Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Walk on Dead Neck Trail

Cape Cod is richly supplied with walking trails and wildlife refuges of all kinds. One I see quite often but had not paid much attention to is the Dead Neck Trail, which accessible from the Mashpee Town Beach parking lot. It's not very long, just a mile and a half, but because most of it is soft sand it can be challenging.

Dead Neck runs between the dunes and the marsh, giving the walker a nice view of both. Because the dunes block the sea view it can feel pretty hot in the trail in the middle of the day, but the discomfort of heat is offset by the relative solitude of the trail. Once past the boardwalk to the beach you will seldom encounter another person. The only sounds will be birds. I had the amusing experience today of hearing a mockingbird imitating sea bird calls.

This solitude must be why several signs point out that public nudity is prohibited. I had to push the boundaries of public nudity today by removing my shirt (I was wearing a bra) to use it as a fly swatter because of the famous greenhead fly, which was present today in large numbers. I am lucky enough not to be appealing to mosquitoes, but flies have no such reluctance to feast on me. The beautiful salt marshes that border so many Cape Cod beaches do not contain mosquitoes but are instead the home of the dreaded greenhead. Greenheads are notorious biters and may be the only thing that stands between the residents of Cape Cod and billions of tourists. They swarm the beaches in large numbers and bite like crazy. In addition to Deet, Tanqueray gin is rumored to be an effective defense which I will be trying out. I think gin has the dual virtues of being cheap and also not absorbing into your skin.

Call Me Maybe

In case you missed some of the riffs on Carly Rae Jepsen's summer viral hit, here are a couple of my favorites:

Star Wars Style!

 The actual Carly Rae Jepsen with Jimmy Fallon, using elementary school instruments.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Garden Report July 17 2011

Giant Butterfly Bush
Hydrangea and Butterfly Bush
We're well into the hot weather here, and with little rain some things are struggling to survive. I have had to water all of the shrubs and beds to keep everything going. This is when you find out what is tough and what is not. Still, our temperatures have been a lot lower than they are in Boston and I am glad of it because except for a portable unit in our bedroom we do not have air conditioning. We watch TV in our basement lairs and I go to the beach in the afternoon to enjoy the sea breeze if I am not at work.

Shana and assign cars according to who is driving the farthest because the convertible does not have air conditioning. Although the Ford has the town beach sticker I can go the the State Park with my OPP without paying. When I am planning a ride I get the Ford no matter how hot it is (and ride no matter how hot it is!).


Hybrid Black Eyed Susan and Gailardia

Right now we have the summer bloomers going. The hostas and day lilies are well into bloom, but Stella D'oro is pausing before it's next flush. The evening primrose has subsided, leaving it to the threadleaf coreopsis to take up the yellow. Shasta daisies and obedient plant are in bloom, but the hot weather has made them a little sparse. The black-eyed Susans are holding their own, with the seedlings from last year's seeds growing but not yet ready to flower.  Monarda and echinacea are blooming alongside the cosmos. The most exciting blooms this week are the hydrangeas and butterfly bushes. They are fantastic, although this month they need frequent drinks to support their performance.

Beautiful sunbather

Monday, July 16, 2012

Take a Ride on the CCRT

One of the nicest amenities on Cape Cod is the Cape Cod Rail Trail (CCRT for short). We do not have a railroad anymore, but the old Right of Way for the Old Colony Railroad Company has been transformed into a wonderful bike path. It's pretty flat, well supplied with ice cream and bike rental shops, and will even take you to the Cape Cod National Seashore. I've been riding from Dennis to Wellfleet as often as I have time for a 70 mile ride, but there are plenty of parking areas along the way for those who want a shorter ride.  A day's ride for me shakes out like this:

I don't have anyone to go for a long ride with right now, so the first thing I do is plan to get out early but actually leave the house at 10:30 because I don't have to be on time for someone else. This would have been suicidal in Oklahoma because of the heat, but even in the heat of the day today the temperatures on the trail did not get higher than 91°. The humidity was a little high, but the air temperature was cool enough to support life. Getting ready involves making a sandwich to eat on the way to the trailhead, making up my bottles (one water, one PowerAde & water half & half), sunblock, charging my phone, yada, yada, yada. Then I check everything twice to be sure I still have everything.

Orleans Bike Shop
Once at the trailhead I lollygag around airing up my tires and changing shoes, then it's off for a ride. For the first five miles I mope along because my legs hurt. I'm sure my seat is at the wrong height, I've planned too long a ride, I don't really feel like it, I didn't have enough sleep, and besides it might get hot.  I can't get into a rhythm so I keep speeding up and slowing down. For the second five miles I remember that my legs always feel bad for the first eight or ten miles. I remember that this was my idea, and that because I am riding alone I can turn around at any time. At around twenty miles I am feeling good, and I pick up the pace. I decide to go on to the end of the trail, then turn around and come back. By this time I am tired of the song that has appeared in my head but can't think of another one. I wish I had brought my iPod even though I don't like to wear it on a ride. At forty five miles I stop for a break at Arnold's. I order a coke and think I may also have an ice cream. I change my mind and think I don't need anything else. Ten miles later I am hungry, stupid, and my legs are tired. I consider the choice between stopping for ice cream or eating an energy gel from my back pocket. I brood for five miles, then decide on ice cream. Ice cream peps me up, but while I was eating it I got a little stiff. At 60 miles I decide my feet hurt, my behind hurts, and the wind shifted in a way I do not like. At 65 miles I'm feeling pretty good, and slowing down a little to cool down so I don't stop suddenly at the end. It's been kind of a fussy ride but I'm so glad I did it. A long ride always leaves me happy and relaxed afterwards.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Brief Update

Posts have been thin on the ground here lately. Because Cape Cod is a popular summer vacation spot I am working more than usual and have less free time. Tourists outnumber residents 3 to 1 for most of the summer, and that is reflected in the traffic at the Major Retailer where I work. This means our "Christmas Season" actually happens in the summer and lasts three months instead of one! For a variety of reasons we don't seem to have any summer workers to speak of so all of us are pulling more and longer shifts. This means I have less free time than usual, so less time for adventures and less time for fun things to post. This week I don't think I will even get out for an hour on the beach or for a meeting of my Stitch & Bitch, let alone spend my usual hours watching the Tour de France. I've resorted to putting all my scheduled activities on my Google calendar so I can synch up with my phone so I don't forget where I am supposed to be. Hard times indeed!  This is THE big moneymaking season for a lot of local businesses, so I can't really grudge the crowds, but it is nearly impossible to get anywhere quickly, book a haircut or a table at a restaurant, or drive anywhere quickly.

 I thought the tourists would make riding the Cape Cod Rail Trail difficult, but it turns out most of the people who use the trail on their vacation only ride out a few miles on either side of the bicycle rental shops so that has still been enjoyable, if less possible because I have less free time. Of course I had a spill the one day I was free to ride the whole trail (71 miles, if you were wondering), but that is so normal for me I hardly count it except for the ugly looking scabby knee that will take a while to heal. It's a wonderful trail - mostly flat and mostly beautiful, in excellent condition. I will note that while there are several bike shops along the trail where supplies can be purchased you will pay a premium for those items. It's best to check you bag before you head out and buy your spare tubes elsewhere.

I packed a lot of adventure into the Fourth of July once I got off of work, including kayaking on the Bass River. It was Shelley's first time in a kayak, so she and Shana took out a double boat. Boat traffic was heavy on the Bass River that day, but everyone still had a wonderful time in the perfect weather. I am just itching to get my own kayak. One unfortunate kayaker was pursued by a shark off Nauset Beach, which I hope never happens to me. Great crowds of people rushed out there to see the shark - just adds to the holiday atmosphere around here. Afterwards we went on to Falmouth for BBQ and fireworks. Our view of the finale was almost totally blocked by a huge cloud of smoke, so we were all cracking jokes about how beautiful it must have been. We had a big contingent of California Dobberteens in for the week and it was fun to see everyone together.

Still no rain here, (we are down more than 6 inches for the year) but the forecast promises heavy downpours and thunderstorms for the lucky few this Sunday. I'll get a garden post up later this week - there's a lot of activity out there even if I am not home much to see it.

Last weekend we cleaned carpets, so of course the resident cat immediately coughed up a huge black hairball that looked like a giant turd. I'll need to take steps to avoid a repeat performance of that for sure. I had forgotten how disgusting hairballs are. She sleeps in the cupboard ever night and I've taken to calling that cupboard "the bunkhouse". At least she no longer sleeps on the basement stairs lying in wait for some unfortunate passerby. Better cat hair all over my kitchen implements than death on the stairs, although it's a difficult choice.