Sue and I left early Thanksgiving morning Thursday 11/28/13 and headed to Cape Cod, MA for the long holiday weekend.
We had Thanksgiving dinner at noon at Hearth and Kettle in Plymouth, MA after touring the Plymouth Plantation. After dinner we went to the Grist Mill and then Mayflower II before going to Hyannis, MA where our hotel was.
The drive down from Dover, NH to Plymouth, MA had far less traffic than I had thought might be the case. But then, it was early Thanksgiving morning. Just to be on the safe side, however, I took Rt. 128 around Boston as opposed to going through the city. I've run into some pretty nasty traffic south of Boston and just didn't want to fool with it. As it turns out, taking 128 takes only a little longer than the more direct route. So, that worked out just fine.
128 feeds into 3 South, and that's a pretty road, though I suspect it's a nightmare during work rush hours. No thanks. But 3 takes you right into Plymouth and we arrived about 10:00am. We had left at 7:45am, but had made a couple of coffee detours along the way so that was pretty good time, actually.
One of the main things that we had wanted to see was the Plymouth Plantation, a marvelous complex of historic exhibits, both indoor and outside.
These exhibits show the mixing of the English colonists with the Native American Wampanoag Indians in 1609.
The two main outside exhibits are the Wampanoag Indian Homesite and the English Village. The Wampanoag Indian Homesite is staffed by real Native American Indians who show what life was like in a typical Indian village.
We watched one Indian woman hand weaving a basket, and another group cooking a soup over an open fire. It was particularly interesting to see
examples of their lodges, which I later suspected were more cozy and pleasant than the colonist's wooden structures at The English Village.
The English Village is a sprawling site of early colonist homes and gardens overlooking the ocean. Sue got some really interesting pictures, but they certainly don't have the same impact as standing there on the dirt floor of one of those little cottages,
feeling the cold air rushing by the open doorway at your back and the radiant heat of the open fire pit in a corner of the room hitting you as you enter.
We wandered around for a little over 2 hours, but we could have done another hour easily as there are just so many interesting things to see. But, we had to make a 12:45 reservation at the Hearth and Kettle restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner.
After eating, we just walked across the street to The Plimoth Grist Mill, part of the overall Plymouth Plantation. A reproduction of the 1636 mill completed in 1970, it shows how the Colonists transitioned
from grinding corn by hand in wooden mortars to this water powered mechanical apparatus. A really interesting tour.
From the Grist Mill, we drove over to see Plymouth Rock. From the web site for Plymouth Rock, it says, "Nearly one million people a year come from all over the world to visit "The Rock" and the town where in 1620 Europeans first made a home in New England. This simple glacial erratic boulder on the shore of Plymouth Harbor has become a world famous symbol of the courage and faith of the men and women who founded the first New England colony."
Adjacent to Plymouth Rock is the Pilgrim Memorial State Park where the Mayflower II is docked. Mayflower II is also part of Plymouth Plantation, and is a replica of the ship that brought the first Pilgrims to Massachusetts. It amazed me that they came across the Atlantic Ocean on this relatively small ship with around 130 people aboard, 102 of which were the original colonists.
It was probably sometime around 3:30pm or so that we headed south on Rt. 6 toward Hyannis, MA where our hotel was located. Sue had found this great Groupon deal for a room with a hot tub, and after a long day on the road and exploring in the rather piercing cold, this sounded like a great thing! And it was! Since we were still full from our big Thanksgiving dinner in Plymouth, we just ate the leftovers that we had taken along with a bottle of Chardonnay that we had packed. A wonderful end to a busy day.
We were up early Friday morning for breakfast at the hotel as part of the package. We were on the road by about 9:00am, stopping off at Dunkin Donuts for coffee. We drove out to Provincetown along the shore road 28, taking about 3 hours stopping off around different towns and lighthouses. Long but really interesting drive.
We didn't get far before I heard Sue call out, "Stop the vehicle! Stop-the-vehicle...." She hopped out of the car to take some pictures of the first of many
massive cranberry bogs that we saw during our touring. From there, she directed me to peel off 28 in Dennis, MA to drive down to check out West Dennis Beach. We side tracked into Saguatucket Harbor in Harwich, MA, noting that ice had formed along the immediate shoreline from the biter cold during the night.
We spent a little time driving around Chatham, MA, and walked around a bit at Claflin Landing. I have wanted to visit Chatham for a long time. Every time there is a major Nor'easter or storm, Chatham takes a real beating and attracts weather reports from CNN and The Weather Channel. I wanted to see the area for myself. There is a magnificent beach and sand dune area by Chatham Light at the Coast Guard Station Sue got some
interesting pictures of. There is one in particular taken from the cliff overlooking the beach that she really captured the scope of the area; it's just amazing.
From Chatham, we picked up Rt. 6 and drove to Wellfleet Harbor as I had heard a lot about Wellfleet. But, though a very pretty area, there wasn't much of interest that I found. And so we jumped back onto the highway.
We drove to the Highland Museum and Lighthouse in Truro, MA. The Cape Cod Highland Lighthouse, perched 120 feet above sea level, was built in 1797 and rebuilt several times due to storm damage. In fact, by 1990 only 128 feet of the original 500 foot setback from the edge of the cliffs remained due to erosion from the heavy pounding of the ocean waves during storms.
In July of 1996, when the base of the lighthouse was only 100 feet away from the edge of the cliff, the lighthouse had to be moved back from the cliffs by 450 feet. Amazing, and well worth the side trip to see this lighthouse and the cliffs it sits on.
We arrived in Provincetown about 2:00pm and grabbed a quick lunch at the Surf Club Restaurant and Bar on the harbor. We walked around the downtown shopping area for awhile. It's so very cute, but congested beyond imagination; worse by far than say Newport, RI. But really, really quaint.
The Pilgrim Monument, founded in 1892, is a massive stone structure to: "commemorate the Mayflower Pilgrimsí first landing in the New World in Provincetown, in November 1620. Here the Pilgrims spent 5 weeks exploring the tip of Cape Cod, before they sailed on to Plymouth. They also drew up and signed the Mayflower Compact, which established the rule of law for the new land."
We hiked up the hill to the a 252 foot tower, the tallest all-granite structure in the United States. It is perched 100 feet above sea level and offers such
stunning views of not only the entire Cape, but also on a clear enough day you can see all the way to Boston. In fact, though I bowed out of the adventure, Sue climbed to the top of the monument, and in one of the pictures she took, you can just barely see the Boston skyline.
By the time Sue got back down from the top of the tower, the sun was beginning to get very low on the horizon. She hustled me down the hill and out onto the town docks so she could get some pictures of the sunset. And man, the wind was really biting blowing in off of the ocean as she snapped a few pictures. Unfortunately, though pretty, the sunset was rather unspectacular that evening, and so we jumped into the car and headed back to Hyannis, about an hour's drive.
We were both chilled just thinking about being out on the Provincetown docks, and so another dunk in the hot tub with glasses of wine was in order. By the time we got out of the tub, we were in no mood to go out to dinner. Sue said, "Well, let's stay in, play backgammon, drink some wine, and get a pizza from Pappa John's delivered!" That sounded great to me, and so that's what we did! But we were both really tired, so it was early when we shut down for the night.
We got up around 7:30am Saturday morning, had breakfast at the hotel, and then drove up to the Sandwich Glass Museum in Sandwich, MA. I had no idea the importance of glass produced from this factory had on not only the town of Sandwich, but also of the entire glassblowing industry in the country.
We must have spent almost 2 hours there. The tour of the museum included a 20 minute glassblowing demonstration. That was pretty interesting to watch without the added burden that we had experienced when we took a glassblowing class last winter and had to focus more on not burning ourselves to death than focusing on the beauty of the process itself.
We got back home early Saturday afternoon, unpacked, and went food shopping for the week. Then, City Boy built a fire in the fireplace, we had a glass of wine, and played backgammon for about an hour before fixing spaghetti and garlic bread for dinner.