In March I had the pleasure of going to Aruba for the first time. Although I have been to many islands in the Caribbean, this was certainly one that I am looking forward to going back to. When I mentioned to people that I was going to Aruba, I heard nothing but wonderful remarks. This indeed made me wonder; what was so special about this "Happy Island"? I was soon to find out…
Aruba is located 15 miles north of Venezuela in the souther Caribbean. The island is 19.6 miles long and 6 miles across. The trade winds that constantly blow keep the temperature comfortable, but the winds are very bad for the hair. My advice: relax, and don't worry about it! Aruba seceded from the Netherlands Antilles in 1986 and became a separate member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Although the main languages are Dutch and local language Papiamento, Aurbans speak fluent English as well.
The first experience that was great was that Jet Blue flies directly to the island, so we left in the morning and arrived with over half of the first day to enjoy at the beach, not in airports. When we got there, the friendliness of the people was overwhelming. Everybody seemed genuinely friendly and helpful; they would offer to answer any questions or assist in any way.
We were able to do just about everything we could want to. There is snorkeling, wonderful restaurants, shopping, all the water sports that you can imagine, and of course, just plain relaxing. And these are just a few of the many wonderful things Aruba has to offer!
We did lots of walking around, which you can do quite easily in Aruba, because you feel safe anywhere you go on the island. At many other islands, once you leave the resort area, you take your life into your own hands- not so in Aruba.
Over course, there is the beach, which is absolutely stunning. The color of the water is amazing, and the sand is clean and rock-free. You can float around in the water for hours if you want. We stayed at Eagle Beach which had chairs and Tiki Huts so we were always comfortable.
After we were there for a couple of days, we rented a Jeep and drove all over the island. There are absolutely breathtaking waves on the “far” side of the island where nobody really goes. The surf crashing against the rocks is beautiful and angry at the same time. See picture below.
While we had the Jeep we went to Baby Beach which is just amazing, simple, and peaceful. On the way there you drive through what looks like a desert with plenty of cacti to keep you looking constantly out the window. See picture below.
If you go to Aruba, drive out there at least one day; it is well worth it. However, be sure to buy the insurance you are offered as your Massachusetts Personal Auto Policy will not cover you there.
One of the best days was our visit to De Palm Island. For one price, you get to stay on the lovely little island just about 5 minutes off of the main island. It includes food, drink, snorkeling, water park, banana boat rides, and a beautiful little beach with plenty of places to get out of the sun. This was one of our best days.
Aruba is working very hard to maintain a beautiful and econonmically growing island. They do not have intentions of adding hotel after hotel. The government wants to improve life for their own citizens as make Aruba a wonderful place for tourists. I think this is especially what makes Aruba special- the perfect "One Happy Island."
I cannot wait to go back!
Last week I was on school break, and I am proud to say that my major accomplishment during this vacation was learning how to ski. I'm eighteen years old, and to me (a first time skiier), it seems incredulous that some people learn how to ski as soon as they learn how to walk. It's safe to say that some small children certainly kicked my butt when it came time to hit the slopes.
I learned to ski at Gunstock Mountain Resort, located on Gunstock Mountain in Gilford, New Hampshire. They have a lot of things going for them there- several ski lifts, loads of trails, and even adaptive sports so that everybody- regardless of mental or physical disability- can enjoy skiing and snowboarding. Besides all of the activites on the mountain, they have an incredible lodge and a quick and easy system for renting equipment. They also have night skiing at Gunstock, which was one of the coolest things I've ever seen. The lights reflecting off the snow made the mountain even more fantastic.
In order to learn how to ski, I enrolled in a three day program called "Mountain Magic". Three days, each with two hour lessons, with fantastic ski instructors that don't care how old you are or how bad you are- they just want to help you improve. Their encouragement and love of the sport truly shines- making the experience all the better. And hey, at the end of it all, I learned how to ski. In fact, the last step of my ski lessons was skiing down from the summit, which has an incredible view of the nearby Lake Winnipesaukee.
Obviously my February break from school occurred during February, so Lake Winnipesaukee was mostly frozen. When driving, my family and I would even see people ice fishing out the lake! (I'm not so sure how I would feel about that... What if the ice cracks?) However, the scenery was truly gorgeous and only added to the fun experience. We stayed at the Village of Lake Winnipesaukee in Weirs Beach. Our living space was nice, even though I didn't spend much time there because I was skiing and hanging out at the mountain so much.
Before I went skiing, I had to get all new ski equipment. A couple of hundred dollars later (sorry, Dad) I had ski pants, googles, gloves, jacket, socks, and mostly importantly, a helmet. I looked like a skiier. All I had to do was become one. But, as I've said, the Mountain Magic program at Gunstock really worked for me. There were ten new skiiers that day, including myself, my brother, and my sister.
I thoroughly enjoyed my skiing adventure. It's sad that I learned how to ski when the end of the season is so close, but it was worth it. But, who knows? Maybe it'll snow one more time before spring and I'll get to go back. If not, then there's always next winter, and this time I will be ready.
For some skiing safety tips and snowboarding safety tips, click the links.
Hopefully you are enjoying your summer and you are lucky enough to take trip somewhere fun! It’s handy to have a checklist of things to do or bring along so that you are better prepared.
- You never want to get caught at a check in counter with either the wrong reservation or none at all.
Check weather conditions for your destination.
-It will also help you determine what clothes to bring. Don't get caught in a storm without a raincoat, the sun without sun screen, or up a creek without a paddle.
Put mail delivery on hold.
-You won't enjoy the overstuffed mailbox upon return and neither will your postman.
Keep lights at home on timers and keep a stereo turned on.
-See our blog about home safety and break ins. You don't want your return to be marked by theft and insurance claims.
Leave a car in the driveway if possible.
-It's a great way to deter theifs and other unwanted guests if they think someone is home.
Have a friend/neighbor keep an eye on your house
-Give the number of where you will be staying. Offer to do the same for them if they go away, a few neighborly actions can lead to a stronger friendship and mutually benefit both of you.
Make sure you have prescriptions filled ahead of time
-And keep a list of those prescriptions, doctor’s and pharmacy’s numbers on hand. It's important to stay on top of your meds and other needs, especially with a younger family member who may need it and not keep track of them.
Make sure pets are taken care of
-If your pets are staying home and you have a sitter, make sure they have your number and the vet’s number in case of an emergency and plenty of food. Your dog is a part of the family and although he couldn't come on the trip, he still should be taken well care of.
Bring cell phone charger.
-Having emergency numbers and housesitters is great unless they can't get in touch with you during a crisis.
Below is a link to Plymouth Rock Assurance Corp. with some helpful tips for your car before you take that trip:
This is just a list of suggestions and cannot absolutely guarantee you home safety, pet protection, or a fun vacation.
When visting the Dumoine region of Quebec, I’m struck first by what has changed, and then by what has stayed the same. The man-made changes are usually more surprising, because the natural changes are such a part of the environment to be predictable in their dynamism.
This year the man-made changes included a new licensing station location. The licensure in Quebec is a byzantine operation created by the quebecois government many years ago; its original intent is hard to figure, but the net effect is a complicated system that seems to be more about holding on to make-work desk jobs in tired old air conditioned offices than managing a fishing stock.
Fishing in Quebec is controlled by ZECs (Zone-d'Exploitation-Contrôlée, meaning controlled harvesting). The first stop has always been to obtain a transit pass at the Rapides des Joachim (Swisha) ZEC. Then, about an hour in, one has to buy a Quebec fishing license and a ZEC Dumoine 1, 3, 7-day or year fishing license at the ZEC Dumoine station. A 3-day Quebec and Dumoine license costs about $90. What the woman at the Swisha ZEC (where we got our transit pass, just off the paved road) didn’t tell us, was that the Dumoine licensure station had moved to a trailer about a mile back out on the paved road. So after an hour on bush roads, we found the station closed and had to re-trace our steps to get our actual fishing licenses. Fortunately, these stations keep long hours, so the extra two hours of driving across poor sandy roads didn’t prevent us from fishing early the next morning.
Moving both ZEC licensing offices closer together and near where the road turns to bush road makes sense, even if we did miss the trailer the first time by. Maybe they’ll combine the offices, but that would mean losing the opportunity to pay someone to transcribe name and address information and collect a fee.
The road across the Swisha ZEC hadn’t changed much, be we were pleased to see that the Dumoine roads had been dragged, culverts cleared of beaver dams, even a new culvert installed. Thus, the roads were greatly improved from last year.
The changes that are constant are in the natural world. For our five day stay (with three days of active fishing), we learned that the water temperature (taken at West Trout) was a balmy 62 degrees after the mild winter. This is generally too warm for trout to feed aggressively, and our trout count (3) was weak. We were skunked at our first lake, Whiskey, a normally well-stocked, easily accessible lake, and a proven good early hit. In addition, high pressure weather followed us in, making the sun hotter and the wind calmer over each successive day. That’s pike and walleye weather.
Our second attempt at trout was at a highly controlled, natural-only (no stocked fish) Lake Benwah. A special pass is required, and fishermen must report total caught, pardoned (released) and kept (eaten) on departure. This usually productive water yielded two trout, only one worth keeping, with two canoes on the water early, and working for about three hours. Thus, we changed our program to meet the conditions. That afternoon we headed into the waters of the Fil de Grande, a mostly river, relatively fast moving body of water on the way home from Benwah. Upstream from where the river crosses under the road is Lake Dixon. At Lake Dixon we got well into the northern pike. In fishing lingo, we touched a lot of big fish.
The next morning, we decided to explore our camp lake, Lake Cullen, known for northern pike and walleye, a little better. We got our even earlier that we had for Benwah, and fished new areas of the lake with great success, before breakfast.
On balance, the trip was a success. One noteworthy change was the lack of bugs. Normally the black flies and mosquitoes are ruthless, infinite, and never ending. One should never travel to water country without proper preparation. In addition to your favorite bug spray, don’t leave behind a bug head net
and even if you’re in a bug-proof cabin, I strongly recommend Coughlin’s mosquito netting to assure a good night’s sleep.
Changing objectives on conditions is part of the experience of fishing in Quebec. While we only ate trout one night, the fishing experience was fulfilling. We’ll have to see what next year’s conditions bring. Maybe we’ll get lucky and miss the bugs.
The extent of the damage suffered in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005 is no secret; however, the communities of the area are still recovering 7 years later. My local church youthgroup at the United Church of Christ in Norwell decided on New Orleans for our annual service project.
On Friday, August 13, all the members met at the church and loaded into a coach bus. 30 hours later (at 1:00 in the morning) we found ourselves at our home for the next week, Camp Hope.
We were allowed to sleep in Sunday morning; we spent the rest of the day bonding. I went for a run with 2 friends of mine around the neighborhood we were staying in. 84 degrees and humid is not my favorite weather to run it, but running of any kind is good enough for me. After closing prayer, we hopped back on the bus and went to the French Quarter for dinner. The restaurant of choice for us was Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, some of the best shrimp I’ve ever had!
Unfortunately, the people in charge of finding work for the group dropped the ball and so we were left without much service to do on our first day on the job. Luckily, Camp Hope (run by The Gathering) charged us to complete some necessary chores for the facility and travel to their community center for more work. Once back home, the group played games, watched movies, and eventually got ready for bed.
On Tuesday, our normal groups split up and the seniors went to a local mission. We cleaned 2 dormitories and some maintenance on a tent building outside. We did not know they were providing lunch for us, so many of the group donated our sandwiches, snacks, and drinks that we brought to people outside who did not make it in for lunch. Our day ended on a particularly powerful note; a local preacher, Richard, came to speak with us. Not only did he tell us about his experience with Katrina and the Hurricane’s effect, but he also got us to open up about our personal difficulties and taught us how to take care of each other.
Wednesday my group began to see more of the construction side of our service project. We were bused to Joe’s house; he is a retired barber renovating his sizable home to rent out for people who need a place to live. We helped build a deck and started scraping paint off of the siding. That night the seniors travelled back to the French Quarter for the annual Senior night of bonding.
On Thursday, seniors and juniors stayed at camp and went through a discernment process run by a member of the Gifts and Call ministry at our church. We helped each other uncover our God given talents and got a chance to know each other (and ourselves) much better than before. In the late afternoon we went to a park and served chili dogs and beans for a local community event.
On our last day, Friday, we walked about 15 minutes away to an ARC center for people with disabilities. Groups split up to help with gardening and fence work. We ended our trip back in the French Quarter for one last walk through the city. Some wore homemade t shirts advertising the Kony 2012 movement on the Cover the Night event. On Thursday and Friday night we sat in a circle at camp and shared memories about each senior.
At last Saturday morning came around. We packed, cleaned, and piled back on the bus for our 30 hour bus ride back home. The project this year was, sadly, my last service project with my youthgroup; yet the memories and bonds formed will last a lifetime.
*Photos courtesy of Valerie Donaldson
The backbone of New Zealand’s south island are the spectacular Southern Alps, the home to many glaciers. Two of these are easily accessible by tourists traveling Route 6 along the western shore: the Fox Glacier and the Franz Josef Glaciers. Both are major glaciers working their way from high mountain valleys down to near sea level. Each has unique characteristics; and both can be seen in a single day if you choose to do a self-guided tour. Alternatively, pick either one -- you can't go wrong with either -- if you prefer to get right on the glacier via helicopter or a guided hike.
Our approach from the south began with a stop for coffee and fresh salmon filets (which we’d have for dinner) at a salmon / coffee shop by a river near the Tasman Sea. (Nice people, god coffee and pastry selection, and the salmon was great) Further up the road was a long sandy beach with inviting surf and broad views. Once we left the Tasman Sea, the road began to serpentine as mountains came closer to the western shore. One of the remarkable aspects of these glaciers is the proximity to the sea; almost as close as Glacier Bay, where glaciers fall right into the ocean. But unlike glaciers falling into the sea, these glaciers leave large moaines and rubble accretions.
The walk in to the Fox Glacier was a short and easy walk from the parking lot across a broad alluvial plain set between steep walls carved out over the past several hundred years. Similar to the two century trend in Glacier Bay in Alaska, the Fox Glacier has retreated leaving
moraines and a broad plain behind. The access road from Route 6 is well maintained on a bed of glacial tailings, and the parking lot provides informative boards on the Glacier’s history and ecosystem.
If you want to get up and actually get on the glacier, you’ll have to pay someone: guided walks or helicopter tours are two primary choices, and several options are available on-line, or right in the towns of Fox Glacier. Glaciers can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing or aren’t familiar with the topography. This ranger stops you from going past a demonstrably safe zone.
Further north on Route 6 (aka Fox Glacier Highway) is the Franz Josef Glacier. The main difference up in to the furthest free walk is the distance. The walk is much longer, though flat and easy going. The walk is definitely worth it if only to watch the river pouring out of a snow cave at the base of the glacier. But the high waterfalls coming down the steep rocky walls were also worth the walk. The combination of thunderous volume and cold humid air remind visitors of the power and size of these rivers of ice.
We were a little disappointed that we couldn’t walk up the relatively well worn path to the glacier itself, but were reminded only a week or so later in a news item that rocks had fallen near the paths in a very close call for some visitors.
The dynamic nature of glaciers may not be readily apparent when snow melts slowly and seems timeless. But the river disgorging from its accretion base is a stark reminder that a lot of snow is melting underneath, and eventually, something in the structure has to give.
If we had it to do over again, we probably would have taken a tour up into the glacier for a deeper look, with trained guides and known safe access. But having seen both in one day, we know that either glacier would be a great choice.
A trip to New Zealand for anyone from the northern hemisphere should include the treat on a clear night sky of a little southern hemisphere star gazing. If you have the good fortune of being away from an urban center, which is easy on the south island, and catch a clear night, be sure to take time to look up to the night sky.
Even if you’re only mildly interested in the night sky, the southern sky is completely different, and has some really cool features. It is another of the mildly unsettling ‘opposites’ that a traveler from the U.S. will encounter, such as driving on the left, or realizing that a southern wind is a cold wind while a northern tropical wind is pleasantly warming.
Back to the sky: There is no star akin to our “North Star”, or “Polaris.” This important northern hemisphere star, easily located if you can find the big dipper, is almost directly over the earth’s northern axis. So if you can find the North Star, you can identify true north; it’s been a pillar of northern hemisphere navigation for thousands of years. The southern hemisphere has no such fixture; instead, it has the iconic Southern Cross. The Southern Cross is a beautiful and easy-to-locate constellation, but it is only generally south; it is not a navigable precise point, it rotates. But you’re on vacation and have a GPS, so who cares? The Southern Cross is distinctive and has some of the brightest stars in the night sky, so it’s visible early or in lightly hazy weather too. The Cross appears on both New Zealand’s and Australia’s flags, so you know for the folks down under, it’s a cultural fixture.
The next really cool object is that our nearest neighbor, Alpha Centauri; this is one of the two pointer stars to the Southern Cross. It is also very bright (after all, it’s only about 4 light years away). Aside from being bright and close, Alpha Centauri is actually a binary star: this means it is paired with another star, and the two rotate around each other in a seemingly perpetual figure skaters’ dance (and are known as A and B). From my childhood, I recall the “Lost in Space’s original mission was to go to Alpha Centauri as our nearest neighbor, and since then have felt cheated that I couldn’t ever see this closest neighbor. It’s easy in New Zealand.
Another well known astronomical fixture that any hobby astronomer has read about and seen pictures of are the two Magellanic Clouds, two dwarf galaxies, rotating closely to our own Milky Way. They appear as small clusters of stars; an early name for these was “The Sheep”, by the Persian Astronomer Al Sufi in the tenth century. They are the brightest objects beyond our own Milky Way, and are classified as dwarf galaxies. They are roughly 7000 light years and 14,000 light years across; our Milky Way is about 150,000 light years across, as a point of comparison. The Large Magellanic Cloud was the source of a supernova in 1987, so you had to be in the southern Hemisphere to see that.
Interestingly, the Zodiac , which includes constellations that early Greek and later Roman navigators watched and named, are visible in the southern hemisphere too. The reason is that they are closer to the earth’s equator, and thus close to the horizon for both northern and southern viewers. The seasonal appearances are caused by the earth’s tilting, making constellations appear in the night sky at different times of the year.
Each of these can be appreciated without the benefit of a telescope, or even binoculars. However, a visit to Lake Tekapo (only a few hours southwest of Christchurch) can get you a lot more. Visit the Earth and Sky Astronomy tours for a visit to the Mt John Observatory or a separate view on a hill top (complete with serious telescopes, too). Either will expose you to some of the many unique southern viewed galaxies, including some of the ones described here by a far more dedicated amateur astronomer than I. It’s a real treat, even if your trip isn’t about astronomy.
The day began with a little exploring around town. The folks at the Holiday Park front desk described a nice walk up the Dog Stream on the edge of town to the back side of Conical Hill, so I began the day with a run up there; we had an after-breakfast walk together as well. Conical Hill provided a broad view of the town and the river bed out of the valley and the mountains behind us. We also found a great little ceramic arts gallery where we bought a few gifts and a neat wall hanging tile on our return to town. Hanmer Springs itself is a definite return destination.
We had seen a horses place on the way into town on the Hanmer Springs Road, and benignly but incorrectly assumed it was Hanmer Horses; but we called ahead for reservations and directions. We had seen a brochure or read in Lonely Planet about Hanmer Springs Horses, so we were really glad to have checked. The directions included “drive out past the hardware store, turn left by the Hanmer Horses Sign [onto] a gravel track with 2 shallow fords to drive through which are ok for normal cars and campervans…” So we figured we weren’t going to be on the main road. We were right. We passed sheep in the road on the gravel road, and were met by two friendly black and white dogs among several loose animals on a working horse farm.
Riding options included two loops, an hour and a half and a two and a half hour loop; we opted for the latter and were joined by an experienced equestrian named Lily from Greymouth. The longer ride included a short stretch on a dirt road gaining elevation, then onto trails through woods and over streams, offering great views of the mountains around us. A few errant Highland cattle occupied one path, and though the trails were muddy and the rivers were high, the route was pleasant.
Our leader, Val, offered a balanced combination of letting us let the horses run from time to time while still keeping things under control. After working our way back around the loop, we began ascending a mountain to our right. Coming out of the woods and onto the hills put us onto sheep grazing land…imagine and entire mountain with grass cut like a golf course fairway. The sheep keep the grass down, but the natural undulations of the mountain topography make for stunning open views. This was when the real riding fun began: Val let us let the horses run, and run they did, cantering on a wild ride up to the summit on zigging and zagging horses.
After coming off the summit, Lily took another direct canter back up; she was mostly impressed with Nell’s demeanor coming down: calm, manageable, unhurried. Thus, the horses were awesome, too. See the vid, here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBPYNkz--HY
For us, generally comfortable around horses, but not as in tune to the personality traits and aggression shows (e.g. ears tilted back), the run up the hill nearly ended badly with Kay coming off Briar on the ascent with Tom (my horse) shaking things up. But we paused long enough for everyone to get settled again, and take a few pictures and enjoy the scenery. No harm, no foul.
Overall, our experience at Hanmer Horses was great: the owner and staff, the landscape, the animals. Don’t let the two ford crossings on the way in, or horse personality dynamics on the way up, discourage you. It’s all worth it. We'll be back on our next visit to NZ.
Our visit to New Zealand was prompted by our daughter’s attending university in Auckland, but we spent most of our time far from the capital city. This blogspot is an introduction to our camper van trip on the south island.
Our arrival to Auckland coincided with the finals weekend of the World Cup Rugby tournament so we decided to evade the crowds (without missing any of the national buzz) and get south right away.
A flight from Auckland to Christchurch made the most sense; two tickets were less than NZ$90 each, less than the cost to cross with an RV. One option we did not take was to spend an additional $20 to change flights once at the airport; we would spend the $20 next time, since we managed to get to the airport early enough to watch two unfilled flights depart without us. New Zealand air won’t put you in those empty seats unless you paid the additional $20 at point of purchase. It's not like the U.S. where you can do this without opting in ahead of time.
We stayed at an airport hotel near Christchurch, both for the free courtesy pickup and the offer by Wilderness Campers (http://www.wilderness.co.nz/) for a free pickup from the hotel to their facility. It was here that we really began to get a sense of the general New Zealand courtesy and friendliness. The hotel staff were friendly in a personal way that seemed to go beyond standard industry hospitality. The next morning we immediately liked and felt comfortable with our Wilderness Camper van courtesy driver, Merv, who arrived in someone’s personal Volvo station wagon to shuttle us into town (only about 3-5 klx). In the rental facility itself, Matt was especially helpful. Not only did he explain clearly and precisely how all the legal and financial part worked; he reviewed our internet-planned itinerary and helped us to modify it to fit more top destinations in and make the whole experience flow smoothly and realistically. This was particularly valuable; we like a broad overview on our first trip anywhere, so we can visit it better, with more focus, on subsequent trips.
We grabbed a "Lonely Planet" guide to New Zealand from their borrowing bookshelf, too, a great guide for our kind of travel. Armed with their terrific road atlas, Matt's detailed and personal advice, we were ready to go. We now understood what we would not squeeze in (e.g. Marlborough wine country); all our decisions were based on good information. If you don't get a Matt at the start of your trip, don't worry. One great thing about exploring New Zealand’s south island is that so many great destinations are about 3 hours from one another; even bouncing along randomly will give every visitor a grand experience through breathtaking country.
Before we left on our adventure, we decided to spend the middle part of the day in Christchurch, to see first hand the lingering destruction from the February 2011 earthquake. It reminded me of a service trip to New Orleans about a year after Katrina: empty space, lack of commerce, continued large scale clean-up. Christchurch has lost many people during the recovery, but the attitude of the remaining folks is one of stoic determination. But the destruction still rendered most of the downtown a ghost-town.
The first change that Matt recommended was to visit Lake Tekapo instead of a straight run due south to Donedon (Dun–EE-dun). Here we got lucky both with the location and especially with the weather. The sky was perfect for night sky observation. Anyone’s first trip south the equator deserves an early look into the nighttime sky. The direction you’re looking is indeed, down under. Be treated to the Southern Cross (also on the NZ and Aussie flags), the Magellanic Clouds, Alpha Centauri (the brighter of the Southern Cross’s pointer stars and our Sun’s nearest neighbor), pinwheel galaxies and other uniquely southern sky delights.
Properly introduced to driving on the left, a completely different sky, and even a place where a southern wind means cold and a northern wind comes out of the tropics, we were immediately into our adventure.
See our follow up blogs for details on our generally counter-clockwise trip down the east coast, westerly along the south land, and up along the west coast before turning back east to Christchurch.
-By Geoff Gordon of Andrew G. Gordon, Inc.
From Bourne to Provincetown, New Englanders flock from all corners, fighting traffic and children, to vacation in Cape Cod. A few friends and I decided to adventure out on a day trip to one part of the Cape: Wellfleet.
Located about an hour from the Cape Cod Canal by route 6, it’s almost a straight shot down the highway after the Sagamore Bridge. Some prefer to take the bus in and fewer fly into Provincetown.
For only $15 parking, one can enjoy a day along the long White Crest beach where the sun sets a little earlier due to the enormous sand dunes. These natural hills are state protected so climbing and rolling are strictly prohibited. These dunes are steep enough to cause some damage if not taken lightly. However, once you make your way done the designated path, one can relax on almost rock-less sand and watch the sea. Fortunately, I was with a photographer who was able to capture the surrounding images.
Frisbee and lacrosse are common activities, but watch out for the occasional kite flyer. My group was fortunate enough to arrive a few days after Hurricane Irene left her mark, so the waves were about four to five feet high. Not many braved the chilly waters, but kids will be kids. To our rear we had views of 85 ft high dunes with some odd vegetation that d
id not realize it was on a steep sand hill. To our front we could see sailboats and also a few seals searching for oysters.
Another type of animal searching for oysters was the average tourist trying to find the famous Wellfleet oysters. Previously a whaling port, Wellfleet now makes its fishing successes with mollusk hunting. No Ahabs anymore. Many beaches exist in Wellfleet; however, many are town permit required. The town is also known for its glacier created kettle ponds which provide a freshwater experience.
Apart from the distance required to truck to Wellfleet, there were few downsides to this day trip. The restaurant did not provide the most inviting atmosphere and cover charges deterred younger customers. Showers and public restrooms were difficult to track down, but keep your eyes open, they are around. If I were to go back I would probably want more time to spend around town.
More To Do
Wellfleet is a treasure trove of activity during the summer tourism months. Not only is there the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary for more natural tastes, but also a local theater, a museum, and several bike rentals and tours for the entire family. Campgrounds and hotels scatter this part of the Cape.