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Posted by on September 10, 2012

When we left Onset on Thursday morning we were headed for Boston. It should be no surprise to readers of this blog that instead of Boston, we were walking around the streets of Provincetown Thursday afternoon. (Weather, wind, timing, and suddenly we ended up in Provincetown.)

In a hint at the surprising things to come, we saw a seal as we dinghied around the harbor looking for a place to dock.  There are a lot of boats, so after we docked, we found the harbormaster to make sure he was okay with where we anchored and where we left the dinghy. The friendly harbormaster said that we were fine on both accounts and then filled us in on where to enjoy the festivities of the schooner regatta that was going on. We walked along the main wharf looking at the schooners that were in town and toured the boat that won the race over to Provincetown from Gloucester.

Provincetown is nothing like what we imagined. There’s a large dock full of whale watchers, fishermen, sailors, a pirate museum, and huge ferry boats. It’s akin to a cruise ship town dock, but after you get out of the hustle and bustle you’re met by artist’s galleries, easy-going locals, and small historic cottages with beautifully maintained landscaping.

After we had the lay of the land, on Friday we brought our bikes into shore and headed straight for the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum. The monument is the largest all-granite structure in the USA, and it towers 350 feet over the tip of Cape Cod, providing breathtaking views of the harbor. The monument commemorates Provincetown as the first landing site of the Mayflower Pilgrims (they stopped there for 5 weeks before they moved on to Plymouth.) The Mayflower Compact, one basis for democracy in the New World, was written and signed in the harbor before they went to shore. The museum includes various exhibits depicting Provincetown’s past and the history of the Pilgrims during their time on Cape Cod. It also includes some cool artifacts from the over 30 arctic explorations of Donald B. MacMillan (who was born in Provincetown.)

After the museum, we biked out to the Cape Cod National Seashore because we had seen online that the Old Harbor Lifesaving Station would be open from 2-4:00. The lifesaving station was awe-inspiring, and we highly recommend it. Because of the frequent wrecks along Cape Cod (something like 3 or more a month,) the state of Massachusetts and the US Government established lifesaving stations along the entire coast of the Cape in the late 1800’s. They were called the “U.S. Life-Saving Service” and they were the predecessor of the modern Coast Guard. Their un-official motto was “You have to go out, but you don’t have to come back.” Year round the lifesaving crews ran training drills every Thursday and soon the public started to attend to watch. The Park continues this tradition today, providing demonstrations of the life-saving techniques on Thursday afternoons in the summer. The old time photos of the crews using the breeches buoy, in practice or for real, were amazing.

After leaving the lifesaving station we biked through the park. There is a meandering path that winds through the park, and we climbed over dunes, past ponds, through pine and deciduous forests, and past wild cranberries in the undergrowth.  We stopped several times to check out the visitor center and eat the picnic lunch we’d packed. The visitor center has a video about the history of the Life-Saving Station, aptly titled Wooden Ships and Men of Iron.

It was getting near mosquito o’clock, so we skipped the last walking trail we came across and headed back into town. After locking up the bikes on the pier, we made one last trip on foot through the town and out to the western edge. The town got even prettier, more quaint and quiet as we  left the busy downtown with servers calling out to the street from restaurant doorways, wanting to show you their menus and specials. Gardening must be a huge pastime in Provincetown, because nearly every home or inn had amazing landscaping that filled the streets with floral aromas.

With sunset approaching, we headed back to the dinghy to pack up our bikes and make the trip back to Joint Venture, where we went to bed early in preparation for our sail to Boston the following morning.

Today our thoughts and prayers are with Sabrina’s family as they remember and celebrate the life of Sabrina’s Uncle Tom who’s long battle with cancer ended last week. We wish we could be there and we’ll see you all soon.

2 Responses to Provincetown?

  1. Candace

    Love the photos of the houses and gardens. The cranberry photo is especially appealing! My fav though is the photo op 😉 Take care!

    • Brad

      We’re hoping that we can find some cranberries later this fall. The park encourages you to pick a handful when they’re ripe.

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