Winter on Cape Cod
Cape Cod is famous as a summer playground for the northeast of the United States. Many have a summer home here, or a cottage that they winterize and leave just after Labor Day. Tamara often tells the story of waving farewell and holding signs from the highway overpass on Labor Day weekend to summer tourists leaving the Cape. Compared to summer, winter on Cape Cod is a completely different place. First, traffic on the main roads like Route 28 is bearable: in the summer one avoids certain areas of that road like the plague. You don’t have to have a sticker issued by the town to park at the beach, and there is no booth attendant to pay to park for the day. On the downside, many businesses and restaurants are “closed for the season.”
This is the time of year when we generally have some down-time and the chance to visit family. Our winter Cape Cod activities are often limited by the weather. Last week, with a balmy 40 degree day, we decided to take advantage. We inflated bicycle tires, put on an extra layer of clothes and set off on an adventure by bicycle.
We head toward the south coast of Cape Cod in Yarmouth. Our first stop was Smugglers Beach, aka Smuggs. When we arrived, there were a few people sitting in their cars eating lunch with a view of the ocean out their windshields. We had a brief walk on the sand, though the wind this time of year at the shore, coupled with the temperatures tends to be pretty brutal. After getting a bit of wind burn we saddled up and continued along the coast.
Next stop was Parker’s River Beach. Here they have some pretty cool play equipment, usually for the kids to use. We were able to unleash our inner child and have some fun without getting odd looks from parents or sharing space with dozens of others. Some highlights included a mini-backhoe and springy motorcycle and horse ride-on toys. After getting a few laughs and silly photos we pressed on and head back out toward Route 28.
Captain P’s Famous Clam Chowder
Next, we passed one of my personal favorite places on the Cape, Captain Parker’s Pub. Of course, there is fierce competition over the best New England clam chowder but, as someone who has attended the Cape Cod Chowder Festival, I say that for my dollar Captain Parker’s is THE best. We ordered a sandwich, bowl of chowder and beers, just what we needed for the second half of our bike ride.
We continued along 28 for a bit until we arrived at the street toward Seagull Beach. Down the road we went, I myself felt a bit happier than before as I tend to get cranky when hungry. Finally, we arrived at the turn-off to the beach. The road leading to the parking lot is quite long and passes a few residential houses, probably summer rentals. Here, we were able to observe the seagulls ingenious way to get an easy lunch. The road is littered with broken scallop and clam shells. This is from the gulls. They find a shell, take it to a considerable altitude and drop it above the asphalt. Gravity does all the hard work for them and they enjoy the spoils!
Dodging the seagull’s artillery we arrived at the parking lot, once again empty, and made our way to the ocean’s edge. This beach has a boat launch into Parker’s River and then out to the open ocean. The jetty on the river is quite picturesque and we were blessed with sunny blue skies. On the beach, the lifeguard stands seemed to be just a bit shorter than normal. Maybe they seem taller with loads of people around or maybe the sand really had drifted up that much? Whatever the case, we took the opportunity to monkey around and pretend we were there watching over the crowds, ready at a moment’s notice to sprint into the surf.
After all the silly poses and jumping off the life guard stands, we decided to head home to warm up. It wasn’t until then that I started to feel the burn in my thighs and get a little cold. The sun had gotten lower. Sunset is around 4 pm this time of year, and trees had started shading the roads. All and all we biked around 11 miles but had way more fun than any number of miles could quantify. Take your time while bike-riding in the winter on Cape Cod, and cut loose when it strikes your fancy. After all, nobody is going to be here to see you this time of year!