Traveling Dog Lady: Road Trip Travelogue: Salisbury, Massachusetts Salisbury Beach

Monday, August 7, 2017

Road Trip Travelogue: Salisbury, Massachusetts Salisbury Beach

This summer has become an unplanned "one beach per week" road trip extravaganza for me. One perk of no longer owning a vacation home is that you don't "have to" go there. You can go to other places.

A few weeks ago, I went to Duxbury Beach. Fabulous, lots of parking, a little pricey at $20 for the day, but there are bathrooms, showers, a decent walkable beach with too many rocks, and a snack bar. I even was able to swim (well, ok, "dip")... the water was a tad chilly.

Duxbury Beach
Despite the rocky terrain, this isn't Rockport.... it's Duxbury Beach.

Then, I spent a whole week in Rockport. You can read about that here. 

Rockport Massachusetts
Rockport at Sunrise

On Thursday, I had an appointment in New Hampshire, and realized I would be just 30 miles from the more-northerly beaches (more northerly than Rockport, that is). But, surprisingly the water was much, much warmer. It was a toss-up between Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, or Salisbury Beach in Mass. The two being literally within walking distance of each other. I opted for Salisbury because a) I spent a lot of time there when I was a kid; and b) there is a "state park" where you can park for the day for just $14 if your car has a Massachusetts license plate ($16/day if out-of-state).

I deliberately arrived at 2:30 to avoid the crowds. At a pit stop to pick up supplies and some Aleve (headache!) at Rite-Aid, I got talking with the clerk, and she suggested I wouldn't be able to get a parking space at that time of day. But I knew better and hedged my bets. To prove me right, the parking lots were basically empty. Score! I had the entire bath house to myself, and there were plenty of prime places to plunk my umbrella into the ground and set up my towel and cooler for the afternoon.

At Salisbury, the beach is almost identical to my favorite beach in the world, The Cape Cod National Seashore. The dunes are much smaller, but the walkability is great. It is vast, flat, and especially at low tide, the waves are large but gentle... and the water is significantly warmer than in Rockport. That perplexed me for a while, until I realized that Rockport's Front Beach is really a "cove", thus the open ocean does not affect the water temp like it does on the outer beaches. The outer beaches, which are exposed to the expanse of ocean water, warm up because the water acts like a big radiator. Your science lesson for the day! (Hey, I might even be wrong, so go ahead and tell me --  I won't be offended.)

Salisbury has several bath houses, and several parking lots. You can park hundreds of cars there on any given day. Each parking lot has its own bath house and its own shower area -- one for men, one for women. It's very well organized. I thought there was a snack bar, but I tend to avoid the crowded areas of the beach (I call it "The Clump") and so I never went over that way to investigate further. Check online before you go -- I brought a small cooler of food with me and was very happy. A check of the beach's website does not indicate whether or not there's a snack bar, so be prepared and bring your own food just in case.

I walked for miles on this beach. I almost walked all the way to Hampton, NH, which IS possible, but I didn't feel like continuing, so I turned around and walked back to my towel. I carried my valuables with me in a plastic drawstring backpack that I got at a pet charity festival. The thing comes in really handy at the beach, and I highly recommend one for this purpose. You put your phone, keys, camera, money and a bottle of water in the backpack, throw it on your back, and you can got for a long walk without worrying about your valuables. You need to get creative when you travel alone. Nobody to watch your stuff, you know!

Salisbury Beach Massachusetts
The beautiful Salisbury Beach in August. You can walk for miles, and swim safely.

I also swam, really swam, for the first time all summer. The water was beautiful. Unusually warm; and the waves, although high, were gentle. I can get a little freaked out by the ocean sometimes, as I've had some not-so-fun experiences with undertow and being slammed by large waves. So, it was a real treat to have some fun actually swimming in cold north Atlantic waters for a change.  Not like two weeks ago in Rockport... brrrr! I had to wear a long-sleeved sunscreen shirt in order to swim!!

The only thing I didn't like about my return to Salisbury was that the beach is not dog-friendly. "No dogs allowed" flashed in orange neon lights on a DPW message sign at the entrance to the park. Along with "Road construction beginning August 7th", or whatever. In other words, dogs are SO not allowed here, and they want you to know that while you are still on the main road, before you've paid your fourteen dollars.  Boo.

When I got up to the houses on Salisbury Beach proper, though, (this is a private beach area but you can still walk on it as long as you are just passing through) there was one guy and his dog playing with a ball on the beach. The ball rolled right into my path, and I was able to kick it back to the dog. The guy laughed. I laughed. The dog wagged its tail and grabbed the ball. I got my fix!

As usual, I like to take the back roads on my local journeys. Salisbury is just under two hours from my home by highway, three if you take the scenic option. A super-easy day trip and well worth it on a weekday at just $14! I think it may cost up to $20 on weekends, but again, check before you go so you are not surprised. I started my trip in Salem, NH because I had an appointment there, so I took Route 110 "the scenic route" to the beach. It was lovely. On the way home, I made an error and decided I couldn't resist the temptation of real fried clams from a drive-in clam bar. This landed me squarely in work traffic (after I ate the clams, in my car, at a cemetery -- hey, I never said I was normal! Widows learn to embrace cemeteries. They are peaceful places, and a nice quiet place to eat without anyone gawking at you. Dead people don't gawk, or tawk!). In my attempt to avoid the work traffic, I stupidly jumped onto Route 495 south, which was moving, as compared to 495 northbound which was a "parking lot" (or as we say here in Mass. "pahkin' lawt"). Unfortunately, further down onto 495 south, traffic was at a standstill. As soon as I could, I took the first exit and found my way back home utilizing highway-avoidance techniques. However, that added an hour to the trip.

I arrived home at almost 8 pm. Not exactly what I had planned. But it was such a beautiful day, I couldn't complain.

Next up: my return to Eastham. It's been almost a year. I can hardly believe it, time went by so fast. Stay tuned for my next Road Trip Travelogue report from ol' Cape Cod!

What adventures have your road trips taken you on? Tell me all about it!

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