Carolina: Cruising Past 70: Exploring Massachusetts' Coastline in Spring! OLA

Monday, June 18, 2012

Exploring Massachusetts' Coastline in Spring! OLA

a blue and yellow gingerbread cottage in Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard
nice  Cape Cod welcome!
It should be fall! But we have to be in Nova Scotia in July so we are here at springtime instead. And the long coastline, cute lighthouses, fresh seafood and a multitude of pretty flowers are so refreshing in these parts of Massachusetts we had not yet explored. Bill and I have each been to Boston several times but not Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and New Bedford! The Gateway to Cape Cod in Rochester, Massachusetts where we were camped made all within our easy reach!

The Bared and Bended Arm of the Sea
Plymouth Rock, marked 1620 when the Pilgrims came
Cape Cod

Heralded as The Bared and Bended Arm in the Sea, Cape Cod was formed as the recessional moraine of a glacier, resulting in a peninsula in the Atlantic Ocean. But in 1914, the Cape Cod Canal was cut through the base, forming what may be loosely termed an island. Unofficially, it is one of the biggest barrier islands in the world, shielding much of Massachusetts, including Boston, from North Atlantic storm waves but also suffering erosion of its cliffs, at the same time.
Mayflower II, the ship that carried the Pilgrims to our shores
the John F. Kennedy Memorial in Hyannis
At its shoulder is Plymouth where the Plymouth Rock and a replica of Mayflower II are well-known tourist attractions. The Monument to our Forefathers, on the other hand, is a hidden gem!  In the middle of the upper arm is Hyannis where the Kennedys maintained a compound, now donated for government research, though still closed to the public. The city also has an elegant JFK Memorial and a simple JFK Museum surrounded by Rose Kennedy’s roses.   Harwich, Chatham, and Brewster counties form its elbow. There, at the Stony Brook Grist Mill, we saw a herring run.
where the herring ran, beside the grist mill at Stony Brook
remnants of the Marconi's site for the US station
in the first transatlantic wireless transmission to the UK
The Cape Cod National Seashore is its lower arm. Near the Salt Pond Visitor Center are Captain Penniman’s House and the oldest windmill in the US. Near its wrist, at Wellfleet, there is only a mile of land between the gulf and the ocean. Marconi chose the site for the first transatlantic wireless transmission because it had an undisturbed line of sight to Cornwall in the UK.  Along the beach is also where I savored my first bowl of New England clam chowder! Finally, Provincetown, where the Pilgrims first landed before proceeding to Plymouth, makes its fist. A Pilgrim’s Monument and four small lighthouses are highlights of the area, beautifully dotted by flowers that thrive even on its sandy soil.
getting some rest from the sun at a seafood place on the beach at the Cod
Martha’s Vineyard
Steamship Authority ferry to Martha's Vineyard
One sunny day we took the one hour drive to Woods Hole at the Cod’s armpit and rode the 45-minute Steamship Authority ferry to the island called Martha’s Vineyard. The captain who discovered it named it after his daughter Martha and the wild grapes he found growing there. With a land area of almost 90 sq. mi., it is the largest island not connected to mainland US by a bridge or tunnel. The year-round population is about 15,000, swelling to over 75,000 in summer. A study found that cost of living on the summer colony is 60% higher than the national average; housing prices are double.
Tabernacle in the middle of the Camp of gingerbread cottages
 Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard
Ricky and Megan with us at Coop de Ville harbor resto
We docked at Oak Bluffs and immediately proceeded to the well-known pretty gingerbread cottages which surround the Camp whose center is the giant Tabernacle. There were all kinds of pastel colors and designs but I favored those that had yellow, of course. A real estate listing showed that one such small cottage is available for upwards of $350,000! At the Harbor’s Coup de Ville restaurant, not only was my second bowl of New England clam chowder waiting for me but also Ricky and Megan, a lively newly-wed couple of three days! We had a blast!
the island of Chappaquiddick with its ferries
found my spot of yellow daisies
at the end of North St. in Edgartown.
Then we took a 15-minute bus to Edgartown to which the small island of Chappaquiddick (where former Sen. Edward Kennedy’s car accidentally went into the water and his young female companion drowned) is connected by a small ferry.  But the best part of this town is walking along North Street which runs parallel to its coast. It is lined on both sides by beautiful homes, one side enjoying the waterfront at their backyards. But all the front yards are adorned by pretty spring flowers and verdant greens. I found my spot at the far end on a field of yellow daisies with a small lighthouse at the background!
a North St., Edgartown home...with yellow flowers!
New Bedford Whaling Museum
New Bedford

New Bedford was once the richest city in the world; it was the center of the great whaling industry and now its Whaling Museum is the largest in the world. Beside it is the the Mariner’s Home next to the Seamen’s Bethel (or church. At its Harbor, the old Schooner Ernestina is still docked as another reminder of the whaling days. There is also a memorial to those who lost their lives at sea and a Fisherman’s Memorial fronts the fishing boats. Downtown there is a Whalers’ Memorial which reads, ‘a dead whale or a stove boat’ beside the statue of Lewis Temple who invented the harpoon tip.  But the affluent times are best memorialized in the large mansions and lush gardens around town.
Downtown Bedrord's Whalers' Memorial
flowers on the sandy shores of Cape Cod
Although I felt that the Outer Banks of North Carolina are still better than Cape Cod, the totality of the coastal communities of Massachusetts…the Bare and Bended Arm, Martha’s Vineyard, and New Bedford…offered more variety for everyone’s notion of beauty. New England is truly lovely…and, I can now say, not just in fall! Sigh…our children are all in the west so that is still where we will probably settle! Maybe, just a gingerbread cottage for summer, Bill?
a lonely biker during low tide at the Cod

For more pictures, please go to my albums on our facebook account named billncarol colborn!  


  1. The pictures are beautiful. I like that old ship.

    1. Thanks Tammy! It's pretty and pretty significant!

  2. What an indefatigable couple you are. Do you get to sleep at all? And what a great time you're having, enjoying every great moment and beautiful place you visit (which we only get to read about). Thanks a lot for sharing.

    1. Hi Dan...yeah, in about 3 weeks of stay at Gateway to Cape Cod we went to Boston (2x), New Bedford, Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard,New Haven and Hartford Connecticut, and Providence and Newport Rhode Island. That's only about 7 outings in 21 we have plenty of rest! My rule most every other day! Thanks, Dan for continuing to read our blog posts! Carol

  3. as usual, I enjoyed both reading your blog and admiring the pictures. Looks like fun with the young couple. I remember the Chappaquiddick incident with Ted Kennedy, it seems it took him a long time to report the accident -- had to sober up??

    1. Thanks! It was neat to run into Ricky and Megan. Didn't know that about the senator!

  4. Thanks for sharing, enjoyed reading it. Love to visit Martha'sVineyard one day.

    1. thanks for dropping by! Glad you enjoyed it!

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