Capturing the essence of Cape Cod
A quiet stroll through a matchbox sized town really puts things into perspective. Here I was bustling across Cape Cod trying to capture the essence of every town I stumbled upon when it suddenly dawned on me that my franticness was doing nothing to promote a sense of place. The need to see and conquer can overpower travel and take away from the real purpose of discovery –something I try to avoid, but inevitably find myself falling victim to now and again. When this happens, I stop and remind myself that travel is not a completed checklist or a passport full of stamps. To truly travel you must give yourself time to pause and reflect.
Immersion in a culture does not require large amounts of time or money. Simply take time to sit amongst the locals in a crowded café or stroll through park and watch as kids play and moms chat amongst one another. These are always the moments that stand out the most. Sure you can snap your photo in front of the Eifel Tower or Big Ben, but if you take a second and glance around, you might notice that you are not surrounded by locals, but by tourists such as yourself – and did you really fly half way around the world to rub elbows with the same people you left back home?
Of all the places I visited in Cape Cod, Wellfleet stands out most prominently as this was one of the only places I actually stopped to breath and truly take in my surroundings. I couldn’t have picked a better place to slow down. Wellfleet speaks slowly, walks slowly, and drives slowly. This is a town where you can catch a movie, grocery shop, and attend church all within one block. With a population of just under 3,000 this quiet town is nestled on the Northern end of Cape Cod.
Originally Wellfleet was not on our list of must-see Cape Cod towns, but a parade had closed down a major portion of the Cape, and well, we were hungry. Which is why we found ourselves at the Wellfleet Pizza Company on a sunny Sunday afternoon, but the allure of the town was enticing and eventually we had a hard time pulling ourselves away from such a charming community.
Following our pesto pizza lunch we found ourselves drawn to a marsh. Yes, a marsh: a reedy, muddy landscape on the coast. Here we were in a town where 70 percent of the land belongs to the Cape Cod National Seashore and white sandy beaches and lighthouses abound, but rather than lay amongst the sand and surf we would have rather spent it exploring the swampy looking, muddy marsh sitting just on the town’s edge. This mucky lowland turned out to be quite the adventure as we navigated our way around a tiny island whose borders were shared with thousands upon thousands of bizarre looking crabs. Those crabs looked so creepy with one claw larger than the other as they did their best sideways crab walks across the mud. When sudden movements startled them they would move in unison making this eerie clicking noise as they did so. I’m no crustacean expert, so I couldn’t tell you anything about these peculiar little species we observed, but I do know that they provided a good hour worth of entertainment as we watched them traverse the muddy basin.
We then made our way back to the tiny main street where we perused the shops and sat amongst the locals. The clock was ticking though, and I found myself becoming swept up in the need to finish our Cape Cod adventure. I had let all my traveling goals slide for several hours while I let myself get lost in a town that was unaffected by time and schedules. Wellfleet could have cared less where I had to be by a certain time or when I was leaving for that matter. Wellfleet seemed to thrive on the principle of relaxation. There was nowhere to go and no pressing plans. My moment in Wellfleet was fleeting, but even so, I loved it.