The Academy of the Woodebago proudly graduated its first (and only) class on June 17th, celebrating with sundaes at a local Friendly’s. Still on Cape Cod, we are now spending our days hanging around our parent’s and grandparent’s house and garden, cooking and eating, playing Scrabble, Monopoly, and Minecraft, doing home repairs, going to the beach and a neighbor’s pool, watching America’s Funniest Home Videos, and playing with Sheba and her cousin, Chief, the largest golden retriever in all the land. This leg of the trip is the most comfortable, a long stretch of time to relax and get our bearings with our road worries mostly behind us. We don’t have to plan a place to stay each night, hoping for electricity and clean water, or wonder if the awning or a window will leak in a storm.
We get to see a lot of family, and are lucky to be here in time to celebrate a beautiful wedding with dozens of cousins (some of us dance, others won’t even pose for pictures).
We also take a lot of short trips. We visit Woods Hole, where the oceanographic institute and research centers sit along the water next to wharf restaurants, pubs, and coffee shops. It’s a grey, stormy day, which seems to fit with the dark whale sculptures and old boat replicas.
We drive out to Western Massachusetts to camp with a group of friends in the Berkshires and then to visit another friend from college in nearby Holyoke, MA. And we drive up to the tip of the Cape, stopping in Wellfleet to see a dear friend and visit her coy pond. Seeing friends and family, many that we haven’t seen in years, feels warm and wonderful and is one of the best parts of BigTrip.
After Wellfleet we pass through Truro and then arrive in Provincetown, where we visit the funky, quirky downtown to get some ice cream and do some people watching and then head to the Cape Cod National Seashore.
Depending on where you are on Cape Cod, a 60-mile peninsula that’s shape is often compared to a flexed arm, you might be standing on a beach facing the coast of mainland Massachusetts or facing south toward the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket or, as we are here at the national seashore, facing east to the vast Atlantic. Squinting, we pretend to see Great Britain, which just made history by voting to leave the European Union. So, Britain left the UK, Elian asks. No, that’s the United Kingdom; Britain left the EU, the European Union. And so begins a flurry of confused statements and poorly answered questions about Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Great Britain as a place that includes some but not all of these places but is in the kingdom but not the union. We think. BigTrip 2 may have to go East to get some European geography and history under our belts.
Back on the beach, the ocean is calm. Seals swim by, which is cute but foreboding. We’ve seen reports of at least one great white shark in the area. So we stay on the shoreline, enjoying views of the water and of the grassy dunes that frame a lighthouse in the distance.
Friends visit and we take the hour ferry over to Martha’s Vineyard, arriving in Oaks Bluff to walk among the candy, toy, and clothing shops, view the charming Victorian homes surrounding the green, and eat a lunch of lobster rolls and fish and chips. We take the shuttle to Edgartown and stroll along the residential streets of grey clapboard houses with grand porches and groomed yards filled with roses, day lilies, and soon-to-bloom hydrangeas. We visit an art gallery where a local artist is displaying her seaweed-based prints of mermaids, lobsters, and other sealife. Another shuttle drive along the island shore and we are back in line to board the Island Queen and head back to the mainland.
We also head into Boston for the day. We drive along the Charles River from Boston College past Harvard, MIT, Boston University and all the other sites that take us around to the aquarium. The oldest one in the nation, Boston’s aquarium starts with seals and penguins at the bottom and tops with the Pacific octopus on the 4th floor. In the center is the main tank with the most impressive sea turtles, who seem to wave and glance our way as they swim by as though they know they are the highlight. Dinner and pastries in Boston’s Italian North End bring a delicious end to the day.
This weekend we continue north through New Hampshire and on to Maine, where we will see another set of friends and visit another set of grandparents for our very last leg of this incredible year.