Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Destination: Cape Cod

When our niece from Houston invited us to her destination wedding in Cape Cod, we accepted with great excitement.  Here's a great chance to see part of the country new to us, and to visit with relatives we haven't seen since the last wedding 3-4 years ago. Let's go! Her timing was wonderful, since Houston was trying to deal with all the flooding from Hurricane Harvey that weekend. The minister only arrived the morning of the wedding itself on Sunday.
On the map, Cape Cod doesn't look that big. We reserved rooms in Yarmouth, and the wedding was in Chatham, 15 miles away. Of course, being Labor Day weekend, the traffic was much heavier than we anticipated, so a 15 mile drive took 30-40 minutes. And the traffic round-abouts! (Here they are called rotaries). The roads all went though commercial districts, and one town blended into the next with only the Welcome sign giving any indication that you were in the next town at all.
There were no views of the ocean from any road whatsoever, until we reached Provincetown, at the very northern tip of the fish- hook. We had booked a whale watching trip before leaving home for Saturday morning, and it turned out to be the best weather of the weekend.

As soon as we left the harbor, we were surrounded by birds skimming the surface of the water and keeping pace with our boat. We couldn't identify them, and asked the naturalist, who said they were Great Shearwaters - a life bird for us! She also pointed out some Sooty Shearwaters, a pair of Gannets and some Kittiwakes, making 4 life birds within 10 minutes of leaving the harbor!
 The brown duck-like birds were Common Eider - another life bird. On our way back to the harbor, a pair of birders were counting the numbers of birds along the shore. "Darn! I lost count at 4,000! I think we must be about 6,000 of those shearwaters!" I think it must be migration season for them.

 The Cape Cod National Seashore isn't visible from the road, but we got a fine look at it as we cruised around looking for whales. The naturalist spotted some seals in the surf, but I missed them.
 The whole area around Cape Cod was formed by the glaciers. If we ever go back, I need to study the geology of the region more.

We cruised along the Cape Cod National Seashore, and found 3-4 humpback whales within a short time. Yes, I did actually shout "Thar she blows!" when I sighted one for the first time!
The naturalist identified one as Bay of Maine 1405, and said it was a young whale, swimming alone. We saw it just underwater, about 15 feet from the boat. You could see the white on its flipper through the water. Then, it would surface, blow, and roll over to wave hello with its flipper.
After a short time, it slid silently into the water to cruise below us for a while, waving good-by with its tail.

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