Posted by: sunnyharvy | October 24, 2017

Cape Cod Escape

Our home is a relatively short drive from Cape Cod, one of America’s premier vacation destinations, but summer traffic spoils the experience. We had been looking for a weather window to visit since Labor Day. When 5 warm, sunny days appeared in the forecast last week, we hurriedly packed up haRVy and took off! Our effort was handsomely rewarded.

Cape Cod is a truly remarkable natural landscape with an ocean on one side, a huge bay on the other, and massive saltwater marshes and freshwater lakes in-between. In all our travels we have never experienced this unique combination anywhere else. However, to find the true Cape gems, one must get off the highway and head down multiple dead-end roads. Most visitors don’t have the time or patience to do so. For us this is a favorite activity!

After provisioning at Trader Joe’s we headed directly to the Salt Pond Visitor Center at the Cape Cod National Seashore to ride the brief but delightful Nauset Marsh Bike Trail.

Expansive Coast Guard Beach is the destination of our first bike ride.

Definitely NO summer crowds here.

Gotta love the sand dunes and beach grass on the Cape.

Nauset Marsh from the Coast Guard headquarters. Atlantic Ocean is in far distance.

Few campgrounds stay open after Labor Day, so we were happy to have a Boondockers Welcome host to stay with in Eastham. Steve and Cathy generously allowed us to stay at this convenient location for three nights.

Once our host informed us that the Cape Cod Rail Trail was just a few blocks away, we planned our next day’s activities. First up was a bike ride to the historic area of Fort Hill where we planned to take a couple short hikes through a Maple Swamp and along the bluffs above Nauset Marsh. Later that afternoon we rode the rail trail south to have ice cream at Sparrows in Orleans.

Captain Edward Penniman House with unique archway at Fort Hill.

Hiking trail at Fort Hill.

View from Skiff Hill of Nauset Marsh. Coast Guard headquarters where yesterday’s photo of the marsh was taken can be seen in upper left corner.

Obviously not many visitors heed this sign.

Windy conditions kept us off our bikes the next day, but the exploration continued. We drove a few miles north to Wellfleet where we enjoyed lunch at the harbor while watching the boats come and go. One of our favorite places on the Cape is the Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, so we stopped there to view the exhibits and for a brief hike through the woods where we were protected from the wind.

Heading slowly back towards Eastham we stopped to view First Encounter Beach, reportedly the location of the first encounter between the Pilgrims and the Native Americans, and Rock Harbor where a few commercial fishing boats still ply the waters.

Skaket Beach, just in time for sunset, as planned.

The bay is very shallow so at low tide you can venture way out on foot.

The next morning we headed further west along Route 6A, the road that is generally considered Cape Cod’s most historic and scenic highway. This portion has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Old King’s Highway Historic District. This area exemplifies the Cape that most tourists hope to visit, but often miss. Traffic was light so we were able to leisurely enjoy the sites in Sesuit Harbor, Dennis, Brewster, and Yarmouth as well as lunch at Barnstable Harbor before reaching our destination at the Beach Boardwalk in Sandwich.

Destroyed in 1991 by Hurricane Bob, the 1,350-foot boardwalk in Sandwich—the oldest town on Cape Cod—was rebuilt with support from locals, whose names and messages are inscribed on the planks leading to a broad sandy beach on Cape Cod Bay. This is no commercial strip. Instead of Ferris wheels and cotton candy, visitors are treated to postcard-worthy views of dunes, marshes, and a creek. (from Travel Magazine’s Top 10 Beach Boardwalk article)

We did not find any “No Overnight Parking” signs, so we settled in at this extremely scenic location.

Sunrise on my morning walk.

For our final full day on the Cape we decided to bike the Shining Sea Bikeway before visiting with our friends Candy and Rae at their home in East Falmouth. It was great to see them again and nice of them to let us camp out in their driveway. Our timing was perfect as high winds and rain are in this week’s forecast. Glad we were able to take advantage of the wonderful weather.

Can’t get much more “Cape Cod-ish” than an Autumn cranberry harvest. This was taking place right next to the bike path at the Bourne Farm in Falmouth.

 

 

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Responses

  1. GReat fun and capturing for us all. Thanks Leslie! I was in Cape Cod when I was young. So wonderful to have the beauty, nice weather and not the crowds. Yippee!!!


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