From Cape Cod to Boston

October 8, 2022 • 10:15 am

Yesterday morning I was dropped off in Barnstable to get the bus back to Boston (and then the T to Cambridge). First, though, we took a stroll to First Encounter Beach in Eastham. As Atlas Obscura notes:

First Encounter Beach’s unusual name comes from the fact that the beach was the site of the first encounter between the English Pilgrims and Native Americans, specifically members of the Nauset Tribe.

On December 8, 1620, the Mayflower was anchored off current-day Provincetown. A small band ventured south and encountered the Nausets while camping at the beach. The Nausets reportedly fired arrows and threw rocks at the Pilgrims, but no one was harmed.

The Pilgrims did not settle in Eastham, moving on to Plymouth and establishing the now-iconic Plymouth Plantation. Eastham would not be settled for another 24 years.

It looks like many other beaches on the Cape, but the historical facts here seem pretty well established. As my friend told me, the Native Americans told the Pilgrims to “go piss up a rope.” They then moved on to Plymouth, where they settled.

But there were cute birds on the beach: semipalmated sandpipers (Calidris pusilla) Semipalmated Plovers (Charadrius semipalmatus):

Here’s Kurt Vonnegut’s white house on Scudder Lane in Barnstable, where he lived and wrote for most of his life. His daughter Edie and her husband renovated the barn next to it, where she lives now.  As I’ve written before, my late friend Kenny and I visited this house in the Seventies, as Vonnegut was sort of a literary idol, but we didn’t have the courage to knock on the door in hopes of meeting the great man.

And so up to Boston, taking the T from South Station to Cambridge. As always, I noted the preponderance of young people on the train (largely because of the universities here, Cambridge is a young folks’ town). This time, however, nearly all of them had their gazes fised on their phones. Here’s a panorama I took of my subway car (click to enlarge):


7 thoughts on “From Cape Cod to Boston

  1. What a lovely spot! The cute birds, though, are Semipalmated Plovers (Charadrius semipalmatus) rather than Semipalmated Sandpipers. Sometimes I wish they’d chosen less confusing names for these two common species.

  2. Vonnegut’s old house looks pretty big; I had a friend who drove to Hunter S. Thompson’s house in Colorado, and he too didn’t have the courage to knock. Who knows, HST might have shot at him, so it was probably wise to just look.

    I saw two people on the train not looking at their phone, because they were sleeping. I’m not mocking, I’d be looking at my phone as well, probably reading WEIT.

    1. I would be reading a book or the route map…

      PS disappointed not to see PCC[E] swim or at least paddle his twinkle-toes in the North Atlantic!

  3. Have really enjoyed the Cape Cod pics. I tried to propose to my now wife a half dozen times when we travelled there. She’s not quite as enamoured with lighthouses as I am and at every beach, when I tried to gauge her mood re. the loveliness of our surroundings, she’d be like, “yeh, it’s a nice beach. But we have such amazing beaches in West Australia and they’re so untouched and blah blah blah….” (I’d heard it a thousand times before.)

    Anyway, after the Cape and a brief tour of southern New England in the Fall (do I capitalise it in this context) I had to pop the question in a random steakhouse in Boston on last night of the trip with her at work the next day. She said yes thankfully and then got gastro.

    But absolutely loved the trip and we can’t wait to return. Throwing our names in the Green Card lottery hat this year with the hope of spending a couple of years in Boston and New England at some point.

    Thanks for the posts and pictures, brought back many memories.

  4. Jerry, your “Semipalmated Sandpipers” are Semipalmated Plovers (as I imagine many readers will have mentioned).

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