Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Cape Cod—in the off-season

My cottage on the right, the beach on the left
Quite frankly, I'm not sure what inspired me to book this trip. I suppose it was mostly my frugality: I had RCI timeshare points that were about to expire—a thought anathema to me— and I sit on those 3,000,000+ frequent flier miles. So I cashed in a few thousand miles plus pitched in a $10 co-pay for a First Class ticket to Boston, and I used the remaining 2014 RCI balance to book this perfect domicile here in Falmouth. For the past four nights I have been holed up in a charming two-bedroom cottage just across the street from the beach, with view of Martha's Vineyard.
The beach in front of my cottage, with view of Martha's Vineyard
Seaweed at low tide
Cold enough to freeze
A beachcomber's paradise
Falmouth harbor—mostly deader-than-a-doornail for the winter
I go for long bike rides, drink wine, read good books, and chat up the occasional beachcomber or barmaid. What do you think I'd be doing here? Oh, I could work on some high-highfalutin cerebral stuff that I might put to future use as a consultant or send e-mails to former girlfriends, but I am quite content in my little cottage, which, BTW, comes with a full kitchenette, Adirondack rocking chairs out front, and a gas fireplace. Oh, the comfort.... Remember, I am retired.
On the CCRT (Cape Cod Rail Trail) on Monday afternoon
This is my off-season. I worked a race 10 days ago and will work another in a little less than two weeks' time. In between was Thanksgiving. I was at home, and I was goaded into preparing one of my signature turkeys on the Kamado by my young friend Eric, whose parents, Bruce and Anne, were in town for the holiday. Together with my almost-next-door neighborette Janet  we prepared a helluva meal on Monday night. Seems like months ago....
Thanksgiving came early last week
Friday I flew out. Eric is the best taxi driver in the Delta Quadrant. Of course, I am the best bike mechanic—tit-for-tat. Three flights later, I was in Boston, and all my luggage was there, too—most importantly the Ritchey. For less than $200 I had reserved a rental car through a German website, and by 9 p.m. I was here in Falmouth.
Sunset in front of my cottage, the Ritchey happily blinking after 56 miles

Last week, the East Coast was slammed by a rough nor'easter, but the weather cleared out in just the nick of time. In my first three days here I rode about 110 miles, on quaint roads leading along the seashore or through wooded sections that smell of fall. The houses all reflect that this is a sandy place: No rocks are used in their construction, with wooden shingles or boards used to protect the sides. The yards are tidy, even with leaves blowing around. There don't seem to be any farms here, but occasionally I come upon a harvested cranberry bog that has been drained but still betrays its former crop through its reddish color. Dogs are a non-issue. Drivers are courteous. Heaven.
Post-Thanksgiving cranberry bog, drained and cropped
The bogs are all over, adding an unusual color to the already polychrome landscape
Some of the roads lead along the shore, with views toward Martha's Vineyard (where I hope to go on Thursday) or the far-away mainland across Buzzards Bay. The sea water brings the other defining smell of Cape Cod as I will remember it. There are lighthouses and wharves and lots of packed-up boats in dry docks. Falmouth's harbor—as well as that of Woods Hole—is quiet and essentially dead for the season. Summertime must be beautiful out here, but to imagine the hordes of tourists makes my head spin. Things now are quiet, and I like that, a lot!
Typical West Texas scenery around almost every corner
What will happen to these wetlands and marshes once global warming
is acknowledged by the Right Wingers?
It's doesn't become much more Cape Codish than this, does it?
The weather has been varying between really cold (high of 34 degrees Fahrenheit on Saturday) to balmy (about 60 yesterday), with mostly sunny skies but also some cloudiness and outright winter today. So far it has rained just a tiny bit, late last night. Today is cloudy, and in a little while I will take the bike path to Woods Hole to go to the country's oldest aquarium and visit the oceanographic facilities. Afterward I may hole up again at Landfall, a quaint pub in the harbor where one can sip a good IPA and eat a quahog, or stuffed clam. I may have to take a book along, just for good measure.
Nobska Lighthouse and the attendant's house
Interesting reading
The only drawback so far has been the fact that it gets dark so dang early. One o'clock in the afternoon feels like 4 p.m., and when the clock strikes 4:30 p.m., it's basically night out there and the chupacabras come out. The only thing is, nobody has even heard of them! Oh well, time to pull the cork out of the wine bottle and curl up in front of my cozy gas fireplace.
A quahog, two fish bites, and a half-empty IPA at Landfall in Woods Hole
It'd be 9:30 p.m., if it were summer
Tomorrow is supposed to be a really nasty day, weather-wise. I'm already planning a beach-walking excursion—easy to do as the beach starts on the other side of the small road in front of Beachside Village, Unit #1. When I came here, I was fully prepared to face stiff winds, low temperatures, and sleet the whole time, and so far I have lucked out. Today's forecast didn't disappoint, and it was gray, blustery, and very cold. Just the perfect day to ride the few miles over to Woods Hole and check out the aquarium and the "educational displays" chronicling the deep sea explorer Alvin and some of the other very, very cool stuff that has originated here.
It may be very small, but this aquarium is one of the finest I have seen
This is a scale model of Alvin, which in the late '80s paid a visit to the Titanic
Where have all the Atlantic salmon gone?
The top floor of the aquarium: You get to see the displays from a different perspective
You may have guessed that I am having a truly exceptional vacation. The small sampling of pics does not do justice to the abundance of sights, let alone smells and sounds, of course. My accommodations couldn't be any better. I'd love to say I will be back, but unless I could be put up in this two-bedroom cottage, things couldn't be as nice. I sit here, right now while putting the finishing touches on this post, listening to Bob Dylan on one of the many NPR stations that litter the dial the way country stations do in West Texas. It has started to rain, and tomorrow I will take my anticipated walk on the beach and later into town. I have two more days here on the Cape, and really, I can't think of a much better place to be. I'll be back, I am sure—just not in the summer!
The light at the end of the tunnel
Happy Holidays to all of you!


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