The year is winding down, and it’s time to get a jump-start on reflecting on what 2014 brought. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, here are 10 things Hamptonites were probably thankful for this year:
1. When you made a left turn: Montauk Highway is such a zoo during the summer that there’s a joke about how those who remain after Labor Day spend Tumbleweed Tuesday just making a bunch of left turns. The glory of waiting at a stop sign for under a minute lasts well into the New Year.
2. When the Long Island Railroad extended its Montauk service: The LIRR announced earlier this year that the train to Montauk would operate on a summer schedule for 10 weeks longer than it had last year. Do I know anyone who took advantage of this? No. But do I love the fact that the LIRR is recognizing that there’s fun to be had out east beyond the Memorial Day to Labor Day grind? Absolutely.
3. When restaurants started introducing offseason specials: Half off select apps (including lobster sliders!) at The Palm. There’s a “date night” prix fixe on Mondays at Tutto il Giorno, which includes any appetizer, any pasta and a glass of wine. Whether it’s a happy hour special or a prix fixe, the offseason offers much in the way of dining specials. And, you’re practically guaranteed to get a table at any time.
4. When you got somewhere via bicycle: Bicycles are for exercise and convenient travel. Regardless of where you’re heading, a bike is the quintessential mode of beach travel.
5. When parking was no longer an issue: That time when you just ran into Sag Harbor Village to pick something up and it took less than 10 minutes to complete the whole errand? Yes, we’re thankful for that. And at the beach, they say that parking regulations exist through the end of September, but no one seems to pay attention after Labor Day. Of course, if a law is on the books, you risk a massive parking ticket, but past experience indicates that it’s worth taking the chance.
6. When the days were so long that you could go to the beach after work: Over the summer, I perfected the art of running home, throwing my stand up paddleboard on top of the car and racing to Mecox Bay. There was no better way to end the day than a sunset over the water.
7. When you made your ultimate celebrity sighting: Did you see Jimmy Fallon at Old Stove Pub? Julie Andrews walking around downtown Sag Harbor? Alec and Hilaria Baldwin eating with baby Carmen? Taylor Swift cooking with Ina Garten in East Hampton? The Kardashians walking around Southampton? Boston Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi running the Shelter Island 10K? You saw your idol, snagged a photo and your Facebook friends were made all the more jealous for it.
8. When you correctly predicted the best place to spend a summer night: The restaurant/nightclub shuffle happens every year, and you have the formula for success down pat. You remain loyal to the stalwarts of the East End, but you’re also willing to try new things, and you’re very capable of figuring out which trendy New York hotspot will find success in the Hamptons; and which ones will become simply insufferable.
9. When you finally decided to join that local wine club: Wine clubs are a great way to become familiar with local pours, and most vineyards have a number of price points to make their wines accessible to everyone. Because, let’s be honest, you were going to buy a shipment’s worth of wines over the next three months anyway. Might as well get a discount, as well as exclusive access to winery events, tastings and vintages.
10. When you discovered “your spot:” That beach that always seems to be less crowded than the norm. Your favorite yoga instructor. The restaurant that occasionally awards your patronage with a free dessert. Hamptonites have their spots, and we’re always thankful for that familiar face.