You wake up to the sound of the Atlantic Ocean waves pounding the shoreline along with a strong off-shore breeze punctuated by the sounds of seagulls greeting the morning sunlight in mass high above the surf. No, I am not talking about waking up on Lily Pond Lane or Further Lane in a multi-million-dollar home. I am relieving a moment I had waking in a friend’s luxury camper in Montauk’s Camp Hero right off the bluffs.
In the Hamptons exist many rich and famous people. Then there are the locals who have moved there to live there all year-round and finally there are those whose families have lived there since 1640s. However, this column is dedicated to the rarely mention visitors to the East End, the loyal recreational vehicle owners who covet locations in the legal parks and camping sites on the East End to take a breach from life up-island and beyond.
Over the years I have done a couple of stories about the recreational vehicle visitors to the Hamptons, who many times must make reservations a year in advance. One such place this necessary is Hither Hills State Park. It was created in 1924. The story goes private developers in the roaring 20s, including Carl Fisher, had a crazy plan to development the land in Montauk and where the park is with grand plans including, hotels, marinas and casinos, but were blocked by the Long Island State Park Commission. A large part portion of the private holdings were sold to New York State, who opened the 1,755-acre (7.10 km2) parcel as Hither Hills State Park in August 1924.
There is a certain magic to camping at Montauk’s Hither Hills State Park on the Atlantic Ocean. I ventured out to the park recently (2019) and encountered two couples and their dear friend, who have a tradition of parking their luxury campers in close proximity to each other and enjoying all the park has to offer.
Barbara Kernes, who hails from Port Jefferson, loves Hither Hills off-season because, “It’s quiet and I have the luxury of working from home so my camper becomes my office on the ocean. In fact, someone walked by me today as I sat at the picnic table in the sun and said, ‘I love your office.'” Barbara’s camper is 28′ Jayco Travel Trailer that her husband Kevin hauls with a Nissan Titan with a special Cummings Diesel engine.
Then there is East Patchogue resident Jill Ferrante who, with husband Richie Tibbetts, have their camper parked directly across from Barbara and Kevin Kernes’ camper. She and Richie have their own Hither Hills story. Barbara said, “I love to come here to read in the sun right off the ocean. The sound of the surf is just so relaxing. Plus, we have a lot of laughs with the friends we’ve met out here.” Husband Richie Tibbetts added, “I love the surf casting and the fires and the camaraderie.” They have a 36′ Keystone Passport that they haul with a Dodge 1500.
I was particularly fond of meeting and talking to Hampton Bays resident Nicky Calamaras, who comes to Hither Hills because, “It’s fun in the sun and even in the rain and the wind.” Richie added, “Nicky loves to listen to his tunes, especially the Grateful Dead.” Nicky has a 31′ Four Winds Class C.
There are other choice spots to camp, such as the park in Shinnecock East County Park in Southampton at the end of Dune Road. For Gardiner’s Bay exposure there is Cedar Point County Park in East Hampton and the Long Island Kampground in Greenport on the North Fork, as well as Montauk County Park on East Lake Drive in Montauk. The Camp Hero recreational vehicle situation is seasonal, usually in the fall during the height of striped bass fishing season.
It really is just another way to experience the pleasures of the East End Atlantic Ocean experience. I lived for 4 ½ years in a fixed trailer off of Ditch Plains Beach, 524 steps from the breaking waves. Believe me waking up there every morning was very special. I appreciated and enjoyed the morning salt ocean air, the brisk ocean wind, the so many seagulls and yes the crazy but talented surfers too!