After what I have called my year of transition (new house, new job, new car), I was looking to escape where I could leave all the craziness of my life behind for a couple of days. My aha moment came when I recalled a quote referencing Cape Cod by Henry David Thoreau, ” A man may stand there and put all America behind him.” Despite the fact that “putting it all behind” most probably wasn’t possible traveling with three boys, I was intrigued to explore the Cape.
Exploring the Cape is exactly what we did, with of course a little down time by the pool each day. Our first night in town we enjoyed mini-golf at Pirate’s Cove in South Yarmouth which is most probably shocking to many since I am always planning learning experiences for our trips. Rated as being one of the best miniature golf course on Cape Cod it was not surprising that there were crowds. The groups moved quickly, and the course was entertaining for my pirate-loving crew. If you asked my son what his favorite part of the trip was he most probably will tell you it was at Pirate Cove when he hit a hole in one unintentionally! Yes, the ball went out of the green, bounced off the stairway and back onto the green in the hole!
Our second day in Cape Cod covered the learning category when we visited the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum and the John F. Kennedy Memorial. The four of us headed to the museum for a whopping $7.50. Not surprisingly, my son loved learning more about one of his favorite presidents. There was a quick film which put everything into perspective for my young nephews. After learning about the different family members, the boys located them on the Kennedy family tree on the wall.
Of course, the museum is small, so we filled the rest of the day with two tours. First, we went to the Cape Cod Potato Chip Factory. The tour is FREE! It only took about 15 minutes, but it was cool for the boys to see the progression of potato to the chip, then to the bag and ultimately boxing the bags to be shipped out. They learned cool facts like it takes approximately 4 pounds of potatoes to make 1 pound of potato chips because the potato is mainly water. They munched on the “Kettle-Cooked” samples while chatting with one of the friendly employees while I purchased a couple of bags to take home. It was a fun time.
Only a couple of blocks away from the JFK Hyannis Museum, we discovered Cape Cod Duckmobiles. My son and I had done a Duck Tour in Boston and loved it, so I had to do it again so my nephews could experience the amphibious vehicle. Honestly, there was not a lot to point out, but the guides were humorous and kept the boys entertained, and they were thrilled when we “splashed down” into Hyannis Harbor. If you take the tour, don’t expect to see the Kennedy compound, but you do get to see the church the Kennedy family frequented and the armory where JFK made his speech during the election.
After our busy morning, the boys played in the pool while I tried to have a “Thoreau” moment before heading to catch a little “summer baseball.” The Cape Cod Baseball League is a collegiate summer baseball league. We decided to watch the Hyannis Harbor Hawks play the Brewster Whitecaps. I have been to countless baseball games, but this was one of the most enjoyable games. It is not because the Harbor Hawks won or the game was FREE, but because it was like I had stepped back in time where the boys could roam freely during the game without worry and at the end of it all, go onto the field and approach the players. I wish we could have gone to more games!
Another highlight of the trip was taking the boys on a Pirate Adventure. The Pirate Adventure was also not educational, but it was too much FUN not to mention. First, I must give kudos to the staff. I had made a mistake with my online reservation and had bought tickets for Monday instead of Sunday. Considering that we would be back in New York on Monday, I was happy that they honored our reservations on Sunday! My son who is twelve was a little old for this adventure, but the Captain befriended him and gave him the ins and out of the operation while my nephews were having the time of their life! The boys had their faces painted and wore costumes as we sailed off on The Sea Gypsy. Once on the water, the crew put on an elaborate skit. I was crying I was laughing so hard as the kids were shooting the water cannons on the side of the ship at a pirate who was trying the take the treasure that belongs to the crew of their ship. From figuring out the treasure map to doing the limbo, it was nothing short of a magnificent time. It was one of the most expensive things we did at $21 a ticket, but well worth it!
We ended our trip with a visit to the Cape Cod National Seashore. This year the Cape Cod National Seashore celebrates its 50th anniversary of when President Kennedy signed legislation to protect the seashore and making it a part of the U.S. National Park System. We visited the Salt Pond Visitor Center in Eastham first, and the boys participated in a FREE shellfishing demonstration and were ready to go clamming when we left. We then headed to Nauset Light Beach which is also in Eastham. We toured the Nauset Lighthouse. We learned that the lighthouse is the same lighthouse on the Cape Cod Potato Chip Bag. The tour was FREE, and the boys learned the history and the battle of the erosion resulting in the move of the lighthouse more than once. The Nauset Lighthouse was our last stop on Cape Cod before heading home. It was a perfect place to end our trip, and I didn’t realize it until we had climbed the stairs and looked out the window to a magnificent view of the ocean. It was at that moment I found myself ” standing there” and literally could “put America behind me.” I shared this with the boys, and even at the ages of 12, 9 and seven they got it! I hope one day you will be able to experience what Thoreau described in the 1800′s and what my family experienced in 2011. Cape Cod turned out to be a great escape.