On The Cape

In last week’s exciting installment you’ll remember that we had finally made it to Cape Cod for our vacation. What do you do once you’re there? The answer is whatever you want! We usually checked out the tourist information that we picked up on the way, and there are some things that we do every time we go.

Exploring the beach is always on the list, and we saw some of the neatest things, especially at low tide. There were many sea creatures (and remnants thereof) that are left exposed by the retreating waves. One thing we saw was this boat with many birds (gannets?) perched on it. I’m sure glad I didn’t have to clean up after them.

We had a cool visit and hike at the natural history museum of Cape Cod. They have a small museum building with many interesting displays. Then outside they have hiking trails exploring a section of preserved natural seashore habitat. One of the interesting items was a sign showing a tide chart on it next to the trail leading across the salt marsh to the beach. You see, at high tide the boardwalk is submerged and you cannot get back from the beach without wading. I like the fact that they don’t close the trail, it’s just hikers beware!

On the ocean side we also spotted lots of seals. They would not haul out on the beach if there were people around, but they were right there in the surf, just off the beach. It was too cold for many people to be in swimming, but I can see why there have been shark encounters there lately. The sharks are after the seals, and the tourists and the seals are swimming in exactly the same areas.

Mary Anne also signed us up for a canoeing trip through the national seashore museum. It was led by a park naturalist on one of the salt “pond” inlets that are common on the mid-Cape. It was a little windy, but we did OK with the canoeing, and learned quite a bit about the unusual local salt/fresh water ecosystem in these ponds.

One of our favorite places to visit that we go to every time is the unique town of Provincetown located out at the very end of the Cape. It is a very old town, actually the first place that the Pilgrims landed before they settled in Plymouth. It was big in the old whaling days, and there are still commercial fishermen that sail from there. It has more lately evolved into more of a vibrant artists colony and tourist destination, attracting many colorful people from all walks of life. A great example of this is how they took a historic closed church, restored it to be the community library, and by the way, built an almost full scale schooner model into the interior.

Of course the most important thing about Provincetown is that’s where you go to catch the Dolphin fleet whale watching boats, one of Mary Anne’s favorites. We almost missed our chance as the weather was very rough all week and they canceled all the trips. Just as we resigned ourselves to not being able to go this time, they decided to go out on our last day. Mary Anne thanked them for deciding to make the trip and the lady at the ticket counted replied, “We’ll see if you still thank us once you get back!” She was right, it was very rough out there, especially if you have to sit out on the very front of the boat with your overly enthusiastic wife.

We didn’t get seasick (although many did), but we did get soaked to the skin when the waves came right over the railing where we were sitting. We did see whales and that is always exciting. They were frolicking and reverse-breaching which the naturalist said was usually brought on by rough weather. I got a couple of pictures, although it is hard to operate a camera while you are struggling to keep your feet and not get swept off the boat into the ocean.

We survived, but the next day we had to leave for home, and the Old Hardware Store…