Wednesday, January 29, 2014


 Map of the "Islands of New England" Tour courtesy of Collette

Cape Cod, the Proud Arm of Massachusetts
 (Photo courtesy Google Images)
On the final day of the tour we climbed aboard our big silver bus one last time for a leisurely drive through Cape Cod. The Cape is shaped eerily like an arm flexed into a muscle and  our hotel in Hyannis is about midway on the underside of the bicep. From there we took the 6 highway all the way up the arm into Provincetown located on the knuckles of the curled fist. Along the way, I could easily see why anyone would fall in love with Cape Cod.
(Melanie, our Tour Director, liked to say she was born and raised in the armpit of Cape Cod. Pretty nice for an armpit, I'd say!)

JFK's Memorial

A couple of days prior, we’d stopped to visit John F. Kennedy’s memorial on the Lewis Bay waterfront in Hyannis Port. It is an achingly beautiful place to have a memorial, overlooking a crystal bay filled with sailboats. I could imagine JFK’s spirit often visiting here knowing how much he loved Cape Cod and sailing. It’s fitting that the inscription under the presidential seal is this quote from a victory speech he made in Hyannis, “I believe it is important that this country sail and not sit still in the harbor.”

John F. Kennedy's Memorial in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts

Stony Brook Gristmill, circa 1751

 We would make many stops on our journey, but few would be as pretty as our first stop at the Gristmill. Like most of Cape Cod, it is enough that the beauty of the scene gives us a moment to appreciate life as it is lived and enjoyed in the moment.

Stony Brook Gristmill is one of the best preserved mills on the Cape.

Alice and Eugene
East Hampton Windmill circa 1808
 One of the best things about traveling with a collection of strangers is that they often turn into friends along the way, which happened with Alice and Eugene. Early on, I couldn’t help notice that they were an interesting couple: an older man accompanied by a younger woman, and an expectant one at that. Sweetly deferential to him, Alice helped Eugene with his luggage and whatever else he seemed to need. They obviously had a special bond. All of us were politely curious and eventually their story became known. Three months earlier, Eugene and his wife had planned and paid for this tour, but shortly before the trip began, she passed away. However, instead of cancelling the trip, Eugene and his daughter Alice decided to go together turning what could have been a sad time of missed memories into one they will both remember as a very special shared experience between father and daughter. We admired their courage to carry on, but most of all, the expression of love of a daughter for her dad touched us the most. Thank you, Eugene and Alice for allowing me to tell your story. You both will always be in our hearts.

The Kettle Ponds

An interesting geological phenomenon in Cape Cod is the “kettles”. Formed around 18,000 years ago after the last ice age, they are large round holes in the landscape caused by melting chunks of glaciers. We stopped at a one called Salt Pond, unique because it captures ocean water and actually has tides. What I found fascinating is that some of these kettles filled in with vegetable matter and became bogs which now grow some of the best cranberries in America. Who knew that we had giant glacier pot holes to thank for the the cranberry relish on our Thanksgiving tables!

  Salt Pond in the foreground and smaller kettles
 in the background (to the right of my head!)

Nauset Beach

Not far up the road, we stopped for a photo op at Nauset Beach and discovered that a whole lot of other people thought to do the same. Dodging bodies made it hard to take any good pictures, but I managed to take a few. We didn’t stay long. It was time for lunch in Provincetown and a very special excursion!


Provincetown, known to insiders as P-Town, is located on the knuckles of Cape Cod’s fist. It’s a unique town in many ways: unique in its culture as well as its wild white dunes. Apparently, the locals are very tolerant of alternative lifestyles and celebrations can get quite colorful. But from what I hear, it’s all the Pilgrims fault. The Mayflower landed here first in 1620 before ending up at Plymoth. About half of the passengers consisted of religious “Separatists” and the other half “Strangers”. It was here in P-Town that they made an agreement with each other called the Mayflower Compact that allowed for saints and sinners to co-exist in this new country and P-Town took them at their word. However to my eyes, it looked to be a regular beach town and beach towns always have their characters.

After lunch, I piled into one of Art’s Dune Tour SUV’s and set off to check out the dunes. Before leaving however, the excursion driver let out half of the air in the tires so our SUV wouldn’t bog down in the sand. After that came one of THE best rides in my memory. If you ever get to Provincetown, you absolutely must take one these tours. It will make your whole trip.

Cormorants hanging out at the beach.

All too soon, the tour was over.  Asked what I thought of the experience, I honestly said that this is one trip I could take every year. It was that fun.

If you're fond of sand dunes and salty air
Quaint little villages here and there
You're sure to fall in love with old Cape Cod.

If you like the taste of a lobster stew
Served by a window with an ocean view
You're sure to fall in love with old Cape Cod.

Winding roads that seem to beckon you
Miles of green beneath a sky of blue
Church bells chimin' on a Sunday morn
Remind you of the town where you were born

If you spend an evening you'll want to stay
Watching the moonlight on Cape Cod Bay
You're sure to fall in love with old Cape Cod

Watch the Video of the trip!

 Thanks Everybody!!

NEXT TIME: Exploring Colonial America

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