The Fireball looks pretty sweet tucked in alongside Santa Baby, the Airstream owned by friends Sandi and John, doesn’t she? In fact, we liked it so much that we stayed for three days in their driveway, while we explored Cape Cod.
After being Boston city kids for five days, Cape Cod was a breath of wild fresh air. Stretching for forty miles along the bay, the Cape Cod National Seashore is a collection of sandy beaches, marshes, and salt ponds. Oaks and pines, seemingly stunted by the ever-present ocean breeze have a squat, weathered appearance. It’s all very rustic and wild on the National Seashore side, while the other side of the bay is an assortment of small towns and villages – each doing their best to collect their share of the tourist dollars that flow through the area.
Since Sandi and John are both still working folk, we decided to head out on bikes (surprise, surprise) to explore on our first day. Naturally, the Visitor Center was our first stop. We viewed two films – one was an introduction to the area, and the second explored the formation of the Seashore, and the challenges of erosion. The damage done each year by storms alters the shoreline just a bit. Rising ocean levels pose significant challenges for the decades ahead.
At the Visitor Center, there’s a large skiff, which was used by early settlers to harvest sea hay, which was collected at low tide, brought to shore, dried, and fed to livestock. A side note indicated that many old timers in the area recall milk having a salty taste. Well, yes – I imagine that it would!
Clutching our map with a bike route plotted out for us by a friendly Ranger, we headed off. Our intended destination was Provincetown (or P-town, as it’s known around here). The route comprised the Cape Cod Rail Trail, short stretches of US and State Highways, and beautiful narrow roads, winding along the shoreline. We fell well short of our destination goal, stopping to gawk at the spectacular views, and sometimes to gasp for breath after short steep climbs. At Wellfleet, we threw in the towel, grabbed lunch, and turned back. We pedaled past Marconi Beach, the site where Marconi built his transmission towers that sent the first wireless message across the ocean.
Along the way though, we wandered along a salt marsh teeming with tiny little crabs and other wildlife. There’s a peculiar earthy, rather rank, odor to a salt marsh from sea life left behind by the tide and decomposing plant matter. We watched a Great Blue Heron tiptoe across a slender rivulet of water to quickly snag an unsuspecting fish. It’s an interesting spot to lurk and observe.During our three days on the Cape, we feasted on clams. Fried clam strips and whole belly clams, fried scallops, clams on the halfshell, and (of course) clam chowder. In our time in Massachusetts, I think John has probably devoured eight cups of clam chowder. Pretty sure he’s not done sampling yet.
Sandi had the day off on Wednesday, so she offered to be our guide to P-town. Originally a Portuguese fishing village, P-town is now a cramped artsy town, loaded with restaurants, shops and galleries, and a wharf with whale watching tours, moonlight cruises, charter fishing boats and plenty of colorful characters. Fun to visit, but too crowded for my taste.While we probably missed plenty of historic sights, we also missed getting a view of the seals which rest on the beach at low tide. Our timing was off, and by the time we got to a spot where we figured to find them, they were already back out in the waves, diving for dinner. (That dark spot in the middle is a seal head.) Seals consume hundreds of pounds of fish each day. In turn, Great White Sharks hunt the seals. It’s a timeless battle.
After three nights parked in Sandi and John’s driveway, it was time to move on. John renewed his Airstream lust. We replaced one of the Fireball’s tires, discovering that we had cord peeking through the side. This was the side that was damaged by our bearing incident, and we hope that this is the last vestige of that mishap. Sandi and John (he’s a contractor) have the most remarkable shower I’ve ever experienced – three showerheads and a pebbled floor make it a shower you never want to end. Wow. And, I wouldn’t be being honest if I didn’t say that I was floored to find that John collects Currier & Ives dinnerware – he has place settings for 90! Let’s just say that you could throw a hell of a party with all this!
Time to roll. It’s always good to leave before you get thrown out. ;-)