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Cape Cod A Local Perspective

Although I’ve lived on Cape for more than two decades, and my children were born on the peninsula, I’m a wash-a-shore, one of those not so quite endearing words used to describe folks not delivered on this sandy soil. Native-born Cape Codders are rightfully proud of their unique birth claim and some families can trace their arrival back several generations, but I’ll never be able to never declare myself as being anything more than just a local.

That’s okay with me because being a local on Cape Cod gives me an edge during the hectic summer months, when traffic volume triples and a quick hop to the market turns into a crawl. It only took one summer to find the back roads: those sneaky little short cuts that locals keep to themselves, a residential perk.

As a local, I get the best of both Capes. Summer on Cape, a season that seems to grow longer with each passing year, is magical. It’s a time for remembering the simple childhood pleasures in life, swimming, fires on the beach, fresh ice cream and finding a good short cut through town. And so too are the off months, winter and spring, a time where locals are busy working, exploring the deserted beaches and trails and still using those driving short-cuts.

Locals know getting a parking spot at the beach in the summer means heading out earlier than usual because when it’s hot, people want to swim or at least they think they do until they dip their toes into the Atlantic. We trek up to the National Seashore, a glorious stretch of beaches, marshes, and trails that starts in Eastham and runs right to the tip of Provincetown, where the waves can be rough and the water so cold it leaves you speechless.

And we know those water temperatures posted on chalkboard signs all along the beaches are always a lot warmer than the actual water temperature.

But nothing says Cape Cod Summer more than a beach fire. Most visitors don’t realize that many towns allow you to have beach fires provided you get a permit from the local fire department. Grab some firewood, (you’ll see firewood for sale by Campgrounds) wine, or beer, toss in a few beach chairs, pick up a steamed lobster or a pizza, and stake out a spot to watch the sunset (In Chatham, open fires are forbidden on public beaches, but if you’re staying in a vacation rental with private beach access, then you may be in the clear). We do this well into the off-season and have enjoyed hundreds of fires, never tiring of the views of the fire against the sea and setting sun.

After all these years on the Cape, the only things I’ve seen drive even locals from the beach are no-see-ums, those barely visible midges that can ruin even the loveliest nights with their painful bites. Nothing stops these little buggers – DEET, fire, or manic hand waving. If you happen to run across these ‘swarms’, you won’t win, just pack up, head to town and grab some ice cream.

The Cape has plenty of ice cream shops, from soft serve to our favorite, Four Seas Ice Cream in Centerville, known for simple, fruit packed hard ice cream. Be prepared to wait – there are no back roads around the line here – but anticipation is half the fun.

Karen Ellery Jones is a Cape Cod travel writer. She has lived on the Cape for over 20 years with her husband, two teens and three cats. You can read more of her writing on Cape Cod for Couples.

Please read more articles about Chatham and the Cape Cod area here:

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Cape Cod
Posted by Cape Cod - (website) on 05/12/11
Categories: ActivitiesLife
Keywords: Cape Cod, Local Advice


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