Tuesday, January 10, 2006

lighthouses, beaches and afternoon tea

In the span of two days, we went from this:

to this:

It's amazing that I took that shot between moments of drizzle and freezing temperatures, and yet the beach always looks the same. Peaceful, quiet, beautiful.

Exactly what we needed.

We settled on Chatham, Massachusetts, mainly because it is in the middle of the Cape, at the elbow, or right at the junction where it turns up toward itself. Once we were stationed at our bed and breakfast in Chatham, we could travel up and down the Cape with ease, so that's what we did.

We drove up the South side on Wednesday morning, stopping in Falmouth for lunch, and along the way if we spotted a nice view or a cute store. We arrived at the Captain's House Inn by nightfall, just in time for afternoon tea of pastries and English Breakfast in our room. I am beginning to think I should institute afternoon tea and pastries every day.

On our way to dinner, we drove out to the Chatham lighthouse to get a glimpse of it in the dark. I doubt I've ever seen a night so devoid of moonlight. I couldn't distinguish the shoreline from the water through the veil of darkness except for the precise moment when the beam from the lighthouse passed across the waves. It was a second of reflection and then black again.

Photos weren't quite working in that kind of darkness, so we drove to the recommended neighborhood pub for dinner. We were back at the bed and breakfast in time for their nightly hot chocolate and cookies. Lack of food was not a problem on this little voyage. The inn also had a large video and reading library for the guests to borrow, and since we were one of two occupied rooms for the two nights we were there, we had our pick.

The next morning, Thursday, we explored the tip of the Cape: Truro, Orleans, Nauset, Wellfleet, Provincetown, all of which are predominantly summer towns with very little in the way of winter life. We veered off the main roads to pass by the lighthouses along the way and admire the scenery and the homes we saw. Provincetown is my favorite town on the Cape, but only one sad little pizza place had its lights on, and we scarfed down a sandwich and continued on our way.

There is something wildly beautiful about the beaches around Provincetown, the way the wind sculpts the sand and the grass eats up the hillside. My favorite pictures feature fences that are slowly worn away by the wind and the water.

It is equally beautiful throughout the seasons, although obviously far more crowded in the summer months.

On the way back to Chatham, we did the same detours off the main roads, but on the opposite side that we'd driven down. More lighthouses, more beaches, more lovely views.

We stopped for a few minutes in Orleans, at Rock Harbor to get pictures of their rocky shores. These trees intrigued me. They look alive, but Rock Harbor is the scene where Orleans militiamen in 1812 turned back British troops. The trees at the entrance to the harbor mark the channel for the fishing fleet. Strange and beautiful, aren't they?

And then, in what may be the best decision we made on this trip, we found a spa that did couples' massages and splurged on one. I feel relaxed just remembering. It is something we very rarely do, but a luxury we discovered on our honeymoon that we love.

I was pretty groggy post-massage, so we headed back to the bed and breakfast for another afternoon tea with cookies, and then out to a local fish joint, before turning in for the night.

After breakfast Friday morning, we packed up and visited all of the shops in Chatham. The week after New Year's is their slowest, so every store featured huge 50% off sales. I picked up some snowmen decorations for next year, and as I mentioned yesterday, the dogs received a new bed and some miniature toys.

On the way home, we drove down the North side of the Cape, passing through adorable fishing villages like Brewster, Dennis, Yarmouth, Barnstable, Sandwich and Bourne. Josh and I dream of being able to have a shack in one of these towns, just enough to pile in to sleep after a day at the beach or strolling through the towns. They are just too cute.

And thus ended our lovely getaway. Not even the continuous rain over the three days could dampen our good time. The pups gave us a nice welcome when we arrived home, and my parents enjoyed the few days exploring our neighborhood and relaxing at our house. It was a great choice, and 3 days was just enough to get a flavor of Cape Cod, especially without the crowds or traffic. Next stop, Portland, Maine. I hope soon!


Angry Pregnant Lawyer said...

Great pics--I am so jealous of your trip.

Running2Ks said...

Welcome back! It is gorgeous. Like APL, too. Ah, the pick-up-and-go, disposable income, couples massaging trip. Sounds divine :)

jo(e) said...

Oh, wow. What gorgeous photos. It all sounds pretty wonderful.

MommaK said...


z said...

Oh those pictures make me so jealous!!! Lovely!

Girl said...

There is nothing that I love more than the beach in the off season. If I could figure out how to capture it and keep it with me forever, I would.

Thank you for sharing.


Beth said...

wow - that looked blissful!! my parents swear by Chatham in the off-season - they go every year. good choice - the trip sounded like a huge success!!

Ninotchka said...

Awesome! You were missed, amigita (or is it: amiguita?). ha ha

Feliz Ano Nuevo! (Sorry I'm missing the "~" over the "n" over there)

KathyR said...

Hey, didn't it rain like mad on your last trip? You better just pack the umbrellas no matter what!

Lovely pictures/stories.

halloweenlover said...

It did rain the WHOLE TIME we were in Vermont in October. Something is up with us, apparently we are sending out bad weather vibes. Grrrr.

Maribeth said...

Yes, Cape Cod is beautiful in the winter. I was born and raised in Falmouth and I loved it there. Unfortunately from April til October it's a zoo down there and no fun to live.
But, (she says with a heavy sigh) it was a great place to grow up.

Suzanne said...

This sounds heavenly. I love Provincetown, too, though I've never been there in the winter. It must be an entirely different experience than the summertime chaos!

liz said...

I spent many, many summers on the Cape as a kidlet. Your pictures capture it beautifully.

I'm glad you had such a lovely weekend!

Jessica said...

Absolutely stunning pictures! I'm so glad you had a great time.

Anne Glamore said...

That is beautiful-- I have never been to that part of the country but would love to go.

Stick with Geisha-- I think you'll end up loving it.

ccw said...

Beautiful pictures! Sounds like a wonderful mini-vacation.

nancy said...

I love Cape Cod...so jealous! Sounds like the most perfect little mini-break ever.

Jill said...

What a lovely getaway! Thanks for sharing your pictures.

Chris said...

Sounds like a great time!