeans. I almost felt like I was stealing because the jeans were so very cheap...marked at $1.99 a pair. Imagine my shock when they rang up at $1.19 because of the additional percent off that I didn't know existed. I spent less than $100 on breakfast and an entire new wardrobe for two boys. AMAZING!!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Best Beach for only $7....Horseneck

Drive down Route 88 in Westport for what feels like an eternity, and hit the beach. Not just any beach, but Horseneck Beach in Westport, MA.

I woke up on the first day of my kids' summer vacation feeling adventurous. I was content going to Onset beach for the millionth time, but I felt we should do something special. I said to my husband "It's kinda far, but let's go to Horseneck." He said, "Sure!"

So while he got directions and I loaded the car, we contacted my best friend to see if she wanted to come along. In our two-car caravan loaded with a total of 6 kids between the ages of 8-11 and three adults, we made our way to Westport. After we got on Route 88 I thought for sure we were lost. Finally we pulled into "The Back Eddy" and asked a fisherman if we had missed something. Nope. It was about 1/2 mile further.

First things first, you aren't lost. If you drive down 88 you will eventually hit the beach, you have no other choice it is pretty much the end of the road. You are greeted by teens who collect your $7 parking fee and you head to the ample parking lot. (You can check out a free day pass at your local library). The bathroom facilities appear gorgeous. They advertise showers, but only the little foot-wash spigots were in working order. The bathroom is an environmentally friendly, water-free facility. The toilet material goes down into a composting tank underground. So, basically, it's a giant, fancy port-a-potty. It's cleaner than a port-a-potty...much cleaner.

My all-time fave beach until this point in time WAS Old-Silver. Don't get me wrong, Old-Silver will be mentioned in a future blog as soon as I make it there. It still is nostalgically my favorite beach in childhood memory. However, it is very crowded and pricey to park. Horseneck has two miles of beachfront. It only costs $7 to park. It is gorgeous.

After I doused the kids with sunscreen, they were off and running. The waves were huge, but not overpowering. The water was warmer. The scenery was gorgeous. The sand is soft and fine like Old Silver but this beach is immaculate. A man drives down with a tractor and picks up trash with one of those grabbers. There are dumpsters to throw your trash away. Cops are on patrol throughout the day, driving a cruiser around on the paved walkway. You feel safe and sound.

The only complaints my kids had were that:
a)no floatation devices including boogie boards, state regulations for safety (fine with me)
b) they frown on catching crabs, as it is part of the state park...granted Ashton treats each crab with love and care, but some little boys prefer to rip their legs off

I highly recommend this little bit of heaven at the end of Route 88. It is well worth the drive and makes for a great day at the beach!!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Two movies for the price of one...and the food is so much cheaper

Our adventure Friday night brought us about an hour away from our home in Middleboro, but it was well worth it. Our destination: The Mendon Twin Drive-In, one of the few drive-ins left standing in the area.

So, movies there start at sundown; or somewhere between 8:45-9 p.m. My husband and I figured that we should probably get there pretty early in order to get a good spot. We armed ourselves with bug spray, chairs, water, chips and a portable stereo. I told my kids to take a nap because we were going to see "Toy Story 3" AND "The Karate Kid."

It took us about 45 minutes to an hour to get there. When we arrived the lot was already getting packed, and it was only about 8:00 p.m. The aisles are filled with people in lawn chairs, kids playing catch and frisbees galore. We parked our car with the rear end facing the screen, and put our chairs out. Kids were doused with bug spray and then they took off to make new friends with kids around us. It was great, not once did they whine "Is it time for the movie to start yet?" because there was so much to do.

Our "neighbors" offered to buy bug spray off of us in return for a beer. I declined, but offered them the bug spray for free instead. Last year, we forgot the bug spray. Let me tell you, BUG SPRAY IS KEY!! So while we got to know the neighbors my son played football pass and instead of hitting his target...hit a shiny new Audi. Oopsies. Make sure the footballs are SOFT. Nerf balls are a good idea.

When the movie finally started, we all settled into our lawn chairs to watch the double feature. It was a beautiful clear evening. It did get chilly around 10, so I highly recommend bringing a sweatshirt and maybe even blankets.

I would say about half of the people left after the first movie, and it is still worth it even if you don't think you will make it through both films. At $20 per carload it is a mere $5 per person for my family of four if we stay for one movie. That is a savings of $2.50 per ticket (vs. Regal Cinemas prices). If we stay for both movies, that cuts us back to only $2.50 per person. That is unheard of these days!!
Not to mention the savings at the snack bar. You can make a night of it and come early for a picnic dinner, bring your own food. The prices at the snack bar are very reasonable also. They offer all different foods, including sandwiches, burgers and dogs. My husband came back with 2 large popcorns, loaded nachos and a fry for $15.

This was an amazing evening. The sheer ambiance of being there, at the drive-in is an experience all should enjoy. You even get a trash bag on the way in and you can leave it in your parking spot when you leave, our friends in Mendon pick it up for you.

So make sure you check it out if you want an inexpensive adventure but remember:
1. bugspray
2. blankets
3. soft footballs
4. chairs
5. no radio doesn't really pick up the signal, just use your car stereo

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Spa for a day...or at least a half day!

So living in Massachusetts as a schoolteacher, I don't exactly have a million extra dollars to spend. Spas are those places that celebrities and wealthy people go to get pampered, right? I mean, the closest I had been to a spa until today was a Mary Kay birthday party my best friend Katie had for her thirteenth birthday. It was one of those deals where the middle aged saleswoman comes and shows a bunch of preteens how to put on thirty dollar lipgloss...

So for my thirtieth birthday my friends bought me a treat. It was actually in a basket full of nailpolish in crazy colors. I was in awe by the $1 bottles of chartreuse and teal polish, and had no idea what the envelope behind them contained. When I finally got around to opening presents, I opened that envelope. It was a card signed by my closest fellow faculty members. Inside was a spatech gift certificate in the amount of $85, the equivalent of a half-day of beauty.

So, knowing that I am the ultimate procrastinator I called and booked an appointment for 6/26 at 9:30. Yesterday somebody called me at 10 am to confirm, and ended her conversation with "We require a 24 hour cancellation, do you need our number." I bit my tongue and held back the urge to say "Ummm...then shouldn't I have called you like a half-hour ago?" Instead I reassured the girl that I would be there.

I arrive at the spa and go into the wrong entrance. Just so you know if you happen to venture out that way, the aesthetics institute is to the right and massage is to the left. Once I was redirected to the correct location I was prompted to answer a short questionnaire.

A smiling blonde came out dressed in all white...actually all of the people were dressed in white. It was like I was in heaven. Perfectly made-up estheticians in white uniforms massaging people draped in white...heaven is right.

First she gave me a large collapsible basket that she said was "my basket." She had a faint accent that I couldn't quite place. She showed me the disposable spa panties that were in a saran wrap-esque wrapper and the "spa robe." I went into the bathroom to change. Putting on the panties, I glanced in the mirror and realized I definitely resembled a sumo wrestler getting ready for a match. They were a three inch strip of papery material with elastic strings on each side. I honestly couldn't figure out the front from the back.

SO I WAS READY!! Donning my white spa robe I laid on the table while my tech started brushing me with a soft brush. She brushed all of my skin and explained that it helped improve circulation and it would tickle a little. Then she started the "salt glow" treatment. I now know why they call it so makes you glow. So now I am glowing and surrounded by pretty people in white...heaven? YES!! She gently massaged the salt all over and then removed it with a series of hot towels. It felt amazing. I am happy at this point and I am only $35 into the treatment.

She had decided on a seaweed wrap for my skin, they allow you to choose but since I have no idea I told her to pick. She said it will help moisturize. She paints me with seaweed and in the meantime is folding the sheet under me to reveal a shower curtain on the table. So now I am sliding all over the table in gooey seaweed bliss as she gently pulls the sheet out from under me. I am lying on plastic. So, silly me...I thought that the "wrap" part was figurative. NO. It's literal. They wrap you up like a mummy or a caterpillar. In my multi layered chrysalis I lay. First there was the shower curtain. Then the giant insulated foil blanket. Then the wooly blanket, and I think it was topped off with a sheet. And then I decide I might have to pee. Or not?

So as I lay there I am nervous at first and my nose starts to itch and twitch until my tech starts to do my facial. AMAZING!! I have no idea what she did, because my eyes were closed. However it involved lots of massaging with some substance and something that felt like tea bags was over my eyes. Then a hot towel would massage it off for the next layer. While my mask was setting I felt warm oil drizzle over my feet and then that part that always hurts from wearing flip flops is being gently and skilfully massaged. I was in heaven. Apparently I was really relaxed, because I woke myself up with a little snore. Okay, probably a big snore. All I know is that I never wanted to emerge from my cocoon. I was completely unaware of time or place as I listened to the most stereotypical spa music ever...waves crashing and different xylophoney type music. (I will never make fun of Dani's mom for the orca tape again).

I felt numb and full of endorphins when I was finally unwrapped and once again bathed with a hot towel. Do I really have to leave??

So I give SPATECH an A for cleanliness, comfort, price, and the heaven effect. The opportunity to have a stress free day was definitely priceless!!