Wednesday, October 21, 2009

From park to P-town

We are at Nickerson State Park, off Cape Cod Bay between Brewster and Orleans (map). We arrived just before noon yesterday; since the place is mostly empty, the lone agent staffing registration took our money and gave us our choice of spaces on this loop. The park closes for the season at the end of the month, and I think this loop, area 4, is the only one still open.

Getting into the space was a bit dicey -- there are plenty of tree branches on this loop that are lower than our roof -- but we found a spot with enough of a gap in the trees to get on-line. The park is heavily wooded, and mostly still green here, where the fall color is still a couple of weeks away. Once we got settled, we had our lunch and pulled the scooters out.

We noticed that there is a public bus that stops right here at the park and would take us all the way to Provincetown, and we briefly thought about doing that instead. But we wanted to see some of the backroads, and make several stops, and besides, it was a gorgeous day for a ride, with the highest temperatures we've seen in a week.

Our ride took us through the quaint town of Orleans, then to the Cape Cod National Seashore Park Service visitor center at Salt Pond, which has a nice museum of cape area artifacts such as scrimshaw, whalebone kitchen tools, cranberry harvesting equipment, and the inner workings of lighthouses. From there we rode along the Atlantic shore to Nauset Light, where we were forced to return inland.

Not knowing how long some of the side roads would take, we opted to zip directly out to P-town on US-6. Just before the "eastern terminus" of that road (which is actually heading southwest before it ends) we stopped at the "Province Lands" area of the National Seashore, riding out to Race Point and then curving around to Herring Cove. This area is full of sand dunes that the Park Service is scrambling to protect. I remember playing on them some 40 years ago on a family vacation here, though this is no longer allowed.

US-6 ends and MA-6A begins at the Wood End dike, and we continued along 6A to about mid-town or so, just east of the Pilgrim Monument (which we opted not to climb), and then looped back west on Commercial Street. What a fun place -- we could easily spend a few days here, except for the fact that there is absolutely no place to put the bus -- the lone commercial campground in P-town is not really walking distance from most of the town.

I was really too young to remember much of the town from my last visit, but I know it was not the gay mecca then that it is now, notwithstanding the Atlantic House being openly gay-friendly since the 50s. We did pass the area where I think our motel was, which brought back pleasant memories, and a jetty I remember climbing on. This was really the first family vacation that I have conscious memories of.

We continued south on 6A through North Truro all the way to its intersection again with US-6, which we followed for less than a mile before turning off to the west onto a series of back roads through Truro and South Truro, then a section of the National Seashore past the Atwood-Higgins House, and eventually landing us in Wellfleet. That left us time for one more loop out to the Atlantic side on Cahoon Hollow Road and south on Ocean View Drive. When we rejoined US-6 north of the Marconi site we were pretty cold and tired and we headed directly back to the park on the main road.

Shortly after we returned our friends came over from nearby Chatham and took us to dinner at the Lobster Claw in Orleans. We had a wonderful evening catching up over lobster dinners and Boston cream pie. All four of us are Red Cross volunteers, and we compared notes on how inactive the season has been; the last time we saw them was on our last deployment, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Today is another clear and pleasant day, and we will pack up shortly to head off the cape. We arrived here via the northern route on 6A, having come through Barnstable, Yarmouth, and Dennis (the detour from 6A down to Hyannis and back Monday night meant we missed the lone low-clearance railroad bridge on the route, in Barnstable), and so we will leave by the southern route, 28. That will loop us around the Falmouth peninsula, past Woods Hole, and off the island over the Bourne Bridge, whereupon we will again pick up US-6 to take us all the way to Rhode Island.

Photo by wayneandwax, used under a Creative Commons license.


  1. Don't know what your travel plans are to Connecticut but they predict the rain to start Friday afternoon, very heavy Saturday and easing off Sunday. I have been following you for a couple of years and would have liked to meet you but I don't expect that to work out.

  2. Sounds like this is a good time of year to visit the cape eh?
    Will you be about over seafood, after this trip?
    Say hi to the Kits and Opal.


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