The Changing Face of the Place You Love, or The Cape Through the Years

"A man may stand there and put all America behind him." - Henry Thoreau

I’ve been to Cape Cod some 12-15 times over the last 32 years. Each time I’ve been here, it’s been a different experience.

I came up as a child with family, when the cottage was still owned by my grandfather, and got myself disgustingly salty on the beach.

I came up with family on the tail of Hurricane Bob. We had no power or running water. A fire truck went house to house and filled garbage cans with pond water so we could flush the toilets. My kid sister and I literally bathed in the ocean. I bought ice on the black market and was a minor hero for the day. It was all very exciting.

I came up alone and literally burned my ass on the front porch due to a thong bathing suit experience gone very wrong. First and last time my butt ever saw the sun. A friend’s cousin took me out to a couple of local places, where I sat very tenderly.

I came up with a boyfriend who was very into the great outdoors. We went on nature walks in marshes and beaches. We went whale watching. It seemed like the entire Cape was a nature wonderland.

I came up with a friend who was into fun and partying. We went to Provincetown and to bars nearby. It seemed like Cape Cod was all about fun and frolic.

I came up and went to a wedding in Nantucket. I walked with my grandfather on the beach, trying to tire him out like a toddler during the early days of his Alzheimer’s.

I came up with a couple of friends, and we went to Martha’s Vineyard and rode bicycles all over. We bought Black Dog gear from the Black Dog Tavern, a tavern in a dry town that survives, I imagine, on t-shirt sales. Today, you can buy their gear online or at stores on the Cape. There is now absolutely no reason to go to the Black Dog Tavern.

I came up with my mother to keep her company when she buried her father one spring. That was … not a vacation.

I came up with extended family when my sister graduated from college.

I came up with another boyfriend. He had come to Truro every summer when he was a child. He took his first steps here. We visited a cemetery where some of his ancestors are buried. I experienced the wonder of the tidal flats. We went to the Drive-In. We ate good lobster and bad pizza. We threw 20s through a window and they gave us fried seafood in return.  


Now that we are married, we visit each of our favorite places. We stay at the cottage, which is cozy and lovely and feels like home. We go down the street to the beach. We drive up to Truro. We go to the Harwich flats. We skip the bad pizza but go for the big lobsters. Friends have come to visit from Boston. We look for fun new things to do and new places to eat fried seafood.

Once we had kids, we stopped flying in. It’s easier to drive the nine hours, mostly due to the sheer volume of crap that we tow with us. The day after we arrive we spend in a kind of stupor, and then our plans include story time at a library and a really good playground. As they get older, we'll be able to add things like good restaurants and sailing.

We hope that the boys both feel the same connection for the Cape as we do. Maybe their experience will include parasailing and campfires, but they can make the Cape their own. There are a lot of places that are closer, but we love it here.