If you’re new to the blog, welcome! This post from Cape Cod comes from our travels back in July 2020, near the tail end of our initial summer escape from Florida’s heat. I encourage you to check out our travels from 2018 in our Dodge Ram conversion van (all the way to Seattle and back!) and 2019 in a 1995 VW Westfalia. Be sure to follow the blog to get updates in your inbox. We usually post on Sunday, but not always.
When we pulled onto Cape Cod, Massachusetts, our home state of Florida was developing into a Covid hotspot, averaging more than 10,000 cases per day. Meanwhile, we noticed that the further north we traveled – closer to the former epicenter in the northeast, mask use became more and more universal – indoors and out.
Road trip follies: On the way to Cape Cod, Monica stepped on my breakfast (toast with peanut butter). And then the microwave developed a brain-shaking rattle that was about to make me drive off a cliff, if I could find one. Monica attempted to silence it by jamming napkins in every crevice. It helped a little, and we got a good laugh. Along the way we took in a scenic view of the town of Mystic.
A stone’s throw from Boston, Cape Cod knew a thing or two about being a part of a pandemic epicenter. Like Florida, they have an economy dependent upon tourism and need to balance opening up for business and taking precautions so that visitors can come and spend their money safely. Unlike Florida, the towns on Cape Cod did something about it.
This was our first visit to the Cape and it took us a day or two to get a sense of what the fuss was all about. The towns of Cape Cod are strung out over miles and miles, and it is easy for the uninitiated to wonder where to go. We ventured out of Shady Knoll Campground in the town of Brewster and we quickly passed a quintessential “general store” and a cemetery on our way to a wide, flat muddy beach. The air was cool enough for long sleeves as the setting sun cast long shadows. The New England feel was a welcome reprieve from the oppressive heat we left behind in D.C.
This family can’t pass up a good cemetery, and we found one with many pre-Revolutionary graves. The beach we found was on the inside curl of the Cape, so there was no surf – just a wide tidal plain. The tide was so far out, a local boat tied to a mooring ball looked like its seagoing ways were long past, but the high water line told the truth.
After a morning run on a nearby “rails to trails” path, Monica’s sixth-sense for finding the “there” there went into action. We drove a couple miles down the road to Nickerson State Park and took the bikes off the rack for a ride down a line that dates back to the earliest days of rail. By lunch I was in heaven and any doubts I had about spending 5 nights on Cape Cod were erased.
Nothing beats fresh oysters and a cold beverage. Chased it with a lobster roll. A perfect simple meal.
During our stay we visited small towns like Chatham, which had their downtown mask ordinance posted on telegraph poles, old west style. Compliance was no issue. We stopped in famous towns like Hyannis, and stalked the Kennedys. It’s not easy to be inconspicuous driving a 24 foot RV around the high walls of Camelot. We saw a few college age kids playing volleyball in the yard, hair gelled high and the sun glinting off their Kennedy teeth. And we visited the Key West-esque Provincetown. I don’t know what “P-Town” is normally like in the summer, but it’s the busiest place we’ve been in a while. If you forgot a mask, they had “ambassadors” handing them out.
We were actually able to enjoy table service at a couple of restaurants thanks to spacing and plexiglass partitions. The rules to having a good economy during a pandemic are quite complex, so pay attention: 1. Wear a mask. 2. See rule #1.
The parking lot in Hyannis wanted to charge me double the $25 fee to put our oversized vehicle in their nearly empty lot. I assured them that I would put it in one space, to make room for everyone. It was an overcast day, so the number of lifeguards almost matched number of swimmers. Monica nurtured her long-time Kennedy obsession by taking a close-up run past the Kennedy Compound. The town is full of history, including the armory where the Kennedy made his election victory speech.
Friends, I’m aware that not everyone comes to this blog for my brilliant wit and to live vicariously through our adventures. I see how many clicks Monica gets. But she wasn’t the only eye-candy on this day – there was something about the steady breeze and my $3 thrift store shirt that turned me into a romance novel cover. And if you take your eyes off Monica, there are seals in the water behind her.
Signs at Cape Cod National Seashore didn’t exactly make us want to jump right in the water. One park ranger recommended using a shark locating app so we’d know when it was deemed unsafe for swimming. The handy app tells you any time a tagged shark comes near a tracking buoy. It’s information that isn’t all that comforting unless every single great white shark is wearing a tag. As thin-blooded Floridians, the water temperature was enough to keep us from going too far in. The cool breeze and lack of development on the National Seashore made up for the frigid waters.
Monica thought that the image of me napping on the beach with the house in the background reminded her of Andrew Wyeth’s famous painting ‘Christina’s World.’ But the only work of art that I see is her.
“Don’t make me turn this van around” is written by Jonathan Kile, and approved by Monica Kile. Jon’s 2014 thriller, The Grandfather Clock, is available free for Kindle on Amazon.com and other eReaders at Smashwords. Reach him at email@example.com. Monica is a non-profit consultant, grant writer, marathoner, baker, tour guide, and prolific bath taker.