We picked the beach photo above as the header for our blog because it depicts one of our favorite wide open spaces — Cape Cod Bay from a beach we can walk to in Brewster. GHB and LHB have spent hours observing and catching hermit crabs in the tidal grasses, and when the tide is all the way out, we can walk for what feels like miles across the flats.
Before the 2000-mile Chicago roundtrip, driving down to the Cape was an annual road trip tradition. All our previous road trips had been within the cozy distances of a New England vacation. Cape Cod, Storyland (NH), Lake Champlain and Burlington (VT). I think our longest haul had been to visit dear friends Betsy and Dave in Farmington, Maine — about 5 or 6 hours, depending on the usual factors of traffic and needing to stop for bathrooms or munchkins. We’ve also visited cousins in New Rochelle (NY), but I think that actually took under 5 hours.
So we’ve done numerous drives of 3 to 5 hours. GHB and LHB are happy to enjoy the particular delights of traditional road trip food (easy access to Happy Meals) and other customary highway rituals (license plate game, loud Johnny Cash tunes, singing along with Janis to “Me and Bobby McGee”).
Still, these drives don’t feel like road trips I remember from my own childhood. Is that because they are actually shorter, or because when you’re doing the driving, the distances seem shorter? Two weeks before the Chicago trip we were on the Cape for our annual stay in Brewster – the most relaxing week of the year. Even though my week was interrupted by a work obligation, the days down there by the bay, taking an outdoor shower or sitting by a kettle pond, felt worlds away. I guess we don’t always have to travel great distances to get that feeling. We met up with a college friend and her adorable girls, who are close in age to GHB and LHB. She said that New Englanders frequently vacation only an hour or two from home. It makes sense — the region is geographically varied, densely populated, and offers beaches, islands, mountains, and lakes. I would not give up a summer visit to Cape Cod for ANYTHING. The distance is short and reminds me that a vacation is where and when we make it. But in spite of the Cape traffic and stopping at the Plymouth rest area, in light of the Chicago drive, I doubt any of us will think of the 2-hour drive from Arlington to the Cranberry Highway as a road trip anymore.