Does anyone else feel like this summer was the busiest, craziest, hottest, and most social one in, well, in two years? Or that it was the first time September rolled around and we weren’t quite ready for the lazy days and endless nights to be over? My oldest son and his new wife got married Labor Day weekend and the wedding was all the adjectives I used above, plus just plain wonderful. So, when everyone else went home, I went to the Cape for one last hurrah before returning to reality and responsibilities.
There are two lines an old Girl Scout song that perfectly capture how I feel about life in general these days and Cape Cod in particular. They go like this:
Make new friends, but keep the old.
One is silver, the other is gold.
In that spirit, these are some of the things we did in 2022.
I still love to sleep in my tent. There is nothing like hearing the night noises (scary and comforting) when you are in the woods with only the thinnest wall shielding and protecting you from the elements, and whatever else might be lurking outside your zippered door! Nickerson State Park in Brewster is my go-to spot and that will never change.
Eating at Arnolds on Route 6 is a mainstay of any Cape visit, especially if you ride your bike down the Cape Cod Rail Trail to get there and back. This allows you to justify eating as much fried food as you want!
Going to Rock Harbor at low tide to see the hermit crabs and other aquatic creatures or at high tide to watch the fishing boats come in isn’t just for kids; we adults enjoy doing it too!
I relish these annual family traditions and look forward to them every year. But once the kids grew up and moved away, my husband and I ended up at the Cape alone (with maybe a stray friend or two dropping by) more often than not. With the arrival of Covid, we decided to broaden our horizons by trying a few activities and eateries more suited to a pandemic lifestyle. We found we like mixing things up a bit which turned out to be a good thing because this year, due to a combination of a drought, sharks, riptides, Harmful Algae Blooms, restaurants that were short-staffed, attractions with unusual hours, and other such things, many of our favorite pastimes weren’t accessible or available.
We discovered a hidden gem of an Italian deli-Cibo Italian Kitchen & Market (https://www.cibocapecod.com/) in Orleans. With attractive and spacious indoor and outdoor dining areas as well as grab and go options, beer and wine (along with many nonalcoholic beverages) decadent desserts, and all sorts of food and gift items-it’s a restaurant you definitely shouldn’t pass by.
My meatball and Neil’s Italiano paninis were so mouthwatering-not a scrap of leftovers-that I recommended Cibo to my sister and her boyfriend who were equally delighted with their Parmigiano (chicken) and Prosciutto di Parma (prosciutto, arugula fig jam, and Asagio) sandwiches.
Following the recommendation of a fellow blogger, the four of us biked to the Ice Cream Café in Orleans which is known for its “make your own” ice cream sandwich. Similar to the old Carvel’s Flying Saucers, the cookies are baked by the neighboring Cottage Street Bakery and come in two varieties. I got the dark chocolate with chocolate chips and pink peppermint stick ice cream and, with every bite, became more enraptured. Best dessert ever!
That same travel blogger also suggested a visit to Hamblen Island via Uncle Tim’s bridge in Wellfleet, neither which I’d heard of in my fifty-five years of visiting Cape Cod. Only a short walk from the village, you walk over a quaint wooden bridge to get to the island. It would be a lovely place to spend a few hours on, with a journal, a good book, a picnic lunch, or by simply sitting on one of the benches watching wildlife and people.
However, the crowning glory of this year’s trip was the Edward Gorey house on Strawberry Lane in Yarmouth Port. My family and I have been Gorey fans since the kids were young, with a particular penchant for this book https://www.themarginalian.org/2011/01/19/edward-gorey-the-gashlycrumb-tinies/
Despite all his gruesome tendencies, Ted Gorey was actually a kind and social man, one who stopped wearing his beloved fur coats when he realized animal rights were being impinged upon, who refused to let a contractor complete work on his house until a family of racoons had been relocated to other quarters, and who ate most meals at Jack’s Outback, a local restaurant where he had many friends, including the owner. Though Gorey never married or had children, our very knowledgeable docent reported that he often spent time with family members. He was also a huge fan of the New York City Ballet, where he was often referred to as “the man on the steps” due to his penchant for slipping out of his cheap nosebleed section seat into a spot with a much better view of the dancers!
The unusual museum is overflowing with Gorey’s collections (Frogs! Elephants! Cheese graters!) as well as many of the items his mother saved from her talented only son’s childhood, including the first drawing he ever did, at eighteen months, of a “sausage train”.
The well-curated exhibits not only tell the story of an artist’s life trajectory, for those who are really paying attention, they show the diverse ways a single person can utilize their creativity over their lifespan to spark the imagination millions of ordinary people from the very young to the very old.