<Our 2000 trip to Cape Cod & Martha's Vineyard

Ray Battiston, Travel Medical Insurance Broker Visits Cape Cod & Martha's Vineyard


AN OUTSIDERS TOURIST GUIDE TO CAPE COD & MARTHA'S VINEYARD- Year 2000

Planning a visit to the Cape? We've  been there, a few times.  This  blog covers our year 2000 trip. You are invited on our road trip to Cape Cod. I have tips, suggestions and ideas for you. You can look up many of the attractions, restaurants, and sights that I have listed by searching them on the Web. I used to have direct links, but found some would become out of date or somehow change to rather questionable sites.  I have eliminated direct links to these, but you can find them again by googling them.

Cape Cod and the Islands are greater than the sum of its' parts. Steeped in history from the time of the first Mayflower landing at Provincetown  in 1620 to the more current life style of the rich and famous, this region offers something for  everyone.  Beautiful architecture, with many variations and similarities of Cape Cod building design will interest you. Almost every residential and commercial structure is exclusively built with exterior cedar shakes (roof and walls) or clapboard siding. Most new homes, even the "monster homes"  retain that "Cape Cod look".  Artists, or those appreciating art will love the beautiful scenic landscapes and oceanscapes.  Sports enthusiasts will enjoy the 39 mile Cape Cod Bike Trail, surfing,  jogging, hiking/walking paths and golf courses. Everyone will enjoy the beaches, history, attractions, seafood restaurants, antique gift shops and galleries.


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Ray Battiston, Canadian Travel Medical Insurance Broker & Visitors to Canada

Our May 18-25, 2000 Road Trip to Cape Cod & Martha's Vineyard
Our trip was scheduled mid week for a total of 8 days. According to CAA/AAA  the trip looked like 12 and 1/2 ours drive time, (stops extra)  one way, a distance of 732 miles.  So we split  our drive down into one and one half days of road travel. We left our home town, North Bay Ontario at 8:07 am Thursday May 18th, 2000, on a cloudy, wet day, driving east on Highway 17 towards Ottawa and Montreal.

Reaching Montreal at 2.55 pm, we had a short visit with my uncle and aunt in Pointe Claire, then we were off again,  but managed to get caught up in stop and go Montreal rush hour traffic.  We continued along Autoroute 10 East and 55 South, crossing the US border at Derby Line, Vermont at 7:00 pm.  At 9:00 pm we stopped at Plymouth, New Hampshire and stayed at the Pilgrim Inn and Cottages . We were getting tired and had not  planned our night stop, so we just took a chance. The off season rate with tax was $48.60 US ($72.90 Canadian). (Update 2008,  Pilgrim Inn still listed on a web page). The Inn was an old property but very clean and well maintained. This first days' driving was 888 kms or about 552 miles.

On Friday, May 19th, we were up bright and early. A MacDonald's Restaurant a stone's throw from our motel was closed so I picked up some fresh orange juice at a convenience store in downtown  Plymouth and also a New Hampshire Powerball lottery ticker (not a winner). We left our motel at 6.55 am.  We gassed up at the Irving Oil  station in New Hampton, NH  and stopped for breakfast at 8:12 am at one of our favourite US restaurants, Cracker Barrel at exit 4, I-93, Londonderry, New Hampshire. I previously found this location on the Cracker Barrel Restaurant web site, so we were planning our breakfast there.  Cracker Barrel opens at 6:00 am for the early birds, and if you haven't stopped before, you are missing a good part of your trip.  This restaurant chain is located all over the U.S. and everyone we've stopped at looks exactly the same.  There's a country store in the front portion of the restaurant where you can browse before or after your meal for gifts,  sweaters, and all kinds of great food items.  I always pick up the  Green Apple jars which are ready to fry up and is a great breakfast or supper treat. The food is wonderful and plentiful.   There's a big selection of breakfast, lunch and supper menus, and the prices are very reasonable!

Continuing along Interstate 93 South, we exited 37B for Interstate 95 around Boston. This route looked  good on the map, but we managed to hit rush hour traffic again and  heavy traffic until  Exit 7 at Route 3 South.

Crossing the Sagamore Bridge at Cape Cod at 11:30 am, we pulled into the  Cape Cod Factory Outlet Mall. off Route 6, Exit 1. Time for a rest and to stretch our legs. Quite a few  interesting stores and kiosks. We quickly walked the whole mall (all enclosed shopping). And  we made a few purchases.  This morning was the easy part of the road trip, 283 kms or about 170 miles.

Normally our next stop at Americana Holiday Motel, 99 Main St, Route 28, West Yarmouth, where I had reserved our stay, would have taken another 25 minutes drive time from the Sagamore Bridge (we timed it leaving Cape Cod), however we managed to hit rush hour or tourist traffic again! More about this later!
 

Where we went, saw, and did
Friday May 19, 2000- This was our first half day on the Cape. After our Cape Cod Mall stop, we drove down scenic route 6A.  This is a must see for anyone visiting the Cape. 6A is the equivalent of a country road, but on steroids, with speeds varying from 25 to 45 mph. The major Route 6 will get you there, but you won't see much on Route 6, at least until Eastham.  On 6A, from Sagamore this narrow, no shoulders route meanders through Sandwich, East Sandwich, Barnstable, Yarmouth Port, Dennis, East Dennis, Brewster and joins up with the main Route 6 at Orleans. Keep going east, with the road then turning north on  Route 6, from Eastham, and your will end up at the tip, Provincetown.

We stopped at many antique and craft stores. Some prices were  reasonable, some went off the chart. All were very interesting! The private houses along the route were all traditional Cape Cod styling. Lots of restaurants, Inns, Bed and Breakfasts. Beautiful flowering plants and shrubs with vibrant colours decorated many yards. With blind curves, no shoulders to park on or stop, and  huge massive trees growing just off the asphalt, you had better keep a sharp eye out!

We visited Mrs. Mitchell's Gift Shop, in West Yarmouth on route 28,  just outside of Hyannis. (Route 28 is the commercial street, where you'll find many restaurants, businesses and motels)  It's a great gift store, with a wide selection of T Shirts, Sweats,  shorts, jackets and gifts.  Very good prices. We continued on to Hyannis (stone's throw away) and stopped for supper at the Hearth n Kettle Restaurant  on Main Street in Hyannis.  Nine years earlier, we had stopped at the same chain in South Yarmouth, and really enjoyed it.  I had the fried Scrod (fish) and my wife had the chicken breast. Excellent meal, and priced at $18.65 US. The service was fine. But the restaurant was pretty tired looking and not well lit.(Note, Cape Cod Times reported in its Dec 14th. 2000 edition that this restaurant location would be closed)

Hyannis has  many shops on Main Street, so be sure to stroll it!  The Cape Cod Times, which also has one of the best newspapers on the Web, is located right on Main Street and of course you can buy the Times paper edition everywhere. While in Cape Cod, make sure you pick up a copy of the Times every morning, as many of the local restaurants will advertise their specials and location. You can get  a lot of local news and numerous travel related  links from the  electronic edition of The Times and I strongly recommend you  bookmark it, especially if you are planning a trip to the Cape. There's a new edition each day on the web. I also enjoy a another little electronic edition,  Cape Cod Today.

One of the advantages of visiting Cape Cod is so many things to do and see.  But you do have to plan a little in order to see a lot!  Cape Cod has a permanent population of about 250,000. and 15 towns.  With about 17,000,000 visitors a year, including "day trippers" and  most of them in the summer season! Make sure you stop at one of the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Centres.   The Hyannis Area Chamber of Commerce  is located at 1481 Route 132, Hyannis.  The Chamber has a great selection of brochures, maps and lots of other information on the sites to see on Cape Cod.

It takes about an hour to drive from Hyannis, east,  to the outermost tip at Provincetown, so in or around Hyannis is a good base to stay. Although it will be busier!  Depending where your motel is located, you can even walk to the harbour. You can take the Hy-Line Cruises Ferry Service  from Hyannis to Martha's Vineyard, or Nantucket Island, or you can drive to Woods Hole which is about a 40 minute drive from Hyannis and take  The Steamship Authority Ferry.. The Steamship Authority is the only Ferry that carries autos.

Saturday May 20, 2000  ***Sun in the Morning!!!!

Off we go again after a free Continental breakfast at our motel.  Actually Dunkin Donuts and a strange brand of coffee. The AAA book says "Continental Breakfast", but the sign at the entrance to the motel says "Coffee and Donuts". It took me some time to discover there were complimentary Cape Cod Times papers at the office, or I could buy them for .50 in front of the coffee shop.

Another drive down scenic 6A.  More antique and crafts shops to visit. After we get home I watched Bob Villa on Public TV and discover the beautiful flowers and bushes we saw  on our Cape trip were either Rhododendrons or Azaleas. The Rhodys are a whole lot bigger when they mature. Lilacs were easy to recognize and we have many of them around our city, including our own yard. It was nice to see Holly plants too.

There seemed to be quite a few  Christmas Tree Shops  and we stopped at one on the corner of 6A and Willow (I think). Big selection of all kinds of items, crafts, wood furniture, yard and garden items, etc.  No Christmas trees this time of year though.  I bought a good road map of Cape Cod (should have got a free one at  CAA/AAA ) and two jars of the famous Beach Plum jelly everyone recommends.  The Christmas Tree shop charged $2.99 US for this jelly  -Grandmother's brand (Fine Foods since 1899)  11 oz (311 Grams). (We tried the jelly when we got home. It reminded me somewhat of Canadian Concord grape jelly, but with a much more milder taste.) All the  prices were very good. A very wide selection of spices, gourmet sauces, and a lot of other foodstuffs, candies, chocolates and cookies.  Make sure your stop at these outlets.

Continuing along scenic 6A we pulled into Brewster Fish House Restaurant and ordered  Fish and Chips. $22.05 US for lunch. Yikes. But, was it ever good!  The small black speck of something floating in my glass of milk did distract me, but the waitress quickly replaced my glass and apologized.

Just in case my American cousins (I'm not kidding, my Maternal Grandmother was born in New York) don't understand the value of our Canadian dollar, at the time of writing this article, the US dollar was worth about $1.50 Canadian, so our $22.05 lunch cost $33.07 Canadian. (this compares to about $25.50 in 2006 Canadian Dollars)  I'm quoting in US dollars through out this article. The restaurant food is definitely more expensive in the US than back home in Canada. And if you're from the US and haven't visited Canada you should head north and visit. The highway goes both ways, you know! Your US dollar can go a long way here. You'll see things up here which may be quite different from your way of life and Canadians are very friendly to tourists. Be sure to visit Cape Cod Menus on the Web where you can get more restaurant information and print out actual priced menus.

I had seen Cuffys' of Cape Cod ( a T and Sweat Shirt Outlet) advertised all over, so we stopped at their West Yarmouth location in the Christmas Tree Plaza on Route 28. Hard to believe you can get the advertised " ten T Shirts for $35.00 US", but it was true, and they were  good quality, not seconds. They had a wide selection, all good to better quality and all attractively priced. There were pullovers, jackets, shorts, you name it.  Embroidered T and Sweats were higher priced than the silk screened ones as would be expected but usually much lower than our Canadian models. Besides you can't buy a Cape Cod logo shirt in Canada.

On to the Reebok Factory Store on Route 28, West Yarmouth, a stone's throw from our motel.  Oh by the way, did I mention the weather was rather cool and cloudy and yes, SOME RAIN TOO!  I'll get to the beaches later!  If the weather is nice you can go to the beach, bike, walk or golf, and if it's not so nice, well, you go shopping or sight seeing!

A short rest at the Motel, which by now is feeling like a second home, and then to the Lobster Boat Restaurant  on Route 28, West Yarmouth. The sign says "special, Prime Rib $9.95, Lobster".  Oh Boy!  But wait, we've missed the $5.95 Early bird specials.  The "Lobster" is actually something like $18.95.

What about the Prime Rib at $9.95?  "Yes, I think that's correct" answers our waiter.  With regrets we order the Prime Rib.  Not much sense in buying two expensive meals for the day.  The Prime rib arrives.  It is OK, but I've actually cooked Prime Rib better myself.  Of course, I'm not a bad cook either, but I'm certainly not a Chef.  The defining question, would I order the Prime Rib again?   No!  But the meal was only $24.95 US for two with tip. The service was pretty good.  The waiter was very friendly.  Looked like he was interested in keeping his job.  Our view of the water was quite nice.  And yes, there was a huge boat (I suppose Lobster?) in front of the restaurant.   As our meal progressed a caravan of  buses arrived in the parking lot, the restaurant really filled up (from almost empty) and we counted our lucky stars we had arrived before the horde. What happens in summer!

SUNDAY MAY 21, 2000  CLOUDY AGAIN! PROVINCETOWN (P-TOWN)

Up at 8:20 AM. We're late, we've actually slept in. We don't  depart until 10:00 am.  Marion is not a morning person. Actually it may sound like Marion hasn't been saying too much at all, but it's me writing this and I can attest Marion in I were on pretty good terms and were in continuous conversation. It's nice to be away from the job, and Marion is getting a good rest from house work and baby sitting our 15 month old grandson, Connor. Our son, and  his wife both work different shifts, so it not unusual for Connor to sleep over, or at least spend the better part of the day.  While Marion is chasing him around (we have a reason to call him Connor-mobile), I'm busy writing up insurance apps or issuing policies.  Our daughter, Miranda is away for the whole summer at Jasper Park Lodge in Alberta.

Today we're headed  east on Route 6 to Provincetown,  also known as "P-Town" for short. The Gay Parade was  Saturday and we've missed it.  We would have preferred visiting Monday, but on Monday we are planning on seeing Martha's Vineyard.  P Town is located in the Lower Cape.  Don't ask me why, the Middle Cape is obviously the middle, but the Lower Cape is really the Upper Cape, and the Upper Cape is actually the Lower Cape. Check one of the tourist maps, you'll be confused at first too. Now you're as smart as the locals.

Our first stop however, is the Cape Cod National Seashore  at Eastham. You can't miss it, it on the right side of the road, with a big sign.  Been there last time, but for the life of me, I think we just stopped at the Visitors Centre and didn't continue to the beach! That was nine years ago. In off season too, not swim season.  This time we skipped the Centre, because we didn't have a lot of time and drove towards the beach.  Once we got to the fork in the road (must be about 4 miles or so) we weren't sure whether we should go right or left. We decide on right and drive up to the Coast Guard Building. It's blustery and cold, but low and behold there's a wedding going on in the back yard, or the front yard if the sea is the front yard. Fairly large group of shivering people. The Bride is in a sleeveless gown.  Very dramatic back drop. (The ocean, not the bride's). We parked and walked out to the beach.  Not many people out there!  No shorts, no bathing suits. No sun!  Just clouds, again! The water is a dramatic green hue.  The beach and beach plants go on forever. Boy I wish this was summer!  We head back up the steps.  There is what appears to be a boardwalk heading into the inland marshes too, but no time to see it this visit.

Now, on to Provincetown. Don't miss visiting this town. It has a unique nature all its' own.  We enter Provincetown, somehow make a wrong turn and end up on the other side of  town, ready to head back out again on 6A. I thought I would remember how to get there after our last visit, but I guess it has been too long. (For the record, we visited Cape Cod for a few days in the first week of Oct. 1988 and the  last week of September in 1991.)  Checked out the map again, and we quickly found our way into the main part of the town.  We know we're close to Commercial Street when we are suddenly surrounded by a horde of tourists walking all over the street.  And this is supposed to be the "shoulder season".  Memorial Day Week End is the next week end and I'd hate to see it then!

Our first problem will be finding a parking space.  "Marion, remember last time we parked at the wharf?" So we try the wharf and it's still there, but this time the sign reads "$10.00" parking. My brain computes this  to $15.00 Canadian.  I don't think so.  We head up Commercial street, hang a right, and end up pulling into another parking right on the left for a flat fee of only $5.00.   My God, how the prices have gone up!  And our Canadian Dollar has gone down! We trudge down the steps to Commercial Street, the main hub in Provincetown.  Lots of shops, restaurants, and people gawking.

Down to the Wharf.  Past the Portuguese Princess Whale Watch Boat , and  Dolphin Fleet Whale Watch Boat.  Right down to the end of the wharf.  Some pretty nasty looking old fishing boats, one in particular I wouldn't want to go to sea on. Looked like it was 100 years old and way past retirement. Makes you think twice that a lot of these fishermen are really taking their lives in their hands every time they set sail.  We stepped into the little museum on the wharf. Passed on the admission and walked back out.  Don't think we missed anything there.

We wonder if the Portuguese Bakery is still on Commercial Street.  On our last visit in 1991, I remember it being a cold, rainy day. ( A lot of off season weather can be cold and rainy, and in fact the summer of 2000 will turn out to be rather a bad weather season). Cold, hungry and damp we went in and had a fantastic fresh pastry and coffee. Hmmmm, haven't spotted it yet. Marion spots it first, my sense of direction is wrong as usual. It's on the ocean side of the street alright, but I thought it was the next block over.

We drop into the bakery.  It looks vaguely the same but somehow different. Wonderful looking pastries, and cakes.  The staff are really friendly. One pastry cook is frying something interesting near the front window and I ask the young girl (everyone is young now) what it is and she replies "Portuguese dough". It's lightly fried, then sprinkled with sugar.  And still warm.  Boy is it good.  You have to stop here!

The salt water taffy  and candy shop is still on Commercial Street too, right on the corner. You can watch them making candies right on the spot, and either purchase boxes of salt water taffy or make up your own package.  A nice gift to send back home or bring back to your own home.  We managed to eat half our box in a short period of time during our Cape visit.

We stop at a small jewellery store on Commercial and view the items.  Lots of rings, bracelets, even minerals.  Lots of amber rings and necklaces to choose from.  The owner tells he me sells a "ton" of amber. I'm not sure if he's serious, but he probably is since amber can be so inexpensive, and the rents are very high.

Further down Commercial I spot a rather huge, new building  under construction. The previous buildings, the historic Crown & Anchor Motor Inn and the Whaler's Wharf Mall were burned to the ground in February 1998.  About 100 firefighters battled the blaze, and no major injuries were reported.  Tragically the watchman in charge of the building later committed suicide, blaming himself for the accidental fire.  The town was relieved the whole block or blocks didn't catch fire.  You can understand why.  Plenty of really, really old frame buildings, nice and tinder dry and packed together like match sticks.

The new building is quite large and must cost a fortune. I read the sign that says "open in the spring".  Well this is the Spring and this building is currently a skeleton inside with just insulation on the outside.  Looks like it won't be ready this summer. MARINE SPECIALTIES, located beside the new building was heavily damaged by water and smoke and did re-open.   Besides army navy surplus, it has tons of other interesting cheap items. There's a lot of shoppers milling inside and we went in too.

It's 3.30 and time for lunch.  Some of the window menus scare us off. (There's actually 55 restaurants in Provincetown) We spot The Mayflower Cafe on Commercial Street. The menu looks very reasonable. The restaurant looks neat, so in we go.  Finally! Crab Cakes, I want to try them, I've been reading about them for years. They're $9.95.  Marion chooses the Fried Shrimp at $8.95 and we both have milk.  $21.95 with tax before tip.  Sadly I discover I am not a crab cake man. I thought it would be more crab, less egg.  Marion tried it and thought it was pretty good. I thought it was OK but decided I wasn't a big fan. Marion enjoyed her shrimp, but mentioned they were small.  I sampled her plate  too and we both agreed we liked our Red Lobster  Lunch shrimp special more, which is only about $7.00 Canadian and includes warm cheese biscuits (and refills if you like), and bigger garlic shrimp, so you do get spoiled!  However our closest Red Lobster in Canada is almost a 2 hour drive from our home so we don't get there much.  Anyway, I'd go back to the Mayflower.  But I'd order something different. Maybe Marion's Shrimp.

More shopping, more walking and we decide it's time for coffee. My, and there's the Portuguese Bakery again.  In we go. Again.  Try another pastry. Marion gets one kind, I get another, and we split. We'll be back here again. Although not today. Twice is plenty.

Back to our motel on route 6.  We're going to Martha's Vineyard tomorrow so we have to get up early!

MONDAY MAY 22, 2000 CLOUDY AGAIN AND SOME RAIN, WHAT A SURPRISE!

We've decided to catch the 9:30 am Ferry from Woods' Hole to Martha's Vineyard. This entails a 40 minute drive from West Yarmouth, Route 28 but saves  a substantial amount of time then taking the Ferry from Hyannis to the Vineyard.  The Woods' Hole Ferry (Steamship Authority) is only 45 minutes while the Hyannis Ferry is more like one and one half hours. Part of our thinking is you can see more interesting things by car than a flat ocean. Plus we took that long Ferry 9 years ago, and everyone was falling asleep on the way back! (Including us!).  But maybe you'd like a longer Ferry ride.  Just remember, once you get in open water, you'll only see water! Keep a close watch while driving Route 28. The speed alternates and there's lots of cars and trucks entering the intersections and side streets all the time.

Confusing sign coming up! We spot a Ferry parking sign pointing to the right. I think we should turn left. I would have been right either way.  There's two parking lots!  One right by the Steamship Authority where we are heading and another off site parking lot for the overflow. We continue on to the Steamship Authority (left turn).  Getting to the parking area, I quickly get confused.  I pull behind a car whose occupants look like they know what they're doing.  "Is this where I park  for the Ferry, I ask?" "No," comes the reply, "this is the waiting area to get your car ON the Ferry"  Glad I asked. Big difference!  I pulled out and there's an attendant motioning me on towards the right. It's a fair little drive to the parking area.  Do we have to walk back? I don't even see a pathway to walk on, just a narrow road.

There's another old attendant motioning me to back into a shallow parking spot.  Small shuttle buses  (vans) going back and forth.  Now I understand.  We only have to wait a couple of minutes and a shuttle bus stops for us.  We get on. The bus  is a freebie.  It's costs $10.00 US to park for the day, $20.00 if it's overnight.  Free shuttle is included. The shuttle driver is courteous, very quick- we zoom in between two narrow concrete columns under the bridge ahead of us like a hot knife through butter.  The driver mutters something about a slow moving bicycle rider ahead of us (something about wanting to get killed, I believe).  We're at the Steamship Authority about 3 minutes later.  I assume it's the same deal with the off site parking lot. Free shuttle bus (van) service.

Hopping out of the shuttle bus, we enter the Authority Terminal. Great, there's a whole pack of seniors waiting in line in front of us. Marion, being a lot smarter than me, notices it's a fake line.  The seniors are just milling in front of one of the windows.  They already have their ticket.  Marion motions me up to the counter on the right side, the one that doesn't have any people waiting, but to be fair to me, the one that I can't see because the seniors are blocking my view.  "Two return tickets to Martha's Vineyard please".  Only $20.00 US. for two.  $5.00 each, one way.  I think that's reasonable.  "Which way do I go now?" I ask.  "Out that door to the left" the ticket lady says.

Again the herd of seniors is ahead of us.  I fit right in. Being prematurely gray for the last fifteen years, but still being 15 years away from mandatory retirement, I carry my little secret with me every day.  I may look old, but I'm not. When our kids were in grade school their friends thought I was Kipp and Miranda's grandfather. Now everyone just thinks I'm retired. I have a home office and I get to go out for coffee whenever I chose. Which is a lot.  Hmmm, maybe I am retired! The joke will be on them.  Soon they will look old, and I will still look the same.

However looking old has some perks. For instance, senior discounts on everything without asking. Senior coffee prices. Bag boys are the grocery store offer to carry out the groceries for you, without even asking.  Matter of fact almost all of the "young" kids offer to carry something heavy or bulky out of a store for you. Young Insurance Brokers get intimidated really fast.

The herd starts to move and so do we.  We cheat a little, the herd is moving too slow and we slip  up the side.  That gets us to the gang plank a little earlier, but as part of the herd is already there, it's slow going up the gang plank.

This is a big ship. Passengers , autos and even tractor trailers are on this ride.  We grab some seats. They're filling up fast.  A slim, short lawyer type in a suit and a secretary type in a suit sits down behind me. "That's the bastard up there, I'd like to pop him one" he growls in what sounds like an Irish-Boston accident, slapping one fist into his other palm for effect. Fortunately the lawyer type is not talking about me, he's gesturing to a  guy about my age at the front of the ship.  Apparently Mr. Feisty, has gotten into an altercation with Bigger Dude.  This could get interesting. But everything calms down.  The bigger dude certainly looks docile and isn't looking around for a fight.  Maybe he's not Irish.  Maybe he offended  Mr. Feisty without even knowing it.

I eyeball the crowd. Cell phones are being dialed all over the boat or conversations have already started. Young children are playing with toys. Golfers milling around with their clubs, complaining about how they have to work around weddings and other important commitments  in order to play golf. People getting up to buy coffee or hot chocolate.

I head out on the front deck.  Marion stays behind and guards our seats.  It's a cool, cloudy day again.  And a little chilly with the ocean breeze. The ship's leaving the dock. Fresh salt air. Beautiful looking houses on  shore.  There's one big single house on a long narrow point that I noticed when we were driving in,  sitting way up with lots of glass windows facing everywhere. You almost get a feeling of how the other side lives.  But do they appreciate what they have?

Less than 45 minutes later we're pulling into Oak Bluffs.  I thought we were going to Vineyard Haven!  Either we got on the wrong boat or they've changed schedules.  Not a real problem anyway, as we are planning to visit these two towns plus Edgartown. Now I do know there is a shuttle bus service between the towns. I find out later in the morning that these buses will go to all parts of the island, including Chilmark and Aquinnah. For one flat fee, $5.00 per day per person for unlimited travel.
When you get off the Ferry in Oak Bluffs, just ask anyone where to catch the bus. The Bus stop we got on was just to the left of the Oak Bluff Police Station. There's also a bus stop right beside the water. Just walk left after you leave the wharf and you'll spot the bus sign. You can refer to Martha's Vineyard Transit Authority (VTA) web page.  for information.  Current 2000 schedules advise a day pass is $5.00, a 3 Day Pass is $10.00; a 1-Week pass is $15, and 1-Month pass is $25.00.  Seasonal passes are $55.00 Island Wide or $30.00 Down Island. We found the bus drivers to be really entertaining, sometimes questioning the riders' IQ's and memory retention.  They'll give you a running commentary of the island, usually without asking. If they are a little quiet, just ask them a stupid tourist question, and that should get them going.  I suppose their most common question is "Is this the right bus? These particular bus passes are good for  VTA and ITI bus lines.  If you are making only one stop, a one way or return ticket would be in order. Either way you can purchase your ticket or bus pass right from the driver.

I always thought a trip to Aquinnah  would be interesting, especially the fabled Aquinnah Cliffs.  But with just a day trip, we don't have time.  Aquinnah  was previously named Gay Head, and both names are still used interchangeably. This is where John Kennedy, his wife and her sister were killed when their plane went down about seven miles off shore mid July 1999.

We set off in the big orange bus to Vineyard Haven. Very shortly we're dropped off by the waterfront and walk just about a block back to Main Street.  Plenty of interesting shops, and buildings to see and visit. I want to see the famous Black Dog Tavern, made even more famous by President Clinton's purchase of a couple of Black Dog T Shirts, for a good friend.  We ask for directions are advised to walk through one parking lot and head for the water. There's the Black Dog  Store, and we continue on to the rear.  No signs anywhere.  Then I look up, see a Black Dog sign (a carved black dog) and a sign below it that says "Tavern".  It sure doesn't look like much from the outside.  And it's close enough to the water you could probably cast a fishing line from a window seat and catch your own meal.  Just to be sure, I ask the friendly hostess if this is the Black Dog restaurant or just a place to drink.  She assures me "this is it".

The tavern has been described as "rustic". The front entrance is rather neat looking, but once inside it looks like a dump.  Sorry! It does!  The waitress cheerily places two single page "Lunch Specials" menus dated Monday 22, 2000 on  our table.  Yikes! It's expensive here.  And these are lunch menus, not supper.  At least it's still early (11:30 am) and only a few dinners.  By this time I am getting a little tired of Fries as a side dish.  I decide on the Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad at $10.95.  Marion picks the Barbecued Pork Loin Sandwich with Pickled Vegetables at $9.95. After the waitress takes our order I turn over the menu. Surprise!  There's all kinds of other choices, some at much lower prices. A Grilled Cheese Sandwich could have been had for $3.95.  Cheeseburgers  are still $6.95.  Or perhaps a Fenway Park Special ( 2 Hot Dogs, French Fries and a Coke) for $5.95. (Make sure you turn over your menu when you  visit this restaurant.)

Marion enjoyed her sandwich.  I did not enjoy my meal. Maybe the $10.95 was hard to swallow, but there was too much cheese and I didn't like the flavour.  And I'm not sure why the chef put  an anchovy on my plate.  Man,  anchovies are ugly looking critters. No wonder they warn you never to order them on Pizza!  Unless it's a pretty small meal, we don't have desert..  However at $4.95 for  Peach or Blueberry pie, I wasn't going to order one.  Not at these prices.  Hot apple crisp was $5.95.  If you wanted ice cream ala Mode, add $1.50. Our lunch special turned out to be $28.10 US with tip (that's $42.15 Canadian).  FOR LUNCH!

We stopped at the small Black Dog General Store. A few customers were already there. A quick "hi, how you doing?" from the sales staff. T & Sweats, over priced souvenirs, you get the picture.  No sales here.

Then we stop at the Black Dog Bakery and Store.  Breads, goodies, clothes.  Damn! We could have ordered a sandwich here a lot cheaper.  So much for ocean views and history.

Time to leave Vineyard Haven, we're headed for Edgartown.  We've been there on our last trip, and I still remember the Taxi Driver giving us an animated travelogue as he drove us and another couple from Oak Bluffs to Edgartown.  Funny, it rained  that day too and we got tired waiting for the bus.  But it was still worth the extra few bucks to get out of the rain. We walked back to our original drop off and wait.  About 10 minutes later the Bus comes along and we and some other passengers get on.  More friendly banter from the Driver.  More questions from the new passengers which I'm sure are  the same questions this driver will be asked over and over again, not just today but for months.

Edgartown has many very interesting things to see. Old whaling  captains' homes, old churches, lots of restaurants, shops, and even the Town Wharf where you can take the Ferry to Chappaquiddick. For some reason I neglected to buy a paper copy of the  Vineyard Gazette,  the oldest newspaper on the island.  Make sure you pick up a copy. I did buy a copy of  The Martha's Vineyard Times. We did a fair amount of walking around, bought a couple more T and Sweat Shirts, then headed out to find the Navigator Restaurant.  We'd been there before and had a nice lunch.  It's located at 2 Main Street, on the waterfront and has a lovely view of the harbour.  Maybe we'd try a lobster. Instead we ordered Lobster Bisque Cups at $4.45 each. Finally learned what a bisque is, it's tomato based, the chowder normally being cream or milk based. It was good, even though they should have called it "very itty bitty" lobster bisque. Oops, you caught me complaining again. I'd go back though.

I'd heard about  Nantucket Baskets for years and got a chance to see them up close at Edgartown Scrimshaw Gallery.  The proprietor was kind enough to give me some background on them, and I was amazed that such a small basket would have a $3,000. US price tag on it.  There was a couple of smaller baskets with it, but I wasn't brave enough to ask him it they were included in case he offered to wrap them up for me.  They were perfect looking, and shortly after I saw some knock offs at another store, and even I, a newbie could tell they weren't the real thing.

Time to head out to Oak Bluffs.  We easily find our way back to the bus stop and wait with a small bunch of tourists. Very soon we're back in our long orange limo headed to Oak Bluffs. These $5.00 unlimited passes are great!  (2008 update, prices only went up to $7.00 one way, $14.00 return). Don't bring your car! For one thing, in season you'll have to reserve in advance.  Don't expect to just show up and get on the Ferry with your car. I don't think it will happen. Also the listed car schedule is expensive.  The 2008   web page says $130.00 return for vehicles up to 17 feet for vehicle only.  You have other options than the Bus Shuttles. You can rent a car there (same thing, reserve first!), or even rent bikes or mopeds. However if you've never driven a moped,  Canadians should make sure their  Travel Medical Insurance is up to date!   There have been a number of serious and fatal moped accidents over the years. I suspect the majority due to inexperience.

You can do a lot of walking around Oak Bluffs too.  Our bus driver let us off close to the Methodist Campgrounds and told us the Flying Horses were closed.  Pick up or order in advance or have a friend pick up a Martha's Vineyard Best Read Guidebook. It will save you a lot of time by showing you what to see and do.  We'd seen some of the old "Gingerbread" cottages in one section of town on our last trip, but we didn't know there was another section.  The bus driver clued us in, and we headed for that area. These beautiful, tiny cottages were constructed  in the 1860's and onward to replace the summer tents the Methodist Revivalists had set up.  Apparently the small ones were constructed for about $200 including furnishings, and most owners were regular working people.  They added gingerbread decorations to try to outdo their neighbors.  Most cottages are passed down generation to generation and when we were there most of the cottages were closed up since the  summer season hadn't started yet.  It was very quiet walking the pathways and I got some nice photos of some of the cottages.

We walked the main street of town. I found a nice hot plate holder with a lighthouse and ocean scene.  Marion picked out an Amber ring in sterling silver, which the sales lady said came from Romania. We hadn't seen too many scrimshaw rings.  Maybe they were losing their popularity.

We were getting pretty tired.  A lot of walking.  I think it would be really nice to reserve a room somewhere on the island and just take it easy for the week.  You simply can not see all the island in one day.  Well maybe you could, but you'd  be on the buses most of the time, and you'd sort of miss the point in being there. By staying on the island a few days or up to a week, you'd sure see a lot more.  If you were staying in prime season, the room rate would be rather horrendous though.

Time to head home.  We end up on a much smaller ship. With very tired passengers like ourselves.  Many of them nodding off. But we're back  at Woods Hole port in no time. Our parking slip is punched out at 6.18  pm and we reached our motel about 40 minutes later. A bit of a rest,  and we decide to look for a light dinner.  By this time we're getting tired of the restaurant pricing. We pulled into a KFC not to far from the motel. Two barbecue chicken sandwiches and two milks.  "Are you a senior?" the young girl  asks me.  "Can I lie?" I ask. "Yes" she replies. "Well yes, yes I am a Senior"  The bill is reduced to $5.86.  And, one of our best meals yet.

TUESDAY, MAY 23, 2000 - SOME SUN, THEN THE CLOUDS COME BACK

Early morning we head out to Main Street, Hyannis.  We're going to have breakfast at The Egg & I, which is open "all night and every day, week days April thru October "11:00 PM to 1:00 pm for breakfast. I've read that John Kennedy Jr. frequently eat there, so I thought it would be interesting. We're way off 6:00 am, maybe more like 8:45 am.  There's just a few other diners and we are welcomed warmly.  We order the Canadian bacon, eggs, toast and coffee.  And one home fry which they didn't charge for. Breakfast is a little slow, but we are in no hurry,  the sun is shining and it's pleasant to look out the front window and just talk. Nice and quiet, just how we like it.  The meal is fine, the eggs maybe a little underdone, but then again, not overdone so I can live with that. At $14.85 US before tip, a little pricey for breakfast but it was nice.

Right next door is a great little gift store which we peruse. Then we start walking up and down Main Street.  There's a clothes store across the road which just opens up and I find a nice windbreaker for $29.95 and  a sweatshirt for $5.00! (U.S.) And there's another bigger Sweat Shirt Store down the street. This is like shopping in Florida.

We decided to  visit the JFK Museum this time.  We missed it on our last trip. The admission was $3.00 each.  Museum might not be quite the correct term. It' really old photos and a video.  Plus a small gift store. Expect to spend maybe 30 minutes here.  There are quite a number of old pictures of the Kennedys and their compound as well as a short 7 minute video on JFK's life on Cape Cod.  A lot of that video I don't recall seeing before, so it was quite interesting.  In one of the rooms there were a number of photos of JFK Jr. and his wife.  An interesting part of the exhibit was a family tree showing all the different sons, daughters, cousins etc. from all the offspring of Joe Sr and Rose Kennedy.  They are certainly a big family.  It was pretty somber in there, and it brought back memories myself.  I was only 13 when President  Kennedy was shot but I remember watching the TV news reports and reading the newspapers at the time. A very sad time back then, and again last year when John Jr, his wife, and her sister were killed in the plane crash. Be sure to visit the museum.

After our walk on Main Street we drove towards Craigville Beach,  stopping first at Veterans' Beach.  The Kennedy Memorial is located down there by the shore. Taking the side roads near the water, we came across some lovely Cape Cod houses and landscaped lawns.  We passed the Tradewinds Motel. where we had stayed one night on our last trip. It looked like the Tradewinds had been renovated from our last visit. It was a comfortable, old 2 storey hotel back then, and very quiet as it was off season that fall trip.  We had paid $50.00 US nine years ago. Our AAA/CAA guidebook reads $85.-$110 US from May 1- 6/12 and 9/3-10/26.  Summer season read $99-169.00 from 6/13-9/3 for 2 persons/one bed and continental breakfast.  It's listed as a 3 Star Motel. 35 rooms, adjacent to Hyannisport at 780 Craigville Beach Road. (walking distance to the beach).

Craigville Beach is one of the largest and most popular beaches.  On this day  in late spring, there was only a few cars and no sun tanning as it was cooler by the ocean and partly cloudy skies.  During the summer months the Web Cam  is on, showing the beach and it is really busy. And I  could see from the parking lot where the web cam takes its' pictures.  But today we took a leisurely stroll down the beach picking up some smooth rocks and small sea shells.

We headed out to Mashpee Commons.  It took a little longer than I thought it would, but it was a nice drive. There was a lot of new construction going on at the mall.  New buildings made to look like old buildings. They fitted right in.  Most of the stores were pretty expensive. There were some pretty neat things though. Bring your cheque book if you want to buy anything.

We also stopped at the Cape Cod Mall in Hyannis.  Lots of building going on here too. Lots of stores. A great place to go if it's raining or just shopping time.

Barnstable Municipal Airport   located near the Cape Cod Mall off  Route 28 is the major airport.  President Kennedy's plane used to land there, and it was this airport that John F Kennedy Jr. would also fly into.  Many of the other rich and famous Cape Cod summer visitors will use this airport, and it was on Oct 17 2000 a corporate Jet flying the second in command of BP/Amoco home, overshot the icy runway, crashed through the chain link fence, crossed busy Route 28 without striking any vehicles, and finally stopped in the middle of  the TJ Maxx parking lot, losing most of its explosive jet fuel without  fire or injuries.  It was determined the plane simply came in too fast and couldn't stop on the slippery runway.  You can  park in many of the business lots and watch the planes taking off and landing. It's pretty neat  watching the planes fly low right overhead.

Heading back to our motel we decided to have a small supper. The Golden Boy Seafood Restaurant on Route 28, West Yarmouth  was about a block away and we ordered the Fish Sandwich and Chips. $14.95 US for the two of us.  Extremely good fish, nothing like what we'd get back home in one of our restaurants.

WEDNESDAY, MAY 24 2000 STILL CLOUDY, STILL COOL, MORE RAIN

This is our last full day in Cape Cod.  We decide to drive back up 6A towards Sagamore. At one point we have to pull over into a shop's parking lot because it is raining so hard.  We couldn't even get out of the van it was so bad.  Stopping at a lot of little shops we find one Christmas type shop, and purchase a fake scrimshaw (whale tooth) and cute rocking snowman. Sorry that I didn't get the name (wasn't on my sales bill either and they didn't have a business card to pick up- advertising does pay, you know).  In West Barnstable, we stop at The Golden Gazebo, a really nice gift shop.  I find myself a really sharp looking Cape Cod coffee mug for $6.95 which shows all the light houses, including Nauset Beach which we will visit shortly.  A few sales here and I notice cranberry chocolate bars on sale for only $1.00, down from an unmanageable $3.25 and pick up just one in case I don't like it. (It was really good and fresh,  had it when we got back home, should have got more)

We stop at the Cape Cod Factory Outlet again.  We're getting a little tired of both shopping and sight seeing.  But the whole trip so far has been typically Cape Cod Spring-Cool, cloudy,  and some rain. We've skipped "Continental breakfast " at our motel and are getting hungry.  We order a couple of fresh croissants and coffee at the food concession.  Very tasty, but still hungry.  A little early in the morning, but we buy a big slice of pizza at the Sbarro Italian counter and split it.  That's better!

The big Christmas Tree Shop is just down the road from the Factory Outlet. It's a huge store and filled with all kinds of bargains. Even the building is unique, having a rare British Isles style thatch roof.  Not that it's rare over in England,  it's rare to see one over here! If you have the time be sure to drop in.

Time to head back down 6A and stop at more shops, including the one we missed during the rain storm.  Somehow I miss the turn to get back over to West Yarmouth, so I decide we might as well keep driving down 6A.  The weather starts looking better, so we'll drive to the National Seashore at Eastham again.

This time there are even less cars at the Seashore.  No wedding today and empty parking places.  Heading down to the beach we pass a few people and there's even some beach fishermen.  After about half an hour the sun actually comes out, and for once it would be warm enough to put your walking shorts on, if only you hadn't left them at the motel!  In fact it's soon the nicest day of the trip and this is around 2:30 in the afternoon. The waves are quite high and we are taken by their brilliant green hue. After a long walk along the beach picking up stones and small seashells, we head back to the van.

Instead of heading right out, we go straight and towards Nauset Beach Lighthouse. The sun is still with us.  We pull up to the parking lot.  More vehicles here. Surfer dudes in wet suits and boards walking around.  The steps to the beach are gone, they're in the process of putting new steps in, so we watch from the deck.  Quite a few surfers, only a few people walking the beach.  The surf  keeps rolling in and it's a great day to end our trip.

Nauset Lighthouse  itself is set way back from the beach, in fact behind the paved road, overlooking a higher hill.  Very picturesque and I get a couple of photos of  it too.  Built about 1836.  We head out again and pass a number of houses before we get back on Route 6, heading west.

Then it's back over to West Yarmouth again, and being gluttons for punishment we stop at Wings, The Family Tradition Store at 732 Route 28, West Yarmouth. Again an interesting gift/souvenir/clothing store with a wide selection of clothes including pants,  jackets and of course filled to the rafters with T and Sweat Shirts.  We purchase T shirt for our grandson (we've already picked some other duds for him at other stores).

Back to the motel for a rest, then it's out for supper.  I decide to try a Friendly's as I've spotted one on our travels, and it's not too far from the motel.  We pull into a Friendlys but somehow it looks different.  Order the Fried Chick salad and a cola. It's pretty quiet in there and also a pretty tired restaurant.  After we leave we come across the  Friendlys' I had spotted previously, bigger, brand new looking and impeccable landscaping.  What a difference.

The day's not done. We stop at the Mill Store on Route 28 in West Yarmouth. Tons of wood lawn furniture, office furniture, desks, cabinets, tables, hobby and craft stuff.  From small $3.00 crafty bird houses to  expensive wood sheds.  Prices seemed very reasonable.  We ended up buying a couple of coconut door mats, one for our son and one, with a Lighthouse picture for ourselves. We continued down to Hyannis Harbour, and  watched the Ferry come.  And walked around a little.  Just like any other town, when you live there, you don't see the sights.  We overheard  a clerk in one of the shops say she's lived here 17 years and finally went over to Nantucket.

THURSDAY MAY 25, 2000 -WE'RE LEAVING

Our trip is up, it's time to go.  We checked out and left the parking lot at 7:07 AM.  Our plan was to take the same route back and we'll actually pull into our own driveway in North Bay, Ontario 732 miles later at 10:30 PM the same day.

Traffic in our direction is light.  We reach the Sagamore Bridge  approximately 25 minutes later.  The upcoming Memorial Day Weekend will have dramatic rush hour problems, resulting in one stretch of Route 6 being stop and go for 18 miles. But we've timed our exit better.  Heading north we take the I 95 loop at Boston, we hit  stop and go traffic between Exits 14-20.  We exit 37B off 95 onto Inter State 93 at 9:37 am and  cross the New Hampshire border at 10:00 am.

Ten minutes later we're stopped at the same Cracker Barrel Restaurant coming down and enjoy a quiet breakfast.  Pick up a few more goodies and back on the road in 50 minutes.

We stop for gas along the way and reach the Vermont border at 1:15 in the afternoon.

We reach our Canadian Customs at the US/Canada border at 2:09 and after a few quick questions (looking the Guard directly in the eye) we are waved on and we're back in Canada.  Ironically when we left the weather had warmed up to about 67 degrees Fahrenheit by mid morning, one of the nicest days of the trip, but by now is moderating around 58-62 degrees. (We have an outside thermometer  on our van trip/computer)

We reach our Ontario Provincial border at 5:00 and it is about this time we hear of the E Coli water contamination and deaths in Walkerton, Ontario on the radio.  Quite a shock. You just don't expect to drink bad water in Canada or the US.  On our trip down we noticed the streams and rivers were all over the banks and backed up in fields, and the wet weather certainly would have contributed to the problem of well contamination.

At 5:30 we reach Casselmann, Ontario and stop for a fill up at Esso, and a coffee and sandwich at the local Tim Horton Donut Shop. Much nicer to be paying in Canadian dollars again.  Our meal is $9.18 Canadian.  That's like $6.00 US.  However we don't know where you'd get a meal this good in the US for $6.00

At 8:25 we stop in Deep River, Ontario at another Tim Horton's coffee which is conveniently located right beside the highway, and order take out coffee. We've traveled 1,012 kms so far today, (13 1/2 hours on the road) and  we are only about two hours from home. We're losing the daylight  now and we won't reach home until 10:30.  I'm a little tired.  Marion has done some driving in the morning, and declined  my offer of  night driving on a two lane blacktop. Matter of fact Marion declined to drive through Montreal or  Boston traffic.  We slow down a little as we're starting to out drive our headlights.  Half an hour from home I notice a vehicle trailing me.  I keep to the speed limit and at the next intersection discover  it's an Ontario Provincial Police cruiser that's been  there for  about three miles.  Fortunately he hadn't spotted me on the main highway where I was a little faster.

10:30 PM   15 1/2 hours later we're home.  We've driven 2,984 kms or 1,854 miles total on our vacation.  The trip back was about 1178 kms or 732 miles, leaving 628 kms or 390 miles driving around on Cape cod.
 

WHAT WE LEARNED ON OUR TRIP
Actually we learned a lot of things:
Traffic:
We expected the week before Memorial Day Weekend in Cape Cod was still going to be " off" season.  It's really what  Cape Codders call a "Shoulder Season."  There was plenty of traffic, much more than we expected. Driving on Cape Cod is not for the faint of heart, and there has been many tragic fatal accidents and personal injuries due to inattention,  speeding and drunk or impaired (drugs) driving. The police advise most of the accidents are fender benders and rear enders, due to the generally low speeds involved. We were able to cross Sagamore Bridge very quickly but  during the really busy summer months Saturday mornings and Sunday at noon  crossing the bridges at Sagamore and Bourne  will  test your patience as you will literally crawl through traffic. (Sunday afternoon Oct 15, 2000 will become a record with drivers waiting up to six hours to travel five miles cross the Cape Canal bridges)

When you research Cape Cod, you're probably reading the same authors who were responsible for making us believe that Florida is always warm and sunny, and you may get the wrong impression that Cape Cod is slow and easy living and assume the traffic will be slow and easy too! Or you might simply have read an out of date guide book! You may have a quiet day at the beach or a great visit to the Islands, but you still have to drive through Cape Cod by car!

I don't know what the auto fatality or accident rate may be in  Cape Cod , but combine archaic road and highway design with impatient inhabitants, new tourists, lack of seat belt use and low liquor prices and it ain't pretty.  You just have to check the Court Pages  in the Cape Cod Times  and be amazed at the number of  drunk driving charges. Massachusetts has the highest auto accident rate in the United States.

Of the two major roads out of Orleans (28and 6A)  which respectively will take you to Falmouth and Sagamore, one local policeman was quoted in the Cape Cod Times as saying: "you gotta be aware-(while you are driving) it's a nightmare" Ditto for State Road 6!  In normal urban driving, one person will be kind enough to let you out in front of  a line of traffic, while another will speed up and try to hit you! (Saw one just like that in front of our motel, and the cars just missed!)  I personally found most of the drivers to be courteous. In fact more so than back home. But it's that one idiot driver who will get you if you are not paying attention. And there is a lot of drivers on the Cape. You  will really help the traffic flow if you give other drivers a break and let them out from a side street or turn in front of you. By that I don't mean just stopping dead in your tracks, which is really unsafe, but slowing down, and letting them ease in, in front of you. I would really caution you to be extremely careful driving Cape Cod especially when you are not familiar with the blind curves and blind driveways on roads such as 6A.
 

GAS Prices: Canadians and Americans go ballistic when the price of gas goes up.  In Canada our high gas taxes fund everything except the highways.  Well that's not quite true, about 10% of the Canadian gas taxes fund highway and road costs. The rest of the taxes go to government waste.  Half our Canadian gas prices are tax. So what's the big deal? If we complain we should be complaining about how the government wastes our gas taxes, not that we're taxed them.  We all want  more benefits, we just want the money spent properly. I figured our whole trip cost only about $175.00 Canadian  in gas and our Plymouth Grand Voyager is a gas guzzler getting about 20-21 miles per gallon on the highway.  In the US the gas averaged around $1.74 to $1.79 US per gallon.  Much higher than a year previously but still not as high in Canada or Europe. So sorry, I am not going to complain about gas prices.  I always suggest that people either buy a horse, walk more, or just park their car if they don't like the price of gas.

Update 2008: Gas prices  in the year 2000 were great. We just did not realize it at the time. Our 2007 Cadillac SRX guzzles more gas than our old Plymouth Van did.  American gas prices in 2008 are now almost as bad as in Canada.  However the gas cost is still a small part of your total vacation costs and you can reduce gas costs simply by driving the speed limit and maintaining your vehicle.

Weather: I was just hoping it would be a nice and sunny, somewhere around 60 to 65 degrees.  Ha! At times it was cool and breezy, very cloudy with intermittent rain, and lucky for us, only one short period of very heavy showers. Other than the second last day of our trip on May 24th. and again on the day we left, May 25th.  a tourist could have easily gone without shorts and worn long pants instead, which is exactly what we did. On Cape Cod, the weather is always  iffy in the Spring.  In fact it was warmer back home in Canada  when we were down at the Cape.  If you want to miss the crowds, the Fall season can be much more comfortable weather wise than the Spring.  Our first and second previous trips to the Cape were last week of September and the first week of October, and other than a little rain (again) we had very nice, mild weather.

Restaurants: Much more expensive than we thought, although we hadn't traveled for a few years, and our Canadian Dollar is still low. Make sure you pick up a copy of the Cape Cod Times every morning and check the restaurant listings carefully. After we got home,   and after a little more thorough reading I found out all kinds of restaurant specials listed. The magic number was usually $9.95 US including coffee and desert.  I  have read somewhere that there are more than 700 restaurants on Cape Cod. If prices don't faze you, you can find  plenty of great places to eat. There is an off season on motel rates, but not on restaurants!  There are Early Birds and Specials, though.( 2008 update - Don't forget that our Canadian Dollar in the year 2000 was horribly under the US dollar) Recently we've been above the US dollar and at time of editing this story (Mar 08), our dollar is slightly below the US)

Motels, Hotels, Resorts, Inns
During off season and shoulder season Motels will probably have the best prices.  Many are still closed over winter, re-opening in the Spring and staying open until late Fall.  Our  motel  room cost only $34.00 US per night weekday and $49.00 on Friday and Saturday.  Including our one night in Plymouth, NH, our 7 nights stay was only $248.00 US or $372 Canadian. Amazingly, nine years ago, the  room rates were quite similarly priced. During the summer season, not only may you experience reservation problems, but the rates will  increase greatly.  Our motel  advertised  a starting price of $69.00 from June 30 to August 31, 2000; decreasing to $55.00 August 27 to August 31st. and back down to $34.00 from September 4 to October 28th 2000.  I don't know what the  Friday and Saturday  Summer rates would be, but I assume they would be higher than the week day rate.

Further  east on Route 28, I spotted one motel advertising rates from $15.95 US a night!  And it looked to be the same age and condition as ours, although there may have been an older unit on the side, and that might have been the special. During the summer season many of the motels will charge more than $100.00 US  per night. Of course, if you are looking at a resort or beach front motel rate can go much higher.  Even the Resorts and Inns will have special prices off season, but because they normally are more high end, expect to pay a higher rate.

Update 2008 I could not find the web page on the Americana Holiday Motel. I also checked some of the web pages on motel reservations and other pages that had guests write in comments.  There is a wide disparity of comments, however this probably goes for all motels-some guests love them, some guests swear they had their worst stay ever.  You can never keep all of your customers happy all of the time.  Motel and Hotel room rates  have generally gone  up substantially  since 2000.  We've done a lot of travelling in Ontario the last few years and are now more interested in room quality than bargain pricing.

Things to Do, Attractions, Sights, Etc.
You'll have to make some hard choices.  There's just too many things to do and see, and you'll only do a small fraction.  On our short trip we managed to drive and see all of Route 6A and 6 to Provincetown, as well as parts of 28 West and all of 28 East to Woods Hole. Just driving down around Craigville Beach was great, appreciating all the Cape architecture. The antique, craft, gallery and retail stores are just great!  We visited three towns on Martha's Vineyard- Vineyard Haven, Oak Bluffs and Edgartown. We got to do a little walking around the towns on Martha's Vineyard and enjoyed those sights. We saw some of the National Seashore, Mashpee Commons, Cape Cod Mall,  and many of the Cape towns including downtown Hyannis.

I tried to stop at one of the Box Lunch locations in downtown Hyannis, twice, but they were closed after 5:00. (One of the things that interested me most was their advertised prices!) We never got our Lobster dinner because we refused the pay the $20.00 US plus per plate. (We went to our Canadian Red Lobster in July and finally got Lobster Tails and Shrimp at the $19.99 Canadian special) We didn't go out on a Whale Watch boat or harbour tour. Maybe next time. We didn't go golfing, although there is many courses. I am simply one of the few non golfing Insurance Brokers.  We did not go fishing and there's plenty of fishing to be had. I just do not enjoy "catching" fish anymore.  We didn't lie on the beach and catch some sun because we would have either frozen or got rained on. We didn't hit the walking trails or bike paths. We didn't go to  Nantucket.  Nantucket is another great destination too, but we didn't have enough days in our trip.  We never visited  Chatham and it sounds interesting too.  The Flying Horses in Oak Bluffs were closed so we missed them again.  We didn't travel out to Aquinnah, and see the Gay Head Cliffs. The bus driver said that trip would not be good anyway because the weather was cool. We could have stopped in Plymouth  on Route 3 on the way down, but we'd been there last trip and even seen Plymouth Rock  We did see  the Ocean Spray Cranberry Centre on that last trip and since we regularly drink Ocean Spray Cranberry juice, we found it quite interesting.

I came across an interesting site  by Philip Greenspun   which details his own trip to Cape Cod. He's got lots of photos and little stories.  Google him by adding + Cape Cod to his name and his site should pop up.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Did we enjoy our trip?  Yes  we did.  I'd go again. (And we did go back). I sure didn't think about work when I was on the Cape, and that's why I took a vacation!  More sun, less traffic, and more realistically priced  restaurants and it would have been great. Would I live in Cape Cod now if I had the choice?  I don't think I would.  The tourists would probably drive me nuts. I hate traffic jams, and don't like waiting in line. And the price of Real Estate has gone nuts, having increased over 17% in 2001. (Update 2006, prices have still increased over 2005) Once marketed as a place to get away, a quiet oasis, Cape Cod has quickly become over populated during the tourist season. 17,000,000 annual visitors is too much for any place. And about 5.2 million of them being at least over night visits!  But never the less, a great place to visit!

Would I stay at the same motel? No.  Two reasons: At this stage in my life, I  don't mind spending extra for better quality or safety and Hyannis and area is rather a 'rough' section of Cape Cod, especially the motels along the strip. (Note, The Cape Cod Times reported in a December 12, 2000 article,  a murder in the American Host Motel in West Yarmouth ( right next to our motel, and near the local liquor store),  one resident said "I'm not surprised because this area is fraught with drugs and homeless people" referring to the strip of hotels and motels leading towards Hyannis".  I am not trying to scare you silly about the area or the crime problems.  I am just trying to remind you to be on your guard when you are on vacation in a strange place. Even if you visited the area a few times, it doesn't mean you know the area well.  This warning can be valid for almost any trip anywhere.

Update 2008: I've read many stories on drug arrests on Cape Cod in the online Cape Cod papers.  One story refused to name a motel at which an arrest was made based on the assumption that it was not the Motel's fault the guest was doing something illegal.  True, but I'd still like to know the name and location where these problems are occurring, because I don't want to be in that area. 

As I wrote previously there is something for everyone on Cape Cod. You can take a budget vacation during the off season, or  spend as much as you want during the summer or any time of the year.  The weather is usually much nicer in the Summer, and that's when many of the younger travellers can take their vacation (although Summer 2000 was a cold, wet  Summer).    Summer vacation to the Cape will cost more in lodging costs.  And you'll want to book a room in advance in the summer!  Maybe you should consider "shoulder"  or even "off- season"  too.  We've done fall visits to Cape Cod as well as our spring visits.  Generally the fall  weather is nicer than spring, (warmer and dryer) sales are on,  and there are less people! But whenever you go, you'll never be bored!

Update 2005:  Spring has been very wet  and cool!   Cape business was down. Cape Cod  and Island businesses are hoping for better weather for the 2006 season.

Update 2015:  Summer 2015 was a good season. And extremely good for restaurants. 

Update 2016: Oh great!  Great White Sharks congregate in Cape Cod waters.  Honest!   Google it.

Update: 2017: Barnstable, MA is ranked 93 out of 100, one spot below Cincinnati in the Top 100 Most Dangerous U.S. Cities list for 2017 as reported by Cape Cod Times Jan 15 2017, and updated jan 16 2017. Bear in mind the town's population of 45,000 can increase to 150,000 in summer months.

Links:  Cape Cod Times Newspaper On Line Version     Lots of local news, information

            Cape Cod Today News   Excellent on line news, information, plenty of photos

            The Martha's Vineyard Times Newspaper  Local news on the Island

            The Enquirer & Mirror Newspaper   Nantucket's local newspaper



 
 

If you have comments or suggestions, email me at Ray@IceColdNorth.com

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revised  March 29 , 2017
Phone  905-262-6575
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