Back from summer vacation with my family. We left for Cape Cod on Saturday morning, June 9th, and we arrived at the hotel in Hyannis that evening. On the way, we stopped at a Kohl’s, and I bought a purse and swimsuit. I’ve been trying to find a good purse for years, so I was happy to finally get one. Though they were both a bit expensive, I am very pleased because they are both really cute.
Sunday, June 10, 2012
We bought tickets for Hyannis Whale Watcher Cruises. We had some time before boarding, so we walked around the nearby beach. It was fairly low tide, so there were lots of interesting tiny fish and crabs and mysterious sea creatures on the shore. I was quite surprised at how flat everything was; no mountains or hills or anything. I guess I’m just used to always seeing a city or buildings off in the distance; here, it was all water and sky and another shoreline not too far away called Sandy Neck.
We boarded the boat and sat up on the top deck. It was really hot sitting in the sun, so we went down to the lower deck instead, which turned out to be a good idea. We could sit in the fully covered indoor area or in the partly covered outdoor area. Plus, on the lower deck, we were closer to the whales, snacks, and bathrooms. We could also easily run to the other side of the boat if whales were over there.
While we waited some more on the boat, I took pictures of a strange black bird that sat still on a dock the whole time we were there, and a plane with a Dunkin’ Donuts banner (hurray for 20x zoom!). My mom noticed something bobbing in the water that she was sure was a seal. After awhile, we realized it was just a baseball cap. We also waved to some little kids in boats.
Eventually, we got going, and the tour guide told us about the things we saw on shore. There was Sandy Neck, which is a stretch of beach with some houses on it which apparently have no electricity or running water or stuff. There are also a ton of beautiful houses all along Cape Cod. Soon, the boat picked up speed, and it got very cold and windy outside. We passed a smaller boat with some guys fishing on it, and one of the guys looked pissed and threw his hands up at us as we passed, I guess because they had to sit down since their boat was rocking. It was funny, but I guess you had to be there to see his face. When it got too cold, we went inside the boat until we reached our destination about an hour away.
Now, I had been whale watching once before, back in grade eight on the Quebec trip. I don’t remember seeing any whales, maybe a few backs off in the distance. Most of the time, I think my friends and I just ducked down at the front of the boat to keep the wind off of us. It was not a very memorable or exciting experience for me. Maybe because I was in grade eight.
This was different. The whales were waaay closer than I thought they would be, and we saw a ton of them. At one point, a nearby small private boat went very close past to a whale, and the people on the boat got wet.
The tour guide told us the way to spot whales was to look for the three B’s: blowholes, backs, and birds. My dad spotted our first whale off in the distance from the steam, but we soon saw them much closer. Our first whale, we were told, was named Etch-A-Sketch. We later saw two more travelling together, Barb and Division. We also saw a lot of a whale named Wizard, and there was a Ventisca and Blackhole (Personally, I think Cygnus would be a better name for that one). We were also told about the oldest known whale from that area, Salt. She’s still around today and is now a grandmother, possibly to Etch-A-Sketch or another whale we saw.
We were out there for near an hour, then an hour ride back to shore. I was really tired because I’d hardly slept in the hotel the night before; itchy blankets, tiny bed, and lots of snoring. There was a guy who worked for the whale watching company I guess who taped the whale watch, so you could buy a video of your own trip if you wanted.
After that, we went and walked around Main Street; lots of cute little shops, but most were closed at that time on Sunday evening. We went to the Outback for supper.
Just before sunset, we came back to the beach we had been to earlier to look for shells and whatnot. It was high tide, so there wasn’t much there. Earlier in the day, you could have walked out to a sand bar; now, it was gone. After we had walked down the shore quite a bit, the bugs came out. We hurried back to the car, but there was still awhile ’til sunset, so we waited there until I decided to go out and brave the bugs for some pictures. There were quite a few other people there doing the same thing. We got a nice sunset as well.
Then, back to the hotel, where there was a busload of kids outside. Great. My mom and I wanted to go to the pool so we wouldn’t feel so icky and scratchy because of the bugs, but when we got there, the busload of kids were there. We went in the hot tub for a few minutes and then back to our room. Oh well. I don’t know how long the kids stayed at the hotel, but we didn’t hear them running up and down hallways or anything like that, so it was all good.
Monday, June 11, 2012
IHOP for breakfast, where I had New York Cheesecake Pancakes: pancakes with cheesecake bits inside, topped with strawberries, strawberry sauce, and whipped cream. It was disappointing; not nearly enough cheesecake for all those calories.
Next stop was Hyannis Harbor Cruise. We did the Rail and Sail deal: one hour harbor cruise and two hour train ride. We bought our tickets and then walked around the harbor for a bit. An entertaining long-haired dude said “hi family!” and tried to get us to take some catamaran tour.
We boarded our boat and sat up on the top deck. I’m not sure if the bottom was any better, but sitting at the very front of the boat was quieter than in the middle part because of the engine or whatever it is boats run on.
The harbor is quite shallow; four feet, I think, which makes it a good place for kids to learn how to sail. However, for big ships like the one we were on, there’s a special shipping channel, I think that’s about fourteen feet deep. Once you get out past a certain area, there’s no speed limit, so other boats could go faster than ours. As a small boat passed, the tour guide said it might create a wake and rock our boat back and forth. “Pshaw,” I said, “That little thing?”, but it actually did rock our boat a surprising amount.
We passed by a beach which had little yellow signs on it that told visitors there was an endangered bird living on that beach (from googling, I’m guessing it’s the Piping Plover). I kinda always thought all endangered species were in like Africa and jungles and rainforests, so that was neat.
We saw lots of nice big houses on the shore: the Kennedy complex, and a bunch of other houses owned by important rich people. They stopped the boat far away from the houses so that the tour guide could tell us about them and not disturb the people living there. I was a bit disappointed at how far out we stopped, but after the tour guide finished her spiel, we went in a little closer. It was hard to follow which house was which, because we were supposed to be looking at a map with the houses numbered, but my mom had it in her purse.
I’ve never been a seasick kinda person, but when the boat was rocking slowly in one place, that got to me a little. I was glad when we were back on the move. The tour was disappointing, but I’m told it’s the only way you can see the Kennedy complex, which my mom wanted to see. Their house wasn’t actually that nice; there was a bigger, fancier one next door.
As we went back into the harbor, I noticed an interesting bird sitting on a dock. I took a picture, looked at the picture, and then realized it was just a plastic owl. Jerks.
Next up, we drove out to a place called the Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary. I didn’t know exactly what it was; I figured just a beach or something where there were sometimes animals hanging around. It turned out there was a visitor’s centre and hiking trails. It was four dollars per person, though I’m not sure if that was meant only for the visitor centre, which was closed that day. I didn’t really want to stay and walk around, because we can do that at trails at home for free, and I knew the rest of my family didn’t want to walk around, but we did anyway. Also, bugs, but we had bug spray this time. We didn’t see any animals, I suspect because everyone else was stomping along loudly. We weren’t really prepared for a hike, so we didn’t stay long.
Next we drove to a place called the Scargo Observation Tower. As soon as the tower came into view, my dad started laughing. It was a dinky, tiny, little — you could hardly even call it a tower! Nevertheless, it was free, so we walked up the tower and… it was awesome! A great view of a lake and the ocean (Silly me loves using zoom so much I forget to take long shots that show the whole picture). The one time I leave my purse in the car, my camera batteries run out. I go back down the tower to change the batteries and take some more pictures at the bottom. I got a great shot of my parents looking down for the top of the tower.
Time for lunch-ish; we stopped for homemade ice cream at a shop called Ice Cream Smuggler. I had cookie dough, and it was good. My mom had coconut, and she said she will always remember Cape Cod because she had coconut ice cream there. I guess that means it was good.
Back to Main Street to check out a sports shop for Bruins stuff and a record store for music stuff. My mom bought some Bruins earrings and a pen; my dad — the actual Bruins fan — says he doesn’t want anything (except a Bobby Orr signed jersey), and we can’t really buy anything for his upcoming birthday without him noticing. We also went into a vintage clothing shop with lots of cool ugly clothes. Then my parents and I went to the Cape Cod Mall and other big stores for shopping. There was quite a bit of unique Bruins stuff, but even more Red Sox stuff. Do we have that much Maple Leafs stuff here at home? I mean, I know we love hockey and the Leafs are popular, but do we really have Leafs flip flops and towels and lawn chairs here at like, Wal-Mart? Then Olive Garden for supper, and I started feeling a bit Crohns-y, but that was done by bedtime.
My mom and I noticed no one was in the pool at the hotel, so we went down for a swim. About a minute after we’d went in the water, a girl from the front desk comes in and tells us the pool is closed at ten (it was probably 10:30) and that it’s Hyannis law that they have a lifeguard on duty or something. So, we got all wet for nothing. As we were leaving, she said there was a new lifeguard and she had forgotten to lock up. She could have at least told us it was closed before we went in the water.
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
McDonald’s for breakfast. We planned to go on the rail part of our Rail and Sail tour today, which started at noon, so we had to find something to do before that. We went down to the beach, hoping for low tide, but no luck. If I hadn’t been so burned out on planning the New York part of our trip down to the minute, I would have researched low tide times and planned on going to the beach then. Oh well.
Instead, we went to the Cape Cod Beer tour since it was nearby and free and started at eleven and was only half an hour. My brother and I don’t drink, my mom doesn’t drink beer, and my dad doesn’t drink often, so it didn’t make much sense other than being conveniently timed. As soon as we stepped into the place, it had a very distinct smell; maybe pleasant to beer drinkers, but not me. I tried not to scrunch up my nose too much. Everyone waited in the gift shop for the tour to start. There was a signed picture of a goalie wearing black and gold; I went to look at it, but it was just some guy in a local hockey league. I heard a couple people ask about the picture as well, thinking it was Tim Thomas.
Soon, we went into the brewery to start the tour. Aaand end the tour. It was all in one little room. Well, not *little*, because I mean there were bunches of packages of malt (made in Canada) and big vats, but it was just one room. I kind of expected something more, like in the Simpsons episode with the box factory tour, seeing stuff on conveyor belts and whatnot. The tour consisted of a guy telling us about the ingredients in beer while a girl handed out samples of their beers. My dad took a cup, my mom declined, and my brother and I weren’t even offered any. My brother said something and my mom said that he was old enough (though she forgot we were in the States; he’s only twenty and the drinking age there is twenty-one, so despite the fact that he looks old enough to get into the casino without ID, twenty-two year old me who has been asked by countless hairdressers if I’m graduating MIDDLE SCHOOL… I don’t even know where I was taking this sentence. Whatever). Yeah, so I didn’t have any. My dad said the blonde flavour was alright, but the others were not impressive, and I don’t think he even wanted to finish the pale ale. My mom took not even a sip — like, a lick — of the pale ale and made a horrible face. Then we left.
There you have it folks: the top attraction in Cape Cod! Apparently only if you’re a beer drinker. And really, if not for the free beer, people would not rate it so highly, because the tour itself was not too interesting.
Then to the Cape Cod Central Railroad. The lady doing the tour had a heavy New England accent. I didn’t realize the area we were in, Barnstable, was pronounced BARN-stu-bble and not barn-STA-ble until she said it. Unfortunately, this was another disappointing tour. Much of the ride was just looking at trees a few feet away, which is not only boring, but dizzying too. I was sitting facing the back of the train, so my left and right was all messed up, so I often ended up looking the wrong way when the tour guide told us something was on the right. I also didn’t see things until after we’d passed them, which is no good for taking pictures.
At one point along the road, there was some bamboo. The tour guide told us that some Cape Cod residents had travelled around the world and brought back various plants and planted them here, so there are lots of patches of interesting non-native plants.
We saw some cranberry fields, which would have looked much cooler if it were later in the season and they were red. They were just little pink flowers at that time.
We passed a house where the tour guide told us the owner put up a different flag every day; that day, it was the Irish flag. There was another house somewhere that she told us a lady would sit outside and wave to the train, but she wasn’t there. The tour guide told us to look out for some Osprey birds that had a nest on top of some hydro poles, but they were on the wrong side of the train. Also, there was a mini-golf park. Ooh. Aah.
We stopped in the town of Sandwich (which is where Bobby Orr lives, or so I’ve googled), and then we went back the way we came. I switched over to an empty seat on the other side of the train to see what I’d missed over there, but I was sitting backwards once again. I saw a couple dogs barking at the train and some goats. The Ospreys had gone from their nest. We drove by some more nice houses and there was a family out on their back porch that waved to the train, so I waved back. I saw a plane taking off at the airport just before we arrived back at the station. As we left the station, “Last Train to Clarksville” was playing on a loudspeaker.
Wendy’s for lunch, then we decided to drive out to Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod. Along the way, I checked my list of things to do and found that we were nearby Nauset Light Beach where there would be a lighthouse tour from 4-5, and it was just about four. We stopped down at the beach and it was quite nice, but it was cloudy and windy that day, so we didn’t stay on the beach for long.
Online, it had said to meet in the northeast corner of the parking lot for the tour. I didn’t know which one that was, but we stood at one of the corners where there were some people, and a lady asked us if we were there for the Three Sisters Lighthouse tour and if this was right place. We said we were, but we weren’t sure where to meet. A couple other groups ended up waiting there as well, but it was soon 4:10 and there was no sign of a park ranger. My dad tried to find some information about the tour on his phone; he found a phone number and called it and was told to call another number. He did and listened to a long message and then was told to press zero to get the front desk, and then it just rang. I said we should just go down to the first lighthouse and see if there was any information there. As we went down there, we heard another guy on his phone being told to call the same number. My dad told him to just press zero right away. We went on down to the lighthouse and passed a few more people who had been waiting and were now walking around.
Before, when we drove in to the beach, we noticed some lighthouses by the road, in the middle of nowhere. We started walking towards them and saw signs saying “Three Sisters Lighthouses”. As we went along, my dad made up a story about the lighthouses. A father had built them for his three daughters and then his wife had three more kids and he died because he didn’t want to make any more lighthouses. Or something. We arrived at the lighthouses and some of the other people were already there. A French family who had been at the beach asked me to take their picture by one of the lighthouses. There was a small informational plaque which told the story of the lighthouses; the reason they were inland was because the cliffs at the beach had eroded, so the lighthouses had to be moved.
We walked back to the parking lot and saw there was a park ranger standing with a small group of people. He said the tour guide would be there in ten minutes. By that time, it was about 4:30, and we weren’t interested in waiting anymore. We drove away and passed the ladies who had first asked us if we were there for the tour; we told them the ranger was up at the beach and they said “too little, too late”. Then another park ranger drove up and said they would be doing the tour now, but we left anyway. Rather disappointing.
From there, we drove up to Provincetown; it’s only about an hour or so from Hyannis. It was neat to drive along all the sand dunes. There was a pilgrim monument in Provincetown, but it was like ten or fifteen dollars for parking, and we didn’t really want to see it that bad. So we drove out as far as we could, which wasn’t really that far, then back home. I would have liked to have gotten out and walked around, and there were other beaches out there, but I think everyone else had had enough. Back to the hotel and Friendly’s for dinner.
That night, my mom was pretty sick and was up most of the night. My dad was really sweet and stayed up with her and sleep/sat in a chair outside the bathroom. My brother snored the whole time. The next morning, we wanted to get on the road early since we were leaving for New York, but we ended up checking out late, waiting for my mom to feel better. IHOP for breakfast (Chocolate Chip Pancakes this time, which were so chocolately, I couldn’t finish them), and then another Kohl’s for shopping. My mom clearly didn’t feel well because she didn’t even want to go to Kohl’s. We wanted to buy something there though, because we had a discount that ended that day. I didn’t buy anything, since I’d already got everything I had been looking for already. Next stop, New York City.