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Tag: cape cod

She wasn’t there when I stopped

We came across this sign on Highway 6 on Cape Cod — and, quirky signage being part of any good road trip blog, thought we’d pass it on.

Gulls will be gulls

Sitting on a post off the pier in Provincetown over the weekend, this gull seemed to be king of the mountain — but it didn’t last for long.

I was enjoying a cup of clam chowder — yes, another one — and Ace was laying at my feet, halfway under the bench, when I decided he was picture-worthy and took out my camera.

Sure, they are scavengers, but I like watching them — whether it be soaring regally through the sky or picking through trash like hungry hobos.

The seagulls around Provincetown have pretty good pickings, but — kind of like the humans outnumber the parking spaces — gulls far outnumber the posts in the water, which seem to be the perching spot of choice.

I’d only taken a couple of photos when a fellow gull looked down from above and, apparently either wanting the spot, or feeling he was American’s next top gull model, swooped down and bumped the first off the post.

I wasn’t going to take his picture, but then he proceeded to do something resembling a victory dance.

After I finished the chowder, and Ace cleaned the cup, gull No. 1 — apparently wanting his perch back — swooped down and knocked No. 2 off.

Then he sat there a few more minutes, looking proud as an eagle.

It wasn’t long before he went back to being a scavenger, though.

When some fishermen on a boat were cutting bait, he vacated the post for a closer look, hovering in the air and being pushed backwards by the wind.

He’d flap his wings to get closer, hover, float backwards, and flap his wings again.

Then, seeing no handouts, he went back to his post.

Seagulls kind of have it all figured out. I was forking over money at every turn in Provincetown.

Seagulls? They pay for nothing. They scavenge scraps, sleep wherever they want, squawk whenever they feel like it, and park for free. I salute them.

One last look back at Provincetown

We’re out of there, but we left with good memories, and some extra photos we never used. So here are a few more P-town dogs, and some words to live by, courtesy of Pilgrim Bark Park, where they were among several sayings engraved in stone at the entrance.  

Another place that’s hard to leave

I’m not sure if it was an overdose of dog friendliness, or the camping experience, but Provincetown wore Ace out.

After a full day of doggie activities Saturday — part of Pet Appreciation Week in the Cape Cod community — we returned to our campsite and turned in early, as in 8 p.m.

Ace, though he was spooked by everything — a car door closing, headlights casting shadows on the tent walls — eventually fell asleep, at least I think he did, because I conked right out and slept through the night.

We were up bright an early Sunday, and the first thing we did, after coffee, of course, was head down to town, score a parking space and hit one of the town beaches — all of which permit dogs and, from 6 to 9 a.m., allow them to be off leash.

Ace sniffed around for a while, then broke into full frolic mode, kicking up sand as he ran in circles, stopping every now and then to crouch into a play stance and bite into the sand. He tested the water briefly, then decided running around in the sand was more fun — especially if I was chasing him.

We play this little game — perhaps it horrifies onlookers — where I double up the leash, making sure the clip part is in my hand, and act like I’m going to give him a whipping. I even say “You’re gonna get a whippin’  … You better watch out … ” When I do that he runs toward me, veering to the side at the last possible moment and I gently swat his hiney with the leash when he goes by. Then he circles and comes back again.

After an hour of that, we got some water and walked into town, stopping at the Governor Bradford, which, like most restaurants with patios in Provincetown — proclaimed America’s dog friendliest city by Dog Fancy magazine —  allows dogs.

Breakfast finished, we headed to the pier, where Ace seemed most fascinated with the old working fishing boats — to the extent that there were one or two he wanted to hop aboard. He was intrigued, too, by the plastic lobsters on the bench/display above. It will be interesting, once we hit Maine, to see how he reacts to a real one.

He did get to sniff a starfish that a charter boat employee was showing some children, and fortunately didn’t gobble it up.

With a dog parade scheduled to take place at 2, sponsored by the Carrie A. Seamen Animal Shelter, we had an hour to kill. Ace was dragging a bit. Possibly I was too. So we walked back to the car. I opened the tailgate and Ace jumped right in and settled down. I joined him, sitting at the end of the tailgate. He shifted around so he could lay his head on my leg and, within seconds, was sleeping. The parking space was $2.50 an hour — so it was a pricey nap — but too nice a moment to interrupt. I think I fell asleep, too.

We awoke in plenty of time to get a good seat for the parade, which only lasted a couple of minutes, but we sat there for another hour with people coming up to meet Ace, compliment him on his handsomeness, and ask what kind of dog he was.

While that happens everywhere, Provincetown really does seem a place where dogs are appreciated more than most — and not just during Pet Appreciation Week.

Worn out by running on the beach and being sociable, we went back to the campsite for what would turn out to be a soggy night.

Mainly to get out of the rain, we jumped into the car about 6 a.m. Monday morning. I stopped for coffee and we drove out to Race Point — part of the Cape Cod National Seashore, 40 miles of pristine shoreline, marshes, dunes, cranberry bogs and ponds.

“A man may stand there and put all America behind him,” Henry David Thoreau once said of the spot we stood in. The rain turned to a gentle, but just as soaking, mist, and Ace went into frolic mode again. I wasn’t in the mood for the whipping game, though. Instead, I stared out into the water, only to see something staring back.

To me, that sealed the deal: I love this place.

Ace’s coat was drenched, and so was my sweatshirt. There was a soggy tent to drain, pack up and hoist atop my car — and I was already cold and tired to the bone. The skies showed no hint of any sunshine ahead. Nevertheless, it was time to get rolling — for while when I looked at the ocean the whole country may have been at my back, when I turned around the other way, the whole country was ahead.

Dockside Encounter

Name: Finley

Breed: Landseer Newfoundland

Age: 19 months

Encountered: Along the pier in Provincetown, Mass.

Backstory: We ran into Finley (and a couple of hundred other dogs) during our weekend in Provincetown. He was lounging on the pier, sitting with his owner next to one of many artist kiosk’s that, along with whale watching charters, line the dock. Finley’s owner says, like most Newfoundlands, Finley loves the water — whether he’s playing in the surf, swimming or on a boat. Finley — lucky dog — lives in Provincetown year-round.

(To see all of our Roadside Encounters, visit “Travels with Ace.”)

The mighty campers pitch a tent

Those of you who read me and don’t know me – though, if I’m doing my job right, that wouldn’t be the case – might be under the impression that I’m one of those rugged outdoorsman types.

You might think — just because I’ve given up my home and hit the road with my dog, sleeping on couches, boats, my car and Motel 6’s during our four-month, so far, adventure — that I’m that type that, given a pocketknife and some duct tape, can survive anything anywhere, the type that’s always pictured in their author photos as lean, tanned, and boyishly handsome in a chiseled, self-confident kind of way. They always have windblown hair, a few days stubble of beard and look as though, if you were to lick them, they’d taste salty.

Nothing, when it comes to me, could be further from the truth — except, more often than not, the stubble part, which is actually quite easily achieved, even if one is laying in bed watching TV.

The truth of the matter is I’m a bit of a wimp; and my dog — though, having logged 13,000 miles so far, he’s rapidly becoming the most well-traveled dog in America — is,  quite possibly, even wimpier, at least when it comes to camping.

Which brings us to our first adventure in camping since our trip began four months ago. During that time, my camping gear has ridden atop my car in a black plastic sack, not removed once.

Heading up Cape Cod to Provincetown, after familiarizing myself with motel prices in this part of the country, I realized it was time to finally find a campground, pitch – and I haven’t pitched in three years – my tent, and test my outdoors skills, albeit in the highly civilized climes of the cape.

I’ve camped maybe four times in my life, always with company; Ace has camped once, in the mountains of North Carolina, and was pretty much a nervous wreck, getting startled by every little sound and seeking the solace of a sleeping bag, even if it was occupied.

He, like me, is older and wiser now, and our four months on the road, I’d like to think, have made us a little more grizzled.

The decision to camp was primarily based on economics. While there are numerous dog-friendly lodgings in Provincetown and up and down Cape Cod, they carry a hefty pricetag.

So, after attending some Pet Appreciation Week festivities in America’s dog-friendliest town, I drove back to Dune’s Edge campground, which I’d seen on the way into town, confirmed its dog friendliness, and forked over $60 for two nights of camping.

I’ve decided one night of camping just isn’t worth the effort of getting the gear off the top of the car, setting it up, taking it down and getting it all packed and strapped down on top of the car again.

Unloading the black plastic sack, I found that some moisture had accumulated within, My tent, some pillows I’d forgotten were up there, and the camping cot I bought before I left, were all damp or wet. So I took everything out and laid it on ground to dry, and smoked a cigarette, trying to recall how I set up the tent three years ago.

It didn’t come back to me, so I assembled the long rods and laid them atop the tent, and smoked a cigarette, pondering what the next step might be.

Noticing some slots in the fabric, I stuck the rods through them, then sat back and smoked a cigarette.

Slowly, it was coming together – in my head, if not in reality. I realized once I hoisted those sticks, I’d having something resembling a tent. But, still uncertain, I hollered over at the tent next door, one of whose occupants came over to serve as, first, consultant, then helper.

From there, it all went up easily, and I drove some metal stakes in the ground to assure it would stay that way, because the winds up this way blow hard. After that, I put the top sheet-thing over the top, put the other rods in the places they appeared to belong, and had something resembling an entrance. It sagged a lot, but it would do.

By then, the cot had dried out, so I assembled it and stuck it inside with my slightly wet sleeping bag and my slightly wet pillows and smoked another cigarette before going to the store to pick up something for dinner. There was no grill at the campsite, and no disposable ones in the store, so we went with salmon dip, bread, cheddar cheese and salami, which Ace and I shared.

Before bedtime, which came early, I heated up some water on my propane stove top for tea and, as it steeped, laid a blanket down for Ace, telling him that it was his bed.

I’d planned to read and drink tea, but the batteries were dead in both my flashlights, so I stepped outside for one last cigarette. When I returned, Ace had made himself comfortable on the cot, which he agreed to leave only after some strong urging.

Ace remained jumpy, startled by every sound, wondering, I think, why the walls fluttered in the wind. I could see how, always living in places where the walls didn’t move, that might be a little disconcerting.

Dozing off with my arm flopped over the side of the cot, I felt something cold and wet pushing my hand. It was Ace’s nose. I petted him, then held his paw for about ten minutes. He likes that. As crickets chirped, I fell alseep. I’m pretty sure he did, too.

By morning the tent was still up. There had been no bear attacks, probably because there are none around here. I did see a spider in the sink when I took my shower (a quarter for every three minutes of spray) and pondered whether I should shout and make noise like you’re supposed to do with bears. Instead, I quietly kept my distance, moving two sinks down to brush my teeth.

Back at the tent, I unzipped it, and Ace came bounding out. I made some coffee in my percolator and drank it all before we went into town.

Night two was colder, but the sleeping bag did its job. Around 2 a.m., I was awakened by a gentle rain falling on the tent, then a not-so-gentle rain, then splashes of water landing on my face from above.

Ace was getting even wetter — and I’m still not sure where it was coming in, except maybe through the front flap, which I’d forgotten to close all the way.

By morning, everything was either soaked or damp. I skipped making my morning coffee and went to a restaurant. Ace was content to stay in the dry car.

Back at the campsite, I managed to get everything packed away — soggy tent, soggy blankets, soggy sleeping bag, and soggy dog. While reloading my fishing rods into the sack — also not used on this trip so far — I poked another whole in the heavy duty bag, ensuring that the insides would only get wetter.

We got in the car and hit the road, headed for I don’t know, but somewhere dry.

The dog-friendliest town in America

Once again, we’ve stumbled upon a little piece of paradise.

Between its natural beauty, its abundance of dogs, and the respect townsfolk seem to have for both, Provincetown is the sort of place you don’t want to leave, but can’t afford to stay.

For example, dogs are allowed on all the town’s beaches — all the time. And between 6 and 9 a.m., they don’t even have to be on leashes.

Just about every restaurant with outdoor seating welcomes dogs, and most kick in some treats and bowls of water as well.

Its dog park, Pilgrim Bark Park, is spacious, tidy, free and open to everyone, and it’s generally rated among the top five in the nation. There are gobs of businesses devoted to dog — from groomers, to vets to doggy boutiques.

Another big factor in P’town’s dog-friendliness is the Carrie A. Seamen Animal Shelter (CASAS), which put together this past weekend’s schedule of doggie events. Seamen was a Boston lawyer for 20 years who settled in Provincetown and in 1971 helped to found the Provincetown Animal Shelter. Upon her death, she bequeathed money to establish a new, no-kill animal shelter.

All of that, and more, have earned Provincetown the title of America’s “dog-friendliest city,” an honor bestowed by Dog Fancy magazine last week, which, by the way, was Dog Appreciation Week in Provincetown.

The weekend’s activities included the official presentation of the honor, the dedication of a dog statue at the town hall, dogs shows, dog blessings, a doggie parade and more.

I pulled into Provincetown knowing nothing about it – other than that it was northernmost tip of Cape Cod, loved dogs and was likely to be expensive.

(Which is why we ended up camping out — more on that and Provincetown tomorrow).

Driving up Cape Cod, where I’ve only been once before – for a quick newspaper story – I quickly became enamored. With each passing town, found myself saying to myself, “I could live here … I could live here.”

Hitting Provincetown, and its artsy, restaurant-laden, cedar shake rusticness and near overwhelming quaintness, I said it again, but — after a $17.50 parking space — added, “if I was rich.”

It doesn’t take long for anyone to see that it’s also very gay friendly town — both when it comes to tourists and those who call it home. Hanging around in town, dog and people watching, I noticed that pretty close to the majority of couples walking down the street — and the majority of those holding hands — were of the same gender.

It struck me — part of my travels being devoted to recording how the country has changed since John Steinbeck and his dog crossed it 50 years ago — that this was probably one of the biggest ones of all.

Attitudes toward gays — though in a lot of places they still have a long way to go — have changed a lot over the past five decades.

In Steinbeck’s day, a same sex couple walking hand in hand down the street would likely be subject to name calling or worse. Today, in Provincetown and a lot of other places, it doesn’t merit a second look.

As the bright and warm morning turned into a gray and chilly afternoon, I sat on a bench and wondered if there’s a connection between the two — a place’s level of dog-friendliness and its level of gay-friendliness. What, other than tolerance, is the common denominator, if there is one?

Part of it, likely, is a function of capitalism. Appealing to the gay crowd, like appealing to the dog crowd, can bring in customers. Part of it is probably sheer numbers. Maybe places with a lot of dogs are more likely to become dog friendly, and places with a lot of gays likely to become gay friendly.

Does the influx result from the friendliness, or does the friendliness result from the influx?

These are the things I pondered as I sat on a bench, and the skies grew grayer, and the people and dogs kept passing by.