Last week I made my way to an available futon at a friend’s rental in Wellfleet, MA for a few days. I’ve been lucky to visit the Cape for some length of time every summer for the past 20+ years and felt very fortunate to have the chance to get there for a quick getaway. It isn’t Spain or Greece, but it is a special and beautiful place that I love to visit, and is especially appreciated as an escape during these difficult times.
Later this summer, I’ll return to Wellfleet to a house which I’ve fallen in love with during the past few years. The rental market, from what I’ve observed and heard, is very odd this year. I have friends who lost their rental when the owners cancelled their entire calendar of reservation because they were concerned about hiring cleaners to maintain and disinfect the property. It seems they typically employ young people who come to the U.S. in summer to work and those workers can’t travel. Thanks, Covid.
During my four days on the Cape, it was obvious that this season is very different from a typical summer. We only ate out once, at PJ’s in Wellfleet. We placed our order in person, signed in with contact information for potential tracers, selected a table under a tented area and had our meals delivered a short while later. The food was great and the experience was new normal fine.
Speaking of restaurants, along with other businesses, a number of them are simply not open. I saw a signs on a couple of small inns in Wellfleet indicating that they were not going to operate this summer. I was shocked to see the lobster joint on Route 6 near Coast Guard Beach closed for business. It’s been there as long as I can remember and always seemed busy.
On an overcast early afternoon, we walked around Provincetown noticing a definite difference in the size of the crowds that usually take over Commercial Ave. Masks were worn by nearly every person we encountered, which was nice to see. I couldn’t help but think about how hard that community has been hit in the past few years – first by political fallout causing foreign visitors to reconsider Provincetown as a destination, followed by a decrease in rental appeal due to a new short term rental tax, then serious flooding and now this awful illness. New Englanders are tough, but this must very difficult for business and property owners to survive.
There were a couple of fab beach days, on sandy shores with plenty of space to spread out. One day we hiked on Great Island, finding a perfect and alone spot to enjoy the reasonably warm waters of the bay. Another afternoon was spent at the gorgeous Head of the Meadow beach in Truro. We arrived as the tide was heading out and had a blast paddle boarding in the inlet that appeared between the shore and an increasingly revealed sandbar that paralleled the beach. This national seashore site is officially closed, which means no parking or use fees, nor lifeguards.
On my last evening we caught a somewhat muted sunset out on Lieutenant’s Island. There were years that we rented out there and I’ve always appreciated the isolation of this spit of land that is inaccessible to cars during high tide, a situation which we nearly experienced to a damaging extreme on this particular night. We had parked on the near side of the bridge, knowing that the tide was coming in and not wanting to get stuck on the island. As we made our way from the beach back to the car, the low road was completely submerged under water that was knee deep. We waded through the warm water, appreciating the adventure until we caught a glimpse of our vehicle. It seemed we had parked not quite high enough on the road to avoid the increasingly higher water level. Yikes! Thanks goodness the SUV sits high up otherwise we could have experienced what this poor guy went through on the very same night!
Summer 2020 may not be typical or normal, but the Cape remains a destination filled with remarkable light and beauty. It’s never been a place where I spend much time indoors, preferring outdoor activities, and this year I will pointedly avoid places that are crowded or which cause me to feel uncomfortable. So, my vacation plan will be lots of walking and cycling, some running, afternoons spent at the beach or “our” pond and a smattering of takeout meals, all enjoyed with friends.