Last summer, I ended up going to Cape Cod/Martha’s Vineyard for a long weekend. I actually wrote about the planned itinerary, but never ended up writing much about the trip, because as soon as I got home, I got real sick for a week (I wouldn’t be surprised if it was some offshoot of sun poisoning-more on that later), then basically had an emergency root canal, and then quit my job. In short, things got hectic and my schedule and mind didn’t really clear up until September, and who wants to read about a beach vacation just as the leaves are starting to turn, ya know (although I did publish a post about our trip to Martha’s Vineyard’s nude beach, because that was too awkward not to share)? So, I put it on hold and figured I’d share the trip once it started warming up.
My sister and her best friend had planned a beach weekend to Hyannis and Martha’s Vineyard, and asked me sort of last minute if I wanted to tag along last July. I was game. I’ve always been a fan of anywhere in New England, and in fact we’d vacationed several times on Cape Cod growing up, and I fondly remember a trip to Martha’s Vineyard (although I did just find photos from this trip the other day that I was going to scan and include here, however, I was going through a sun-in phase, and that shit was not flattering). I also hadn’t been on a full fledged beach vacation in what seems like years-I go to Sea Isle every summer, but those are just day/weekend trips and there’s been plenty of times in SIC that I don’t even see the beach. I like the beach just as much as the next guy, but if you haven’t noticed I like to keep busy on vacation, and a day or two of laying out on the beach is pretty much all I have in me before I get bored. That, and my skin tone really isn’t conducive to sitting out in the sun for long periods of time, so a long weekend was perfect, especially since there’s so much other stuff to do in this region.
The only real complaint I ever have when I go to the Boston area is the drive-it’s a solid 5 hours at least without traffic, and I don’t know that I’ve ever managed a drive up there were we don’t rot for at least an hour in Connecticut. We left early on a Thursday morning, and so didn’t have it that bad, although the GPS did play tricks on us several times.
My sister had picked Hyannis to stay at because of its close proximity to the Martha’s Vineyard ferries, and on the recommendation of our cousin, who lives in Plymouth, that it has some of the better nightlife on the cape. We stayed at the Hyannis Harbor Hotel, also at the recommendation of our cousin, and while it wasn’t the cheapest place to stay (Cape Cod and especially Martha’s Vineyard are not exactly budget friendly vacation locales), it did have a great location right on the harbor, a pool and tiki bar, fire pits, and a giant life sized chess set, something I’m always on the lookout for when scouting hotels.
Hyannis is located “mid cape” and is technically a village in the larger town of Barnstable. The town is a popular tourist destination, not just because of it’s central location, but because it’s the main ferry hub for Nantucket, and to a lesser extent Martha’s Vineyard; most of those ferries actually depart from the town of Woods Hole, with the exception of a few passenger ferries. The neighboring village of Hyannisport is famous for being the home of the Kennedy Compound, and Hyannis has a JFK Museum, that I disappointingly was not able to visit.
We arrived in Hyannis just at lunch time, and decided to eat at Spanky’s Clam Shack, one of the eponymous tourist trap seafood joints with a sexually innuendoed name, and over-priced, deep fried fish. It was exactly what I expected, not awful, but nothing to write home about. The thing is, that when I eat waterside seafood in New England, I want to write home about it.
We finished lunch and decided that we wanted to check out the Cat Boat, a sailboat that offers harbor cruises of various kinds. I think I’d be remiss to mention that the “fully stocked on board bar” didn’t play a part in our want to go. We ended up walking the entire length of the harbor trying to find the cat boat, and guess what? It literally sails five feet away from where we’d just dined. Exhausted from running around in flip flops like a bunch of assholes, we arrived just as they were about to set sail. We did the 2:15 PM Hyannis Port trip, which cost us $35.00 a piece.
This was a great way to officially start the vacation. What I liked most about this is that the boat is small. I believe there were maybe 10 passengers all together, and we got to sit on the side of the sailboat as we cruised around the Hyannis Harbor. I also liked that it wasn’t really a manufactured tour. The captain and girl helping out gave us tidbits of information, but mainly allowed us to drink our beer and take in the scenery.
After the catboat, we headed to Trader Ed’s pool club, a bar I’d found online earlier, for their Thursday night lobster dinner special. This place was weird in the best way possible. It sat, literally right in the middle of a boat yard. You could see the harbor, but it wasn’t harbor view or anything-the better views were off cranes and stacked up speedboats. It also had a small in ground pool plopped in the middle of the dining area, where several children and their parents swam the entire time we ate. These aren’t complaints mind you, just observations. You really can’t complain when you get a complete, fresh lobster dinner for $12.95. It was glorious.
We went back to the hotel for a little dip in the pool, soak in the hot tub, and pool side Bud Light Limes (judge away) before heading out on the town, where we found our second glorious find of the day: The 19th Hole. The 19th Hole was a perfect Cape Cod dive bar-it had neon shamrock signs in the windows, cheap beer and shot specials, bartenders who sounded like an SNL New England accent parody, and I learned it’s the go-to spot for several members of the Kennedy family.
It was at the 19th Hole, that I finally got my hands on a nice pounder of Narragansett lager, what I’ve always thought of as the unofficial beer of New England. The bartender was excited for us to try this, however I’ve long been familiar with this liquid delicacy. My dad is from Connecticut, went to college in New Hampshire, and used to go up Cape Cod quite frequently, and grew up drinking this. In fact, for 18 years, a bottle of Narragansett sat in our downstairs fridge-a gift someone bestowed upon my father on the greatest day of his life, my birthday, which in what I’m only assuming was a haze of nostalgia, he kept and drank upon our (my brother and my) high school graduation. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realize that the 18 year old bottled beer was skunked as hell, but it’s the thought that counts.
Naragansett is something to akin to NEPA’s Lion’s Head, or Pittsburgh’s IC Light. It’s a reasonably priced beer, locally produced beer, that’s seemingly been around forever. Like many local beers, they stopped production in the 80’s (which is the reason my dad was holding onto that special bottle), however it made a come back in 2006, and now offers several variations of beer. While the beer is in fact very tasty, I think I mainly love it because it’s marketed as the “official beer of the clam,” and because it made a cameo in Jaws, when Captain Quint crushes a can of it to intimidate Richard Dreyfuss’s oceanographer (which itself was marketed a couple of years ago with the hashtag #CrushItLikeQuint, which is genius).
Apparently we’d arrived at the 19th Hole early, as the place was dead, but being from NEPA and all, we feel right at home at dead bars. We got talking to the bartender a bit, who informed us that last call was midnight on most of the cape and islands, and in fact, everything shuts down after midnight. This basically cemented that while I will continue to vacation here, I could never live here full time. I’m white trash and need 24 hour convenient stores in my life. I think the bartender also took a shine to my sister, who was able to score free ferry passes to Martha’s Vineyard out of it. No complaints from me there.
We left, begrudgingly on my part , the 19th Hole, and at the bartenders suggestion, tried the British Beer Company, which was a middle aged dance party with a cover band who heavily favored Hall & Oates. Again, this may sound like a complaint, but it is not. Drunk middle aged dance parties and Hall & Oates cover bands are both part of my idea Friday nights.
Towards last call we headed back towards the 19th Hole, which was in fact, then packed, and stayed for a couple of drinks, before, out of any other real options, turning in early. While last call up in Cape Cod may be a little too early for my tastes, I couldn’t argue with waking up the next day at 8, with a full/good nights of sleep, ready to go.