Southwick Beach State Park.

Earl and I have set up camp for the weekend at my favorite state park in New York State, Southwick Beach State Park. “Southwicks”, as the locals refer to it, is located on the eastern shore of Lake Ontario, about 20 miles south of Watertown. It’s one of the few state parks in Upstate New York to have real, all-sand beaches, complete with sand dunes and dune grass. It’s one of only a handful of places in the eastern United States where you can get a real sunset over the water, just as if you were watching over the Pacific. Looking out on Lake Ontario (and probably the other Great Lakes) is like looking out onto the ocean. It’s kind of cool.

Southwicks has a camping area right on the beach. Unfortunately, because these sites are so popular, you can’t book them through the traditional NYS State Park reservation system. Instead, you must participate in a lottery at the beginning of the year and hope that your lucky number comes up so you can get the coveted “Supersite”, one of the very few sites on the beach that have a tree.

We’re not on the beach this trip but instead we are situated in “D” area, back in a beautiful wooded area on a corner site, another coveted site among the pop-up and RV crowd.

To the south of Southwicks along the beach is the Lakeview Wildlife Management area, which is run by the New York State Department of Conservation. The presence of the area means there’s no development at all for quite a few miles along the lake, affording beach lovers with miles and miles of nothing more than water, dunes and sand. In the more remote section of this beachfront is an informal nude beach, which has a little bit of a gay thing going on. It find it a little humorous that I grew up not too far from here and had no idea of the existence of this out of the way expression of personal freedom, perhaps I would have furthered my transition to adulthood a little sooner than college.

Earl and I are have just returned from cleaning ourselves up and getting ready for the day’s activities. We have a nice little lunch planned and then a considerable hike mapped out along the beach and the dunes. We’ve stocked up on sunblock, hats and towels and are anxious to enjoy this little piece of “ocean” that’s only missing the salt.