Camping at Nickerson State Park

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Saturday, 08SEP12

The morning after a concert is never a quick “lets go right away woo!” morning. But even with my mind foggy and my ears still ringing, I somehow managed to get myself mobile early enough to beat Mike to the Park & Ride where we were meeting up.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait too long for him to show up. Unfortunately, the parking lot itself was rather impressively sketchy – instead of being your standard-issue Park & Ride lot, it was a small chunk of pavement out behind what looked to be an abandoned courthouse, in a small southern Massachusetts town that looked dangerously close to one of those places that murders outsiders.

We moved on. The next lot wasn’t any better, the one after that was only day use, and the third lot we checked out had a big “do not park here” sign. Nice. Way to be, park-and-ride.

Thankfully, this is ‘Merica, and we have one place that always lets you park overnight – Wal-Mart.

Yep, seriously.

We left Mikes sweet Eclipse parked in a Wal-Mark parking lot, right underneath one of their security cameras, and headed towards the cape without a second thought.

The ride was quick, though full of random small roads and a few wrong turns, and thankfully we were checked in at Nickerson’s before the sun down. The first order of business, of course, was scavenging around for firewood and food – Firewood we found at the small campground store (you can’t bring out-of-town firewood into MA state parks), but food turned out to be a bit more of a bear. Neither of us could agree on a restaurant, so we headed to the safest one in town – Shaws.

And this Shaws, it turns out, was staffed completely by either sassy black women or young European girls traveling through the states. Seriously – Mike got chewed out for being a hippy (irony, I love you), and I got asked all sorts of questions about traveling around the world by a pair of women from Kosovo who could barely speak English.

My favorite part though, by far, was when Mike tried to make some slightly-intellectual jokes to the guy running the cash register. Turns out that Cape-Cod-Bro’s don’t like smart-asses, especially when they’re making jokes that he doesn’t get. They don’t like it one bit.

So with food and booze in hand, we made a tactical retreat back to the campground.

The night was relaxed. Not in the “we didn’t do anything” sort of way, but in the “stargaze and talk about the universe” sort… the advantage to getting far outside of any urban areas is that the stars are especially clear, and even though there were a few clouds we were spectator to a rather amazing display of cosmic beauty.

To be honest, it was more depressing than amazing though. Seeing all those stars, especially when drinking by a lake, is a massive sign from the universe saying “you don’t actually matter to me”. It’s scary just how large the sky is, and how vast the stars really are…

After a while we did finally head to bed, not minutes before a rather intense rainstorm hit us like a tidal wave.

Sunday, 09SEP12

As happens most morning that I go camping, the first order of business was finding ourselves some breakfast. This time, however, I was in for disappointment – the danger of handing out on the Cape after Columbus Day is that everything closes. Not for a few hours, but for the season. Literally every breakfast place we went to was closed down for the season – not a single one was open, and the one motel breakfast we tried to get into hadn’t even opened due to “lack of interest”.

So instead, Steak and Cheese was on the menu for my breakfast. It was actually quite good, and served the double-purpose of being a great place to pour over the bike map that Mike and I had comandeered from the campground before we left.

We decided to start at a beach called… something. Honestly, I can’t remember the name because one other trait of the beach is burnt into my mind – the smell. It was hellish. The entire beach, from parking lot to ocean waves, smelt of rotting death and spoiled seaweed. We tried to explore it, we really did, but in the end the pure stench of it drove us to our bikes, where we pedaled away without a backward glance at what would otherwise have been a beautiful sand beach.

Thankfully, the rest of the bike path wasn’t nearly as smelly as the start point. In fact, it was extremely pleasant – there was nearly no one on the path, probably thanks to the light rain, and so we were able to easily set our own slightly-random pace as we forged on through the heart of the Cape.

After a short adventure to a random gym off the side of the trail (bathrooms and adventure were required, and the gym had both. And a Subway!) we headed to a real beach. The map said it was only a mile or so off the trail, and sure enough we were on the sand of an ocean-side beach in no time.

The water was freezing, the sand was damp, and the my bike was getting covered in the infernal stuff. But… I didn’t want to leave. It wasn’t the sun, and the clouds were covering any sort of awesome view that may have been had. So why did I want to stay? The surfers.

I’ve gained a new appreciation for surfers since hanging out with Craig in Hawaii, and watching the guys tearing into the waves here, off the New England coast in the freezing Atlantic waters… I was awestruck. The waves weren’t huge, not nearly the same as those I saw at Pipeline, but they were still impressive… and hearing about the rocks mere feet underneath the waves, combined with the shockingly cold waters… well, these guys’re tougher than I am, lets just leave it at that.

Mike and I did head out after watching a few rides though, and as anyone can tell you the ride home was much quicker than the ride out. It seemed like less than half the time, but by the time we did make it back to the car we were feeling rather good, if somewhat peckish for a bite to eat.

Dinner, we found right near over the bridge back onto the mainland – a small little tiki diner backing on a little fishing wharf. And that fact was what made our night, because we didn’t just get dinner – we also got a rather impressive show. As we ate, the clouds pulled back from the mainland, and one of the biggest rainbows I’ve ever seen stretched out over the harbor, literally from one side to the other. We tried in vain to get a good picture of it, but in the end we comforted ourselves with the amazing seafood chowder, Mai Tai’s, and the perfect ending to a rather amazing weekend.

One response »

  1. …amazing how a Great Rush Concert can make one forget to bring cooking utensils and food on a camping/biking trip….sounded like fun, I liked visiting the Cape also AFTER all the PEOPLE left for the summer. The birds, foxes, and other critters left in peace to enjoy the beaches ARE a most relaxing get-away from the work atmoshere!

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