Last Thursday, Mrs. SOC (aka Debby) and I celebrated our 15th (?!) wedding anniversary. I'll try not to descend into cliche, but I really cannot believe that we've been married over 15 years now. It sure doesn't feel that long, and at the same time it feels like we've known each other forever. You'll often see her at the races, camera in hand, taking pics of me and my teammates - and even getting the occasional finish line video. Without her help and talent, this blog wouldn't be nearly as interesting. Without her love and friendship, my life would be cold, boring and lonely, like a drizzly, grey November day - without the promise of Thanksgiving.
We'd planned on spending this big anniversary cycling around Tuscany. Unfortunately, the economy had other plans and being down to one income for the last 18 months, we had to modify things a little. But as you'll see from the pics, we managed a great alternative.
We've been going to Cape Cod together since before we were married and it's our fallback place for weekends away and vacations. We never seem to tire of it and - remarkably - we continue to discover new things to do and places to visit.
This time, we drove up to Orleans, MA stopping by old bookstores along the way. Titcomb's in East Sandwich is a must-see and always seems to be "on our way." Of course, we bought books we don't really need, but I also got a very cool lighthouse doorstop, thinking it was a bookend. We also stopped at Parnassus Books in Yarmouthport. They've been in this old general store for over 50 years and the shop is absolutely PACKED with books. What it lacks in organization, it makes up for in ambiance. Our ultimate destination was a shop we'd never visited before, despite the many times we've been on the Cape. Unfortunately, the Wellfleet Oyster Bookstore & Restaurant wasn't open. Apparently, they're only open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays (and this isn't noted on their website). As luck would have it, we were only on the Cape Thursday, Friday & Saturday. Big Fail. We'll try again sometime, but won't make a special trip.
Fortunately, serendipity has a way of popping up at the most unlikely times and often just when you need it most. As we were leaving Wellfleet, we discovered Wellfleet Books - an amazing small shop we'd never heard of before. We'd gone right past it on our way to the other shop and hadn't even seen it. We spent the most time there of any shop that day, and came out with some great finds. We eventually had to pry ourselves away for dinner, but will definitely visit again.
From Wellfleet, we drove back down to Orleans and the Orleans Inn for our anniversary dinner. The Inn is one of the last remaining Victorian-era establishments in New England and has been restored lovingly by its current owners. It's amazing to discover how close it was to being demolished and made into a parking lot! It was a rainy day, so our original plan to eat on the deck overlooking the cove was jettisoned in favor of a dining room with a view. But the dinner and the staff were amazing. Not only were we treated to live piano music, but received a wonderful gift and card for the occasion. Despite the number of times we've driven by the Orleans Inn while vacationing on the Cape, this was our first time there. It won't be our last.
While our actual anniversary day was cool and rainy (all the better for visiting bookstores, naturally), the following day was absolutely gorgeous. We brought our bikes for riding, and I'd planned on getting out for an early morning ride before breakfast. But, despite the sun beckoning us, we opted to sleep in and have an early brunch. After cranberry pancakes at a favorite place for breakfast, we drove over to Chatham for some window shopping and then beach strolling at the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge.
Remarkably, Monomoy is another example of a wonderful something on the Cape we've never done before despite our many visits. It's so great to be able to continue to find new things to do, and Monomoy beach was one of our best discoveries. Just about everywhere you turn, there's a new vista of beauty. Very photogenic, and I took a ton of pics (so much easier to do now with the digital camera), but here are just a few:
These are the stairs leading down to the beach from the museum. The water looks amazing - and it was actually warm too!
There were Horseshoe crabs all over the place - unfortunately, they were all - um - expired. I've never actually seen one move - and would probably be a little freaked out if I did, since I'm always used to seeing them like this. Just sitting there.
It's no wonder they haven't evolved beyond their prehistoric look. This poor guy (gal?) didn't make it too far from its hideout before getting whacked. If you click the pic to "embiggen," you'll see he was all nice and cozy nestled under that rock, then started to mosey on out for his morning? jaunt, but only made it about 6 feet out. Now he's (figuratively) 6 feet under.
Despite the harsh realities of nature and its delicately balanced ecosystem, Monomoy's beauty is amazing.
We saw a lot of these birds, but could never get close enough for a good photo. It doesn't help that all I have is a point-and-shoot digicam with little telephoto. Fortunately, I was able to enlarge/crop this lucky shot I got as one of the birds was taking off.
We ended our day with dinner at the Chatham Squire and a drive back to our hotel via the Old King's Highway (Rt. 6A). I got this shot of the sunset by Hallet's Millpond in Yarmouthport from a little bridge over the inlet.
While Tuscany would certainly have been wonderful, I think visiting Cape Cod was in many ways a much more appropriate celebration of 15 years of marriage. It's often all-too-easy to choose the new and exciting, relying on that very newness to provide all the fun and satisfaction you dream about. But sometimes - I would argue almost always - it's even better to revisit a place you think you already know all too well. It's only then that you get a chance to realize how much more there is to discover and, given time and a little opportunity, those discoveries often turn out to be even more wonderful than what you imagined.