'Got those end uh vacation blues. Ba-dum, da-dum. From my hair down to mah shoes. Da-dum, ba-dum....Yup, I'm singin' the blues for the end of my time at the ocean.
As I hold on tight to all of those shimmering memories of our recent visit to Cape Cod, I finally remember that writing about them will help. Help me, and maybe give a boost to some of the folks who make the magic happen. Perhaps give some inspiration if you're heading Capeward or want to reminisce (shout out to you, Kansas City!).
I've been making my pilgrimage to the Outer Cape for 50 years. Mainly to North Eastham, Wellfleet, Orleans, and also Truro, Provincetown, Chatham. But this post focuses on those first three beauteous places.
There are so many delicious settings and luminous people all over the Cape that my offerings are merely a springboard. In fact, while I mulled over this post, I recalled far too many places, meals, shops, natural settings to include here. We can just call this a tasting menu, i.e. a small but heartfelt sampling.
1) Favorite Restaurant--Dinner: Mac's Shack: The fam and I LOVE good food and spend much energy on finding, dreaming about and savoring yummy food when we go away. Come to think of it, we do the same at home....
Hands-down favorite restaurant for dinner for several years has been Mac's Shack on Commercial Street in beautiful Wellfleet. Housed unpretentiously in a lovely, 19th-Century building overlooking the marsh before the harbor, Mac's consistently delivers luscious meals featuring fresh seafood, and a happening vibe.
They don't take reservations and they're very popular, so you may need to wait awhile for your table. But both nights we went in 1 week, we sat outside on the benches, while watching a beautiful sunset, having a drink, and chatting with other folks. So delightful. More ambitious people ordered appetizers from the outdoor raw bar and nibbled while they waited.
Family faves: Roasted Beet, Arugula, Goat Cheese and Pecan Salad (I add lobster meat to mine :)), Hand Grenades from the Sushi menu (shrimp and scallops wrapped in rice and baked in "dynamite sauce"), Fish and Chips, Lobster Roll, Seared Coconut Curry Scallops....Well, actually everything. 508.349.6333. www.macsseafood.com.
2) Favorite Clam Shack: Arnold's Lobster and Clam Bar, Route 6, Eastham. Founded over 30 years ago, this classic clam shack has continued to expand, even offering mini-golf. But they still make fantastic lobster rolls, fried clams, clam chowder, and the best onion rings anywhere. Even the Summer Salad with greens, fresh fruit, dried cranberries and pecans is delish. 508.255.2575. www.arnoldsrestaurant.com.
3) Beautiful Gifts: Oceana. Gorgeous jewelry, photography, paintings, home furnishings, heavy on the ocean theme. Elegant. When I was there, I realized I could open a small satellite store in my home with all of my previous purchases.... 508.240.1414. www.oceanacapecod.com.
4) Epic, Quintessential Surfing Beach: Marconi Beach at Cape Cod's National Seashore in Wellfleet. Huge sand dunes empty into long stretches of windswept beach. Often featuring excellent waves for boogie boarders, bodysurfers and surf boarders. One advantage to Marconi is that the parking lot is big, so when other beaches are full, Marconi may still be open. Nice, hardworking, (and jacked!) lifeguards. So amazing to have this great gift of vast public beach land on the Atlantic. Thank you, JFK!
5) Rockin' Indie Bookstore: Main Street Books. How can this shop in downtown Orleans showcase so many classic and just plain wonderful titles in such a small space? What I want to read is right there, even if I didn't know it till I walked in. The lovely staff can help with suggestions or by calling a sister bookstore down the Cape if your book isn't in stock, and you can now order online. Time stands still when you visit there. 508.255.3343. www.mainstreetbookstore.com.
5) Luscious Chocolate Shop and Modern Day Town Green: The Hot Chocolate Sparrow. Delectable, handmade chocolates and other confections, including toasted coconut marshmallows and best fudge ever. (Can you tell that I'm enjoying a double-dipped chocolate covered macadamia nut as I write?)
Plus, this gathering place in Orleans is a terrific coffee bar that now offers sandwiches, ice cream, etc. Right next to the cool Rail Trail for bicycling. Nice folks, happy happy vibe surrounded by the aroma of chocolate. I.e., heaven. Oh, and they ship throughout the U.S. 508.240.6970; www.hotchocolatesparrow.com
6) Fab Gym: Willy's Gym. Just down the street from The Hot Chocolate Sparrow--how handy. 'Love the high of the packed dance fitness classes and the welcoming energy. Strangers talk to you and smile. Afterwards, there's the chocolate haven you pass (and stop in) on the way home. 508.255.6826; www.willysgym.com
7) Best Ever Homemade Ice Cream: Nauset Ice Cream, Route 6, Eastham. The lines out the door say it all. Totally yummy. I'd had a fantasy years ago of trying to get them to give me a franchise here in CT, but the Cape air adds an irreplaceable ingredient. No credit cards. 508.240.2649.
8) Beach Sound Track: WMVY out of Martha's Vineyard. Why can't I have this at home? At any given moment, they're playing Bob Marley, Neil Young, Tracy Chapman and The Pretenders...and everything else I want to hear. Including the surf report.