Category Archives: travel

Our month on Cape Cod—day 10

~Monday~ Our Red Hat marketing organization had a “virtual offsite” today, even though we’re all offsite all the time now. When we’re in the office, this is a meeting that we have away from the office in a local establishment, which includes a catered breakfast, lunch, and an open bar “happy (2-3) hour(s)” at the end of the day.

Obviously, we can’t replicate all that virtually, and even though there’s, proverbially, “no free lunch,” we were authorized to expense our lunch today in the spirit of the meeting. Bob and I ordered takeout from a local restaurant that we’ve had our eye on since arriving.

John’s order
California Chicken Sandwich: sprouts, avocado, queso fresco, 1000 island on wheat
Bob’s order
Cape Cod Reuben: fried cod filet, coleslaw, swiss, 1000 island on marble rye

Bob had a busy day today—doing our grocery shopping for this week and doing our first load of laundry here in the quaint little laundry (and small library!) area that’s part of the deal here. He also cleared away our bar that we’d set up on the countertop over the dishwasher, because the owner had a new dishwasher installed today. (See what it looked like prior to being cleared.)

To top off Bob’s busy day, he cooked homemade hamburgers for dinner on one of the two Weber charcoal grills that are here for our use.

That’s it for today.

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Our month on Cape Cod—day 9

~Sunday~ At about 9:30, we headed to Fall River, which was about a 1.5-hour ride. This is the city I grew up in until a year before we moved to North Carolina when I was 13. For the year right before we moved, we lived in Coventry, RI, which we’ll visit when my sister gets here early in November.

Our first stop in Fall River was to the Notre Dame Cemetery, where both sets of my grandparents are buried. We had a hell of a time trying to find my paternal grandparents’ grave (just like I did last year—and never did find it), and it turns out the person in the office had given me the wrong plot information—think way off, like on the opposite side of the cemetery.

Thanks to my cousin, Sandy, who volunteers there and who was in touch with us yesterday with a picture of the headstone, and who provided us with the correct section and plot number by text today.

Another of my cousins, Patsy, met us there, and together we located the grave. We’d brought some cleaning materials with us, and Bob ingratiated himself to my grandparents by spit-shining their headstone.

And as it turns out, my grandfather did have a middle name, which means my father really wasn’t a junior, but since I seem to be the only one devastated by that, I’m just going to let it go.

We also found (and cleaned off) my paternal grandparents’ grave, where I said a quick, socially distanced prayer.

Our next stop was for lunch at one of our favorite childhood eating haunts, and we passed Fall River’s “flat iron building” on the way. Doesn’t every big city have one of these?


They had a buy-5-get-1-free special, which we couldn’t resist. I got “sauce and onions” on mine (they don’t call it chili; they call it sauce), and Bob had ketchup, mustard, and dill pickles on his.

We wanted to stop at Amaral’s Portuguese Bakery while we were in town, but they were closed today. Fortunately, while at the cemetery together, we’d ask Patsy about places to get some sweet bread, and she said they actually sell Amaral’s products in the grocery stores, so we stopped at a Stop & Shop and bought some of my Portuguese/Fall River favorites:

On the way back to the Cape, just outside Fall River, we passed an exit that was very close to my Aunt Rita’s house, and I wanted to make sure she and Bob met, so I gave her a call to see if she was home and up for a short hello from outside.

She was, and we did. Love her to pieces.

An hour-and-20-minutes later, we were back in Eastham, just in time for happy hour, after which I had to have something for dinner on those sweet rolls we’d just bought. And what could be better on a Portuguese sweet roll than some chourico (Portuguese sausage)!

I know you’re glad this day and blog entry are over. If I say Portuguese one more time…

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Our month on Cape Cod—day 8

~Saturday~ We made the short trip up to Provincetown today. Every person we saw there was wearing a mask. And leave it to P-town to be inclusive:
Heteronormative vs. gender fluid mandatory mask signs

Unequivocally, the thing I was most looking forward to in P-town was a stop at The Portuguese Bakery to get some malassadas, so you can imagine my disappointment at finding this:

John in front of the Provincetown Portuguese Bakery Closed for the season sign on the door of the Provincetown Portuguese Bakery

And as if to pour salt in the wound, a local walking by seeing us take this picture said, “And they’re actually closing for good. They’re not opening back up in 2021.”

I can’t find any article online to corroborate that, so I’m just going to pretend it’s not true until I see it (or read about it) with my own eyes.” Denial is not a river in Egypt.

(l) It’s so refreshing to see your humanity affirmed in a t-shirt slogan. (r) The Herring Cove tank top makes me laugh ’cause “girl” is not gonna let go of her bag no matter how high the water gets.

T-shirt store with t-shirt sayings on them that affirm gay people's humanity User's guide to Herring Cove tank top

Here’s Bob on the steps of the town hall recreating a picture he took there about 20 years ago.
Bob on the town hall front steps

We’ve been wondering about a couple of things since we arrived here a week ago. The first is about “heart art” on pallets we’ve seen all along the roads:

Red heart painted on a wooden pallet

It turns out they are to support and honor the healthcare workers working on the frontline of COVID, as described in this Carpentry meets compassion through Scituate sign project article.

And the second thing is why the fire hydrants here have antennas on them:

A red fire hydrant with an antenna sticking up from it

According to a Reddit discussion, they’re for when the snow drifts get high enough to cover them—so the fire fighters can find them easily and so that snow plows don’t hit the ones that are on the sides of roads.

Although, one Reddit user posits that the real reason they’re there is “so dogs can listen to the radio while they do their business.”

By the way, the colors of fire hydrants are also significant, if you didn’t know. The red ones, like the one shown here, have the lowest flow volume at fewer than 500 gallons per minute.

“Back at the ranch,” we just chilled out the rest of the day, enjoying the leftovers of yesterday’s clam fritter meal for today’s lunch. I read some, and Bob watched some YouTube entertainment.

After dinner, we put together our menu for next week, which informed our grocery store list for Bob’s Monday Stop & Shop trip.

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Our month on Cape Cod—day 7

~Friday~ I got my first-ever “cut on the Cape”—a haircut, that is. Bob did it using our new clipper set, which includes a vacuum and trap that catches the hair while it trims.

That must be a “sample” of gray hair that came with the clippers to show you how the vacuum works.

At a little after 9 a.m., we headed south to Yarmouth, where we stopped at Target before going to The Edward Gorey House, which opened at 11 a.m.

For those who don’t know: Edward St. John Gorey (February 22, 1925 – April 15, 2000) was an American writer and artist noted for his illustrated books. His characteristic pen-and-ink drawings often depict vaguely unsettling narrative scenes in Victorian and Edwardian settings. Many people know him for his artwork for PBS’s Mystery.

The curator was very knowledgeable and likeable and did a good job of giving us an overview of the house and the life of Mr. Gorey. In this public Facebook album, you should be able to see the just under 50 pictures I took in the museum house if you’re interested.

Upon leaving, we asked the curator if he knew where we could get some “clam cakes,” and he gave us a few possible places, from which we chose the Chatham Pier Fish Market, where we both ordered the “famous” clam fritters.

Less than a mile from this restaurant was the Chatham Light lighthouse, which a lot of people confuse with the Nauset Light lighthouse that’s on the bag of Cape Cod chips (which has a red section to it, and which we have a picture of further down in this entry), and since we were so close to this one, we stopped by for a picture.

On our drive back, we saw this amusing sign—which I at first thought was mocking my hips—as we entered into a densely populated area:

And then back in Eastham, we saw this sign, which we of course had to get a picture of, in the front yard of a house on the way to the Nauset Light lighthouse:

At the Nauset Light lighthouse, we used the bag of Cape Cod chips we bought specifically to use as a prop in this picture, and then I added the text to it once we got home.

Rounding off our “clammy” day, we had some fantastic clam chowder for dinner that we bought in the seafood section at the grocery store on Sunday.

I am going to go ahead and call my first Friday off here a big success. Tomorrow, we’re planning to go up to “P-town.”

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Our month on Cape Cod—day 6

~Thursday~ I’m pretty lucky in that I usually have just 1-2 work meetings a day, and often I don’t have any at all on 1 or 2 days of the week. That was not the case today. I had meetings from 10:00 to 4:00, with 2 of them overlapping, which I had to choose between. Our team meeting won out, because it’s usually fun, and I love our team.

Bob took another walk today, this time to the east coast of the Cape where he encountered the Nauset Lighthouse of the Cape Cod chip bag fame.

Also in that area were The Three Sisters lighthouses, which earned their nickname because when looked at from afar, they looked like black-hatted women dressed in white. (Full disclosure: The hyphen is my own. I don’t think they meant “Black, hatted women,” and if they did, they should have capitalized the word black and added that comma. But I digress.)

And, of course, he found the Atlantic Ocean coastline.

I received an interesting message and photo from my first cousin about our paternal grandparents’ grave that I talked about yesterday: “Just thought I’d show you that our paternal grandparents’ grave is not buried. It’s one of the graves I monitor, and I just called the office to have the stone raised.”

Manuel Martin: 1893 – 1966; Mary Martin: 1903 – 1991

One interesting thing about this picture is seeing that “M.” in my grandfather’s name. It’s my understanding that he didn’t have a middle name, since my dad was named Manuel Martin, Jr.—and he was proud of that junior and always included it when he said/wrote his name. If my grandfather did have a middle name, and my dad didn’t, dad would not be a junior. I’ll have to follow up with my aunt (dad’s sister) about that.

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Our month on Cape Cod—day 5

~Wednesday~ Another uneventful workday, which is exactly what we like.

Bob took a drive to Orleans for a Stop & Shop grocery store run and a TJ Maxx stop (considering a door mat, some potholders or oven mitts, and a couple of wash cloths).

After lunch, he took a walk to the nearby Cape Cod Rail Trail, one of the national rails-to-trails conversion projects.

At the grocery store on Sunday, we saw this lobster already removed from the shells for just under $19 for the package. And in our typical fashion, we hemmed and hawed about spending that much money on something, but ended up buying it. It was totally worth it!

Happy hour: Eggnog-amaretto-bourbon cocktails, lobstah, and drawn buttah

We’ve begun to think about things to do this long weekend. All of my weekends while here are going to be “long” weekends, because I’m taking all Fridays off.

A couple of things we’re considering so far, one of which was suggested by a Facebook friend who knows we’re here, include:

  • The Edward Gorey House in Yarmouth: In what will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me well, I’m interested in the current exhibit there called “He wrote it all down Zealously: Edward Gorey’s Interesting Lists.” one should resist the urge to write it downI love lists, tracking, spreadsheets, and charts, and if you need any more proof of that, visit my My quantified self page. It’s a list of lists, essentially!

  • The Portuguese Bakery in Provincetown: I want some malassadas (“Portuguese doughnuts”), which always remind me of my Portuguese paternal grandmother who used to make them for us as children. (She’d roll over in her grave if she could see what they’re getting for these at $3.15 a piece!)

  • The city of Chatham: At least 3 of my Facebook friends have spent time in this city, and we want to check it out.

  • Notre Dame Cemetery in the city of Fall River: I grew up in Fall River, and although we plan to spend a full day there when my sister and her husband are visiting later on in our stay here, Bob and I are thinking about going there on Sunday to most likely visit the cemetery where both sets of my grandparents are buried.

    I visited there last year about this time, and this time I will bring a trowel with us to “dig out” my paternal grandparents’ in-ground headstone if it’s still in the same shape as it was then and shown here.

    Yes, my paternal grandparents’ headstone is under there
    (This is the grave in which my grandmother would be rolling over about the malassadas.)
    My maternal grandparents’ grave

Getting excited about the weekend just creating this entry! Tomorrow’s my “virtual Friday.”

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Our month on Cape Cod—day 4

~Tuesday~ Another successful work day. We experienced a short, mid-afternoon power outage, but fortunately, I had recently saved the document I was working in, so I lost very little work. This is the second outage we’ve had since we arrived. The first one was the first day, and it was in the middle of the night, so no harm done. Hopefully it won’t be a “regular” thing. UPDATE: Large power outage affecting the Outer Cape

Bob explored a little more today, taking a walk to the closest coast. Where we are in Eastham is a just a tad bit closer to the west coast of the Cape than the east coast, so he went west, following a sign for Cooks Brook Beach.

He passed some “rainbow art”:

before reaching the beach:

You know who left those footprints all over the place, right?

We bought some eggnog at the Stop & Shop on Sunday, and we used some of it to make eggnog martinis for happy hour tonight. Good stuff.

Here’s the recipe:

A dear friend from high school, who now lives in Maine, was in touch today, and we’ve made plans to see each other while we’re here. So excited.

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Our month on Cape Cod—day 3

~Monday~ I found the local classical station, Classical 107.5 WFCC (“Cape Classical”) to listen to on the radio during my editing day. So far it’s pretty good. It’s nice to know, too, that at any time, I can tune in to my “home” classical station, 89.7 WCPE, which streams on the internet 24 hours a day.

Funny thing related to this, when we first got here, driving up the Cape, I remember thinking how “small town” the entire Cape is and thinking about what it might be like living here, and I thought, “There’d be no symphony or opera here for entertainment, for sure.” But, lo and behold, one of the first things I heard when I turned on “Cape Classical” was an ad for the upcoming Symphony Spoooktacular sponsored by none other than the Cape Symphony! So much for preconceived notions.

We solved the mystery as to whether this “fan-like appliance” in the upstairs hallway was a fan, a humidifier, or a dehumidifier.

It’s actually a Whirlpool Whispure 510 air purifier. You know you wanted to know.

My first day working from here was smooth sailing—I started at 7:30 and quit at 4:30.

During his day, Bob took a walk around the area checking out the businesses that are within walking distance of us, which include The General Store (red sign to the left), a U.S. Post Office (in the middle), and a Ben & Jerry’s (to the right). Not pictured, but just around the side of Ben & Jerry’s is a Dunkin’ doughnut place.

There are several others businesses, too, including the Cumberland Farms convenience store we walked to on our first night here, a liquor store, and several restaurants, including a couple of seafood places and a deli.

After work, we walked together to check out Willy’s Gym, 0.4 of a mile from our place, to see what kind of temporary (month-long) memberships they might offer, and how it was being managed for safety during the pandemic.

It’s a decent place; it even includes a pool, but it’s $140 each for a month, and that’s not going to work. That’s a year and 2 months each in Planet Fitness value. $280 is way too much for a month just to access an elliptical machine, which is all we’ll use there. I mean we only paid $500 to buy our own elliptical machine at home!

Upon returning home, we did our daily USA Today Crossword Puzzle online and had happy hour. Rituals. Comforting.

I texted the owner this evening to help us figure out how to get the DVD player working and how to access Netflix from this entertainment center setup, because we couldn’t get it to work. It turned out a third remote was needed that was in one of the bedrooms instead of in the living room where it was needed.

So, Bob is back in business tonight for his movie and TV watching, and I’ll start on my next book club book. Life is good.

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Our month on Cape Cod—day 2

~Sunday~ Since we fell asleep so early last night, we got up at 5 a.m.

I checked out the upstairs, which I hadn’t done yesterday, and I was delighted to find that there was another “desk” (which I put in quotes, because it was the same as the one downstairs and is really just a hard plastic table), and I decided to set up my “office” up there. It’s the room with the bunk beds in it.

At just before 10 a.m., we headed out to the nearest “big city” (Orleans, MA), to shop at a TJ Maxx for a couple of non-grocery items (e.g., an ice bin to put in the freezer to hold ice cubes, some measuring spoons, and a kitchen sink stopper) and the Stop & Shop grocery store, which turned out to be right next door to the TJ Maxx.

Back at the house, I put together my workstation to be ready to use first thing in the morning. Success:

Bob put the groceries away and did a hundred other things to make this house our own, such as re-organizing the kitchen to have things where he wants them and to store away things we’re not going to use (like a Keurig coffee machine), sweeping the deck, organizing a messy storage area under the stairs, and figuring out how the electric fireplace works.

We actually had a visitor this afternoon, David, who lives here—nearby and year-round—and is a business partner of the owner, and who was so nice! He wanted to let us know that there is a water main issue with the next-door laundry facility that’s supposed to be available to us while we’re here and that we are welcome to use his washer and dryer at any time.

Bob followed him over to his place, where he showed him how to access his laundry area, which is accessible without entering his home, and how the machines work. Bob got to know him a little bit during their time together, and it turns out he’s gay (and used to live in San Francisco with his now-deceased partner), and he told us that there’s a Lesbian couple staying nearby. We’re everywhere.

We tried to figure out, to no avail, the TV/DVD player set-up, and we’ll text the owner about that tomorrow.

Bob brought fresh jalapeños from our yard with us and made “poppers” with them as our dinner appetizer tonight, and they were most delicious—as always.

Hopes and dreams for tomorrow

  1. Me: Work my first day from here.
  2. Bob: Take a walk around the area.

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Our month on Cape Cod—day 1

~Saturday~ Since I’ll continue working remotely through at least the end of the year, my husband (Bob) and I are opting for a change of scenery. We’ve rented a little place on Cape Cod for a month!

I’ll work Mondays through Thursdays and take off Fridays during this time. For Friday day trips, P-town is about 35 minutes north of us and Hyannis is about 35 minutes south of us—with its ferries to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. You might be renting a place in New England if one of the kitchen amenities listed is a lobster pot!

I also have extended family in Fall River, MA; Westport, MA; Swansea, MA; Assonet, MA; and Tiverton, RI (all within about an hour-and-a-half of us) who we’ll try to safely visit during our month here, since none of them have ever met Bob.

This is the first of daily blog entries I’ll make to remember our experience.

Departing Raleigh, NC

We had our alarm set for 3 a.m., but at 2:20, we both realized neither of us was going to fall back asleep, so we just got up, had some cottage cheese for breakfast, finished packing the very few things we didn’t pack last night, and got on the road some time between 3:30 and 4:00.


Reason #263 that it’s a good thing neither of us has kids, because there really wouldn’t have been room for any of their stuff. The car was packed to the gills.

Maximum trunk space used

Maximum back seat spaced use

Just enough space for Bob to sit in the passenger seat


Bob had planned food for us to eat en route, and the highlight was peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and homemade banana bread. We enjoyed this at a rest area in Maryland at about 9:13. It seems early for a lunch, but since we’d started out at 3 in the morning, it was apropos.

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches

Individually wrapped homemade banana bread slices


The trip was fairly uneventful. We did have a little confusion at times between what route Google Maps was telling us to take vs. what our AAA Trip Tik was telling us to take vs. just staying on I-95 North the whole way.

We made 3 stops along the way, and we were surprised, and pleased, at the vast majority of people that were wearing masks at the rest stops and gas stations.


The tolls situation was less than ideal. Once getting north of Virginia, there were more tolls than we’d anticipated, and some of them ended up not collecting, some of them had cash-only lanes, and some of them were designated as “pay-by-mail” tolls.

The first toll road we approached had all the signs intact about stopping to pay your toll, but when we got to the booth, it said to just keep on going. We didn’t know if they weren’t collecting tolls because it was Saturday, or because they didn’t want to staff the booth because of COVID-19, or what.

Getting on the New Jersey Turnpike, the “NO EZ-Pass” lane we got in flashed yellow lights (from green) after we’d already chose the lane, and when we got to the booth, it wasn’t staffed, and a digital sign flashed: “No tag scanned. Keep moving.” Our booth/lane looked just like the 2 on either side of it at which we saw a driver take a ticket from a machine as they went through. Since there was no machine from which to take a ticket at ours, we just kept going and no one chased us or stopped us. At the end of the turnpike—I’m pretty sure we went the entirety of it—I told the cashier we didn’t get a ticket, but that we’d entered at the Delaware Bridge, and she charged us $18 and some change, which was the price indicated for a “lost ticket.” Whatever.

There were definitely more tolls than we anticipated. We paid $18.85 to go over that unimpressive George Washington Bridge, on which they could use some of the money they’re collecting to repave, if you ask us.

And a few of the toll booths were pay-by-mail booths where they scanned our plates, I guess. We’re concerned that we’re not going to see our mail for over a month. We need to look up how long you have to pay them before they start accruing late fees or fines. We can’t even ask our neighbors to be on the watch for them, because our mail is being held at the post office until Nov. 14.


We did hit a highly annoying snag on I-95N through NY, where we experienced bumper-to-bumper traffic for about 45 minutes to an hour. And it was one of those situations where traffic would just come to a crawl or stop for no obvious reason whatsoever. After some time, it would pick back up—with no accident or any other thing in sight that might explain the slowdown—and then again after some time slow down again for no apparent reason. At what point we said:

Really? Bumper-to-bumper traffic? On an interstate? On a Saturday? During a pandemic?


We arrived at about 4:30 p.m., which was 13 or 13.5 hours after we left. I’m not sure how this tripmeter on our car calculates time, but it seems to be an hour or so off. The mileage seems correct, as Google maps estimated between 761 and 821 miles.


Because we were ready for a celebratory drink after a day on the road, the first thing we did was set up the bar in the place and have a toast to the start of our month-long adventure.

Then we took a short walk to the Cumberland Farms convenient store super close to our place to buy some ice, and we each got an ice cream treat. (Me, an ice cream sandwich; and Bob, a Cumberland Farmhouse black raspberry chocolate ice cream sandwich.)

There were two (frozen, Red Barron, pepperoni) pizzas left in the fridge, and we had one of those for dinner after checking with the owner that it was okay to eat them.

Bob made up our bed, and I laid down on it at about 8:30 and started reading a book on my phone on Libby. The next thing I knew, it was 5:00 in the morning Sunday.

Hopes and dreams for tomorrow

  1. Take a ride to see the area.
  2. Drive to the nearest “big” town, which is Orleans, MA, to its Stop and Shop grocery store and TJ Maxx store.
  3. Bob to unpack and put away everything in our house.
  4. John to set up each of our personal computers and then set up his workstation, including a printer provided by the owners.
  5. John to devise our daily blog entry.

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