A place to get away from it all
There is a place I really enjoy visiting when I?have a chance to get away.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
Some folks in the Midwest think of Cape Cod as a rather little area, about the size of a small town, just a tiny spit of sand that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean.
That is not true. The ‘Cape,’ as its residents refer to it, is actually quite large and has about a dozen towns and one fairly large city (Hyannis) located on it.
If you drive from the start of the Cape and go all the way to the further-most point (a town called Provincetown, or ‘P-town’ as it is known locally), it will take you at least an hour, driving at highway speeds.
Provincetown has a large tower located in the center of town. It commemorates the spot where the Pilgrims first landed in America.
I know, I know. We all learned in school that the Pilgrims first landed at Plymouth Rock in what is now the town of Plymouth on the mainland of Massachusetts.
That is simply not true, as any good Cape Codder is eager to tell the uninformed. The Pilgrims actually first landed at Provincetown, but they couldn’t find any fresh water just some nice sandy beaches and a lot of fish.
So, they packed back up and sailed the Mayflower across Cape Cod Bay and landed at Plymouth Rock.
Or so the legend says.
Besides the beautiful beaches, the sunny skies and all of the wonderful seafood (and there is a lot of it), there is another reason why I love Cape Cod.
Let me try and explain it.
Cape Cod, its local governments and its residents, have all worked extremely hard for hundreds of years to keep Cape Cod as Cape Cod.
OK, I realize that needs a lot more explanation. And I can do that with a couple of examples.
I went to Branson, Missouri, years ago, and it was just a quaint village in the hills. Now, it has become a huge entertainment/vacation destination.
It has shows, water parks, miniature golf courses and so many fast food restaurants you can hardly find a place to park.
Ditto for the Wisconsin Dells. It used to be quaint. Now it is a mega-vacation destination, almost rivaling Disneyland.
Not so with Cape Cod.
Oh, it is definitely a tourist hot spot in the summer. Just like Minnesotans flock ‘up north’ to the lakes and cabins and resorts in the summer, so do East Coast residents head to Cape Cod.
But when they get there, they won’t find any resorts, high rise condos, shopping malls, chain food restaurants or even any kind of a big fancy hotel.
Visitors will also have a hard time finding a Walmart, McDonald’s or an Applebees. Because there isn’t any.
Get the idea?
Oh, there are plenty of places to stay and many, many great places to eat (especially if you love wonderful seafood). But, these are all small little individually owned businesses.
There are many, many inns, bed and breakfasts, and old sea captain homes turned into fantastic places to stay.
And, you can barely throw an old lobster trap without hitting a small, but excellent, seafood restaurant.
Just about every house and every shop and every restaurant has that ‘Cape Cod look.’ You know what I mean cedar shakes for siding and roofing on a building that screams Cape Cod.
There are even local ordinances that enforce that look. Well-kept old houses, some hundreds of years old, must keep that look and style, even if they are being remodeled. It is the law.
New homes and even new business buildings must be built following the strict Cape Cod look. Even if you are building a new hardware store, it had better look like it was meant to be on Cape Cod.
Oh, all the Walmarts and McDonald’s of this world want to go there and build, but so far the local folks have been able to keep them out except for a stray Burger King or Kmart that has sneaked into the city of Hyannis.
It is what makes this place so special, especially for those of us who don’t care about all the giant box stores and chain restaurants of this country.
I would prefer to shop and eat at nice little mom and pop stores and restaurants, like we still find in our small towns in Minnesota. But here they are dying out way too fast.
Not on Cape Cod. And that is what makes it so unique.
Try it out sometime, if you are looking for a place to get away to that doesn’t scream commercialization. A place that is remarkably the same since the first time I went there 42 years ago. It is probably quite a bit unchanged since the years when this country was first established.
Just let me warn you.
You won’t find a single miniature golf course or water park anywhere around.
And that is a good thing.