Massachusetts

Day 34 – Cape Cod’s Sandy Shores Part 3

Cape Cod

What a glorious day…60 degrees and sunny!  I started out with a soft boiled egg and toast compliments of Eric and Lise.  Before we headed to Wellfleet Oyster Fest, I walked the dogs down to the neighborhood pond, Long Pond.  It was nice mile walk just to take the edge off the dogs so they could enjoy a rest in VANilla while we tried out the local fare at Wellfleet’s Oyster Fest.

I’ve never been to a festival where oysters are shucked in booths out on the street.  It was quite fun to see the shuckers in fishing gear and to hand pick the dozen oysters I wanted.  Welfleet oysters are fantastic!  We tried a few more food booths as well…an order of fried clams from one and a sea dog from the other.

None of us had ever heard of a sea dog which was basically a lobster fried in corn breading and stuck on a stick like a Fletcher’s corn dog.  It reminded me of the State Fair of Texas which comes to Dallas every October.  Every year there is a contest among the vendors establishing the best fried food…I vote for the fried oreos.

After consuming thousands of calories each, we took a walk along the beach on Great Island a peninsula off of Welfleet Harbor.  The beach was laden with scallop shells from yesterday’s heavy surf.  Scout decided it would be nice to taste one of them…crunchy!

I parted with Lise and Eric for the late afternoon and headed up to Provincetown.  In Provincetown I visited the Pilgrim Memorial Monument .  The monument, constructed between 1907 and 1910, was built to commemorate the first landing of the Pilgrims in 1620.  After 67 days at sea, the Mayflower anchored here while the Pilgrims signed the Mayflower Compact, the first democratic document written in America.  After exploring the area, the Pilgrims moved to Plymouth where they established the first permanent settlement in the Northeast.

While in Provincetown, I also completed a micro cache.  Micro caches in urban areas, in my experience, tend to be magnetic, thus as I turned the corner and found some benches, I presumed it would be magnetically attached to one of them.  Attempting stealth in my hunt, I nonchalantly sat on the bench while craning my neck around to glance at the back of the bench as well as slowly running my hand under the seat without looking.  Jay, a Jamaican who previously lived in Florida and is now living with his aunt while he cooks at the Red Inn commented, “You look like you have a lot on your mind.”  I responded, “as a matter of fact, I do…I’m trying to find a geocache without looking like a crazy person peering under benches.”  After providing a short lesson on caching, I sat down on the next bench, ran my hand behind the back of it, and found the black magnetic case.  I was hoping to drop the Texas geocoin I found, but the container was too small.

On my way back to Brewster, I stopped just long enough at Race Point Beach for a view and at Marconi Station to see the site where the first U.S transatlantic wireless telegram was sent to Edward VII King of England from Theodore Roosevelt.  Construction on the wireless radio station began in 1901, was destroyed by a storm later in the same year, and rebuilt in 1902.  Guglielmo Marconi transmitted the message for which he received the Nobel Prize.  The station was demolished in 1920 and at least half of the shore where the station stood has eroded leaving only a few remains.  Before I left to join the traffic from the Welfleet Oyster Fest, I watched a tremendous sunset.

Back in Brewster, (oh will it be hard to leave), Eric and Lise prepared a salad and shrimp scampi…DELICIOUS!  It was certainly 100 times better than the Cowboy game…thankfully I only had to suffer through the last quarter.

This weekend was quite enjoyable.  Eric and Lise couldn’t be nicer.  They spontaneously hosted a complete stranger for an entire weekend…so generous, so kind, great company.  What a wonderful experience.  It was really nice to tour Cape Cod with locals!  I hope I will have the opportunity to host them in the future.  And THANK YOU Page for making the introduction.    ETB

websites:  www.nps.gov/caco/planourvisit/marconi-beach.htm,

For notecards, key chains, and photos on canvas, visit http://www.notablenotecards.com or http://www.etsy.com/shop/nichenotecards

humpback whale website copy

Massachusetts

Day 33 – Cape Cod’s Sandy Shores Part 2

Cape Cod

What a lovely day, despite the wind!  I spent the morning with Eric and Lise. Eric whipped up a great frittata while we chatted about the joys of house remodeling and determined what places I should see today.  We decided it would be best to stay around the “elbow” of the cape and visit Wellfleet today and visit Provincetown tomorrow.

It was a pleasure to have Lise and Eric join me for the morning.  I didn’t have to navigate alone, and I got to hear about the places from the locals!  Eric is a law enforcement ranger for the Cape Cod National Seashore, so he spends the summers on the nearby beaches keeping the tourists orderly.  Lise has been on the cape for most her life, so they were quite knowledgeable of the area.  I felt like Reader’s Digest was quoting from them!

Our first stop was at Fort Hill, a high point in the area that overlooks Nauset Marsh, Coast Guard Beach, and the Atlantic Ocean.  The wind was howling, so I took a picture from the car, and we continued on to Nauset Light Beach.  The Nauset Light is somewhat inland compared to the other lights I have seen.  It is set back because the beach recedes 3 feet a year as the currents carry the sand northward to Provincetown.  The Nauset Light is one of the few lighthouses that has both a red and a white light continuously blink on and off as the light rotates clockwise.

After visiting the lighthouse, we braved the wind and walked from Nauset Light Beach to Coast Guard Beach, about 2 miles in total, as we passed the sand dunes on one side and the white caps of the Atlantic on the other.  Lise and Eric have a tradition to walk this stretch, no matter the weather, every New Year’s Day!  Lise used to lifeguard in the summers on Coast Guard Beach and lived in a Coast Guard housing structure just above the dunes.  She could look out the window, see the surf, and know how her day was going to be.

After the walk, we parted ways for the day, and I visited Chatham.  Eric suggested the clam chowder at the Chatham Squire, and it hit the spot.  I met Art and Karen, from New Hampshire, at this pub.  They were on the cape using a gift certificate to an inn that they had from their 25th wedding anniversary.  Evidently, I looked like a local as they asked for dinner suggestions.  Hopefully they found a good place.  Art and Karen were from New Hampshire and they invited me back to their home state during nice weather.  Then, when I got back to the car, they had found VANilla and left a note saying the dogs were sleeping – how cool was that!

Warm inside with chowder, I passed through a park with a pumpkin people contest on display by the local merchants and strolled the streets of Chatham while window shopping. I dropped into The Black Dog store just because a black lab mix named Scout is so near and dear to my heart.  I found a wooden black lab Christmas ornament that will travel on my rear view mirror to represent Scout whenever she is only with me in spirit.

I also completed a webcam cache.  I tried one before in Vegas, but never succeeded in finding the camera, so this is another new experience.  This camera was in the Yellow Umbrella Bookstore.  Their camera was programmed to take a picture every hour from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm, so I stood in front of the bookstore with my gps and smiled for the camera at 2:30!  I have to download my picture from http://telecamsystems.com/yellow/index.htm and log it on the geocaching website.

After Chatham, I backtracked a little to Sandy Neck Beach.  It is very close to Sandwich, where I was yesterday.  I was curious to see the difference in the Cape Cod Bay as compared to the Atlantic during the wind storm.  I think the bay was windier!  Water-smoothed stones wash up along the beach here and trails crisscross through acres of sand dunes.  It was lovely, though I think Scout and Petey were happy to get out of the wind and into the car.

I’m back at the house relaxing, what a nice treat!

websites:  www.nps.gov/caco/planourvisit/nauset-light-beach.htm

For notecards, key chains, and photos on canvas, visit http://www.notablenotecards.com or http://www.etsy.com/shop/nichenotecards

iceberg website

Maine, Massachusetts

Day 32 – Cape Cod’s Sandy Shores

Maine and a portion of Cape Cod, Massachusetts

The weathermen were correct…a storm was predicted and came through for most of the night and the morning.  The wind howled as the waves crashed against the shore until finally…pow…a transformer blew and the power was out!  George has a gas stove though, so we still enjoyed blueberry pancakes, and I got the coffee made just in time!

After the storm quieted around late morning, George and I walked out to the rocky shore where only a few days ago the ocean was calm, the sky was sunny, and the visibility reached for miles.  What a transformation, the waves pounded the rocks as ocean spray rocketed into the air.  The sky was so foggy, I could hardly see the islands just across the way.  It wasn’t like the Banzai Pipeline in Hawaii, but I can imagine Thunder Hole in Acadia National Park was rumbling.  I’m glad I had a travel day scheduled today, so I didn’t have to sightsee in this weather!

It took me about four hours to get to Sandwich, Massachusetts, the oldest settlement on Cape Cod and one of the Oldest in North America.  Incorporated in 1639, “it later became the site of one of the largest glass factories in the nation”, according to Reader’s Digest.  I visited the Sandwich Glass Museum which boasted a comprehensive display of cut, beveled, enameled, and blown glass.  I focused most of my attention on three items: witch balls, a lighting display, and Josh Simpson’s glass galaxies.

The witch balls are of interest to me because my mom collects them.  The Boston & Sandwich Glass Company began making witch balls in 1826.  Because a hollow glass sphere is simple to make several glass companies throughout America and England produced them.  Hung indoors, it was believed the balls beautiful colors attracted the witches who came inside, became confused and could not escape, thus the ball provided good energy to the household.  Additionally, sometimes the balls were filled with herbs to ward off evil spirits.

I found the lighting display interesting as it included a three minute demonstration of lighting progression in America… from candles, to whale oil lamps, to two burner lamps, to camsene (?) lamps, to kerosene lamps, to gas lamps, to the electric light bulb.  I guess I never really thought about how a lamp progressed over time or why they were shaped particular ways.

Finally, one room in the museum was devoted to glass works by Josh Simpson.  They were truly amazing.  I don’t think I could really describe the techniques he uses to create his galaxies, but his globes appear three-dimensional inside an outer layer of glass.  The planet looks textured with oil paint, yet it is different colors of glass and metal.  One piece, pictured here, is only one of four made.  I believe it took 15 attempts and nine months to complete.  Neither my picture nor my explanation does this work justice, though perhaps one of our family friends, Tad, can chime in.  I have seen one of his glass blowing demonstrations.

My next stop in Sandwich was the Thornton W. Burgess Museum.  Thornton Burgess, once a resident of the town, is the author of Peter Cottontail. The original manuscripts and illustrations are displayed in the museum, a restored house that was built in 1756.  Unfortunately, the museum was closed for the season, but it was right by a small pond, so I took the dogs for a brief stroll.

Since it was 4:30 pm and I had hardly exercised the dogs, I continued on to Yarmouth Port as Reader’s Digest  recommended a nature trail that crisscrossed through 50 acres of woodlands.  It was a great place to let the dogs run around for 20 minutes or so.  The trails were nearby a giant weeping willow and Captain Bangs Hallet House, “a Greek Revival structure crammed with treasures acquired by the good captain on his many voyages to the Far East.” It was closed and I needed to get to Brewster no later than 5:45 anyway because my friend Page hooked me up with a place to stay!!! Her friends Eric and Lise, who have never met me, kindly lent me a room for the night.  They had a previous engagement scheduled at 6, so I needed to at least meet them before they gave me the run of their home.

Page knows Lise from a ski instructing clinic they completed together several years ago, and she introduced Lise to her now husband Eric.  Lise teaches health and fitness at the local schoo,l and they were attending a function for the school’s Italy abroad program.  Hopefully, I’ll get to talk to them a little longer in the morning.  I tried to get to the house by 5:30 to leave a little time, but I took a small detour along the way so we made a brief introduction.

websites:  www.sandwichglassmuseum.org, www.thorntonburgess.org, www.hsoy.org

For notecards, key chains, and photos on canvas, visit http://www.notablenotecards.com or http://www.etsy.com/shop/nichenotecards

colorful canoes website copy

Massachusetts

Day 23 – Mohawk Trail of Massachusetts

Mostly Northwest Massachusetts – Mohawk Trail

Wow!  I had an extremely active day sightseeing.  I covered 3 different states, picked up a geocache, stopped by several places, and got soaked in the process…another dreary day!  I was looking forward to finding a campsite in Massachusetts or New Hampshire, that perhaps had electric, unlike Vermont’s State Parks.  Instead, I found the most rural one yet…no showers or electric in the bathrooms as they are only pit toilets.  To top it off, I am the only one here…a little spooky.  I’ll be sleeping with my gun and bear mace tonight!  The campsite, however, is beautiful.  I’m hoping when I wake in the morning, I will arise to sunshine so I can take some pictures of the three ponds on site.

My first stop or perhaps I should say drive by today was in Williamstown at Williams College.  The campus buildings mixed with Gothic stone churches were picturesque.  I arrived just as classes let out, so I got to check out the latest styles…I thought shorts with goloshas was a new look!

I continued on to Mount Greylock State Reservation.  Ten miles of switch backs up a steep mountain road in the fog and rain was to lead me to the summit with magnificent views.  I made it about half way and determined views were not an option, so the mutts and I pulled over for a hike.  We trounced through the forest over wet rocks and leaves to Monkey Tree Falls for a 1.5 mile roundtrip.  The trail led downhill first, which worried me a little as I didn’t want the dogs to get too tired to make it back, but they had a blast.  Since no one was around and the trail was slick, I let them off the leash.  I normally don’t do that for safety reasons with both people and wildlife, but I could tell Scout was going to be dragging me all the way, and it would be hard for me to keep my balance, especially when only able to put all my weight on one leg.  We actually hiked much faster without the dogs being leash bound, and the falls were definitely worth the trip.

After maneuvering the road around Mount Greylock, I returned to Highway 2 to wind around a hairpin turn…and hairpin turn it was…180 degrees.  When the road first opened, cars ascending the mountain used to overheat and their radiators would boil over upon reaching this turn.  The car owners would get water from the restaurant here, which is still in business today.  Normally, hang gliders use this area as a launching point and the views are magnificent, but today all I saw was fog and a geocache.  I felt like I was sticking out like a sore thumb, walking around in the rain looking in the guard rail for a hidden container.  As far as caches are concerned, I can check Massachusetts off the list.

I drove over several summits today, the next one being Whitcomb.  From the summit I descended into a gorge where I found Hoosac Tunnel.  The Hoosac Tunnel was considered the engineering marvel of its day.  A five-mile-long railroad route, the tunnel took 25 years to build and cost almost 200 lives to open travel between Boston and Albany.

Just on the east side of the Whitcomb summit, I spied a historical marker sign in  the fog.  I decided it was time to pull off the road for the marker since it has been a week or two since my last stop.  Out of the fog came a golden elk!  The statue was erected in 1928 and commemorates the brothers of the Massachusetts Elk Association who lost their lives in the World War.

Continuing eastward, I arrived at Charlemont which maintains a strong Mohawk presence.  A statue of a Mohawk brave, “Hail to the Sunshine” can be found in a small park to the west of town, while to the east of town, Tribal Groups from all over the Northeast gather at Indian Plaza.  While I didn’t anticipate seeing any Indians swapping stories and performing dances in the rain, I was still curious to see what the Plaza looked like.  It was a little more commercialized than I expected!

Further to the east, I stopped in one of my favorite places of the day, Shelburne Falls.  What a cute town…and much bigger than I expected.  In fact, many times on this trip, when I have expected a town of three buildings, it is quite large, and when I have expected a large, thriving town, it has been quite small.  In many cases, I have been pleasantly surprised.

Aside from the tasty, award winning clam chowder I enjoyed at one of the local restaurants, the town has two special attractions.  The first is the base of Salmon Falls where the Indians used to fish for salmon.  Boulders from the Ice Age swirled in a whirlpool creating potholes in the bedrock. The potholes range in size from 6 inches to 39 feet in diameter, the latter being the largest pothole in the world.

The other attraction is a 400 foot Bridge of Flowers that spans Deerfield River.  It was originally built for trolley cars, but now displays flowers along its walls for

Missed Mass…another chance soon

a beautiful walking path across the river.  There were several caching opportunities as well, but my socks and shoes were soaked through, so I started searching for a campground.  I had hoped Northfield Mountain Recreational and Environmental Center would have a spot, but it was closed, so I turned north to New Hampshire.

The Fall colors in Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire glistened in the

side of road

rain.  I pulled over countless time to get some pictures, yet I’m still not doing the foliage justice!  The best shots seem to be the ones as I crest over the mountain top where pull outs aren’t available or by the telephone lines – who wants that in a picture.  Yes, my friend Kris could edit out the lines, but I just wouldn’t have the patience.  Oh, and if I were Bill right now, I’d have about 3,000 photos!

On the wild life front, I saw some geese and two turkeys.  I didn’t know turkeys could run so fast!  It was kind of funny to watch.  I forgot to report the three deer I saw the other day.  Thankfully only one of the three decided to jump out in front of VANilla…the other two waited until I passed.  I think that puts my count up to 17 or so.  I also saw a GIANT lobster on top of a restaurant!  I thought it was funny.

Another unique place I passed by on the roadside a few days ago in Vermont was a cemetery honoring the soldiers who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I think a private individual created the site.  There were two large stones displaying the number of deaths in each war, and every few inches a small white flag like ones used by surveyors was placed in the ground.  I was so surprised by the site that it took until I passed it for me to register what it was.  I thought about turning around to get a picture, but then I thought, “may those who fight for our country rest in peace.”

I’m off to try to warm up…ETB.

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Sunflowers website copy