Our next guest blogger is Kate Hamilton Pardee, Director of Nantucket Visitor Services!
As the Island prepares for its third annual New Year’s celebration, I can’t help but reflect on how the event has grown over the years. I remember sitting at our first meeting in a conference room with my partners Virna Gonzalez, Office and Events Manager of ReMain Nantucket, and Amy Baxter, the event producer. We were steadfastly holding on to this new idea for a fun Nantucket New Year’s celebration for all ages, but we were basically starting from scratch. Three years later, with great support from the community, Saturday, December 27th through Sunday, January 4th are now filled with family activities, a glamorous New Year’s Eve ball, restaurant parties, music, and, of course, shopping galore.
How do I spend my New Year’s holiday three years later? Even after this time has passed, there are still new events added every year to choose from. If this were my first time visiting, I might attend the Moulin Rouge Ball at The Nantucket Hotel, an elegant evening of dancing to an orchestra in a restored grand island hotel, with chic holiday décor and tasty treats. If visiting with children, I would make sure to stop by the amazing Nantucket Dreamland Theatre to see the comedy jugglers, The Gizmo Guys, and the acrobat Li Liu. I wouldn’t want to miss singing along, and giggling aplenty, at Joe Zito’s puppet show to be held at the Handlebar Café.
If I were spending a romantic weekend away, I would begin by visiting the incredible sparkling display of the NHA Festival of Trees, walk the beautiful downtown to shop for something special to wear, and then plan on a dinner at one of the Island’s amazing restaurants, many of which have special holiday events. If only visiting for a short break, I would book myself and some friends on the Hy-Line Nantucket high-speed ferry, with its special New Year’s round trip rate, and then watch the seals basking in the sun on the jetty as we arrive. It would be a day of incredible shopping at Nantucket’s unique stores, many with end of the year sales not to be missed. Included in this excursion would be a “Sip Stop” at one of the wine/champagne tastings and then a long, late lunch overflowing with shared laughter, or maybe the New Year’s Day inaugural Pajama Brunch at NIXS Brewpub, where Lanz nightgowns are proper attire.
My own New Year’s holiday will include a little of all these ways to enjoy our Island celebration. So much so, I have a feeling my husband, Gary, might not be able stay awake to watch the ball drop. To begin our first morning of the New Year, Gary and I will take a long walk to check out the waves along with our pups Moose and Billie. Wandering along the scenic conservation trails, I hope to burn enough calories to indulge guilt free in a leisurely lunch. We will continue to be grateful to live in such a beautiful place that shares its specialness by offering this Island holiday celebration to both residents and visitors alike. Happy New Year!
There are so many different community events going for all ages, so make sure you check out the web site for all times, dates and information. Lodging and restaurant listings are provided there too. You can also follow us on Twitter! I can also be reached via email.
Our very first guest blogger is the lovely Miss Holly Finigan of the Nantucket BlACKbook! She is a frequent traveler on the Nantucket high-speed ferry and a great friend :)
Ahhh, the fall on Nantucket. The island lets out a big sigh of relief after a busy summer season. The days stay warm with beach worthy afternoons and the nights are crisp as it quickly becomes sweater season. This is by far our favorite time on the island. You’re truly able to relax and enjoy the sweet serenity of September and October. And while many may think the island slows down, they are mistaken! There are always a plethora of great things going on during autumn on ACK and here we give you four reasons to come bACK in the fall!
Plan A Girls Weekend Away
In search of a fresh way to get your friends together? Plan a girls weekend to Nantucket! It’s the ideal time to kick back and relax and catch up after the craziness of the summer passes. Find a place to stay like the White Elephant Villages that has hotel like amenities in one, two and three bedroom residences! Grab bikes and enjoy some fresh air as you cycle out to Sconset or just relax by the pool and hang in one of the White Elephant cabanas as you relax, read, and laugh about old times. There are always great summer sales going on and you won’t have trouble getting a reservation last minute if you just want to wing it!
September 26th through the 28th
Looking for a weekend escape where you can really learn something and open your eyes to big concepts and grand ideas? Look no further than the 4th annual Nantucket Project which goes beyond simply the presentation of compelling thoughts. Their mission is “To bring together a select group of eminent and accomplished visionaries, thinkers, innovators and performers to one of the most storied places in the United States. To invite them to share what’s foremost on their considerable minds. And to see what happens. The result, and the impact, have been nothing short of stunning.” This year's theme is “Art and Commerce” and is sure to be an amazing weekend with over 30 inspirational and intellectual presenters who each bring something different to this extraordinary three day event.
September 29th through October 5th
Love to eat out? Always looking for something delicious and new when it comes to dining and drinking out on Nantucket? You’re in luck! The biannual Nantucket Restaurant Week runs the last weekend of September into October and is a great time to check over 25 fantastic restaurants around ACK! For just $25 at lunch and $45 at dinner, you get three courses and the best part is every restaurant does the special differently. Want to dine outside? Check out Galley Beach. Looking for romance? A two top at Ventuno and Straight Wharf makes for a great date spot. And love innovative menus? The Proprietors and The Pearl have many unique dishes that you won’t find anywhere else!
Saturday October 11th
Nothing says Nantucket like the Cranberry Festival! And this one day event is fun for the whole family in a gorgeous and super unique setting that will have you taking picture after picture! Plan for a day away down at the Milestone Bog where you can learn about the history and harvesting of Cranberries on the island. Enjoy live music for local bands, sheep sheering, a petting zoo, hay rides, face painting, BBQ food, sweet desserts, cranberry bread and so much more at this fun for everyone festival!
Holly Finigan is the founder of the Nantucket blACKbook, the online guide to all things hip + fresh on Nantucket. From where to sip, where to shop, where to stay, restaurants, retails, real estate, she keeps ACK lovers in the know of what's haute and cool around the island, wherever they may be. Follow along on www.nantucketblACKbook.com
Look where the Martha's Vineyard Ferry can take you!
146th Annual Grand Illumination Night | August 20
Grand Illumination Night, the highlight of the summer season takes place in the Campground in Oak Bluffs! The Gingerbread cottages are adorned with colorful Chinese and Japanese lanterns, which are lit at sun down and burn throughout the night. In the Tabernacle, there is a sing along and band concert that starts around 7:00pm. One source states that this tradition started as a way of marking the visit of the Governor of Massachusetts. Another source states that it states that it originally marked the close of the summer season for campground visitors. Either way, this free event is certainly a can't miss for the whole family!
153rd Annual Martha's Vineyard Agricultural Fair and Livestock Fair | August 21-24
The Martha's Vineyard Agricultural Fair and Livestock Fair has something for everyone! There is no shortage if fun with rides, games, live music, livestock, competitions, craft demonstrations, food, shopping, and art show; awards for homegrown vegetables, fruits, flowers and homemade goodies; and the fan favorite - a dog show! The goal of the Fair is to "promote education and involvement with agriculture in the Martha's Vineyard community. The proceeds of the fair support the Ag(ricultural) Society's scholarship and grant programs." The Agricultural Fair "promotes the pursuit of agriculture, horticulture, land conservation, youth activities, mechanic and domestic arts and encourages the raising and improving of plant and animal stock and the sale of island-grown produce and flowers at local farmers' markets." The Fair takes place at Agricultural Hall (off of State Road) in West Tisbury. The cost is $10 per adult, $5 for kids and seniors, and children 5 and under are free.
Fireworks at Ocean Park | August 22
The fireworks at Ocean Park is the perfect night with family and friends! Bring a chair or blanket and look towards the open sky for one of THE best fireworks displays on the island all year. Locals say that it is truly one of the best events of the summer. There's also a band concert in the gazebo, starting at 8:00pm. Admission is free.
If you are planning on attending any of these events, or if you have, please let us know what you think!
Whether you live here or are vacationing on Cape Cod, this is the goal:
Sunshine. Relax. Fun. Firsts. Satisfaction. Adventure. Memories. Repeat.
Visitors always want Cape Cod vacation ideas from the residents or "natives" as I like to call them. People dream and plan their getaway to the Cape for months. Sometimes, I think I lose sight of how truly luck I am to live here (until I go visit somewhere else and can't wait to get home - no offense, Los Angeles).
It's tough working all summer, like many of us do, when the kids have it off from school. We have to make time and plan for the vacation or staycation or day trip, because the summer goes by in a flash.
I relish in the secret spots on Cape Cod; but I like to play tourist too. Last Sunday, we went to one of our favorite places to swim, Hathaway's Pond in Barnstable. Why do I love it? It's not super-crowded. I don't have to worry about an undertow or my kid getting knocked down by waves. My kid makes friends fast. Shade AND sun. Soft sand (I don't like walking on the shells and in seaweed). Lifeguards. A restroom that is a stone's throw away. And, the ice cream truck comes.
There are approximately 365 fresh water ponds on Cape Cod. I highly recommend checking one or more out while you're here. I know the ocean beach is a huge draw; but the ponds are amazingly beautiful, clean and offer a completely different type of family atmosphere. Click here for an article about some favorite ponds aka "swimming holes" on the Cape and make a plan. It will be SO worth it.
AND THEN, we went out to play tourist. We left the pond and headed for Ocean Street. On Sunday afternoons at 3:00pm there is an Ice Cream Float Cruise where you can make your own ice cream sundae with Ben and Jerry's. This cruise has been around for years, but I have never done it. What a great way to cool off after the beach! It's a one hour cruise around Hyannis Harbor and Lewis Bay. Ben and Jerry's has two staff members on board who serve up three kinds of ice cream, hot fudge, strawberries, whipped cream and a table full of toppings. I've actually never seen people in a line look so happy. We waited, designed our own deliciousness, and went up to the top deck to enjoy. There was a limited amount of live commentary about the Kennedy Compound and then the narrator announced that if anyone had any questions, he would be available for the rest of the trip. Then he went around the boat to the individual groups and asked if anyone had questions. That, I thought, was great. The kids on board were quick to ask questions when he approached them individually. Ahhh, little sponges.
And then my kid went back downstairs to the main deck and designed a second sundae. Yep. Part Deux. He was HAPPY. This is the money shot:
It tells the story of a happy boy on Cape Cod, Summer '14.
And it's only just begun.
Well. It sure has been a long time now, hasn't it? I'd like to say that this winter has really flown by, but I'm not going to lie to you. As painful as it has been for us in this area, I'm happy to tell you that Hy-Line day-to-day business has been very busy. In addition, marketing has also been out straight getting ready for what is looking like a great year ahead. It's funny because when all the people are here in the height of the summer, that's my down time. My busy season is right now.
We're in the final stages of getting our full-color brochures done and off to the printer. So many say that print is dead, but I don't ever see it being dead for us. Every year, we take all the suggestions that have piled up the year before and make changes so that the brochures are the best that they can be. In addition, you can't have the same information print year after year - content and images need to be refreshed.
One of my tasks this year was to rewrite some of the copy in the Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard Ferry, Harbor Cruise and Canal Cruise brochures. (Sorry Deep-Sea Fishing brochure - no new content, but a picture of my kid is going in). In the island ferry brochure, we have a welcome section and a Hy-Line history section that we wanted to merge together and polish up; this was a fun project for me. Personally, I find the family and business history of Hyannis Harbor Tours, Inc. dba Hy-Line Cruises interesting and inspiring. After I finished writing, I said to myself (out loud, of course), "At the very least, this will make a great blog post." As it stands, a lot of this was left on the cutting room floor. But with you, I'd like to share the unedited version:
Family owned and operated with pride since 1962
After graduating from Massachusetts Maritime Academy, brothers Richard and Robert Scudder settled into the family businesses of fuel oil (Scudder and Taylor Oil) and a gas station (Scudder’s Sunoco), both located in the waterfront district of Hyannis. With the election of John F. Kennedy, a “national spotlight fell on the Cape” and when the brothers were working at the gas station, they were asked for directions to the Kennedy Compound as much as they were asked to “fill-er-up.” They decided to further expand the family business with a parcel of land they owned on Hyannis Harbor and the purchase of a 1911 Maine Coastal Steamer replica, Prudence, and began operating sightseeing tours of Hyannis Harbor past the Kennedy Compound to satisfy the surge of interest in “America’s Royal Family.”
With the success of Hyannis Harbor Tours, Inc., Dick and Bob further expanded the business by also running a recreational fishing boat out of the Ocean Street Dock and, in 1971, an opportunity presented itself to start an island ferry service from Hyannis to Martha’s Vineyard. In 1973, they made a pivotal decision to purchase the Hyannis Island Line boat business at the other end of the Ocean Street Dock, and incorporate ferry service to Nantucket. Hy-Line Cruises was born.
Dick and Bob’s children were involved in the family business at a young age. As they finished their high school, college and military careers, they all returned, working in different facets of the company to manage, and eventually own the incredibly successful business that their fathers built.
In December of 1995, that second generation of the family made the next most pivotal business decision with the introduction of the very first high-speed ferry to Nantucket. The high-speed catamaran Grey Lady cut the travel time to the island in half and concentrated heavily on customer amenities such as convenience, comfort and service. This high-speed service has proven to be so popular, that it was added to the Martha’s Vineyard operation in 2005 and the current, third generation high-speed Grey Lady continues to be the passenger-preferred way to get to the islands.
I am tired of Legos and Pokemon cards and Rainbow Looms. So as my son's 9th birthday approached, it was very clear that his gift would not be found at Toys R Us or Walmart. I knew that he would not be neglected by others in the toy department; however I was sold on giving him an experience...a memory of a great day with his mom.
I planned a day on Martha's Vineyard. Honestly, I've spent so much more time on Nantucket, professionally and personally, that I was really excited to do something that was new for both of us.
A couple of weeks before we left, I called Bill Anderson of Anderson Bike Rentals in Oak Bluffs. I have worked with him for years, but have never met him in person (this happens to me a lot). I asked him if he would be open because I was bringing my son over for his birthday and I'd like to stop by to meet him. I was glad that he, in fact, would still be open on weekends. A few days before we left, I started thinking about how cool it would be to bike the Vineyard...now THAT'S something I've never done! My son loves to bike around the neighborhood, but what about actual biking? And then there's the little fact that I haven't been on a bike in, oh like, 20 years...before helmets were even a consideration. The idea intrigued me and scared me a little. It would be a challenge. It would be different. It would certainly be an experience. So we decided to go for it!
We took the high-speed ferry to Martha's Vineyard and arrived at about 10:30am. We checked in with Bill Anderson, who is a stone's throw away from where the ferry docks at the Dockside Marina in Oak Bluffs. Bill has been there renting bikes since 1971. He said, "Oh, I've been renting bikes since before you were born!" and I admitted that it wasn't that much before I was born. We were outfitted with a couple of nice bikes, helmets, bike lock and chain and he even offered us some water (of course, I'd already packed water, apples, hand wipes, kleenex - you know, the typical mom things). He and his daughter Kathy asked about our plans and we told them that we were headed out to the Island Alpaca Company in Vineyard Haven. Kathy kind of gave me a look and said, "Really?" and I asked if it was too far. She said no, as long as you can bike a half-hour. Nah, no biggie. She gave us a map and drew some custom directions and we were off!
On the ride to the alpaca farm, it was about half regular roads and half bike trail. I was really happy that we were there in October so that traffic on regular roads was light. So we biked. And biked. And biked some more. Whew - it was so long since I'd been on a bike and I felt it! The terrain is pretty flat around these parts, but even the little hills were a bit of a challenge. Thank goodness it was a beautiful, sunny day in the low 60s and we could bike in t-shirts. The directions were spot on and we arrived at the alpaca farm as she said, in about a half-hour.
I've been to the alpaca farm once before, but my son had not. It's a lovely farm (I think someone said they owned about 20 acres) with an abundance of alpaca, maybe 75 to 80. They breed them, sell them and have a great little gift shop featuring mittens, gloves, sweaters, scarves, yarn, toys and gifts made with alpaca wool. If you have never been introduced to alpaca fur, it is incredibly soft. All of the alpacas have tags around their necks with their names on it, which is great. We went out back where most of them were hanging out and eating and one of the staff members was also there answering any and all questions. I could tell how much this woman loved her job and these animals. I loved sharing this visit with my son because even though we don't own any, we really do love animals.
We walked back to the bikes, had a snack and water and biked back to Oak Bluffs. We stopped by and saw a friend at the Oak Bluffs Open Market, which was great. There were artists selling their wares and a guy singing and playing guitar. Needless to say, the boy was hungry and we quickly moved on. We went out for lunch to one of my favorite spots - Sharky's Cantina. We love Mexican and this is the place for it on the Vineyard. It was packed, the New England Patriots were on and the food was fantastic (as usual). Then, of course, he had to have dessert so we stopped at the only place that was still open, Ben & Bill's Chocolate Emporium.
And then he wanted to bike. More. After stopping, it was hard to get motivated to get my now-sore captain's quarters back on that bike. But I did and we biked the Campground and Gingerbread Houses, and then Ocean Park which is picture perfect (I just read on TripAdvisor that it is the #2 attraction in Oak Bluffs). As you may be able to guess, I was getting really tired and losing steam. After Ocean Park, we biked the scenic route along the ocean, back to Anderson's bike rentals to hang it up. I was all done.
We had an hour before the ferry to Hyannis left, so we walked around (had to hit a gift shop for something) and then ended up visiting Petey at Coop de Ville. The Coop de Ville is a restaurant on the water in Oak Bluffs that Hy-Line has partnered with the past couple of years for a fall day trip special to Martha's Vineyard. He was having his annual pig roast that day and by telling you that it was well-attended is putting it lightly. He also had this great band playing on a boat so we cuddled up on a bench (due to exhaustion), people-watched, soaked up the last of the Indian Summer sun, and listened to some tunes. Seriously, everyone needs to go to Martha's Vineyard in the fall. For real.
That night, after I put birthday britches to bed, I went on Google Maps to figure out how much we had biked. I was shocked to realize that we had biked at least 10 miles that day, and I felt it.
So no, none of these birthday presents can be wrapped, or played with, or later in life be donated. But I'm OK with that because this way, he'll have them forever.
It's amazing how you can live here, in a tourist community & not take advantage of what interests millions of people to visit Cape Cod every year. I meet many Cape Codders that have never taken a ferry to Nantucket or Martha's Vineyard, or been on a whale watch, or to Heritage Museums & Gardens, or to Marconi Station or even the Wellfleet Beachcomber (the horror!).
I have been to all of those places, however I am embarrassed to say that I have never been to the JFK Museum in Hyannis. Now, the Kennedy Compound is the reason Hyannis Harbor Tours dba Hy-Line Cruises started in 1962 (you know, where I work). You can't see the Kennedy Compound by car, but you sure can see it by boat!
I am also embarrassed to admit that I had no idea that November 22, 2013 is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
I got myself up & out of the office a few weeks ago to visit the JFK Hyannis Museum for the first time. The Museum is located on Main Street in Hyannis & is a nice walk from Hy-Line on Ocean Street. There is actually a brick-patterned walkway the entire way, referred to as the Walkway to the Sea, which links the waterfront to downtown Hyannis.
The Museum's prime focus is on the years that the Kennedy Family spent in Hyannisport, from JFK's Cape years as a child through his assassination in 1963. There is also information about other members of the Kennedy family, including former United States Senator from Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy. There are many beautiful photographs of the family enjoying their time on the Cape (fondly referred to as the "Camelot" days), Kennedy presidential memorabilia, a timeline of pivotal events in the history of the Kennedys & two videos, Going Home & JFK at Hyannisport, both narrated by Walter Cronkite.
Cape Cod: The Summer of 1963 to November 22, 1963: Celebrating the Final Summer is the exhibit currently on display at the JFK Museum. According to the museum curator, Rebecca Pierce-Merrick: "From the joyful 1963 summer memories of the President and his family, to the palpable fog of grief that settled over Cape Cod after his death, this exhibit will remind us how truly special those Camelot days were and how one day in history changed it forever. Camelot was a nationwide phenomenon, but in many ways, its epicenter was right here on Cape Cod. Residents and visitors alike will be deeply touched by this exhibit.”
I also learned about the Kennedy Legacy Trail, here in Hyannis. There are ten sites Hyannis, on a 1.6-mile walking trail. This self-guided tour features informational signs with links to audio & video information highlighting stories & history about the Kennedys on the Cape. The COOLEST thing is that you can also take the tour online! You should really check it out.
Coincidentally, I was invited to lunch yesterday by the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce to meet with a group of journalists from the UK, who were joining us on the one-hour Harbor Cruise later in the afternoon. They were in the area (from Boston to Cape Cod to Newport) visiting sites related to JFK's legacy, being that this is the 50th anniversary of his assassination. I found it very interesting that they all, representing five different publications, traveled so far to research & write about Kennedy history & JFK's legacy. During lunch, our conversation turned to the ever-popular, ever-comical American reality TV show racket: "Who are the Kardashians? Why do they have a TV show? What makes them famous? What about all those 'wives' from different places?" I started thinking about the Kennedys & how the nation was enthralled with them, watching their every move - the many famous quotes of JFK, how Jackie O was dressed, what the kids were doing. Kind of like the nation is now with reality TV; but they were reality. No script.
As I get ready to tackle my next blog post, sometimes I know exactly what I'm going to do & sometimes I have no clue. This is one of the no clue ones.
We've been working on a new 'Point of Interest' card for our Hyannis Harbor Cruises, which every passenger gets when they purchase a ticket. The deckhand gives live commentary about the historic Kennedy Compound & other notable homes (& well, points of interest); the card is used as a reference (so you know what the heck you're looking at).
Back in June, we went on a Harbor Cruise to take pictures for a redo of this card. We've been reprinting this card for eons & to say that it was outdated, is putting it mildly. So, the new cards came in yesterday from the printer & I have to warn you - they're way too nice! An actual keepsake or souvenir or even a righteous bookmark. I hope some of you take the Harbor Cruise & let me know what you think of it because it's been a long time coming. And it's on shiny paper!
On this trip, my son's class was onboard. For years, Hy-Line has offered all of the second grades in Barnstable a free field trip. Here's a picture - he's the not shy one:
If you have a family & are at all interested in a short cruise, the Harbor Cruise is a great choice & kids ride free on the morning trips (every day, all season, May through October).
Speaking of something free AND awesome to do with the kids, I took my son to a Cape Cod Baseball League game on Sunday (these games are free, however there was a $4 voluntary donation accepted at the gate). We saw the Hyannis Harbor Hawks versus the Brewster Whitecaps at McKeon Field in Hyannis. The CCBL consists of ten teams, from Wareham to Orleans, who play an entire 7 week "season" of quality baseball. These young men are the cream of the crop in collegiate baseball, on their way to bigger & better things, likely the big leagues. Major League Baseball players & coaches such as Mike Flanagan, Jeff Reardon, Thurman Munson, "Mo" Vaughn, Terry Steinbach, Ron Darling, Nomar Garciaparra, "Buck" Showalter, Jason Varitek, Carlos Pena, Steve Balboni, Ben Sheets, Mike Stenhouse, David Aarddsma, Mike Lowell & more played in the Cape Cod Baseball League prior to their time in the minors and majors.
I must admit that on Sunday, it was Sponsor Night & I was invited because Hy-Line has been a sponsor of the League for quite a few years now. At the Hyannis field, they have a Skybox that you can rent out, so that's where the sponsor festivities took place. In addition to great seats, a TV broadcasting the game, couches & catering, you get to meet & greet with some of the players. Last year, my son met & had his picture taken with Sean Manea, who was recently drafted to the Kansas City Royals (cool!). This year, he met, got autographs & had his picture taken with two of the Harbor Hawks pitchers: Cy Sneed (love the name) from Dallas Baptist & Bryant Holtmann from Florida State. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for these young men. As the Cape Cod Baseball League's tagline so aptly states: "Where the Stars of Tomorrow Shine Tonight!"
I cannot write about the CCBL without giving props to the great woman behind all these great men - Judy Walden Scarafile, President of the Cape Cod Baseball League. Judy was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010: "On Friday, October 15, a new face joined the exhibition walls, as the Museum revealed the incorporation of Judy Walden Scarafile, long-time President of the Cape Cod Baseball League, to the "In the Office" segment of the exhibit, with an image and label documenting her achievements over 40 years of service to the game... For 40 years, Scarafile has served the 125-year-old Cape League in various capacities, leading the collegiate summer league organization since 1991 in all facets of business operations. In 2003, Scarafile became the first woman inducted into the Cape Cod Baseball League Hall of Fame and she has received numerous awards from charities and organizations, as well as winning the "Woman of the Year" Award from USA Baseball."
So, the next blog post will be one of the "have a clue" ones. I expect you all to let me know whether I'm better with a clue or without :)
I washed ashore onto the island of Cape Cod a little more than 20 years ago; & I know this is where I'm meant to be. Cape Cod is an amazing place to live (not just survive), work & raise a family. It's also a great place to visit whether you're a visitor to our shoreline ("559.6 miles of unspoiled coastline" according to the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce) or a resident enjoying a staycation.
My favorite things about the Cape center around its natural beauty & sharing it with my family. On this summer's "to-do list" was the Aquatic Exploration Cruise. Hy-Line partners with Mass Audubon Society at Long Pasture (I believe this is the 4th summer), using one of our Cape Cod deep-sea fishing vessels, Sea Swan, as a marine science classroom for kids. I took my son (8 going on 80) & my niece (4 going on 14) on the first trip of the season. Deirdre & Andrea were the Mass Audubon naturalists on board & they did not waste any time getting the kids involved. They had a huge bucket in the stern (the back, for you landlubbers) of the vessel with two dogfish (small shark) & an eel for the kids to pet & take out & hold them (if they could keep them from wriggling away).
All of the kids on board were psyched to be hands on with creatures they've only seen on TV or in books. The parents & grandparents didn't get very hands on, but stood back & took lots of pictures.
We cruised out into Hyannis Harbor, passing ferries & pleasure craft to our destination in the inner harbor. The crew (Jeffrey & David were AWESOME, by the way) pulled traps that were full of seaweed, spider crabs & small creatures that were just waiting to be discovered by the kids. The content of the traps was brought on board & armful by armful, it was placed on two tables. The kids went to work sifting through the seaweed, finding the tiniest (& seriously, I mean tiny) creatures, placing them in small plexiglass tanks for easy viewing. They found comb jellies, baby shrimp, LOTS of spider crabs, hermit crabs & two different types of seaweed. They found an ancient large scallop shells that had barnacles growing on it, so they put it in its own container so they could watch the barnacles open up to feed. They even found a slipper shell which are male when they first mature, then change to female at 12-18 months (the grown-ups got more of a chuckle out of that than the kids). In retrospect, I should've taken a notebook to write everything down. As a parent, I love seeing my son get so excited about discovering & learning new things.
I was impressed with how carefully the kids handled the sea creatures. In their own way, they respected & appreciated these living organisms. At the end of the trip, some of the kids volunteered to send all of these amazing creatures back home, to put them all back in the ocean. I think there may have been some future marine scientists on board that day.
I have to tell you that I can't remember the last time I was in a group of that many children, of all ages, who were so excited, working together & sharing a real experience. All of them were engaged & interested; not one of them chose to play on some electronic device instead. The only electronic devices on board were used for picture taking, as we were all making memories with our kids & grandkids.
For more pictures from the Aquatic Exploration Cruise, check out our Facebook page!
So last Friday, I swung into the Raw Bar On Ocean Street, at Hy-Line Landing, where our ferries to Nantucket & Martha's Vineyard dock. It seems hard to believe, but this is The Raw Bar's 6th season with us! The Raw Bar's original location is in the Popponesset Marketplace in New Seabury, a great little community in Mashpee, on Nantucket Sound.
Hands down, the most memorable & notable thing about the Raw Bar is their lobster roll. Billy Costa of NECN's TV Diner named it the #1 Lobster Roll in New England. Know what? That's a pretty big deal! I also read that said lobster roll was featured on Channel 5's Chronicle & The Phantom Gourmet.
I have a secret wish that Guy Fieri would show up in his convertible & start chowing down, rolling his eyes with utter food ecstasy & delight, talking with his mouth full, loving the lobster roll...
So I was chatting it up with Ruthie around 2:15pm & it was Friday so I certainly expected it to be busy, but it wasn't. After talking about what was going on this summer, I walked around & took some pictures of the bar downstairs, outside seating, then went upstairs & took pictures of the 2nd bar & from the deck, overlooking the dock. Our high-speed Nantucket ferry Grey Lady was just pulling in & I went back downstairs. It was as if someone had turned on a switch - now the bar that had one person seated, was full & there were even a few people standing. I looked at Ruthie & she said, "The boat's here...and it's summer!" I have to tell you, I felt a pang of jealousy. I really wanted to be on vacation, getting away from stress & responsibility. Their cars were parked, they were having a drink & something to eat...so many vacations had already begun at the Raw Bar. It was a beautiful thing.
I really need to take advantage of all that the Raw Bar has to offer & have mini staycations (in my opinion, Cape Cod is the best place to do just that). Besides the famous lobster roll, they have a Lobster Dinner Special from 5-10pm on Wednesday & all day on Sunday which includes a single or twin lobster, corn & cole slaw, available for market price. They have an Oyster Happy Hour Monday through Friday from 4-6pm for $1.25/each. They also feature Wines of the Week (now you're talking). The Raw Bar is open 7 days a week from 11a-11p so I really don't have an excuse to not hang out over there & at least ACT like I'm on vacation.
I must confess that I've never eaten lobster, in a roll or otherwise. I know, it's ridiculous because I live on Cape Cod. As I swing into a wiser & more mature (& thankfully less uptight) time in my life, I am learning to never say never & be open to trying new things especially on the food frontier. This is going to be our summer, Raw Bar lobster roll. I can taste it.