This Is Good

Cape Cod has a lot of wonderful hidden gems, but if you ever come here with tight schedule do yourself a favor and head straight for the National Seashore. Miles upon miles of this…

IMG_3681

IMG_3694

IMG_3687

IMG_3691

IMG_3692

Puts the garbage-strewn beaches of Japan to shame, if I may boast. This is Lacounts Beach, but the whole outer Cape is one continuous beach with various names along the way. You can bring your dog and make a fire and do whatever else makes you happy.

Tomorrow is my last day here, and with an early flight on Sunday morning I will have a subdued New Year’s Eve, bringing to a close a subdued but soul-replenishing stay here in my hometown. Chances are the next post will be from Japan, but you never know…

Polarized

I finally picked up a polarizing filter for my camera, and I got my first chance to use it this afternoon. It will take some tinkering and getting used to — the pictures came out a little dark — but I like the results so far.

IMG_3669

IMG_3674

This picture is from the far side of the Great Salt Marsh, which I mentioned in my previous post. Straight ahead is the beach from the last post, Sandy Neck. Those are the dunes that I walked through, and beyond them is Cape Cod Bay.

IMG_3677

Two more days left here on Cape Cod. As much as I’m enjoying the peace and quiet, I am very much looking forward to seeing my wife and son again, if not the long trip that will reunite us. I’m hoping for a drive down to the National Seashore tomorrow morning, so more pictures to look forward to.

Good night.

Good Morning

After my 4 a.m. posting this morning I never did fall asleep again. I climbed back in bed, but before I could slip back below consciousness Chieko and Ray called me on Skype. Around 7:30 I jumped in the car and drove 5 minutes to Sandy Neck, the nearest beach. This is a beautiful barrier beach, with Cape Cod Bay to the north and the Great Salt Marsh on its backside. In between are towering dunes with ample hiking trails  connecting the two sides. It was chilly but with a hat and gloves I was comfortable.

Cars are allowed on a portion of Sandy Neck, and owners of the few cottages among the dunes are permitted to drive along the trails, but there is nobody around this time of year.

IMG_3605

I don’t recall seeing frost on sand before but it was one of the first things that caught my eye this morning.

IMG_3594

IMG_3603

Sandy Neck is about seven miles long, so the dunes roll on for quite a distance. This is all protected, the beach grasses and other plants and animals that live in the dunes, and in theory you aren’t supposed to leave the marked trails. Most people are respectful but you can always see footprints leading off the trail. Who wouldn’t want to venture in a little deeper, though?

IMG_3612

IMG_3611

It only takes about 20 minutes to walk from the backside of the beach to the ocean.

IMG_3607

IMG_3643

IMG_3653

The water was as glassy as I’ve ever seen it.

IMG_3618

Meanwhile, halfway across the world…

IMG_0024

Globe Trotter

I’m still impressed by the fact that I can hop onto various modes of transportation and within a day find myself halfway across the planet. For some reason I still come away from each journey with a bit of wonder that it all worked. I arrived back on Cape Cod Saturday evening without incident, marking my first Christmas at home in eight years.

My trip started from Chieko’s hometown in Niigata, where it was and is snowing like the dickens. I usually get a little nervous about flying and making long trips, and that feeling was amplified a bit this time around with some anxiety about leaving Chieko and Ray behind.

I hopped a bullet train to Tokyo Station, about 1 1/2 hours away.

IMG_3549

IMG_3544

From there I boarded the Narita Express, which takes you to the airport in about an hour. I passed Tokyo’s newest monstrosity, the Sky Tree. It is huge.

IMG_3551

I enjoyed a few pre-boarding glasses of wine as the sun set behind the plane that would be my home for the next 11 hours. The flight itself was fine aside from the part where I spilled wine all over my seat and pants. That was uncomfortable for a while, but fortunately I had two empty seats next to me so I could contort myself into some positions that were more conducive to sleeping than just sitting upright in a puddle of red wine.

IMG_3562

After a brief layover in Chicago, where I caught the end of the Patriot’s game on TV, I boarded my short flight to Boston.

IMG_3569

The hour drive from Boston to Cape Cod is always the most grueling part of the trip — so close, but not quite there. But we made it eventually. It’s good to be home, again.

IMG_3577

After two days without jetlag, I thought I was in the clear. But here I am at 4:40 in the morning writing a blog, after hitting the wall and going to bed at 8:30 last night.

This is a very low key trip, and I’m content to do nothing but spend time with my family, visit a few friends, take trips to the beach, and eat more bacon than any man should. So far, so good.

Beach

I’ve probably sung this tune before, but one of the reasons I like living in this part of Japan is that we are surrounded by both mountains and ocean. I have always enjoyed the mountains, but I grew up on the water and would choose it hands-down if I had to  choose. We got our first snow at the end of the week but the mountains have been snowcapped for a little while now, precluding any more bicycle rides or drives up the winding mountain roads until spring. As such, I pointed the car towards the beach when I got the urge to take some pictures this afternoon.

There was a pretty good swell and all kinds of dramatic winter light. The ocean here is much more photogenic in the winter than in the summer.

IMG_3520

IMG_3517

IMG_3510

IMG_3512

IMG_3515

IMG_3507

I’m ashamed to say that having come this far in life, earning a degree in literature along the way, I had until very recently (like last week) never read anything by Ernest Hemingway. How did that happen? But I’m ploughing my way through A Moveable Feast, and it’s time to spend some time doing that now before I call it a day. Good night.