Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Reflections on Cape Cod

Heading off to Cape Cod fills me with a different feeling than going to the Adirondacks. It must hark back to my childhood, when we went there almost every summer for two weeks. There is a certain excitement and anticipation that has a different quality than the feeling I get when we head off to the Adirondacks. That feels more like an escape, while this is a feeling of being a kid again.

The feeling reminds me of the cartoon, "Rose is Rose," where the characters revert to being little kids when they do something kids like to do.

As she has done for the past six years or so, my mother went with us. This year we took the new Jeep instead of the Saab wagon, since it holds more. Nevertheless, the luggage and various other supplies still filled the entire trunk area. Somehow our stuff always expands to fill the space allotted to it.

In addition to my mom, who rented her own cottage next to ours, DH's dad joined us this year as well. Since the cottage we rent has two bedrooms, he was able to come up for part of the week and stay with us, and not have to rent a separate cottage. He arrived on Monday and stayed through Friday morning with us.

As I mentioned last year, my mother, now 90, is slowing down. Whereas a year ago she refused to bring her cane, this year she brought it with her. (She still didn't use it, but she brought it. It's a start.) She has to hold onto my arm even more this year, since in addition to her shaky legs, she is now having more trouble seeing due to macular degeneration, so she finds it hard to see where her feet are going.

Long ago when I was just a toddler, she no doubt matched her steps to my tiny stride; now I have to match my steps to hers. We still joke about it - my mother will ask me to slow down and I reply "If I went any slower I'd be walking backwards!" But this year I couldn't help feeling melancholy thinking about it. Who knows how many more trips to the Cape with my mother are left?

We were luckier with the weather this year than last June. There was sun for about half of each day; sometimes our day started with sun and it clouded up in mid-afternoon; other days started cloudy but turned sunny later on. So we were able to sit outside, go to the beach, and enjoy ourselves more than we did last year when the last three days were cloudy and dismal.

This trip went faster than usual; maybe it was having both my mom and DH's dad with us; or trying to fit in all of our favorite restaurants and activities. As it was, we didn't get around to doing a few of the things we always do. A week just isn't long enough, I guess.

We were happy to see the Eastham Lobster Pool restaurant is open again, with a complete makeover. It's now Woody's Eastham Lobster Pool and has been remade with a new look: kind of modern, with spare furnishings and stainless steel exposed beams. In addition, instead of waitress service, the new deal is you go up to the counter and order what you want, and then come back and get it when they call your number. The food was good (we had lobster, my mother had grilled tuna) but unfortunately the music was a bit loud and it was noisier than I'd like. But I'd definitely go back, and it's nice to see it back in business again. I was also happy to see they saved the original Eastham Lobster Pool signs by mounting them on the walls of the restaurant, since they replaced them with a new outdoor sign saying "Woody's Eastham Lobster Pool."

The second night we were there, we picked up some fresh bluefish at Hatch's Fish Market in Wellfleet and cooked it up in the cottage for my mother and us. It was delicious and it was fun to eat at "home" for a change. I am usually so busy back home that I don't have time to cook, so when I'm on vacation it's actually a pleasure!

After DH's dad arrived, we all went up to Moby Dick's in Wellfleet that evening, a great casual seafood restaurant with nautical decor and enjoyed lobster rolls and, for me, scallops.

Another night we went to Mac's Shack in Wellfleet, where DH and I ordered generous platters of ultra-fresh sashimi, DH's dad had a huge stuffed lobster, and my mother enjoyed flounder stuffed with crabmeat. (I sampled it and it was delicious). We ordered the sashimi because by this time we'd had our fill of lobster and other types of cooked fish and were ready for a change!

As we always do when we visit the Cape, we got together one afternoon with our friend Sally, who owns the Midway Motel and Cottages, where we always stayed until we wanted to bring our dog up to the Cape. Unfortunately the Midway doesn't allow pets, so a few years back, we moved on to Gibson Cottages, which do allow pets and are on a picture-perfect pond where Diva can go swimming.

But make no mistake, the Midway Motel and Cottages are kept up beautifully, have lovely landscaping and flowers on the property, and have everything you need for a wonderful vacation on the Cape, as long as you don't have a pet you want to bring with you. We had stayed there every year for about 18 years and became good friends with the owners, Sally and her husband Ron. In the old days we'd go out to dinner with them, but now that her husband passed away a few years ago, Sally comes over to our cottage for lunch instead. We get a "to-go" order of lobster rolls and fries from the Friendly Fisherman (the lobster roll is huge, with tons of lobster meat) and enjoy it out on the deck with a little wine!

Diva got to swim every day in the pond, and we took her on a number of walks in Wiley Park in Eastham and in Nickerson State Park in Brewster - and of course, on the beach.

The last full day at the Cape was rainy and chilly, as was the day we left. But as soon as we got off the Cape the weather was sunny and warm for our whirlwind trip to the Adirondacks for one night so we could show my mother our cabin at Lake George. So our luck with the weather was pretty good overall! And we were happy to see the great progress that has been made at the cabin: the well has been drilled, the propane tank is there and is hooked up, much of the plumbing is done, the propane fixtures are installed, the walls and ceiling have been painted a soft cream instead of stark white, and the floors are partially finished. (Still another step to go). We may actually be able to stay in our cabin over the 4th of July weekend if the generator is in by then to run the well's water pump!

Here are a few pictures from our trip:

The pond at Gibson Cottages, close to sunset. Mom, DH and his dad enjoying cocktails on the deck of our rental cottage.
Mom with her sherry and cigarette. Seabirds on a rock in the ocean at the Nauset Coast Guard Beach.
Diva on the beach.
Now for something completely different....a view of our cabin in the Adirondacks with the ground dug up for the gas line that leads from the new propane tank to the cabin!
Interior of the cabin showing newly painted ceiling and walls.

The propane tank!


Christopher said...

Growing up in the northeast and the west is so different.

People in the northeast talk about going on vacation to the same place each summer for vacation. A favored beach or cabin.

Whereas growing up in the west, each summer meant a new summer vacation destination.

I don't recall ever seeing the same place twice as a kid.

Mauigirl said...

Maybe it's because there aren't as many places to go within easy reach of the Northeast states as there are out west?

I think it's also a family thing - some families are more into the adventures and others like tradition. Maybe because California was settled by pioneers who went West and were more restless than those who stayed in the East, there are more adventurous ones out there.

My husband's family (also from NJ) did do a lot of traveling - they drove cross country and back three times when he was a kid. They have a map on their wall showing a pin at every place they stopped.

We did go to the UK on vacation twice when I was young and after I grew up she and my dad traveled a lot in Europe, even Israel. But my dad was not as into traveling as my mom and plus he wasn't an avid driver like DH's dad. Mine didn't learn until he was 40 so he wasn't very confident at it!

Liz Hinds said...

Oh yum, all that fishy food!

Sounds wonderful. Your mom looks great, especially with her sherry and ciggie!

Dr. Zaius said...

I am going to try that bit with the egg and the microwave...

Geoff Gove said...

"..Maybe it's because there aren't as many places to go within easy reach of the Northeast states as there are out west?"

Growing up near San Francisco, I thought we had a good variety of getaways within a tank of gas. When I moved here after college, the options tripled! The Cape is great, but also the islands, Boston area, Maine, Vermont, Lake George, Saratoga & mts -- not to mention Hudson Valley, finger lakes, Catskills, NW NJ, Poconos,Bucks/Lancaster County, The Shore(s), DelMarva, DC, Williamsburg & NVA. Phew!

Anonymous said...

Oh this all sounds so easty coasty and Catskills and Dirty Dancing 50's style! lol...Have a great time. It looks simply maaaarvelous!

lisahgolden said...

What a wonderful vacation! I love the pictures. I've never been to the Cape, but my parents went late last summer and loved it.

Mauigirl said...

Liz, thanks, we sure had some good feasts! And yes, mom looks good for her age and is remarkably healthy. I'm very lucky.

Dr. Z, I know, it is tempting, isn't it?

Geoff, good point, you are right of course there are lots of places to go in the Northeast. And I've been to many of them myself. Maybe I was thinking the west coast had more variety in the type of places? e.g., you can drive to mountains with snow on them within the same distance as you are sweltering in the wine country. But maybe it's just a perception since I haven't lived out there, only visited!

Feather, Dirty Dancing really reminded me of growing up in upstate New York where I lived for 5 years in my long-ago youth. I even had cutoff jeans just like they were wearing in that movie!

Lisa, glad your parents liked the Cape. I think you and Doug would enjoy it too, with or without the Spawn. It's very relaxing without a lot of night life but that is part of its charm to me! The kids might be wanting more action though! When I was young being on the beach or playing mini golf was enough for me but nowadays maybe not!

Anonymous said...

Some people have all the fun. Sounds like you had a great time. Welcome back.... I think.

Bee said...

Loved Rose is a Rose.

Love your ma - she looks like she would be a blast to hang around!

What a nice vacay - glad you enjoyed it:)

We're heading to Asheville NC Sunday. I'm hoping to win it big at the casino in Cherokee(VBG)

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

I love the photos.

I too find it very disconcerting to see how frail my mother is now. I'm glad you were able to have this trip with your mom and FIL.

Mary Ellen said...

Hi Mauigirl!

It's so funny, my husband and I went to Cape Cod for our 25th Anniversary and stayed at a Bed and Breakfast there. I'm also pretty sure that we ate at Eastham Lobster Pool restaurant while we were there, the name sounds very familiar. We then drove up the coast to Maine and stayed at a Bed and Breakfast there. I can't wait for a return trip there...maybe next summer. We decided not to travel this summer, taking a break from all the travel we did last year.

Anyway...I also wanted to tell you that I answered your comment on my blog and left an important message for you in return. :-)

Randal Graves said...

Sounds like your vacation was a good time. I hear they're nice. ;-) And hell, the fact that your mom is still pretty damn mobile at 90 is impressive!

splord said...


Vacation post... with pictures!!!

Tom Harper said...

Nice pictures. I've been to Cape Cod, but not for a long time.

Chris makes an interesting point about the Northeast vs. the West. I'm from the Northeast originally and my family always went to the same summer cottage. First Ontario, then Maine. They were great idyllic places, but there was never any question of "where are we going this summer?"

Now that I've been on the Left Coast most of my adult life, it doesn't seem very common for people to go to "their" summer place. I never thought of it as a regional difference, but maybe that's it.

Life As I Know It Now said...

lump in throat forms as I realize I am feeling the same way about my mother. it is hard to watch someone you love become old and know how hard it is becoming for them to enjoy their life. she still looks feisty to me though from the pictures you posted. overall, it sounds like a great vacation.

Distributorcap said...

i love cape cod --- it really seems like a far away place and a throwback to a different time. i like the mid cape area - not the hustle of hyannis or p-town. and diva obviously loved it

and your mother is so cute

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