Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

A Walk Around Town and Other Treats

Friday September 13, 2013
Provincetown Cape Cod Massachusetts



* Yesterday someone commented on how much we did in a day.  Yesterday wasn’t really a lot of time, just four fairly small things.  The seal walk was 90 minutes and we stayed perhaps another half hour.  The lighthouses took perhaps an hour, the swamp walk is only 1 1/4 miles long and we stopped for perhaps 20 minutes at the Marconi Station.  So all in all it was in total only 4.5 hours of time.




Today we start at the nearby Salt Pond Visitor’s Center.


Out beyond the back patio is Salt Pond which we hope to kayak out to Nauset Marsh in the next day or so.  


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Near the visitor center’s amphitheater, the park service provides an outdoor hike experience for the visually handicapped,



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There are also a couple of trails we want to hike.  The Buttonwood Trail is a trail signed for the blind and  The trail has a rope all along with indicators of where to stop and where there are steps or ramps.  All the signs are both written for the sighted and in Braille for the blind.




Cape Cod Light & Provincetown 005 The first sign explains how it works and reminds us all to both look, listen, smell and touch. 

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The bridge leads through Button Wood pond.  It is usually about two feet deep but sometimes shallower in the summer. The pond formed when a large block of ice from a glacier became covered with sediment, sand and gravel. When the ice block melted, it left a deep hole that filled with ground water.  Ponds formed in this way are called “Kettle Ponds”.  There are a great many of these on the cape.


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A handsome  catbird on the bridge rail allowed me to get very close for this picture.  The pond is filled with button wood and as thick as it is may make a great place for a nest.



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The bush has white flowers in the summer which then become dense ball shaped clusters.  They look like old fashioned buttons on the plant’s woody stem.  We feel them and they are firm but not hard.







After we leave the pond I remark that I smell grapes.  Sure enough wild grapes are on the side of the trail.  The food forager is all over that.  Too bad there isn’t a sign marker here suggesting that you smell  the wild grapes.  I guess that’s only for a short while though.


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About half way along the Button Wood Trail is a sign for the Nauset Marsh Trail which is where we want to go.  


Along the way we pass another hiker who volunteers to take our picture.  Prior to the creation of the National Seashore, there was a golf course here.  Mother nature came back and took over the entire area again and turned it back into a wetland when no one interfered.  The thing I am standing on is a roller for the greens.



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All along the trail we’ve been seeing this sign.


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The bridge in the distance behind David is the first bridge looks good until you get up close.   But it’s certainly not closed.   So on we go.


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And then we come the problem.  I take a cautious step out and find that if I had on my hiking boots instead of my Ofoos I could easily walk across here because the water is down so far.   But I don’t have the boots, so I can’t.

We have come nearly 3 miles and have about 1/4 of a mile to go and they want us to turn around and go back.

Now it’s true that they have been warning us all along and that we did intend to turn around and go back.  But now that we’ve seen what a short stretch this is, it really doesn’t seem worth it to go back 3 miles to avoid a 10 ‘ stretch of mud.

Seems the trail builders thought the same thing and have made an “unofficial” hike around.  Now I don’t usually do these sorts of things because of the potential erosion problems but I’m making an exception today since this seems to be a pretty long standing detour.   These pictures were both taken form “the other side”.

Can you see both pieces of yellow tape???

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Here’s the end of the short new trail around the problem.

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As we finish up the hike and are going around Salt Pond, we are surprised to see a group of swans.

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What beautiful majestic birds.  They look absolutely regal.  A light rain has started but we stay for a while watching the group gather on the other side of the pond.  I hope they are here when we return with our kayaks.


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We’ve spent about an hour and a half on both trails and have plenty of time to drive up toward Provincetown and see the lighthouse known originally and to the locals as The Highlands Light.  The name on the signs says Cape Cod Lighthouse.



Are you tired of lighthouses yet?   I hope not.  


Paul commented yesterday that I must be really enamored with them and he’s right but it’s also true that lighthouses are every where in Cape Cod. 

There are 17 in all and while I was able to see all 17 Acadia Carriage Roads during our six weeks in Acadia, I definitely won’t be able to work all of the Cape Cod Lighthouses  into our 5 night stay.  NEXT TIME :-)


Like the other lighthouses at Cape Cod The Highlands Light was also moved back from the shore to save it, but only once and relatively recently.  


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In 1794, Congress appropriated $8,000 for the lighthouse on the cliffs of Truro, known by the mariners as Dangerfield because of the frequent wrecks off its shores.   Since there were fears that mariners might confuse the new Highland’s Light with Boston Light, a single fixed light at that time, it was determined that this lighthouse would be the first in the nation to have a flashing light.  

A rotating “eclipser” was designed and built by James Bailey Jr to revolve around the spider lamp (a simple pan of oil with several wicks) once in 80 seconds.  The light would be hidden from view for 30 seconds during each revolution.  The light keeper had to wind the eclipser’s clockwork machinery twice a night.   It behaved erratically and was replaced with a Winslow Lens in 1812.  Boston Light had become a revolving light in 1811 so there was again no fear that they would be confused.    The wooden lighthouse was repaired and ultimately replaced with a new round brick tower in 1835. 

  Henry David Thoreau visited the lighthouse several times in the 1850’s eventually writing his book Cape Cod in which he found the lighthouse “ a neat building in apple pie order”.  Apparently the lighthouse was never moved from its original 1797 location which was over 500 feet from the edge of a 125 foot cliff.  The cliff was eroding at a rate of about 3 feet a year and by the 1990’s the lighthouse stood just 100 feet from the cliff.  In 1990 alone 40 feet were lost just north of the lighthouse.   The lighthouse  now seriously needed to be moved.

The Truro Historical Society and local citizens raised $150,000 which along with $1M in federal funds and $500,000 in state funds  paid for the 1996 move of the 404 ton lighthouse back 450 feet from the current edge.  The story of the move is quite interesting but too long to relate here. 

There is a great deal more interesting history about the lighthouse and its light to be had on the lighthouse tour offered by the Friends of Highland Light.   Will it last another 100 years in this location?

At least for now, you can walk out to the original location of the lighthouse marked with a cement circle.  In this picture which I took at the informational display,  the original location is labeled ‘you are here’.


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A funny aside about the movement of the lighthouse is that it was moved right next to the 7th Fairway of the Highland Golf Links.  The local joke is that it is now the world’s first life sized miniature golf course.  When we were there we walked right by the golf cart lane from one tea to another.   Unbreakable glass panes were installed in the light.

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We’re now about 18 miles closer to Provincetown than Winnona is so we decide to go have a walk around.


We park in the same spot as last time.  The only place we know to park for free.  And because of that and my luck that it is now high tide, I can take another picture of the environmental sculpture.  Just what I wished for.   It looks just like a stand of tall grasses and nothing more.   If you didn’t see it at low tide and would like to here is the link to that post.  Let me know what you think


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Just across the street from here is Pilgrim’s First Landing park.  I’ve already talked about how the pilgrims landed here at Provincetown  harbor before they moved on to Plymouth which gets all the credit.  Provincetown wants to make sure you don’t forget the facts.





This little park is really unique.  The patio blocks were donated in memory of loved ones. 


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The monument stone was dedicated in 1917.  They’ve been proud a long time.


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I loved reading the engraved blocks.   Some had stones or flowers placed on them assumedly by loved ones.


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Some things that catch my eye while walking up commerce street from the harbor and through town.



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We’re asked “would you like a ride” by one of the many pedicab drivers.


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This town has a sense of humor

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piano busking on the sidewalk

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Even a rain shower doesn’t dampen anyone’s spirits.

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Getting dark, time for us to go.


P-Town is a unique and happy feeling place. 
I think I am not alone in enjoying its atmosphere and wanting to stay longer.


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  1. boy, I'll say a sense of humor! what fun... love the night time picture....

  2. I really like your pictures in this post -- so enchanting!

  3. I love the idea that they have a trail for the blind! P-town is such a quaint place, we'll have to explore it someday.

  4. P-Town was a favorite place for us to pull into when I was on sea duty. I have some great memories of liberty (off duty) days there.

    Marti is a direct descendant from three of the Pilgrims. We have the lineage that traces her family lines all the way back.

  5. That is such a cute picture of you and David.

  6. yep. . .'fraid I would have joined you in going around the mud hole if I was that close to the end. . .loved your "close ups" of PTown. . .

  7. You sure are making the most of your 5 days in the Cape!!! P-town is really adorable. Reminds me of a Gingerbread Village;o)) The photo of that amazing Dahlia is awesome!!

  8. Great lighthouse history! 17 lighthouses and 17 bridges. How interesting. I especially liked the hike for the blind and the swans. P-town looks unique and fun. Another memorable day!

  9. I haven't been there since the late 1980's and probably wouldn't recognize a thing today.

  10. I too would have averted the closed trail. Sheesh. Sure hope you get to see the swans again while out kayaking. The lighthouses are wonderful, each so different.

  11. Looks like an interesting village to visit. What was the Lip Schli... about?

  12. Good question. I believe he/she was promoting a live show. It is a very colorful town. We passed on the tickets. We didn't even get ice cream. In fact we didn't buy anything in P-town. Come to think of it, it was a buy-nothing day. We did not plan it, it just happened.


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