When I was making plans to visit Cape Cod, in my mind I always saw my goals as having fun . . . and eating lobster. In the end we had lots of fun and I had a large total of lobster. Sorry, but we saw a 17 pound lobster in a preview tank and didn’t eat him. We were there for the funeral of numerous of his relatives, however.
For almost ten years, our friend Al Burrage of West Seattle has been asking us to join him in his cottage in West Dennis at Cape Cod. We were at last capable to schedule a trip to Massachusetts and not surprisingly, we loved it. Al rents his cottage, The Mainstay, out for the duration of the “season” but visits Cape Cod before the season and then again after the season to primary prepare the cottage for guests, and then to close the cottage for the winter.
The cottage is a three bedroom home that features a glassed-in porch as well and an outside shower for getting rid of sand and salt before entering the house. The home has a crushed shell driveway and walkway. Typical of Cape Cod homes it has a cedar pole fence throughout the front and down one side of the yard. It’s painted a fresh looking aqua with maroon shutters. One bedroom has twin beds and two bedrooms have a double bed. The kitchen has a dishwasher, range, refrigerator, and microwave. We may attest that it is very comfortable. The Mainstay was our center of operation, while we were on Cape Cod. Each day we would crusade forth to places like Boston, Wood’s Hole, Provincetown and then return to The Mainstay.
While Al lives in West Dennis he has a great deal of chance to visit with humans and scout out good places to go. Once we arrived Al held up a steady litany of places we could go and things we could do and must do. Even when we ignored him he still made suggestions. We took him up on most of them . . . and never found a bad one.
One of the best places to find reasonable priced local goods is at the local thriftstore. We scored big. Al purchased a miniature brass cannon for $2.00, and Peg purchased two framed handmade lace collars. She was thrilled. Al in the end prevailed on a suggestion and took Peg to Cuffy’s of Cape Cod. The two of them brought back purchases of a couple of hundred dollars . . . or so it seemed. Eventually we had to purchased another suitcase to accommodate souvineer shopping.
I managed to confine my souvineer buying goods to The Music Meister and the Christmas Tree Shops. Al loves bargains. For the wives of my friends I purchased Tee Pee Dreams herbal tea. I purchased my golfing buddies a Cape Cod golf ball each and a box of rattlesnake repellant, which contained galore odd little bundles of aromatic herbs and spices. I’m not sure what they do, but I never saw a snake nearby. I gave a box to the son of a friend on his way to a party in Seattle. He kept one of the bundles up to his nose. I cautioned him, don’t let the police search you. I don’t know that either the herbal teas or the snakebite repellant had anything to do with local Indian heritage, but the gifts were purchased in Massachusetts, which must count for something.
Generally, each day started off the same. I would rise earlier than Al or Peg. I would turn on the coffee maker and then most times go for a drive or a walk. Returning I would knock on Al’s door and he would be up in a jiffy and ready to go. I knew we would in all probability have a huge lunch and a big dinner, so breakfast I wanted to keep light . . . but within reason. My initial breakfast in West Dennis was at the Good Friends Cafe, which is only a few yards from the local post office.
I never like to eat at national chains. I prefer local establishments. You never recognise what you’ll find. Al had eaten at the restaurant before beneath it is old name, but never at the Good Friends. I saw on the menu something called “grilled bread” and I asked the waiter, a young man named Tchigo (I hope that’s spelled correctly, I’m not sure with the accent and all) what it was. The bread is homemade by his father, who was a cook at a dissimilar restaurant before the buy of the Good Friends where he is now cook and owner. It was excellent. A good hefty slice is cut and then grilled until warm and aromatic. It’s served with a dollop of butter on top. There are three kinds of grilled bread: apple, cinnamon raisin, and cranberry. I ordered both the apple, and the cranberry. The bread was good without the butter. It was delightful with the butter. It was good dunked in coffee. It was good just plain grilled. I shared the apple grilled bread with Al, but never offered the cranberry to him. I REALLY liked the cranberry. Sometimes they use the bread in their French toast. I’ll have to try that another time.
I ate at the Good Friends my last day in West Dennis by myself. Again, I just wanted a little something. I ordered the corn beef hash expecting something from a can. What I got was homemade corned beef and onions. I don’t think there was even a potato anyplace in sight with it. While I was wolfing it down, I almost ordered a lot of hashbrowns to mix in. When I walked in and sat down, Tchigo asked if I was waiting for my friend. It had been a week since I had been there and he remembered me and Al. Now, that is why I like small, mom and pop, family run cafes if I may find them. Another meal or two and I would have been behind the counter helping my good friends Tchigo and his papa out at their Good Friends Cafe. Very nice.
As we left the restaurant a couple drove up and asked us directions to Dennisport. Al complied. I think this is funny because as we drove all over the cape we often times had to consult maps and get our bearings. Driving is a ceaseless state of confusedness on the Cape. When I left the restaurant a week later by myself I saw a man with his car parked and the hood up. The license plate showed that he had been an American POW (I’m guessing in World War II). I drove up besides him and asked if he necessitated assistance. He said he didn’t need any help. He had the engine belts substituted and his wife complained that they were squeeking. The Vet, with two hearing aids, couldn’t listen them, so he had to open the hood and stick his head down near the engine. We had a nice chat. If it hadn’t been my last day, I would have begged him to tell me stories of his military career.
One of Al’s bestloved places to stop is the Music Meister. Owner Lew Taylor has access to DVDs galore. He only has some in stock, but may order almost whatsoever you need. Knowing how much I love classic TV and movies, Al wanted me to meet Lew. I was reluctant. Al told me what a great guy he was. He told me how Lew applied to be on the rodeo circuit. I didn’t care. I had other things to think about. I pulled into the driveway of the local library rather of the Music Meister because I saw that they had WiFi. Unfortunately, they were closed. I was disappointed. Al said, let’s go visit Lew. He’s the board president for the library . . . little towns . . . don’t you just love ‘em? We pulled in to the parking lot of The Music Meister. It was after closing hours. Lew and his wife Kathy, an expert seamstress, were still there.
Lew confessed that I could connect in the library parking lot with my laptop, but I didn’t fetch my laptop to Cape Cod. I was hoping for a WiFi Cafe. Lew said, “I don’t think you’ll find one on the Cape. We’re kind of low-tech out here.” Peg and I consoled ourselves by looking over a heap of Celtic CDs that Lew had for sale. Peg purchased three and headed towards the car to listen to Maura O’Connell (one of our favorites), while I talked to Lew in regards to Celtic singers and groups. I went outside and Al and Peg were looking at a tree with long pods on it. None of us knew what it was.
Al went back in to talk to Lew. He didn’t recognise what the tree was either. Later Kathy called with the name, Catalpa. We stopped in to see Lew various more times. Once before he opened, once after he closed and twice when he was genuinely open. He was always friendly and always helpful. I was looking for a song I had heard in the background in the feature film, Saint Ralph. It was a Canadian film and I thought the singer was probably Celtic. Lew searched and gave me the news: Jack Ingram from Texas. The song was Goodnight Moon.
Al keeps a car at West Dennis. He loves (and tolerates) the car and when he leaves for the season he parks it amidst trees so anybody wanting to steal it would have a tough time towing it away. I think Al’s car is safe. The car has a few rust troubles and is covered with pollen and mildew. Peg took a ride with Al in his Mercedes and she equated it to one of my bestloved cars from our past, my old 1955 Rambler . . . it wasn’t a compliment. Peg always referred to my ’55 as “that dirty, ratty, stinky, deafening little Ramber.” You may take a bus out to the Cape, but I do suggest that you do need a car to take full vantage of the Cape’s wonders. We rented a car from Alamo at Logan (the Boston Airport) and exceeded a thousand miles on it in just over a week.
As I mentioned, I felt it was my occupation and goal to eat lobster while in New England. Al took me to Swan River Seafood Restaurant and Fish Market. Their lobstermen catch fresh lobster each day on Cape Cod. You could eat at the restaraunt or buy from the market, but even at the market you could order your seafood cooked. For example you could tell them which lobster you wanted and tell them when you wanted it cooked. You could then stop in and pick it up and take it home thereby enjoying your lobster in your own kitchen or dining room. Swan River had a outstanding selection of fresh seafood AND they likewise offered cooked lobster meat. While we were there it was priced at $29.95 a pound. This seemed a little costly to me, but we went to galore other market and they offered cooked lobster for $5.00 more per pound. I thought in regards to the possiblenesses for assorted days and then we returned to Swan River on the way to lunch. I pointed out which tail I wanted and Peg did the same. She picked a littler one . . . a much littler one. I sat in the car and ate mine. Peg had two bites, shared a bite with Al and then took the rest of her lobster home. This was the second best lobster I had in Massachusetts. It was big, tender, and sweet. The snack costs us in regards to twenty dollars, but it was well worth it.
The open sign seemed to always be in the window, but they were only open if the owner’s green van was in the parking lot. The owners of Marathon Seafood (Peggy and Teddy Stoilas) are Greek, accordingly the name. Like a good deal of places on the Cape you order at the counter and then the feed is brought to you. Since I had just eaten a lobster tail I chose the fried oysters. They were small, but there was a ton of them. Al chose his usuall scallops and Peg ordered lamb . . . she likes lamb and it’s always best to order lamb at a Greek restaurant. If we had been back in Tacoma, Peg would have taken the bones home to make broth. As it was, the bones were picked gorgeous clean. Teddy and Peggy were friendly and happy to please.
I may in general find where I am going. If I’ve got a map I may get there. This doctrine doesn’t lend itself to journeying on Cape Cod. Confusion reigns. For example the town of Dennis is made up of five villages: North Dennis, South Dennis, East Dennis, West Dennis, and Dennisport. Towns and villages blend together. We set off on an adventure one day to visit NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service Northeast Fisheries Science Center at Woods Hole. We wanted to see the NOAA Aquarium. We knew where Woods Hole was. We could see Woods Hole on the map, but like NOAA on the ocean, we had to submerge ourselves in the countryside to find Woods Hole . . . only to find the aquarium closed.
We enjoyed our drive in the country. We saw a good deal of rock walls, which reminded us of Minute Men and Lexington and Concord. We saw numerous shops and Inns. The road through the country side dipped and climbed through lovely cool, green lush growth. The only feeling of annoyance at being hindered or criticized was the long search.
Once we found Woods Hole, we still had trouble finding the aquarium. We ended up following an arrow out of town half a mile into a residential area. We drove back and found the arrow again. It was on the building where the aquarium was! We peeked in the windows, and Peg walked out to the harbor behind the facility for a few pictures. It just never occurred to us that an aquarium would be closed on Saturday. We must have visited the internet internet site for details. We enjoyed the ride back and ended the evening with a movie.
I don’t recognise how a great deal of times I drove past this sign that greets visitors to West Dennis. The sign promises $12.99 lobster at Sundancer’s. Everytime I saw it I thought to myself, we must eat there. They have a deck that looks out to the water. They have music various nights a week. They have a river cruise most afternoons. Oh, well. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices . . . and leave adventures for the next visit.
Al was determined that we would eat in one night. Like Peg and I, he loves to cook. Al was in charge of a simple meal. I purchased salad makings, and a heap of fresh greenbeans. We had prawns, scallops (cooked to sheer perfection), seafood pate, clam stuffing, rice and white wine. We stuffed ourselves silly. We ended up with scallops and prawns leftover. There was feed everywhere. Al looked around and said, “It looks like the feed fairy visited my home and puked.” We sipped a little more wine. Two days later Al got up at five in the morning and made himself a rice and scallop snack . . . then went back to bed. He didn’t join me that morning for breakfast out.
I in truth loved the mornings on Cape Cod. The bogs and estuaries alter with the tides and the fog. I would visit the same places day after day and was never disappointed. I was likewise seldom disappointed in our selections for meals. Al and I dropped Peg off at a laundromat one morning and then returned as she was finishing folding her clothes. There are two shops nearby we decisive to visit and tucked in by them was a little cafe. The waitress was funny and friendly. The feed was excellent. I had a tuna Caesar salad. I asked if it was from a tuna fillet or just out of a can. “Tuna salad made from a can,” was my answer. It was excellent. I might make it on my own one day. Al had a Reuben sandwich on a “bulky” roll. He had to ask with regards to the bulky. It was chewey and yet soft. The corned beef and cheese spilled out. He managed to eat it all.
It’s always tough to live up to high expectations. Al highly commended Captain Parker’s Pub for dinner. He raved in regards to it. We saved it for our final meal in Cape Cod. The feed was good, but the restuarant was loud, we were seated by the door, and the waitress was abrupt. She likewise forgot to serve us bread with our meal. On the plus side, nevertheless the feed was good. I followed Al’s counsel and ordered the seafood pasta. The seafood included lobster, prawns and mussels in a heavy cream sauce. I wouldn’t have thought the mussels would work with the cream sauce, but they were excellent. I had to walk over to the service counter and retrieve a table dispenser of cheese. This irritated me. Al’s scallops were great. He knows what he likes. Peg ordered mussels, which amazed me. Like mine they were terrifi with a nice broth. I had to catch the waitress, even though and ask for bread, so Peg could take delight in sopping up the broth with the bread. This is one of the joys of ordering mussels or steamed clams. Broth and bread are major requirements. The three of us shared an apple crisp with vanilla ice cream.
After finishing our meals at Captain Parker’s Pub, we walked behind to the parking lot to the ZooAquarium. Peg sat on Flipper to rest in the cool evening breeze. Our eight days on Cape Cod had worn us out. Even though we had cut our actions to closely not one thing for the last day, we were all still tired. I think we were all a little sad that it was closely over as well.
We returned to The Mainstay and packed our bags. I dropped off to sleep with regards to eleven. My alarm was set for 3:30 AM. We left West Dennis in regards to 4:15 AM and left the Cape in the driving rain. We left Cape Cod, but our memories will take us back anytime.
I think Al was a little lonely when he woke up to an empty house (I think there was still a full refrigerator, however) that Thursday morning. We hadn’t even picked up our baggage at Sea-Tac when we had a call from Al on Peg’s cell phone. The flight on Alaska went well. Excellent service from friendly humans . . . just like most of our stay in West Dennis on Cape Cod.
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