Posts filed under ‘Cape Cod’
When my maternal grandmother was alive, sometimes I would ask her what’s wrong. “You look tired,” I would say.
“I’m OLD!” she would reply, “This is what it looks like when you get OLD!!!!”
Over a decade after her death, I do have some support to my notion that being tired can make one look old. I wasn’t that misguided afterall!
After a morning run and a long day at the North Shore, I was sunburnt and tired at suppertime. Carolyn, Clint, Ryan and I ate at The Tavern at the Chatham Bars Inn. My sister took me offguard and snapped this picture of me:
Vicky (Photo from ClintJCL)
My face not only surprised my dinner companions, but also brought them a source of amusement as they waited for their entrees to arrive. Each person took a turn trying to pose with my “old lady face”. Carolyn seemed to have the most difficult time mimicking me. It took her five tries. I believe Clint and Ryan, prodigies that they are, each made one attempt.
On our third full day on Cape Cod,Ryan and I finally made it out to the North Shore… and I got to see seals!!! Visible from our hotel, the North Shore is an ongoing evolution of land. Roughly every 150 years the beach grows, breaksdown and regrows.
It was rather windy that day which led to some short term and long term unpleasantries. Short term, sand would be blown against your exposed skin. I could briefly forget about the pain by making the repeated “insight” that it was simply “exfoliation”. The long term downside of the wind was a direct result OF keeping your mind off your surroundings. The wind kept the temperature cool and made it extremely easy for one to lose track of how much sun exposure one was getting. I got sunburned. Not only that– I was wearing sunglasses. So I got one of those attractive sunglasses sunburns (more on that to come!).
On the upside, the wind gave us opportunity to fly things in the wind. Towels. Seagull corpses. You know, all the usual stuff.
Clint in Wind
With close exposure to the Altantic’s whims and a 150 year erosion and regrowth lifecycle, the terrain is not only harsh, but also dynamic. Not surprisingly, there were large sections of the island that were void of vegetation.
The plants that were on the North Shore did look particularly equipped for the environment. Some of them appeared to be succulent-like.
Fauna – Birds
There were plenty of shorebirds on the island. I saw some seagulls bathing on the Atlantic side. Even though water is not in short supply in a seagull’s daily life, I was struck by how happy the birds looked at they dunked themselves in the shallow ocean water. They looked just as thrilled to be bathing as robins do in surprise street puddles.
Some species, such as terns, do find parts of the North Shore to be desirable nesting spots. Those sections were roped off accordingly, but there were plenty of human-friendly spots to catch a glimpse of flocks.
Fauna – Seals
On the way back, the boat shuttle (named the Bar Tender) took a little detour by the resting seals. FINALLY! After days of hearing their haunting evening nasal calls– I got to see a whole bunch a seals up close.
This is not a maintained beach. The sand is not groomed nightly and trash is not picked up. That means there are plenty of seashells to find…. and dead things. We saw dead horseshoe crabs, dead seagulls and even a dead seal. Of course, pictures HAD to be taken. And it follows that pictures of people taking pictures of dead things had to be taken as well.
Our second full day at Cape Cod featured a 30+ mile bike ride, an introduction to the seals and a croquet battle royale on the South Lawn of the Chatham Bars Inn. Today’s blog post includes rarely seen pictures from my own personal journals!
On Monday, Ryan, Sam, Maria, Tim and I all rented bikes and rode along the Cape Cod Rail Trail. The Chatham Bars Inn has free bike rentals for guests– first come, first serve. Maria and Sam got their bikes first. As Ryan and I were picking up ours, Tim came down and secured the very last available bike.
I was the only one who opted for a helmet and this garnered some attention. My uncle ribbed me.
“I have a very important brain!” I said in desperate defence. The moment I said it, I knew I was in trouble.
“Are you saying we don’t?!?” Tim said with a big gotcha grin on his face, “Is your brain more important than ours?”
But the truth is, I was just scared of falling. It had been a while since I had been on a bike and this one was tall enough to make me feel even more unsteady.
Just moments after taunting me, Tim demonstrated exactly why I wanted a helmet. He peddled a mere 30 feet before his tire snagged in a crevice and he toppled over.
Tim left no ambiguity as to whether or not he was okay. As soon as he impacted the ground, he was cackling at himself. That distinct Sawyer cackle, loud and resonate. This formidable man was literally rolling on the ground laughing at himself. The recollection is still hilarious to me, even though three weeks had passed.
A passerby was standing nearby the site of Tim’s fall and she was startled by the accident. After her initial flinch, she asked a question with the most obvious of answers.
“Are you alright?”
Tim found a way to extend the humor of the incident. Even hours later at supper he told a tale of how *I* ran him off the road. My words to him as I bike checked him with roller derby brutality were alledgedly, “I’VE GOT A HELMET!!!!”
That was the only mishap we had and we all shared a great bike ride! This was the same bike path Ryan and I ran the day before. I was surprised with how much faster mileage goes when you are on the bike. Together, all five of us biked to the Harwick town center. I forgot to bring money, but Tim spotted me so “my brain” could have some Gatorade.
After that, we parted ways. Ryan & I kept going down the trail to Nickerson State Park. I thought the bike trail was nice before, but after the “rotary” (aka circle) in Harwick, the trail is AMAZING! It passed through beautiful forests (countless oak trees) and between crystal clear ponds. Just gorgeous.
Tony Airaghi once commended biking. He told me how it is very much like hiking and you can take in a lot of scenery. I definitely can agree. I just loved all the trees and views. And Nickerson State Park was the cream of the crop! Unlike the packed Cape Cod Rail Trail, the paved trails of the park were almost completely void of people. The bike trails in the state park were more hilly as well.
When Ryan & I first arrived at the park, I looked at a map and announced, “Hey! I want to see Cliff Pond! It sounds like there are cliffs there!”
Ryan smiled gently and I realized how unlikely my statement was. The topography was less flat than Elizabeth City, but it certainly was not “cliff material”. More likely the pond was named after some local dude with the surname “Cliff.”
But it was a destination and it was as good as anything else to bike to. As we discovered actual hills on the bike path, including one steep enough to warrant a warning sign, I got excited. Perhaps there were cliffs at Cliff Pond afterall.
We made our way near the pond and took a gravel road down to its shore.
And nope. No cliffs.
BUT– what we found was quite nice. Here this pristine pond with clear waters was mostly secluded. The children of a small family splashed in the water and a caught fish flopped around in a plastic bag. I was surprised to be at a place with such beauty and now having it swarming with humans.
Ryan and I did not bike with our cameras, so our only pictures (and a series of accidental videos we took thinking we were taking pictures) were from my camera.
We were out for about four hours and biked over thirty miles. Upon our return, we walked to downtown Chatham for lunch. We ate a a place called Battered Up. Ryan had a delicious chicken kabob and I had a yummy fried scallop cup.
After lunch, Ryan and I tried to take the Chatham Bars Inn’s free water shuttle to the North Shore. Unfortunately the last shuttle back from the North Shore leaves at 3:45 PM, so it wasn’t going to be worth it for Ryan and I to go out there to come right back. Ryan and I waited at the pier for Mom and Carolyn to return.
When they did, we recruited my cousins Sam and Gina and then we walked down to The Chatham Fish Pier. There, I finally got to see a seal close up! I had been hearing them and seeing their little black heads poke up out of the water in the horizon. At the Fish Pier, a couple of privy seals had discovered a strategy for an easy meal.
After the Fish Pier, we walked to the South Lawn of the Chatham Bars Inn to watch “Family Croquet”. Clint and Carolyn were taking on two brothers just who just learned to play that day. Carolyn and Clint may look like tough opponents… but the two boys seem to beat them with relative ease. : )
For supper, Ryan and I added ourselves on to Tim’s family’s reservations at The Tavern. I was surprised at how quickly the concierge was able to take care of my request.
“Was it the Sawyer party?” the fellow on the phone asked me.
“Yes,” I said.
“It’s already taken care of.”
Wow, now that’s service! Impressive!
Little did I know my Aunt Julie and my Uncle Chuck had also called to tag onto the reservations. When Ryan and I called, the concierge thought we were the same couple! As a result, when our party of eight showed up, the restaurant was only prepared for six. Luckily they quickly adapted. Ryan and I shared the delicious scallop entree, salad appetizers and…. yum, yum, yum– creme brulee.
Girl’s Night and BANG!
Monday night, my cousins Michelle and Jennifer had the night off as their husbands were watching their sons. So they recruited women to go out for a bit. Jennifer, Michelle, Maria, Gina, Sam and I all headed down to the Red Nun in Chatham. I found the outing very pleasant– a lot of story telling (I have pages and pages in my journal of various stories), a lot of laughter. When we returned back to the resort, I checked in with the guys. They were doing a favorite beach vacation activity– playing games. That night it was BANG! I joined them and my sister and my cousin Melanie for a quick game. It was an interesting game and educational. I didn’t realize my cousin Jack was so sneaky. I also didn’t realize my young cousin Melanie was so cut-throat. : )
And that was the packed third day of our vacation!!!!
Ryan and I started off our first full day of vacation…. with a nine mile run. We are both training for a half marathon in September. We ran along the beautiful Cape Cod Trail which is about 1.2 miles away from our hotel. Believe it or not, it is hilly compared to the terrain we are used to at home. But we found the low humidity and temperature to be very conducive to the longer runs.
In May, Ryan and I started doing the Presidential Physical Fitness Challenge where anytime we do an activity, we log it to get points. I highly recommend it. I’ve found that little website to be absolutely the best motivator. Why? It’s the point system. I want to keep up with Ryan on the points. And that’s hard! There are weekday mornings where I wake up and I see Ryan putting on his running clothes. “$(*&%!” I think. Then I get up and put on my Vibrams. I quickly learned I can’t safely postpone my exercise to the evening. If he runs in the morning, I have to run in the morning. Otherwise, he may come home after work and want to play tennis. Then I only get points for tennis, but he gets points for tennis AND running. Grrr.
That morning at Cape Cod, Ryan and I looked at a map and decided to run three miles down the Cape Cod Rail Trail and turn around. Ryan runs faster than I. On the round trip runs, he’ll eventually pass me. After I ran by the 2.5 mile marker with no sign of Ryan, I silently celebrated my pace in my head, “Yay! I’m less than a mile behind him!” When I passed the 2.75 mile marker…. I started to realize, “Oh no…He kept going.” Sure enough, I get to the 3 mile marker and the 3.25 mile marker and still no Ryan. When I did pass him, I asked him which marker he went to.
“Four,” he said.
“I was afraid of that,” I panted.
Ryan suggested I turn around at the 3.5 mile marker. But it was futile. The decision was already made. I was going to the freaking four mile marker. I needed those points. And you know what— I am glad I did. The extra two miles flew by. I had a very pleasant run. Beautiful scenery, tons of oak trees, I even saw a large hawk pass over me. When we finished, I had completed my longest run to date. That’s quite a high!
The aftermath of the run wasn’t as pleasant. By the time we got back to the hotel, we were starving (we didn’t eat breakfast before going out). We decided to shower before eating which gave the hunger time to compound. The prices at the resort deterred us and we decided to walk into town for more reasonably priced grub. That journey was miserable. We walked in light headed and sore silence.
“This walk is worse than the run,” I finally said. Ryan agreed.
At one point, Ryan pointed to some stairs and said, “Let’s take a break.”
“Really? COOL!” my voice suddenly had spunk.
But it turns out Ryan was only kidding. By the time I realized that, my enthusiasm had already outed me as the wuss of our twosome. D’oh. : )
We made it downtown and ate at a great place called The Captain’s Table. I had a salad and a delicious lobster bisque– the kind where you can taste the real cream in the ingredient list! I love that! We hit up a used bookstore, stocked up on books and then returned back to the resort.
The rest of the day was low key and extremely relaxing. I sat out front and caught up on journal entries. We read our books. I worked on crosswords and we just enjoyed the down time.
For dinner, the entire family met for a Sunday night buffet at the Chatham Bars Inn. HOLY CRAP. That was the most decadent, decadent buffet. I have never seen anything like it. Ahi Tuna, Lobster, Scallops, Giant Crab Legs. They even had a whole selection of caviar, including wasabi infused tobiko! We were all just stunned as we walked past the buffet to our table. Some of us were less stunned than others. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my father poking and prodding one of the humongous lobsters on the buffet to see if it was real.
Greetings Rich People! The Sawyers Have Arrived!
We flew into Barnstable, MA where some of our relatives were waiting with three big minivans. They loaded up our luggage and drove us to beautiful Chatham. I got to catch up with my cousin Andrew and he chauffered us down the cape.
Seventeen years ago, when Ryan Somma and I first became friends, one of the common interests we shared was a love for Kurt Vonnegut. Back in 1999, one Ryan Somma managed to get two tickets to a Vonnegut speech/book signing in Washington, D.C. Who’d he invite along? ME! Given that history, I thought it was neat that as soon as we pulled out of the Barnstable Airport parking lot, we saw a little Vonnegut reference.
We arrived at the Chatham Bars Inn. Our rooms weren’t quite ready yet, so Carolyn, Clint, Ryan and I decided to explore. As we embarked, Clint noted, “I have a feeling Vicky is going to want to walk further than me.” Aww, he knows me well!
Luckily for Clint it wasn’t long before we could check into our rooms. Ryan, Mom and I feasted on NetJets leftovers for supper. We got a lot of visiting in with extended relatives. One of my favorite parts was sitting out in the gazebo. My youngest cousin, Olivia, started to play with something on my grandmother’s wrist. Long ago, my grandmother started a charm bracelet. As each new grandchild was born, a new charm representing that child was added. There are eighteen of us now, so over the years my grandmother’s bracelet has become well populated. My second youngest cousin, Melanie, started to looked through the charms to find herself. That made me smile. I have done that myself countless of times over the years… even after I entered adulthood.
As dusk hit, we went back out to the shoreline for some more exploring.
Here, we got exposed to how this beach was different than the ones we are used to (Bethany Beach, DE; Ocean City, MD; Virginia Beach, VA). In this nice little area, the water is calm– there are no waves. At low tide, you can see that the terrain is not especially pleasant to bare feet. Instead of white, soft sand, the ground is covered in rocks and tons and tons of barnacles. We even saw a poor snail with a barnacle stuck to his back.
After sunset, the wind picked up and we could hear the most eerie moans coming from the dark water. It was very much reminiscent of a haunted house. The noise was emanating from the seals offshore (I’m told it is the wind rolling over their nostrils). That’s definitely another thing that differentiantes this trip. We’re aren’t used to seals.
Most surprising, however, was a species I’m quite accustomed to– the seagulls. I have seen them my entire life. But that night marked the very first time I spied seagulls eating actual…seafood. I’m used to them eating french fries and popcorn and leftovers in Taco Bell parking lots. One time, I saw a whole mob of seagulls devour Doritos off the top of my Dad’s car (courtesy of Aaron Evans). That night in Chatham, the preferred seagull food appeared to be starfish. I saw a number of gulls proudly carrying that particular entree around. I also spied at least two gulls preparing their supper by dropping a crab or shell for the air onto the rocks below.
When we returned to the hotel, we sat outside with my father for a while. Despite his short time on the premises, he had already learned the names of many of the staff. I quickly discovered that my father had no hestitation at shouting out those names when he needed something.
“HILARY! HILARY! HILARY!” he’d shout and when she didn’t respond, he wasn’t phased, “TIFFANY! TIFFANY!”
Luckily the staff looked more amused than annoyed by my father’s persistance.
Greetings all! I am home fresh off a lovely vacation at the Chatham Bars Inn in beautiful Chatham, Massachusetts.
The Friday of our departure, Ryan returned home from work. As the dogs greeted him and the cats complained about being stuck inside, I exclaimed, “You’re on vacation, baby!”
My statement was a bit premature. Little did I know, we had plenty of stress and confusion to muck through before our vacation would really begin. First off, we had to make some final travel arrangements. We booked our hotel in Boston for that evening and made arrangements for the rental car. Then we drove to Hunt Club Kennel to drop off hopeful Jimmie and Henry. Next, we were making our way to the airport when I got a call from the airline. They noticed our Norfolk flight was delayed and we were going to miss our connection in Philadelphia.
The nice young man on phone kept me online as he keyed in search criteria and tried to find us a way to make our connection. He tried earlier flights, flights from different airports and different carriers. But alas, the best he could do was fly us out first thing the next morning.
“If we are flying tomorrow,” I overheard Ryan say, “we might as well take the jet.”
The “jet” would be the G4 my uncle arranged from NetJets to take my DC relatives to the Cape. It was leaving Baltimore at 11 AM the next morning. U.S. Airways agreed to give us a full refund for our airfare. Meanwhile we booked return flights for just $100 dollars! We cancelled our rental car, but unfortunately we took a hit on the hotel. Even though we had booked our room just a mere 80 minutes before, the Wyndham hotel in Chelsea, MA is still charging us our full rate for the room. We were supposed to cancel the room 47 hours before the actual reservation was made. Policy trumps common courtesy.
We had a lot of tunnel traffic, but eventually we made it to my parents’ house in Occoquan, Virginia.
Vacation time? Not yet! Sleeping at my parents’ house is sometimes a bit of a challenge. The next morning Ryan and I drove separately to BWI Airport. But first, we had to wake up Dad– which is more of a challenge than getting sleep ourselves. I tried to rouse Dad a mere 15 minutes before our departure time. It brought back a lot of memories. I had the unsavory job of waking up Dad my entire high school career. This day, Dad was as reluctant as ever to get out of bed.
“I know what time I want to wake up,” he grumbled, “and it is NOT time.”
You know, I do have to admit that perhaps my father knew what he was doing all along. When it was time to leave, there he was– wide awake and waiting on everyone else.
Ryan and I had an uneventful commute to BWI. We made it to the airport with plenty of time. We were flying back commercial, so we parked in Long Term Parking. The plan was for my parents to pick us up and take us to the private jet. Well, it turns out my parents had gotten lost. My Dad may have known what time he wanted to get up at, but apparently he struggled with which direction to go on the Beltway. No biggie. Perhaps Ryan and I could walk to the plane. So I called my Mom to find out where to meet the NetJet.
She had no idea!
So I called my Aunt Maria who told me what road I needed to go to. At the same time, I was negotiating with a shuttle bus driver to see if we could hitch a ride. I hung up with my aunt and I promptly forgot the name of the street, so with some shame I had to call her again and have her field the exact same question.
Ryan and I waited for a while outside Long Term Parking for my parents. As time ticked by and unfamiliar cars continued to whiz by, one certainty became strikingly clear.
“I don’t know where they are or when they are going to get here, ” I told Ryan, “But I *guarantee* you there’s a lot of yelling going on right now!”
Ryan and I were having some cell phone difficulties. My cell phone wouldn’t show my location, but it would show the mysterious Aaronson drive we needed to get to. Meanwhile Ryan’s cell phone didn’t believe Aaronson drive existed, but it did show his location. Just as Jack Sprat and his wife could eat their plates clean, Ryan and I were able to team up and determine we weren’t very far from the NetJet at all. We decided to walk!
We made it to the terminal right at 11… just as my parents were unloading their car. We had our stresses, but in the end we all made it on the jet.
It was at that moment, after two days of confusion and surprises and evolving travel plans– Ryan and I could relax and say our vacation truly began.
And you’d be hardpressed to kick off a vacation better than NetJets. : )