Why I'm Passionate about the Seashore
August 5, 2011
I have been lost a million times in the Cape Cod National Seashore. That’s why I love it.
There’s room to blunder around, take wrong turns, follow tiny paths to nowhere and end up stuck and cursing in a giant bramble bush. Or get way out on the winter beach, wicked far from your car and bellow like a lonely mastodon when you realize you’re hours away from a hot toddy.And if getting lost isn’t good enough for you, how about getting scared? Like when you head over to the backshore during a nor’easter and the windblown sand feels like needles and if you take one more step that dune might collapse, throwing you into seething cold whitewater, maybe forever.
When I first washed up on the Outer Cape I was pretty suspicious about the skinniness of it all. A couple of miles across, maybe less? Ridiculous. And I figured it was all crammed with taffy shops and condos, anyway.
Boy was I wrong. The Seashore is huge! This became evident when cross-country skiing in Lombard Hollow in South Truro during my first Cape winter. It was getting kind of dusky, and I was way out there in the woods by myself.
I heard a coyote howl. Obviously he was saying to his mates, “there’s a tasty, flabby man—to the hunt!” Panic set in, and suddenly I was in a Jack London story, skiing for my life in the wilderness. On little Cape Cod!
Of course it was all in my mind—I think. But that’s what the Seashore gives you: the space to have adventures. To stumble across eerie little smallpox cemeteries, stand atop a hundred-foot-tall dune, find weird old government buildings in the pines.
To walk or bike for miles without seeing anyone, even in the summer. It seems like a miracle, our splendid green waterfront world. Sure, you have to deal with the muddled bureaucracy of the federal government, and maybe get a parking ticket near the hidden ponds of Wellfleet. But it’s worth it.
Without the Seashore, we’d all be crammed onto a giant condominium boardwalk that stretched from Orleans to Provincetown, surrounded by “No Trespassing” signs. But we got lucky.
So I’ll see you out there on some obscure fire road, or far down the beach. Let’s get lost!
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