A note from Cape Cod’s sand flats
I don’t really mean to make you jealous, but the truth is that I am writing this week’s Editor’s Notebook column while sitting on the beach on Cape Cod.
This beach is on the bay side of the Cape, not on the ocean side. Specifically, it is about halfway out on the Cape, in the town of Brewster, Massachusetts.
Brewster is pretty well-known for having something called the “Brewster Flats.” It is a huge area of sand that is not visible half the time. How it works is that when the tide is in, the water is about 50 feet out the back door of the beach house we stay in. When the tide is out, the water is over one mile out the back door of the beach house. And, when the tide is out, you can go walk through all that sand flats area and go clamming or even fishing, or just basically get a whole lot of good exercise.
When the tide is in, the water slowly gets from nine to 12 feet deep. This process takes about 13 hours to accomplish. It takes about 6 1/2 hours for it to go out, then another 6 1/2 hours to return. So the water is always either on its way out or its way in. Once it gets all the way out, or all the way in, it reverses direction.
It is an amazing phenomenon, especially here in Brewster, where miles and miles of sand is revealed when the tide is all the way out.
Most Minnesotans don’t know much about Cape Cod. They think it is a small little peninsula that juts out into the ocean. The truth is, it is not all that small. There are actually 15 towns and one decent-sized small city (Hyannis) on the Cape’s 400 square miles.
When you drive onto the Cape, it would take you over an hour to drive all the way out to the tip of the Cape (Provincetown) and a lot of the time you would be on a four lane highway.
The best thing about Cape Cod? It has remained much the same as it has for the past 200 years. And, that is done on purpose.
Oh sure, it is a vacation/tourist spot. People from around New England and New York come to the Cape in the summer, just like Minnesotans flock up north to the cabins on the lakes.
But unlike many other tourist places, Cape Cod has stayed relatively untouched. If you come here, get ready to stay in a 200-year old inn, that maybe was once a whaling captain’s mansion. Resorts are few and far between. So, perhaps Cape Cod is not for everyone.
Here are some other signs that the Cape may or may not be the place for you to come visit.
If you don’t really care for excellent seafood, Cape Cod may not be for you. Conversely, if you love great, fresh seafood, well, yeah, you got it.
If you need to have name chain restaurants, forget it. But the Cape is full of fabulous small restaurants with outstanding food, with names like the Brewster Fish House. You get the idea. You won’t find a Red Lobster anywhere around.
If you need to have entertainment such as big huge water parks, then you better skip the Cape and head to the Wisconsin Dells.
If you enjoy live theater, museums and all kinds of quaint shops, this is the place for you.
If you like to boat, fish, kayak, sailboard or learn how to dig clams, then you should come here. Waterskiing, not so much.
If you like to learn about history, you will love it here. The place literally reeks of history.
If you like to just sit and read a book on a quiet beach, then book your flight now.
If you want to visit a McDonalds, Burger King, Walmart or any other place you frequent often, then you won’t be happy here. I think the local governments don’t allow any of those places to come onto the Cape.
There is so much more I could tell you about Cape Cod, but I suggest you just Google it and learn all about. A lot of folks, when I told them we were coming out here again, have told me they always wanted to come see it. I suggest you check it out for yourself.
Besides, I have to quit writing this column, because the tide is nearly out and it is time to go walk the flats. Maybe I will get lucky and find a razor clam and eat it raw right on the sand bars.
Yeah, that’s what we do. Maybe that is not for you, either…