Goodbye, Cape Cod, Till Next Time: A Happy Place Story

Part One

Man oh man, time has been in overdrive from my perspective over the last 19 days, all of which I’ve spent on Cape Cod. That’s what happens when you’re having fun. And when your days are filled in a fascinating yet relaxing sort of way. Cape Cod, my home away from home, I’ll miss you badly when my wife Sandy and I are back in our permanent residence in the Philadelphia burbs. Ah, tears are already welling up in my eyes. Where’s the f*cking box of Kleenex?

I’m typing these words on the 21st of October, one day before we hit the road and bid a heartfelt adieu to The Cape. We have every intention of returning next year, and hopefully the cards will play out that way. After all, we’re Cape Cod addicts. Since 1998 we’ve vacationed here almost annually. Cape Cod has become a major part of our story.

It was a no-brainer, then, that I’d pen a second essay about our 2019 Cape Cod sojourn (click here if you’d like to read the first). But when I told Sandy what this piece would be about, she perceptively commented that I’d touched upon that theme any number of times before in this publication. Her implication was: Did I really need to go down that path again? Well, hell yes. I’m used to repeating myself. I mean, there are only so many directions in which my mind turns, and the number of them ain’t all that high. I’d have to start dosing myself with LSD and/or mescaline regularly to expand my way of seeing things. And although doing so is a tempting idea, I’m pretty sure that such behavior is not recommended by the American Medical Association for one whose brain is in the eighth decade of its existence.

Question: So, what’s the theme, Neil?

Answer: On Cape Cod I’m as happy, content and at ease as I could ever hope to be. Cape Cod is my happy place. (Am I really heading home on the 22nd? Where’s the f*cking box of Kleenex?)

Now, in the Philadelphia region I’m decently happy, content and at ease. But its high degree of vehicular congestion is a bold reality that jars my delicate constitution. Which is why I now and then need to decompress significantly. I do that, primarily, on Cape Cod, where my blood pressure heads south thanks to The Cape’s natural beauty, innate mellowness and relatively low ranking on the vehicular overpopulation chart.

What’s more, Cape Cod boasts more than enough museums, art galleries, cinemas, music venues and restaurants to satisfy this ol’ boy’s cravings. Sandy and I probably would move to Cape Cod if it were anywhere near as studded with medical facilities and physicians as is greater Philadelphia. But it isn’t. Not by a longshot. Shit.

Part Two

Cut to the 23rd day of October. Indeed, we have returned to our abode in the Philly suburbs. And I’ve taken up position at my trusty keyboard to bring this essay to its conclusion. Let’s return to the 21st, a day during which Sandy and I let nature embrace us, something that is part of our agenda regularly on Cape Cod.

More than anything, it’s nature that makes Cape Cod my happy place. I never can get enough of the woodlands, marshes, ponds, ocean and bay waters, and sands. On the 21st we encountered a majority of the aforementioned.

Baker’s Pond

I’d never given ponds a second thought until I became an honorary Cape Codder. Now I love ’em. But somehow we hadn’t bathed in any pond’s elegance during this most recent trip before the final day. Off we went to Baker’s Pond, about three miles from our rented house in the town of Orleans. I believe we’d been there once before, years ago, but I’m not sure. Doesn’t matter. What does matter is that Baker’s Pond, surrounded by quiet woods, is beautiful.

Baker’s Pond

It was a clear, autumnal early afternoon. Trees and other flora were in the midst of switching their colors. As I knew would happen, I could feel my blood pressure, already nicely low, drop a few more points. We gazed at Baker’s Pond from several vantage points as we moseyed along trails that brought us to about 10 feet from its edges. The water’s surface danced slowly, courtesy of a light wind. Ponds, in settings such as this, seem perfect to me. They appear to be in a state of calm fulfillment. They want for nothing more.

Nauset Light Beach
Nauset Light Beach

I, however, did want something more. And I got it later that afternoon at both Nauset Light Beach and at Nauset Beach, both of which are part of the lengthy Atlantic Ocean coastline on Cape Cod’s eastern side. If I had to pick the one aspect of Cape Cod that pleases me above all others, it would be this coastline. Being a government–protected area, it contains no boardwalks, no vendors. And, in autumn, not all that many people. The layout is basic and, to my mind, stark: ocean waters, beach sands, sand cliffs that back the beach along much of its length, and open skies. The coastline’s purity and vastness never fail to capture me. When I’m there, and if almost nobody else is around, I often feel as though I’m on another planet.

Nauset Beach

Sandy watched the ocean from the Nauset Light Beach parking lot, not joining me on the beach itself because of high winds. But two hours later, at Nauset Beach, which is about four miles south of Nauset Light Beach, she trod the sands with me, putting up with the winds because she knew that this was her final chance to be at the ocean during the trip. We looked for a stick on the beach, and found one. With it I wrote our names and the date in the sand. We’ve been doing this for a number of years at the ends of Cape Cod vacations. Taking a photo of the inscriptions was a requirement, needless to say. The picture would remind us of the good times we’d had once again on Cape Cod. Cape Cod, of course, is not solely my happy place. It’s Sandy’s too.

(Please don’t be shy about adding your comments or about sharing this article. Thanks very much.)

(If you click on any photo, a larger image will open in a separate window.)

99 thoughts on “Goodbye, Cape Cod, Till Next Time: A Happy Place Story

  1. Des October 28, 2019 / 1:01 am

    Great idea writing your names in the sand, Neil. Do you have any of these shots framed on the wall of your Philadelphia residence? Glad you two had such a nice time. Des

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lynette d'Arty-Cross October 28, 2019 / 1:58 am

    I love those places that claim us. It’s as if they own us somehow. It’s so beautiful and your photos are beautiful. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  3. cath October 28, 2019 / 6:27 am

    Another lovely post, Neil. Baker’s Pond looks beautiful. Can we have too much of happy places? I don’t think so.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. tylerus October 28, 2019 / 6:54 am

    Beautiful photos (which goes without saying). I envy you. Count your blessings, my friend, count your blessings. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. joyce hamilton October 28, 2019 / 8:06 am

    I also love the Cape. Thanks for bringing me great memories!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Laurie Graves October 28, 2019 / 9:06 am

    What a beautiful place! No wonder you love it so much. Writing your names in the sand is a lovely way to say farewell. Until next year!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. vprofy October 28, 2019 / 9:10 am

    We go in August. Orleans also. We should try a fall trip.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. lexklein October 28, 2019 / 9:19 am

    I used to want to move permanently to my happy place(s), but then I realized that part of what makes them special is the limited time I get there. Anticipation for the next time will get you through!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. annieasksyou October 28, 2019 / 9:28 am

    A beautifully rendered tribute to your happy place, which I noted in response to Part 1 that I share and understand fully based on experience.

    I love the metaphor of noting your presence in the evanescent sand and then capturing in a photograph; that is, after all, the way we experience the pleasures in life—sometimes relying on memory when the camera isn’t available.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Ally Bean October 28, 2019 / 9:51 am

    So nice to find somewhere where you feel at home even if it isn’t your home per se. I like the photos. Seeing a beach that isn’t disturbed by humanity is refreshing. I do hope that you’re adjusting to your suburban realities today with as much patience as you can muster.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 28, 2019 / 5:06 pm

      My region (greater Philadelphia) is so overdeveloped. it’s pretty annoying to me. Too many people. Too many cars. Oy!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Jacqui Murray October 28, 2019 / 11:22 am

    Well if you covered this theme before, I (as a new reader to your blog) missed it. Let Sandy know I’m glad you again covered this. You do make Cape Cod sound idyllic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 28, 2019 / 5:08 pm

      Oh, I’ve got a whole bunch of essays about Cape Cod sitting in the archives.

      Thanks for stopping by, Jacqui. Much appreciated.

      Like

  12. dfolstad58 October 28, 2019 / 12:02 pm

    I liked your passion for cape cod, obviously it is close to your heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Cape Cod Gal October 28, 2019 / 12:33 pm

    To your concern re medical facilities on the Cape, to the contrary, we have wonderful doctors and hospitals! We live here year-round, are in our 60’s, and our doctors are all young with incredible
    medical degrees. Plus we are only one hour from Boston where you have the Number 3 hospital in the country, Mass General, and a host of other well-respected facilities. Fear not! This is akin
    to living on another planet (in the most beautiful way).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 28, 2019 / 5:13 pm

      Hi. Thanks for adding your thoughts.

      I suppose you live near Hyannis, or maybe Falmouth. But much of the rest of Cape Cod is low on doctors.
      At home, there are seven or more hospitals within ten miles of me, and hundreds of doctors. It’s important to me to have that kind of medical environment at hand.

      Like

  14. Catwoods October 28, 2019 / 12:52 pm

    Lovely essay and pictures! It captured the sadness and beauty of changes we must make when winter is on the way.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. janetsm October 28, 2019 / 4:13 pm

    Thank you for the virtual trip to Cape Cod. I love a quiet beach, too. In my mind, I can still hear the waves crashing on the coast of South Carolina last week. Now comes winter. I’m never ready.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 28, 2019 / 5:15 pm

      Like I said to another person who commented: Don’t mention winter!

      Hi Janet, and thanks for stopping by.

      Like

  16. Helen Devries October 28, 2019 / 5:53 pm

    It looks just lovely…no wonder it is your special place. The way you write about it makes that plain.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 28, 2019 / 7:47 pm

      Hi Helen. Cape Cod is a big contrast, nature-wise, compared to where I spend most of my time (suburban Philadelphia).

      Liked by 1 person

  17. sniderjerry October 28, 2019 / 7:20 pm

    I’m hearing Pat Boone singing “Love Letters In The Sand. Turn up the volume, please. Jerry

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Robert Parker October 28, 2019 / 10:23 pm

    Neil you’ve done a great job persuading me this is a great place. It looks wonderful. Maybe people appreciate places more when they’re not there all the time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 28, 2019 / 11:21 pm

      Maybe in many cases, but not in all. For example I’ve lived in or near Philly all my adult life, and have never tired of it.

      Take care, Robert. Enjoy the week!

      Liked by 1 person

  19. carolinehelbig October 28, 2019 / 10:23 pm

    I can feel your passion for Cape Cod Neil. It comes across beautifully in your writing. Nauset Beach sounds amazing and a bit like one of my happy places: Pacific Rim National Park on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. George October 29, 2019 / 4:49 am

    Miles of windswept lonely beach and wooded ponds resplendent in autumnal colour. I can see why it’s your happy place.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 29, 2019 / 2:06 pm

      The bad parts are the drives to and from our rented house on Cape Cod. 360 miles each way. The route involves heavily trafficked highways, and can be maddening.

      Liked by 1 person

      • George October 29, 2019 / 2:13 pm

        Sounds as if you need another holiday in Cape Cod to get over the journey home!

        Liked by 1 person

  21. Paddy Tobin October 29, 2019 / 5:10 am

    Time away, a disconnect, is very valuable and I’m glad to read you had such a good time.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Anabel @ The Glasgow Gallivanter October 29, 2019 / 7:39 am

    Lovely post! Your love for the place shines through. When we visited Cape Cod all those years ago it was out of season too, but the other end of the year, early spring. I’m not sure I’d like it so much in high summer.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. tanjabrittonwriter October 29, 2019 / 8:29 am

    Hi Neil,
    To find one’s happy place, and to return to it time and again, is not a foregone conclusion. I am glad that it’s reality for Sandy and you, and I hope that you can mind-travel there on demand, even when you are physically in the city.
    Best,
    Tanja

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Pam Lazos October 29, 2019 / 8:38 am

    Hope you tucked some of that bliss away for use on a freezing rain/wintry mix day in Philadelphia, Neil.🤪

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 29, 2019 / 2:13 pm

      You’re not kidding. My wife and I never expected to fall for a place in such a big way. We’re glad that it happened.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. eden baylee October 29, 2019 / 4:11 pm

    Makes me want to go back, it’s been much too long since I was in Cape Cod. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 29, 2019 / 5:12 pm

      Hey there, Eden. CC is a good combination of nature, the arts, restaurants. Hard to beat that mixture. See you!

      Like

  26. JT Twissel October 29, 2019 / 6:01 pm

    Sounds like it has a bit of everything. Forests, ponds, the seashore – what’s not to like. I’m glad you have such wonderful memories and that your mate feels the same way. My husband and I differ greatly about happy places. His would be a soccer stadium. I’m definitely a redwoods kind of gal.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Joe October 30, 2019 / 4:55 am

    Autumn on Cape Cod looks like a dream. You seemed to have it all to yourselves. Just you, Sandy, and Mother Nature.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Alyson October 30, 2019 / 12:48 pm

    Happy days for the two of you it seems – Long may it continue.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. alhenry October 30, 2019 / 5:44 pm

    “On Cape Cod I’m as happy, content and at ease as I could ever hope to be. Cape Cod is my happy place… Now, in the Philadelphia region I’m decently happy, content and at ease. But its high degree of vehicular congestion is a bold reality that jars my delicate constitution. Which is why I now and then need to decompress significantly.”

    I SOOOO get this, Neil. This is how I feel about London, a place I’ve visited every 1-2 years since I spent a semester there as a “young thang” studying Shakespeare and contemporary British theatre in 1976. Everyone should have a “home of their heart,” a place they go to regain their energy, their hope, as you said to “decompress.” Glad you had a great vacation. Sorry it couldn’t have been longer. The good news is every day is closer to the day you return.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. andrewcferguson October 31, 2019 / 6:17 pm

    Great post, Neil! I’m with you on the need for nature – if too much asphalt gets in the way for too long, I get twitchy!

    Liked by 1 person

  31. K E Garland October 31, 2019 / 6:20 pm

    Aww you forgot the heart that goes around it ❤ And, are you really in your eighth decade???

    Liked by 1 person

  32. johnlmalone October 31, 2019 / 6:54 pm

    I understand the importance of medical facilities when you hit your senior years which is why I live where I do, in a quiet suburb not far from the city. But my close friend lives on the South Coast one hours drive way and I spend three or more days a week there. Happiness is where the heart is 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  33. cincinnatibabyhead November 1, 2019 / 3:34 pm

    Second paragraph of Part 2 sums it up for me. I get the idea of the space and not a lot of people thing. I live in a similar setting and I never take it for granted. I hopped on the boat for the mainland, Caught a play (a fiend of mines son did a solo show. Fantastic), lunch and dinner in the big smoke. Had great time. I was a social creature for a couple days. But I’m back to where I feel the most comfortable. Real good stuff Neil. You and i probably have lots of differences but our common ground is strong. Later fella and thanks for the reminder on the good stuff. Pass me a Kleenex would ya.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. America On Coffee November 1, 2019 / 4:17 pm

    Beautiful photos! You should write a book about Cape Cod, especially having 20 years of sojourning experience! Nature is such a bliss and it is one of God’s loving gifts. I truly am thankful when I hike, camp and travel to beautiful places. I have never been to Cape Cod but it looks and sounds heavenly.❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  35. viewfromoverthehill November 3, 2019 / 12:41 am

    Wish I had as many dollars as you have comments! Okay, you can chuckle, but it still IS a lot.
    I’ve never been to Cape Cod. Sounds lovely. Wish I had. Keep going for sure and enjoy all you can. Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger November 3, 2019 / 6:43 am

      Morning, Muriel. Has brisk autumn weather arrived in your part of Canada? It has where I live. The trees are changing color here. A good time of year. Have an excellent week. Be seeing you.

      Like

  36. Pazlo November 4, 2019 / 10:24 am

    My Cape story is personal and bittersweet.
    My wife lived in South Yarmouth before I met her.
    Two of my kids are “Capies”, born in Barnstable County.
    When first we married, her parents still lived there, and I was as captivated by its unique beauty as you are. This lasted only a couple years, and my wife and her mother came here, to upstate New York, along the banks of the Mighty Mohawk river.
    Having “escaped” the Cape, my wife is not drawn to its singular grandeur. (“It’s just sand and pine trees, and more sand and pine trees.”)
    Alas, I still have an eastern Massachusetts destination, as I am fortunate that my nephew (my wife’s sister’s boy) lives in Plymouth, just a few miles from the famous rock.
    Luckily, he has two kids that need their great-uncle to attend baptisms and birthdays!

    Seek peace (and the solitude of a beach to yourself),

    Paz

    Liked by 1 person

  37. jeanleesworld November 10, 2019 / 7:26 am

    I love your sand-writing tradition. That’s a sweet way to mark your time in a place of beauty and peace. 🙂 I miss fall. Wisconsin keeps getting short-changed with an over-bearing summer (“I don’t wanna go!”) and an impatient winter (“HERE COMES THE SNOW!”) So many trees didn’t even have a chance to turn before snow came in October. Sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

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