Day Four: Chatham

Day Four: Chatham

We had a late start today, leaving the hotel after ten to get breakfast at IHOP in Hyannis. We followed up our meal with a rousing round of mini golf at Wild Animal Lagoon.

Wild Animal Lagoon Mini Golf

I wanted to see another lighthouse, so we drove down to Chatham on the “elbow” of the Cape. Chatham Light, established in 1808, was the second light to be built on Cape Cod. It was originally two towers, but one was moved north in 1923 to become Nauset Light. The adjacent home, originally constructed for the light keeper, now houses active duty Coast Guard personnel.

Chatham Lighthouse

Directly across the street is Chatham Light Beach. The parking lot only allowed us 30 minutes (perfect for me), so we walked out to the beach where I planted it in the sand and Jeff took the girls for a little beach stroll.

Monomoy Wildlife Refuge

South of the lighthouse and connected by a deceivingly tiny little road marked “no outlet” is Morris Island, part of which is part of the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge. Monomoy was established as a refuge for migratory birds in 1951, but boasts many kinds of wildlife, including horseshoe crab, deer, harbor seals, and gray seals. After crossing the small land bridge, the island opened up to a large residential area including two gated communities boasting large oceanfront homes with yachts anchored in adjacent Stage Harbor. We found a spot to park along the road to wonder down to the beach. On the ocean side of the road, we found an expansive salt water marsh, which was not conducive to walking. On the sheltered harbor side we found a sandy beach.

Sometimes you stumble upon the neatest things without ever expecting to find anything. As we wandered up to the sandy shore, Kiki discovered hundreds of tiny fiddler crabs. When they heard her coming, they all scuttled off to hide in the sea grass. It was quite a sight. We all enjoyed wading up the beach to watch more and more flee. The same beach had hundreds and hundreds of tiny little hermit crabs. Pretty neat.  

Fiddler Crab

After exploring the beach a while, we drove up to Main Street to find some sushi. The restaurant didn’t open until five, so we took some time to wander through the local shops until dinner. Bluefins Sushi & Sake bar did not disappoint. After dinner, we drove back to the hotel for a little unwinding at the pool. After a few hours of properly unwinding, we went into Hyannis in search of something “not sushi” for Kiki to eat.
 We were surprised that Hyannis had a pretty active nightlife. A lot of the shops were still open after 9 o’clock, allowing Kai to replace her blown out flip-flops and me to find an adorable little dress. Jeff found Kiki a hot dog, which she followed up with two slices of pizza. We closed out the night with some of the best ice cream in New England from Katie’s Homemade Ice Cream.

 Tomorrow we’re off to Boston!

Day Three: Provincetown 

The trip three hours into the future caught up with us today. No one stirred until 9 am. After a quick shower, we slipped into the hotel continental breakfast just in time to grab a carb heavy breakfast. 
The first stop this morning was the Cape Cod Potato Chip Factory tour. The self guided tour only took about 15 minutes, which was just enough time to show us the process for making their delicious kettle-cooked chips. The factory can produce up to 350,000 bags of chips in a day! After loading up on chips, we hopped in the car for the 47 miles “down” (actually, the very tippy top) the cape to Provincetown, aka P-town. 

Provincetown is famous for being the spot where the pilgrims first touched land before later settling on the mainland at Plymouth. In the 18th century it became a fishing community. It became (and still is) an artists’ colony in the late 1960s. It is now well known as a popular LGBT resort. 

We started with climbing the Pilgrim Monument, which is set atop a hill above the main street and can be seen from anywhere in town. The monument was built to commemorate the pilgrims landing in 1620. It is the tallest all-granite structure in the United States. “The heart-healthy walk to the top on 116 steps and 60 ramps only takes about 10 minutes at a leisurely pace.” (

 We climbed the steps, enjoyed the view, zoomed through the adjacent museum and then set off to explore the main shopping corridor, Commercial street. 

 Commercial street is just as it sounds, commercial. We found a delightful little restaurant called the Mayflower Cafe. Their menu had just about anything you could ever want, including: a full bar, massive amounts of fried seafood and a selection of Portuguese dishes. Many Portuguese sailors from the Azores settled in Provincetown after the Revolutionary War after being hired to work on merchant ships. Jeff enjoyed his Portuguese kale soup. 

After a delicious (two drink each) lunch of assorted lobster dishes, Jeff split off to go check out the pier and the girls and I explored the eclectic shops downtown. 

On the way out of town, we made a stop at Race Point Beach. I wanted to go there mostly to see the lighthouse (which was not visible), but the girls enjoyed sticking their toes in the coarse sand of the Atlantic Ocean. As we strolled onto the beach, we noticed several people lined up taking pictures. It turns out there were several huge seals, a dozen or more, swimming up the coastline. The girls really enjoyed just standing on shore spotting seals as their heads poked up here and there. No doubt they were just as curious about us as we were about them. 

Our next stop was up the coast a bit to Highland Lighthouse, also known as Cape Cod Light. Highland Light Station was commissioned by George Washington in 1797. It was originally a 44 foot wooden tower situated a top the cliff on outer Cape Cod. It was the first lighthouse established on Cape Cod and the 20th in the United States. The lighthouse has been restructured several times, most recently in 1857. The severe erosion of the adjacent cliff forced the relocation of the lighthouse 450 feet     In inland in 1996. Only 6.5 acres, of the site’s original 10, remain because of the erosion. Highland Light, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, remains an active lighthouse to this day. 

After a long day of exploring, we were all ready to take in some Zzzzs. We picked up a pizza and went back to the hotel to watch a movie on the TV and unwind a little so we can get up a have another adventure tomorrow. 

Goodnight, from Yarmouth. 

Day Two: Plymouth

After a restless night of sleep, we woke up, cleared out of our hotel and went straight to Dunkin Donuts for the breakfast of champions.  I made sure that I read up before hand so I knew the proper way to order my coffee (“medium – coffee regular”). Dunkin Donuts has an ordering language that locals know so they get the proper coffee-cream-sugar ratio. I guess they don’t trust you with your own sugar/creamer in these parts. The clerk didn’t single me out as a tourist until Jeff ordered and blew my cover. Who cares though, I got to have a donut and coffee for breakfast, right?  

 After breakfast, it was off to the Mayflower II, a reproduction of the original Pilgrim ship the Mayflower. We lucked out because the ship had been in Mystic Seaport undergoing a survey in preparation for an “extensive overhaul.”  It came back to town on May 15th.  In 1620, the Mayflower brought 102 English Separatists from England to the New World. They were bound for the area near the mouth of the Hudson River in modern day New York State.   At the time it was part of the region known at the time as “Virginia,” named for Queen Elizabeth I, the “Virgin Queen.”  The original ship sailed back to England, fell into disrepair and was scrapped sometime after 1624.
A few years back while doing some genealogical research, I discovered that Jeff is related to one of the signers of the Mayflower Compact.  I don’t remember which one.  There were 41 signers.  At the time I discovered this information I thought it was spectacular until I found out that 35 million people or 12% of the U.S. population are descendants of the 102 passengers of the Mayflower.   I guess that is still pretty neat, just not spectacular. 

 After visiting the Mayflower II, we drove three miles south to the Plimoth Plantation. The Plimoth Plantation contains reproductions of the original English settlement and a Wampanoag (the local natives) home site. 

 Both areas are staffed by guides in period costume.  They are trained to carry out the many day to day tasks that the original inhabitants would have had to complete in order to survive. The plantation functions as a “living museum.”  There are gardens and livestock and all of the materials to build the buildings are processed on site using colonial methods and tools. There is even a bakery that makes “thirded” bread, made with wheat, corn and rye flour. We also learned about making beeswax dipped candles, pottery, and sewing.  All of the costumes are made (and repaired) on site by people working on the plantation. In the Nye barn, we saw some pigs, goats and llamas. All of the animals at the plantation are historical breeds, representative of what the pilgrims would have raised. 

To prepare for the Plimoth Plantation, I read Myles Standish and the Amazing But True Survival Story of the Plymouth Colony.  It was a fascinating book about several facets of colonial pilgrim life, with particular focus on Myles Standish, an English military officer and military advisor to the Plimoth Colony.  

 For lunch, we  went back into Plymouth to the Lobster Hut. I thought I didn’t like lobster – and then I ate a lobster roll. Three words: TO. DIE. FOR.  After properly stuffing our faces, we packed it and a drove to our home for the next three days… Cape Cod!


New England: Here We Come

I am a planner. Good or bad, I am very type A and prefer to have well laid plans, particularly when I am traveling. Jeff likes to say that I “plan the fun out” of things. I like to say that I am “always prepared.” Semper Paratus.

Regardless of the point of view, one of the side effects of going back to work this year has been that I haven’t had time to plan the specific details of the Wilson family summer trip. So, as I sit on the plane bound for Boston and our New England road trip adventure, it is with the just the slightest bit of trepidation. 

Part of how I like to prepare for a trip is to read to and with my kids about the region that we will be visiting, including its history, traditions and food. Sometimes we watch movies, too. 

This go around, I started very late…after school got out in mid-June. Despite the limited time, I was able to squeeze in a few good titles. 

 I started with Amazing Places to Take Your Kids. I found this while weeding and organizing the non-fiction section in my library. I used it as a guide when I was planning out our route between Cape Cod and Montreal. 

 Next, I listened to George vs. George: The American Revolution as Seen From Both Sides. This is a short book (64 pages/ 70 minutes on audiobook) that explores General come President George Washington and King George III of England.  This book did a good job presenting facts in a neutral way for both men. Oftentimes, our history is tainted with biased accounts of history.  


The “You Wouldn’t Want to…” Series consists of over 50 books on mostly historical topics. Each book is about 30 pages and is illustrated with silly cartoonish pictures. My whole family enjoyed reading these books. They are packed with facts and only take a half hour to read. Each book also contains a glossary of relevant terms. So far we’ve read You Wouldn’t Want to Sail on the Mayflower: A Trip That Took Entirely Too Long by Peter Cook and You Wouldn’t Want to Be An American Colonist: A Settlement You’d Rather Not Start by Jacqueline Morley.

As we board the plane to Boston from DC at 10:07 local time, I am starting to have flashbacks of our ill-fated travel day to Germany in 2012. After traveling all day from  Seattle to Iceland to Norway and finally to Munich, we had a 100 mile drive through the dark in a rental car that it took us an hour to persuade the rented GPS to speak English.  It was only after the third “Road closed” sign AND THE ROAD ACTUALLY ENDING that Jeff decided to turn around and try another route. We pulled into our hotel in Fuessen just before midnight as the desk clerk was putting away the sign from the sidewalk. Late, but not too late (barely).
To read more about that day go here: Germany: Day 1

I am hoping for better luck today. 

I am glad to announce that although as I write this it is almost 3 am and despite the several detours and massive amounts of road construction, we made it to our hotel and slipped into bed just after 2 am.  I’m wicked stoked to hit Dunkin Donuts in the morning before we head off to the Mayflower and Plymouth Plantation. 

Goodnight all! (Or should I say “Good Morning?”)


Wilson Family English to English Translation Guide

uk usa

Whilst in the UK we kept a list of new “English” words that learnt.

In order of appearance:
quid – £ pound (like buck)
britches – pants
trolley – grocery cart
chap – friend
holiday – vacation
bin – garbage can/trash can
rubbish – garbage
push pole – push-up popsicle
lollie – Popsicle or lollypop
chips – fries
telly – television
lemonade – lemon-lime soda (i.e. 7up)
loo – bathroom
toilet – bathroom
water closet – bathroom
jumper – sweater
way out – exit
push cart – wheelchair
pudding – dessert
super soft ice – soft serve ice cream
lift – elevator
lorry – truck
foot way – sidewalk
pavement – sidewalk
caravan – trailer (as in camping)
tube – subway
subway – pedestrian underpass
lead – leash
alight – exit
diverted traffic – detour
hump – speed bump
Sat-Nav – GPS
toastie – toasted sandwich (like grilled cheese)
with ice & a slice -with ice and lemon or lime (as in G&T)
Queue – line
pram – baby carriage
goods vehicles – delivery trucks
motorway – interstate
Wellies/Wellingtons – rubber boots
car boot – large garage sale in open field
lie in – sleep late
cot – crib
crisps – potato chips
car park – parking lot
sellotape – scotch tape
gutted – disappointed
haberdashery – things related to sewing
kit – sports uniform (as in football kit)
to let – for rent (always looked like “toilet” without the I)
marquee – large tent for temporary outdoor functions
mobile – cell phone
MP – member of parliament
nappy – diaper
mum – mom
cheeky – ballsy
peckish – hungry
pissed – drunk
plaster – band-aid
prom – concert
anti-clockwise – counter-clockwise
swede – yellow turnip
torch – flashlight
zebra crossing – crosswalk (with the white striped lines)

Close to Home: Geoduck Hunting

geoduck hunter

DSCN1414Yesterday while we were on the ferry headed to Seattle to go to the new and improved Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI), I spotted some porpoises playing in the ferry’s wake.  I have lived here most of my life and I have never seen porpoises in the Puget Sound.  The ferry worker commented that it is fairly common to see them during the extreme low tides and that today’s tide is a -3, the lowest tide of the year.  Shoot!  A -3 and we’re not home to scour the beach?  Ugh! Luckily, today’s tide is almost as low which makes it the perfect time for a geoduck (say: gooey duck) hunt!Second one

Geoducks are a giant species of clam that are native to the northwest coast of the United States and southern British Columbia, Canada.  They are also one of the longest living animals on earth.  I have read that some of them live up to 100 years or more.  They look like a giant clam with a very long phallic neck.  Geoducks spend their entire lives buried in the sand and stretch out their long necks, sometimes up to 3 feet, to the surface.

Jeff set out about an hour before low tide to search the beach for geoducks to dig.  He marked his targets, the tips of their necks, and began to dig.  Shortly after, Herb arrived with his shovel and retrieved the first of the day!  Not long after, Jeff dug up three more just in time for the rain to come and put a damper on our hunt.

Herb and his catch!
Herb and his catch!

Geoducks taste like a super clammy clam.  They are popular in Japanese cuisine served sashimi style.  Jeff blanched them, removed their shells and the sheath from their necks before gutting them and cleaning them.  We’ll use the meat to make a nice hearty chowder for our Fourth of July celebration.

The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington (my first college) proudly boasts “Speedy” the geoduck as their mascot.  Read about it here.IMG_8998