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Cape Cod, Fall of 2013

Updated on August 21, 2017

Fall River State Park

Leaving for Cape Cod

Sat. Oct. 19, 2013

Foolishly choosing a 7:18am flight, we had to awake at 4:00am in order to eat breakfast and get to the airport. Reminder – choose a later time if possible in the future! And it didn’t help that neither of us slept well Friday night.

The flight to Washington Dulles was uneventful. In fact, due to favorable winds, we arrived 45 minutes early! This allowed us time to make a leisurely stroll to the different terminal and to eat lunch (Gordon Biersch’s). The flight to Providence also was uneventful and arrived early.

After getting our rental car (Chevy Equinox, 2014, leather seats, plush), off we went! Exiting the airport, we headed to Fall River, MA. The day was comfortable, around 64 degrees and slightly overcast with a slight wind. Not bad at all. Driving along, we saw a sign that said waterfront attractions, exit here, so we did. And we discovered Fall River Heritage State Park.

This little park is on the edge of downtown Fall River. The building above is the heagquarters. Contained within the park is a museum and several Navel vessels including a battleship you can tour. There was a nice view of the Atlantic and some fat seagulls. There is also an old building used now as an event space and a community boating club. The museum had a fall display on their porch.

Battleship Cove - It is time for us to update war memorials and state, "It is better not to fight at all."

Battleship - most soldiers die or are hurt or suffer from PTSD.

Fishing in Fall River harbor


Fishing in the harbor

The seagulls were very chubby and not scared of people at all. Cheryl met a group of Cadette Girl Scouts getting ready to do a sleep over on one of the battleships that night. That reminded her of the girls at home goin gto the Tall Ship Elyssa in Galveston!

Across the street was a rail yard that had some historic railroad cars there. This was all tucked under the overpass of the highway bridge. Lots of history contained in this little park. The harbor is a good area for fishing. Cheryl saw a guy in a kayak who was coming in from a successful day of fishing. He let us take his picture with his catch.

On to the Cape!

We got back in the car and continued our journey to the Cape. We decided to take a more local route which took us through lots of little townships. As we drove we rediscovered Dunkin Donuts! They are everywhere up here! We meandered through the campus of UMass-Dartmouth; we traversed through New Bedford, Fairhaven, Martapoisett and – all along Buzzard’s Bay. We especially liked the town of Wareham. It is quaint, yet appeared to have a reasonable amount of actual businesses! Just past Wareham, you get to Bourne and the Bourne bridge leading to the Cape.

This is where it got tricky. Although Cape Cod is relatively small (only 65 miles long and approximately 7 miles wide), it is a bewildering maze of circular roads. Directional signage is horrid! Our goal wsas the town of Mashpee. After a lot of driving in circles, we stopped at a small grocery store to ask directions. The natives don’t really know where things are either as the directions we received circled us around again! We finally called the resort; we were less than 2 miles from them and Tami, at the resort front desk, talked us to them. It was only about 6pm but darkness was settling in fast. We got to our villa, unpacked and then went to the pool to unwind. Then back to the villa and to sleep we went.

Cape Cod Map

Mashpee Area

Sun. Oct. 20, 2013 Our 34th Wedding Anniversary

The day started with coffee and pastries at 10 in the lobby of the resort. We met a few other guests and Tami provided an overview of things to do on the Cape. Afterwards, we decided to head towards the ferries that take you to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. It was a beautiful day to be out and about.

Let’s explain how the Cape is organized. There are 15 towns and within each town there can be many ‘villages”. For example, Hyannis (summer home of Pres. Kennedy) is a village within the town of Barnstable. Confusing, isn’t it? And the Cape is sectioned off into the upper cape, mid cape and lower cape. Mashpee, where we stayed, is considered to be the commercial center of the upper cape. An interesting fact: Katherine Lee Bates who wrote “America the Beautiful” is from Falmouth, right next to Mashpee.

The major thoroughfare is Route 6. Did we ever find this elusive route 6? Nope, once we got over the bridge, we lost it completely. We ended up on Rt 28. That highway goes basically north and south then jogs east and west. But nowhere do you see it referred to as 28E or 28W! According to our compass in the car we would be headed due E and the highway signs said we were on 28S. Very confusing. By some minor miracle, we ended up in Hyannis.

Hyannis is the largest of the seven villages in the city of Barnstable, Massachusetts. Also it is the commercial and transportation hub of Cape Cod and was designated an urban area as a result of the 1990 census. Because of this, many refer to Hyannis as the "Capital of the Cape". It contains a majority of the Barnstable City offices, and two important shopping districts, the historic downtown Main Street and the Route 132 Commercial District, including Cape Cod Mall and Independence Park, headquarters of Cape Cod Potato Chips.

As we were tooling along, we happened to see St. George Orthodox Church so we pulled in. What a pretty church! Services had just let out and we were able to walk around and look without any problem. This church was built in 1980 and is the largest Greek Orthodox Church on the Cape. They have a large and active congregation, many who travel 100 miles round trip several times a week to participate.

St. George Orthodox Church


St. George #2

St. George #3

The Black Cat was the best restaurant

We made it to the ferry landing. It being noon, we were hungry when lo and behold, we saw a restaurant with a sign announcing it had been a winner of the Cape Cod Chowder Festival. Being fans of chowder, we stopped in for brunch.

The clam chowder was delicious (we can see why it won an award!) and we also shared a lobster and asparagus eggs benedict that was excellent. With full tummies, we walked through the neighborhood next to the harbor.

Best Clam Chowder...ever.....
Best Clam Chowder...ever.....

Hyannis port harbor

Exploring around Hyannis port

Back to the car, we set off to further explore Hyannis/Barnstable and we discovered a cute beach park. The beaches are so different from the Galveston beaches!

Tired, we headed back to the villa. We still could not find Rt. 6 but made it back anyway! What we ended up doing was the scenic route of the southern side of the cape.

Keys Memorial Beach

The Beach

Flora at Keys Memorial Beach

Cape Cod Canal

Mon. Oct.21, 2013

We awoke around 8:45am. After breakfast, we got in the car with the intent to find the town of Sandwich, the first town settled on Cape Cod. We ended up on that famous Highway 28 again and with absolutely no idea how, we found Rt. 6! It does exist! And that lead us to the Cape Cod Canal. The canal was built during the depression and is the world’s widest sea level canal without locks. It is maintained by the Army Corp of Engineers.

The idea of constructing such a canal was first considered by Miles Standish of the Plymouth Colony in 1623. In 1697 the General Court of Massachusetts considered the first formal proposal to build the canal, but apparently took no action. In 1717, a canal called Jeremiah's Gutter was created in Orleans, spanning a narrower portion of the Cape some distance to the East, although it only remained active until the late 1800s. More energetic planning with surveys took place repeatedly in 1776 (by George Washington), 1791, 1803, 1818, 1824–1830, and 1860. None of these efforts came to fruition. The first attempts at actually building a canal did not take place until the late 19th century; earlier planners either ran out of money or were overwhelmed by the project's size.

The engineers finally decided which route through the hillsides to take by connecting and widening the Manomet and Schusses Rivers.

On June 22, 1909, construction finally began for a working canal under the direction of August Belmont, Jr.'s; Boston, Cape Cod & New York Canal Company, using designs by engineer William Barclay Parsons. There were many problems that the engineers of the canal encountered. One was mammoth boulders left by the retreat of Ice Age glaciers. Divers were hired to blow them up, but the effort slowed dredging. Another problem was cold winter storms, which forced the engineers to stop dredging altogether and wait for spring. Nevertheless, the canal opened, on a limited basis, on July 29, 1914, and it was completed in 1916. The privately owned toll canal had a maximum width of one hundred feet (30 m), a maximum depth of 25 feet (7.62 m), and took a somewhat difficult routefrom Phinney Harbor at the head of Buzzards Bay. Due to the narrow channel and navigation difficulty, several accidents occurred which limited traffic and tarnished the canal's reputation. As a result, despite shortening the trade route from New York City to Boston by 62 miles (100 km), toll revenues failed to meet investors' expectations.

We were excited to actually see a barge pass by while we were watching.

Barge on Cape Cod Canal


Back on Rt. 6, we headed into Sandwich and our first stop was the Sandwich Glass Museum. We saw an interesting 21 minute film on the history of Sandwich and the creation of the first glass company which was followed by a glassblowing demo. The artist was making pumpkins and we saw her make a large blue pumpkin. There was a fabulous display of glass form ancient to modern. Great museum, reasonable price, we highly recommend it!

Sandwich Glass Museum

Glass making

Glass making #2

Sandwich Glass Products

Daniel Webster Inn

Now for lunch. Our goal: to get a sandwich in Sandwich!

At the recommendation from the museum folks, we went to the Daniel Webster Inn for lunch. They had a choice of the conservatory or the tavern, same menu. We decided to eat in the conservatory.

Daniel Webster Inn

Esmeralda in the lobby of the Inn

Halloween witch
Halloween witch


Beautiful setting and wonderful food.
Beautiful setting and wonderful food.

The food was excellent in a beautiful setting

Lobster grilled cheeses sandwich and French onion soup, yummy! The sandwich had lobster meat, brie and American cheeses, shallots, chives and pesto on homemade brioche, lightly grilled. Wow!

Bellies full, we went for a walk through one of the historic districts.


In historic district
In historic district

More historic district

Historic district #3

Historic district #4

Home again, we headed to the lobby for cookies and lemonade while Cheryl got some info regarding Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. We then hit the pool, ate some dinner and crashed.

Martha's Vineyard

Tues. Oct. 22, 2013

Off to Martha’s Vineyard we go! We arrived at Wood’s Hole and bought our tickets, including one to take our car, and boarded the ferry.

What a beautiful ride over it was. After approximately 45 minutes, we arrived at the dock in Vine Haven on the island. Disembarking, we set off on our driving adventure of the island.

We decided to head west towards Edgartown. Shortly outside of Vine Haven, we stopped at Island Alpaca Company, a small farm. What a fun stop! They have the mothers and babies in a separate pen area and we got to touch the newest members of the flock. Jay was ready to stay and become a farm hand. The alpacas were so friendly and their fur was so soft. Cheryl could imagine Jay walking one at home as his pet! The lady in the gift shop said we could buy a baby and they would ship it to our house; but alpacas don’t do so well in humidity so that might be a problem in Houston.

Ferry to Matha's Vinyard

Road to Alpaca farm


So soft and cuddly
So soft and cuddly


Continuing our drive, we made it to Edgartown. Luckily there was a spot available in the free town parking lot at the dock.

We strolled through Edgartown and ate our picnic lunch at the dock. We were joined by a mallard duck and his 3 companion ducks. They enjoyed the crumbs we tossed them. After we all enjoyed lunch, off we went wandering through the town.

Edgartown dock

Edgartown ducks

The Fisher House

The Fisher house is used as an event center. There is gorgeous landscaping and some very pretty rooms ready to decorate for events and a really nice side porch which Jay especially liked!

Living room


We were not allowed upstairs.
We were not allowed upstairs.


This is a small portion of the garden.
This is a small portion of the garden.


My favorite place.
My favorite place.

Map so you can see where we were.

The ferry landing was between the West Chop and East Chop lighthouses. We went southeast to Edgartown and now we are heading west to Aquinnah and its’ lighthouse.

Aquinnah is on the far west coast.

Aquinnah Light House

Aquinnah Seashore

Gay Head Cliffs

We then continued to Menemsha and back to the ferry landing. Lots of narrow roads and interestingly, most of them were lined with low stone walls. We took a detour down one of the side dirt roads that lead deeper into the trees.

We got back to the ferry for the 3:45 ferry. However, as we were traveling stand-by, we had to wait for the 5:00 ferry which boarded at 4:30. Not a problem; we parked in the lane we were instructed to go to and received permission to leave the car unattended. We walked across the street and got pizza and clam chowder. It was not the best.

Forest road Martha's Vinyard

Stonewall Martha's Vinyard

Porto Pizza was not the best.

It got quite chilly on the ride back! We retreated to the inside due to the chill and the wind. Jay spotted what looked like a pirate ship!

Docking back at Wood’s Hole, we headed back to the villa and wine and cheese in the lobby. No one else showed up but we had a nice chat with Jodie who was working the desk that evening. We were pretty worn out; after all, we saw almost the entire island of Martha’s Vineyard. We were asleep by 9:30!

View of town from ferry when departing

Pirate Ship?

Back to Sandwich!

Wed. Oct. 23, 2013

After breakfast, we headed back to Sandwich and the Heritage Museums & Gardens is comprised of three galleries and expansive gardens, including galleries for American Folk Art, a vintage carousel, automobiles and traveling exhibitions.

The gardens feature a collection of thousands of rhododendrons, including a collection of the world-renowned Dexter variety. Their typical bloom time is from Memorial Day Weekend to mid-June. Other horticultural areas of interest include: holly, daylily, herb, hosta (elephant ears), and heather gardens, as well as more than a thousand varieties of trees, shrubs and flowers. But even though it was fall and not a lot of flowers were in bloom, we saw pretty fall colors in the trees. We took advantage of the botanist on staff leading a nature walk for an hour. It was a chilly, gray day and Les, the botanist was very informative. There were about 20 people total in the group.

Heritage gardens and tour guide

Native dogwood, edible

Flume fountain

Flume fountain 2

Flume fountain 3

More Gardens


More Gardens

Automobile Gallery

The Automobile Gallery includes an impressive collection of automobiles within a replica of the Shaker Round Barn in Hancock, Massachusetts. Here are only a few of the many cars they had on display. We discovered there were many other cars in storage and displayed in rotation.

The American Art & Carousel Gallery houses our working 1908 carousel that was manufactured by Charles Looff and features hand-carved animal figures including an ostrich, frog, zebra, cat and deer. In addition, this gallery hosts a large collection of New England folk art – paintings, weather vanes, Nantucket baskets, scrimshaw, shop signs and more.


The National Seashore

Now we headed out to the national seashore. We took Rt. 6 as it is a more direct routing and bypasses the town centers. Goal: Orleans/Eastham area, the southern visitors’ center. We checked out the displays, especially the topographical diorama of the Cape. There was a nice view in the back where we ate our lunch. No ducks today to share our crumbs with. It started to drizzle while we ate. There was a chill in the air and it had become overcast. There were a few other couples venturing into the seashore on a gray day. There was one unfortunate experience; we accidentally dropped our trail mix. We swept it up into a trash bag; you’ll see later why we’re glad we did not throw it away.

Estuary where we are lunch

Map of Cape Cod and National Seashore

The Beach and lighthouse

Next goal: to go to one of the beaches on the seashore and see lighthouses. We traveled towards Chatham and the Nausett Lighthouse.

You can walk up to lighthouse

Another view of lighthouse

Stairway to beach

Fed birds with spilled nuts from lunch

Beach of National Seashore

More beach


Onward we went, traveling towards Provincetown. That is where the Pilgrims landed when they arrived from England. From there they went inland to Plymouth which is where they settled. We arrived at the northern visitors’ center.

Monument to Pilgrims

Back to Mashpee

As it was getting colder and starting to rain, not just drizzle, we headed on back to Mashpee. We had a great dinner of clam chowder and the best fish& chips ever in Orleans. The fish was North Atlantic haddock in an Ocktoberfest beer batter. It was very lightly battered (more like it was dipped in planko bread crumbs). You could taste the nuttiness of the beer. The fish was a nice thick fish steak that was very tender. We had Indian pudding for dessert. The key was the array of warm spices and bourbon. Yum... It was wonderful. With full bellies, we preserved through the rain and arrived home around 8:45pm. PS. We found a recipe for Indian Pudding in the Wall Street Journal of all places and made it for the family at Thanksgiving. It Is destined to become a new classic in our Thanksgiving traditions!

Holed up in Mashpee to rest

Thurs. Oct. 24, 2013

We slept in and hung around Mashpee today. The rain last night brought in a cold front so the day was windy, chilly but bright sunshine. We ate a bowl of clam chowder and a great grilled seafood platter (scrod, scallops, shrimp, cole slaw and toast) at Cooke’s Seafood. This was just up the road from the villa and we had been avoiding it. It was good but not as good as the Black Cat. Then Cheryl got a manicure while Jay took a nap. A nice relaxing day!

To Nantucket

Fri. Oct. 25, 2013

Destination: Nantucket

We got up early to drive to Hyannis and take the 9:15 ferry with our car to the island. The ride over on what the locals call “the slow boat” is 2 hrs, 15 min.

We immediately sensed we were entering a world unlike the one we live in! We drove off the ferry to begin our exploration of Nantucket.

A map of Nantucket would be helpful so we included one on the next page to track our progress through the day. Our first venture was to find a place to picnic. The Lightship Museum was closed for the season but we ate lunch in the garden.

Hyannis port harbor going to Nantucket

Entering Nantucket harbor

Nantucket home

Another Nantucket home

Yet another

Nantucket Map

The beach of Nantucket

Off to a beach we went! We headed out Milestone Rd to Siasconset, referred to as “’Sconset”. This was a very quaint little village.

Town of "Sconset"

Far shot of "Sconset"

Nantucket beach

Vegetation line to beach

A cranberry bog

In Nantucket town

So we are now headed back towards town as we decided to take the walking tour of historic homes led by a guide from the Nantucket Historical Association. Here are shots of some of the homes in town we saw as we headed to the tour.

And we learned the top viewing platforms are not “widow’s watches”. The women looked for the return of their husbands from whaling trips hoping that they were not widows!

Nantucket house with widows walk

Macy-Christian house

Yes, this was the ancestor of Macys
Yes, this was the ancestor of Macys

Macy-Christian house fireplace, living room

Macy-Christian house, kitchen

This was the main living area. The Macy’s had 10 children and the entire family slept here in the winter, huddling together to stay warm. Blankets were hung from the rafters to create a “room within a room” to help contain the heat.

The house had a second floor where they slept in the summer but that is closed now. The historical society is doing some structural support to that floor. The garden outside would have been planted with root vegetables and hebs, both for cooking and for medicinal use.

The following is a view from outside their house today. Note the cap on top of the house. These were placed for use in case of a kitchen fire. Water could be dumped down through them to put out the fire. As the houses were wood, fire was a major fear. The leading cause of death for women wasn’t childbirth; it was their dresses catching fire from working around the hearth. If they didn’t die from the fire, they died from the resulting wound infections.

Top of Macy-Christian House, fire conduit

Sand or water was stored in attic to be poured down conduit in case of fire.
Sand or water was stored in attic to be poured down conduit in case of fire.

The Hadwen House

The Hadwen home was built in 1845. Mr. Hadwen had been a successful whaler who moved into the financing of whaling voyages and insuring voyages. He was “noveau riche”, had no inherited wealth and he built his home to show-off his wealth. By this time, some homes were being built of brick. This house is brick covered by wood shingles! And although it was built to look large from the street, inside it is actually not very large at all.

Hadwen House

Staircase in Hadwen House

This is the stairwell across from the front door. The floor is sailcloth that was painted to resemble marble. At the bottom of the rail, it was common to place a “mortgage button”. When your house mortgage was paid, you burned the note and placed the ashes in the hollow rail and put a whalebone button on top. The button was engraved with the date. No one can see the dates any more as it was considered good luck to rub the button for good luck!

Hadwen House staircase

The front room was used as the office. It was exactly like the dining room and the 2 were separated by a pocket door. When opened, they could accommodate 40 people for a dinner party. This home had one of the first gas lights on the island.

Hadwen House, living area, public

The Public, or living area is where business was transacted
The Public, or living area is where business was transacted

House of the Hadwens niece

The Hadwens had no children but they doted on the nieces and nephews. In fact they built the house next door for their niece as a wedding present. It is privately owned today but has been faithfully maintained.

Nice house for niece

Tour continues to Greater Light

Proceeding on the tour, we came to the home known as Greater Light. This structure was originally built in the late 1800’s as a barn. Two sisters from Philadelphia discovered it in 1929, purchased it and restored it for use as a summer home. They collected items from around the globe to use in their home. The building is currently used as offices for the historical association and is rented out as event space.

Greater Light is reconditioned barn

Two sisters reconditioned barn.
Two sisters reconditioned barn.

View of timbered ceiling

View out balcony into garden

View from garden to balcony

After the tour we ambled around town looking at more old homes. We arrived back at the dock.

Old Methodist Church

The Jared Coffin House

The Jared Coffin house was built in 1845 and was the first “mansion” built on the island using brick and with a slate roof. That helped the house survive the fire of 1846. Mr. Coffin was a very successful ship owner during the prime days of whaling. The house is currently used as a hotel.

Ferry docking in Nantucket

Lighthouse Nantucket evening

Sunset, Nantucket Bay

The Black Cat one more time

Once back in Hyannis, we went to the Black Cat Tavern for our last dinner on Cape Cod. Again, the clam chowder was awesome and we also split an 8oz lobster roll. It was yummy; very little mayo, just enough to give a slight touch of flavor along with some celery. Plain, simple and delicious. The bread was great also. We will miss this restaurant!

We arrive back at the villa around 9:30pm and complete our packing as we check out tomorrow morning.

The Ghost of Nantucket

Sat. Oct. 26, 2013

Up and at ’em, we checked out at 8:45am. We navigated our way back to the airport in Providence and had uneventful flights to Washington Dulles and then to Houston. It was a long day but a very successful trip!

Jay’s masterpiece, his ode to Nantucket


There once was a man from Nantucket,

Who packed up his lunch in a bucket.

He sailed one day, to Mashpee, they say,

But drowned off the coast when he struck it.

There once was a man from Nantucket,

Who braved a storm on a junket.

His goal was Mashpee but was blown to the lee

And drowned on the isle Chappaquidick.

There once was a Ghost from Nantucket,

Who haunted the lighthouses on it.

He is seen they say, at the end of the day,

Warning of the Sound of Nantucket.


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    • Jay C OBrien profile imageAUTHOR

      Jay C OBrien 

      3 years ago from Houston, TX USA

      Thanks, the pictures we show on the Sandwich Glass factory really do not do it justice.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      The photos and descriptions of your vacation tour make me want to visit these places as well. Loved seeing the Sandwich Glass factory. I have long collected their products. Beautiful.

    • Donna Suthard profile image

      Donna Suthard 

      4 years ago

      Jay C, this is truly amazing..I will be sharing all your stories to Facebook.. Wow love this, Now I get a very warm feeling about my family having lived in Boston and Manchester, a New England warmth of hearth and home, good food, beautiful scenery, a pirate ship, all I say is that you and your wife have enjoyed some exciting journeys! Nostalgia at its best..


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