I am back from my first trip ever to Cape Cod… something that probably strikes those who know I have been a resident of Massachusetts for fifty-two of my fifty-six years as somewhat odd. Although my wife has been there a number of times, I just never got around to it. I'm not sure why. Perhaps some of it had to do with the horror stories I'd been told by various friends and family about the awful traffic jams and big crowds of tourists in the summer months.
In any event, this past month Jeannine and I decided to go there together, and I found us an inn in Harwich Port with a room which had a great view of the ocean.
We deliberately did it this month, which is the off-season for the Cape… and it really is. I was somewhat shocked by how many place weren't open. But it was also kind of nice to not have to bump elbows with crowds of vacationers, and just walk into restaurants without making any reservations.
Jeannine really wanted me to get a chance to ride on the bike trails out on the Cape -- she'd done a little of that and thought it was great fun. So we put the bikes in the back of the truck and went to several spots along the Cape Cod National Seashore, including the dunes out in Provincetown.
The rides were fun, but I have to say that I didn't really love the up and down nature of the Provincetown bike paths. These were the ones which I had heard about from other bicyclists as being the most awesome, beautiful paths they'd ever ridden on. The image I'd thus developed in my mind's eye proved to be more interesting than what I actually saw. In fact, there was only one stretch of the path, on the last part of the ride we did out there, coming up to the Visitors' Center, which came close to what I imagined these paths to be. And I will admit, that stretch was spectacular.
But for the rest of it, probably about 75% of the time we could have been riding on almost any bike path in the state, as it wound through fairly dense forest. We did see several lovely ponds (something the Cape has in abundance), and there were some neat views of the sandy dunes with their scrub pine trees and dune grass.
But I think the thing that I liked least was the very hilly nature of these paths. I will concede that we probably got a better aerobic workout than we usually do on the more level bike paths we tend to ride on, but I like the fact that on those more mellow paths you can view the scenery much more easily. On a lot of the sections of the Provincetown paths, we were either struggling to get up hills or careening down them at high speeds, and neither was really conducive to sightseeing.
All that being said, I think I might like to go back there and ride them again now that I know what to expect… and what NOT to expect. And there are a lot more miles of trails to be ridden. We found one section in Harwich, near where we were staying, and rode a good stretch of that, seeing more beautiful ponds and some cranberry bogs along the way. It was more like the paths in this part of the state, which we liked (except we don't have any cranberry bogs out here in western Massachusetts).
We also walked up to the top of the Pilgrim Tower in Provincetown, which got our hearts pumping (600 steps to the top, I think it was).
The views from the top were great -- you could see pretty much all of Provincetown.
We lucked out weather-wise -- I had seen rain predicted for two of our three days there, but each day was beautiful -- sunny and cool, but not cold -- until this morning, when what we were told was a "Nor'Easter" hit the area. We'd heard rain last night, and woke up to some stiff breezes, but it didn't seem very bad, as storms go.
Well… the last walk on the beach we took before jumping in the truck and driving home turned out to be… interesting. We walked first about half a mile down the beach WITH the wind, then turned around and walked back AGAINST the wind… and I'm glad we didn't have to walk much further. I think it was partly that the breeze on the beach was more intense, coming in off the ocean with nothing to break it up. We were definitely leaning into it to get back to the truck. Here's a photo I took during that stroll/slog of a breakwater near our inn, with storm-tossed water... uh... breaking over it.
All in all, it was a fun three days of vacation. I'm glad I finally got to see the Cape, and now I can say that I have been from one end of Massachusetts to the other. It was, of course, great spending this quality time with my wife, and being near the ocean (even though I prefer the more interesting rockier coasts of Maine and New Hampshire) is always a pleasure. We'll probably go back some time in the relatively near future. -- PL