Will We Stay Or Will We Go? (A Cape Cod Story)

I’ve written an awful lot of pieces that revolve around Cape Cod, the narrow 65-mile-long stretch of land, and its surrounding waters, in southeastern Massachusetts. Which is fitting. This publication, after all, is a personal narrative more than anything else, and Cape Cod has played a major part in my life for years.

A small section of the enormous dunes in Provincetown, Cape Cod

In 1998 my wife Sandy and I vacationed on the Cape for five or six days, not knowing what to expect. We had researched Cape Cod, of course, and determined that it seemed to be a place that we’d relate to nicely, but the proof would be in the pudding. Well, we had a grand time, and decided that we would return the following year to soak up more of the Cape’s vibes.

Baker’s Pond (Orleans, Cape Cod)

The trip in 1999 sealed the deal. We were, and remain, smitten. For us, much of what Cape Cod has to offer (beautiful sands, waters, marshlands and forests; sweet villages; good eateries, museums, art galleries, music venues, cinemas, theater companies and more) comprise a damn near perfect package. We’ve returned again and again, usually for one vacation annually. We’ve been there in every season but summer, which is when Cape Cod is jammed with vacationers and visitors. F*ck jammed! We’ll stick with autumn, which has been our preference for the last ten or so years. In autumn, jammed doesn’t come into play.

Wellfleet village (Wellfleet, Cape Cod)

As the years went on, the lengths of our visits increased. In total we’ve spent somewhere in the vicinity of nine months on the Cape, a healthy chunk of our life together. Sandy and I think of Cape Cod as our second home. And, overall, we like Cape Cod more than we do our permanent home, which is the Philadelphia suburbs. We’ve thought of moving to our seaside paradise, but nixed the idea for two reasons. First, health care availability is limited on Cape Cod, but bountiful in the Philly region. When it comes to health care, we are fans of bountiful. Second, we don’t know anyone on Cape Cod. We ain’t spring chickens, and trying to create a good social life there would be a bigger challenge than we’re up to.

Marshland (Orleans, Cape Cod)

Friends, Romans and countrymen, it now has taken me about 400 words to get to the reason I am composing this opus. Here it is at last: Though Sandy and I are undecided as to whether we will visit our favorite place in 2020, it’s doubtful we will.

Hot Chocolate Sparrow café (Orleans, Cape Cod)

Why? Because of the pandemic. On Cape Cod we spend an average of eight hours daily away from our cozy rented house, immersing ourselves in various combinations of the environments and venues that I listed a few paragraphs ago. Yes, this fall we’d be able safely to stroll on beaches and pick our way though forests and around marshlands. Not too many people show up in those locales in autumn, and it would be easy to keep our distance from those that do. But it would be risky to enter restaurants, cinemas and all the other indoor places that help to make Cape Cod special for us (and many might be closed anyway, for pandemic reasons, by government mandate). Too much possibility of coming in contact with coronavirus microbes.

Rock Harbor, at Cape Cod Bay (Orleans, Cape Cod)

What it boils down to is this: With greatly limited options on Cape Cod I’d end up spending way more of my waking hours than usual in the rented house. There I’d watch the tube, work on sudoku and crossword puzzles, scratch my balls, and twirl the five strands of hair that remain on the crown of my head. Shit, that’s what I do at home. I don’t need to travel 360 miles to duplicate those activities somewhere else. Even if that somewhere else is the Cape. For similar reasons, Sandy is leaning towards staying home too.

Our kite in action at the Atlantic Ocean (Cahoon Hollow Beach, Wellfleet, Cape Cod)

Oh well. C’est la frigging vie. Maybe we’ll end up on Cape Cod anyway. You never know. For now, I’ll picture myself on the Cape’s sand-cliff-backed Atlantic Ocean coastline. Nobody besides Sandy is in view. I’m scanning the skies, the sands and the cliffs, letting their essences flow into me, and also gazing at the ocean, a powerful, mesmerizing beast. I’ve done exactly that, in reality, many dozens of times. It’s as close to experiencing pure bliss as I’ve ever come.

Chatham Orpheum Theater (Chatham, Cape Cod)

And I’ll imagine the kicks that Sandy and I get from flying our kite at the ocean or at Cape Cod Bay. And the quiet awe that fills us when watching sunsets. And the fun we have while wandering the cozy, quirky streets of Provincetown village. And the thrills that climbing up and down the enormous, otherworldly dunes on Cape Cod’s far end gives to me.

Provincetown village (Provincetown, Cape Cod)

Man, I could go on and on about activities such as these. But that’s enough. I will say this though: Until 1998 (the year in which I turned 51) rolled around, it never had occurred to me that there might be a somewhere with which I’d bond profoundly. I’m a fortunate son of a gun that it happened.

(Please don’t be shy about adding your comments or about sharing this piece. Gracias. All of the photos are from recent years.)

149 thoughts on “Will We Stay Or Will We Go? (A Cape Cod Story)

  1. carolinehelbig August 10, 2020 / 12:36 pm

    I’m glad you and Sandy have found your happy place and have enjoyed it for so long. So difficult to know what to do these days even when it comes to domestic travel.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger August 10, 2020 / 2:24 pm

      With luck, and with good scientists at work on a vaccine, next year probably will be better than 2020. Hi, and many thanks for adding your thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. cath August 10, 2020 / 1:00 pm

    I’ll miss having new pictures of your trip to admire, but your reasoning makes a lot of sense, both on the permanent and temporary trips to Cape Cod. Thanks for sharing some more of your memories though. I do like armchair travelling, and your commentary is always entertaining. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger August 10, 2020 / 3:42 pm

      Yeah, it will be disappointing not to go to CC this year. But it’s nothing compared to what many others are going through because of coronavirus.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Zambian Lady August 12, 2020 / 12:24 am

    2020 has really put a halt on people’s plans. Here’s to hoping you stay safe and find something that will interest you this fall in lieu of Cape Cod.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. artdoesmatter August 12, 2020 / 12:39 pm

    Neil – I can completely relate to this. Your photos and essy here are actually quite moving – I can feel exactly what you and Sandy are going through. In my case – I finally get a show in a drivable distance from home, and I can’t travel there (Virginia) safely, because of the pandemic. It’s affecting so many of us, and that feeling of better times lie ahead in 2021 is VERY apropos!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Michele Anderson August 12, 2020 / 8:54 pm

    It sounds like a cool place. We have places like that on the west coast too, and like you are not sure we should go for a visit because of this virus. Even a fun day trip to the beach seems dangerous. Maybe it’s silly to think this way, but everything has changed.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger August 13, 2020 / 7:42 am

      It’s probably safe to go to a beach area where there are very few people. There’s too much risk at crowded beaches, though. Hi, Michele. Thanks for visiting my little corner of cyberspace.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mitchteemley August 13, 2020 / 11:04 pm

        Yes. Had a very special vacation in New England many years ago. Fond memories of Cape Cod.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. johnlmalone August 13, 2020 / 9:15 pm

    a lovely homage to Cape Cod, Neil, your Shangri-la 🙂 Stay away from those microbes 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Crystal Byers August 14, 2020 / 4:09 pm

    It’s crazy to think my profound bonding experience is yet to come. I love that thought!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger August 14, 2020 / 5:32 pm

      I was completely taken by surprise when it happened. Hi, Crystal. Thanks a lot for stopping by. Enjoy the weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. America On Coffee August 15, 2020 / 1:10 am

    Very smart of you to vacation at Cape Cod away from the Summer season. Move there no… but an off season vacation would support the isolation. Have a relaxing safe weekend!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger August 15, 2020 / 7:29 am

      Hi. Yes, spring and autumn are the best times to go there, from my way of thinking. There’s less traffic and fewer people!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. myowncalcuttablog.com August 16, 2020 / 9:05 am

    Flying a kite at the beach sounds so wonderful! I can’t imagine how much you must miss it, Neil!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger August 16, 2020 / 11:18 am

      Yeah, we bought a kite on CC about five years ago. Hadn’t flown one in decades and decades. It’s fun, for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

      • myowncalcuttablog.com August 27, 2020 / 9:29 pm

        I bought a kite that is a Monarch butterfly and hope to fly it this summer. I’ve raised twenty Monarch butterflies so far this summer so the kite is fitting.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Arlene Blackman Yolles August 16, 2020 / 4:19 pm

    I hear you! For the last 15 years, my husband and I spent the month of July on Fire Island in the town of Fair Harbor. My happy place! We canceled as soon as we realized it would not be feasible to have the wonderful social vacation it always provided. Similarly, we have a time share in Sarasota, FL, in Jan. which we are going to cancel. Florida … one of the worst states in this Covid mess! So, we all hope we can resume our lives and enjoy ourselves once more.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger August 16, 2020 / 5:18 pm

      Hi. Many thanks for adding your thoughts. This pandemic has cost many people their lives, and upended the lives of countless others. Hard to believe that it’s happened.


  11. Léa August 19, 2020 / 8:24 am

    I’m so glad that you found your “place”. I can relate as I spent what seemed a lifetime with only some hope and a belief in the direction I was supposed to go.

    At about the same point in my life, some circumstances shifted so I sold up and moved to the Mediterranean, a bit of a distance from California. I loved it before the plane landed as I knew I would and nearly 13 years later, I love it more.

    Bonne santé et bonne chance

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger August 19, 2020 / 9:38 am

      Bonjour! And many thanks for adding your thoughts. I appreciate it a lot. One of these days I hope to see the Mediterranean again. Haven’t been there in decades.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Léa August 19, 2020 / 9:44 am

        I’m about 15 minutes from the beach and an hour from Spain. Life doesn’t get any better than this and nothing could make me want to leave.

        Liked by 2 people

  12. rivertoprambles August 24, 2020 / 6:47 pm

    Interesting read, Neil. I’ve been looking forward to a first Cape Cod visit, and may finally get a chance this October. Looks like a great place to fly the kite of dreams.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. grimspound August 26, 2020 / 4:31 pm

    Great photos, Neil. Dan and I have not been able to get to our cottage in Canada for the summer, as we usually do. Covid has closed the border. But I immerse myself, as you do, in imagining myself there. It helps a bit. At least until we can get back, hopefully next year.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. jeanleesworld September 4, 2020 / 7:36 am

    Sigh. I know what you mean about traveling out and about. What to do when so much is limited? It’s moments like that where staying home takes a lot of the stress out of choosing.

    I will say that one thing I hope hope HOPE to do one of these years is visit Door County in Wisconsin during autumn. It’s such a lovely area of forests and coastline that I can only imagine the autumn colors that will paint it in a month.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 4, 2020 / 9:41 am

      Hi. You know, I’m pretty sure that another reader mentioned Door County in their comments. I should put it on my to-be-visited list!

      Liked by 1 person

      • jeanleesworld September 4, 2020 / 4:05 pm

        It’s a beautiful area, but it, too, is PACKED in summertime. Fall can be wonderful, though, as can winter (though the roads are a bit more treacherous then).

        Liked by 1 person

  15. dweezer19 September 4, 2020 / 1:18 pm

    So empathize. We felt that way about Costa Rica and I knew when we had to return to the states 6 yrs ago for family and other reasons they we would likely not return. Something has always blocked us, even for short trips. Their first hurricane in 100 years. Trip cancelled. Turrialba volcano spews ash over San Jose airport. Trip cancelled. We tried big city life, near one of our sons, ate, drank and were merry for as long as our body and souls could handle the chaos. Georgia has lovely hiking trails and parks as well. There were just always so many….people. I like people but I don’t like always being around people. Perhaps a by product of my life’s work of always being around them. So we came back to what we felt was the second best option to our beloved tropical Pura Vida. Florida. Well, Florida isn’t the same as it was even 6 years ago, and with the pandemic it has become the Mecca for rebellion against safe practices. Hell, it’s the Mardi Gras of Coronavirus. Trust me on this, I am a native of Louisiana who gave up the revelry when it became clear people were coming so that they could be as awful as they dared and then leave without a trace. I have an aunt and uncle who are Cape Cod refugees and have always done so since her parents are from the area. I doubt they will ever stop going. It seems like a beautiful refuge. Good luck with your decision. Beautiful images.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 4, 2020 / 3:16 pm

      Hi there. Yeah, finding our way in this world can be challenging, pandemic or no pandemic. As for Florida (and elsewhere), I can’t understand why so many people display the opposite of common sense in the face of this virus. It speaks badly about the character of the USA.


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