13 July 2010

cape cod geography...

I wish that I was still on vacation. I spent hours on the beaches of the cape. I also discussed the beaches a lot recently, and realize that they have been named with the mission to confuse the hell out of us on the mainland. Let alone those poor foreign visitors, like the busload full of elderly Russian female tourists who were dumped at Marconi at 5:30 on a rainy Saturday afternoon.

I think I have the lingo of the cape down. Let's Head Down the Cape--- this means traveling from anywhere to Cape Cod. You could be driving from Florida, all 19 hours straight north, but you are going Down the Cape, as is: "We are not excited for this car ride, but it will be worth it. We are going Down the Cape." Before we even go to the beaches, let's straighten out the regions. It took me a good 9 years to get this down.

Upper Cape: the part of the cape closest to the bridges. Bourne, Sandwich, Marstons Mills, Mashpee, Falmouth and Woods Hole (which are actually the lowest physical part of the cape). The Upper Cape brings me to the baffling Barnstable/Hyannis conundrum:
the county- Barnstable

the actual town- Barnstable
the city (within the town and county)- Hyannis (and Hyannisport)
and then there are several smaller "villages"/towns- Marstons Mills, Centerville, Craigville, and they are all also "Barnstable".

Mid Cape: this one actually makes sense, its the middle of the cap
e. part of Barnstable (the Hyannis part) Yarmouth, Dennis, Harwich (sometimes but more often is considered Lower Cape). Harwich is actually "the five Harwiches" but they thought ahead to keep the name "Harwich" as part of each, as in Harwichport. They saved their confounding naming skills for their streets, but that's another post for another day.

Nugget, the beach puggle on Bank Street Beach, in Harwichport. There are rules concerning her time at the beaches in this town.

Lower Cape: Harwich (most often), Brewster, Orleans, sometimes Eastham and sometimes, the entire Outer Cape falls under the Lower Cape label.

Outer Cape: This is my favorite part of the cape, and the least busy, also the most expensive. There are no tacky areas to be found, actually there is no route 28 either. Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro (favorite town in the world so far), and Provincetown. I think this part of the cape now boasts 2 Dunks, thanks to the new one in Wellfleet.
It's also home to Seaman's Bank. <----- that's for you, Deb

OK? following so far? Now we visit the actual beaches. I am only talking about the Lower and Outer Cape, as those are the beaches that I frequent.

confusion #1: The National Seashore.
It's one beach. It's not six beaches. It's national but not all of it is available to everyone. There are 6 beaches that a National Seashore pass will gain you entrance to. There are several town managed beaches that require a separate sticker or fee. Then there is open space that you can explore, and 8 self-guided trails. And a museum. And a couple visitor centers. And a
n airport. All of this is considered National Seashore, a National Park. An interesting side note overheard on this stretch of beach: Since its national its federal. Since its federal, state laws don't apply. Also overheard: "It's no $100 fine for smoking green here. Its felony time." And, now you know, gangstah.

Marconi Beach, July. Walk far enough and you can have a whole stretch to yourself.

confusion #2: Nauset v. Nauset Light.
Nauset is in Orleans and Chatham. It is not National Seashore (separate fees). Nauset has an ORV trail. Nauset also has the coldest water anywhere. 58 degrees cold. Part of Nauset Beach is called North Beach, just to make things fun.
Nauset Light is part of the National Seashore (let's call it the seashore from now on) and is located in Eastham. It has a lighthouse called...duh...Nauset Light. I think that at one time Nauset Beach stretched all the way up to Nauset Light Beach.
nauset light
Nauset Light in early June....brrrr....brave soul.

confusion #3: Coast Guard v Coast Guard Road
Coast Guard Beach is in Eastham. It's part of the seashore. It has a shuttle. I have never been here. It has a shuttle.
Coast Guard Road Beach is in North Truro and is the most beautiful stretch of Cape Cod beach that I have ever seen. This is a town managed beach. It can be reached with a half mile or so walk from Head of the Meadow Beach, which is part of the seashore. More than half of the people on this beach at any given time will wonder what beach, exactly, they are on.

confusion #4: Head of the Meadow v Head of the Meadow
This is one beach divided into two. There is the National Seashore side to the left and the town side to the right. But, really its just the parking lot that is divided. Once on the beach, you can walk to either part so long as its not closed for plovers or terns nesting. Actually if you park in the National lot, you could walk down to any of the Truro town beaches according to the ranger station when I called a couple weeks ago.

So, now I am so looking forward to the coming weekend's escape to the seashore.

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