July 2 - We drove out Cape Cod to Provincetown, stopping at Plymouth on the way. Plymouth is a handsome old town by the sea, though the Plymouth Rock exhibit was disappointing given that its portico is being renovated. We could barely see the rock at all, which at best is not too inspiring - "a potato", as Kallie described. Years of souvenir-hunting, wind and water erosion have worn it down.
We spent most of our time in Plymouth at the Mayflower II, a full-size reproduction of the Mayflower ship on which the Pilgrims crossed the Atlantic from England to Massachusetts. One hundred two passengers and a crew of about 30 sailed the Atlantic on a ship that looks big enough for about half that many. The original Mayflower was lost to history soon after its return to England in the 17th century (it was hired for the trip). The Mayflower II was a joint project of the US and Great Britain in the 1950s, partially as an attempt to improve British-American relations, which had cooled after the immediate aftermath of World War II. Built to 17th century specifications, the ship sailed uneventfully from England to Plymouth in 1957. It still sails occasionally with a crew made up of core members and sailors recruited from the New England sailing community.
Kay remembered that there was an historic UU church in Plymouth. We found it atop a small hill, the First Parish Church in Plymouth, a congregation that dates back to 1620, the year the Pilgrims arrived. The church's origins make it the oldest continuous church in New England. To no avail, we looked all around for an open door or someone to show us around. Still, the sense of history was palpable.
We ate lunch in Plymouth and then headed on up Cape Cod to Provincetown, which is the most openly gay community I've ever seen. It was refreshing seeing people walking around being their true selves, but also a little sad, given that the scene was possible only in a town stuck at the end of a 75-mile-long spit of land--a similar story to Key West, Florida, the previous standbearer in my experience. Having already eaten lunch, we didn't do much - had some ice cream, walked on the beach, took pictures (I got two great ones of birds in flight), bought and found some shells for the granddaughters. We also found the UU congregation in Provincetown, where both the minister and office manager were present to talk with us. Their membership of just seventy people maintains a beautiful 19th century building with a sanctuary big enough for several hundred. The congregation rents the facility for various shows (other than on Wednesday and Sunday), which helps pay the bills. As we visited they were getting ready for a craft fair.
On the trip home we searched first for an Atlantic beach and then for dinner. We found the former in Truro, though I was too tired to climb and descend the dunes to see it first hand. We found food at the Lobster Basket (or Trap or something to that effect) in Eastham, MA. Kay and Kallie shared a 2-pound lobster. I got my own - 1-1/4 pounds. Erin couldn't bear to eat something she knew was alive just minutes before, so she ate linguini and mussels. (The lobster tank was right next to our table.) Kay asked if they would crack the lobsters for us; the answer was no. The lobsters came out, red and delicious. I cracked and devoured my own, and helped Kay and Kallie when they needed me. I think they decided it was all too much work. I loved both the lobster and the experience--of course, our opinions are about the same regarding boiled crawfish or crabs. Blue crabs are where I draw the line--give me king crab legs any day.
For more pictures from the day, please visit http://www.photoblog.com/dadlak/2008/07/02/es-cape---day-26.html