Sunday, August 10, 2008

Near-Death Experiences and Trip Advice

First, for the trip advice. For those of you who haven't stumbled upon it yet, I recommend Trip Advisor, a website that has real reviews from people who have visited all the places you want to go. I found it very helpful when booking hotels and figuring out places to eat.

Also, for this trip, I used to book one of our hotel stays. I'd never used Hotwire or Priceline before, but it worked out great. Their advertising slogan is that they get you a 4-star hotel at a 2-star price. From our experience in Boston, it's definitely true. We stayed at the luxurious Intercontinental Boston and paid about the same for that hotel that we did for a mediocre Holiday Inn in DC. The catch is that you can't specify which hotel you'd like to book. You simply give the dates and the city (or area within the city), and they book you the hotel. It worked out great for us in this trip, though. The Intercontinental is a beautiful hotel--the decor, the spa, the hip dining, the awesome bathroom with a big bathtub and a separate shower stall!! It was great.

So, now for my "near-death experience." Last Tuesday, we drove from Boston to Cape Cod (about a two-hour drive). Cape Cod is a little different than I expected it to be. It's not your typical beach-front scenery--no scenic vistas or palm trees (not that I expected palm trees)--but then suddenly from this heavily forested area the landscape opens up to the Atlantic ocean! One of the afternoons, we took a short hike and I felt like I was in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. The scent of pine in the air, the pine needles at my feet. But then we went to the beach that afternoon.

On the first afternoon of our stay in Cape Cod, we--naturally--headed to the beach. It was a beautiful sunny day (unlike our second rainy day), so we took full advantage of it. The Atlantic is cold (no duh), but dang, yeah. It's really cold. About 60 degrees on a good day. So I was mainly just putting my feet in. Jacob was making me a nervous wreck because the waves were really strong, and he kept going back-first into the waves and then coughing up ocean water after every one passed over him (we finally figured out that you are supposed to swim through the waves--or something like that).

So anyway, I was basically just dipping my feet in, but then I thought that I should quit being a pansy and get in the water. How many opportunities in a lifetime do you have to be in the ocean anyway? Well, I now think I've had enough for my lifetime.

It was high tide, and the waves were really strong. I waded out about thigh-deep and then--BAM!--a wave completely took me down. All I knew was that I was rolling around underwater. I could see seaweed floating above me and felt the sand rushing into the ocean under me. (Oh, I'm getting all panicky just thinking about it.) I don't remember if I got above water after that first wave, but then--BAM--another wave hit me, sucked me under again. By this time, I thought I was a goner. Jacob was only about six feet away from me, and was lollygagging around, paying no attention to his mother DROWNING!! And, we were right in front of the lifeguards. They didn't seem to notice either. Finally, a third wave caught me. By this time, I had hauled myself up onto the shore a little bit, but the sand was still dragging me down. Finally, I got to my feet and made a beeline for my towel on the sand. I collapsed and proceeded to freeze in my soaking wet, sand-filled clothes the rest of the afternoon. Sheesh.

Jacob and Scott tell me that I was in the water only about 3 seconds. I don't quite believe them; it felt like about an hour to me. So I now call it my near death experience (NDE). I'm being a little facitious, but I don't ever remember having that feeling of raw power against me. The ocean was angry and threatening! I remember a friend telling me once that she'd had a similar experience and never liked swimming again. I think I can now relate. Jacob, however, our adrenaline junkie, loved it. The funny thing about the experience is that I must have looked like a combination of drowned rat / total idiot as I hauled myself up on the beach to my towel. What a landlubber! Oh--this picture shows me after my NDE. I was frozen, so I HAD to buy this cute sweatshirt.

So, these pictures were taken at Nauset Beach, on the Atlantic side of the Cape, near the town of Orleans.

On the rainy morning we were there, Jacob and I went over to Skaket Beach, on the harbor side of the Cape. Totally different! The water is warmer, and the beach so gradually slopes into the water that when it's low tide, you can walk out about two miles before you hit water. So we did that. Here are some pictures from that walk. This is a type of squid. It's hard to see through the water, but ew. He was kind of gross. Kids on the mudflats were also collecting little hermit crabs. We saw a spider crab and some random colorful crab arms lying around. Also--of course--lots of seagulls.

One of the interesting things about Skaket Beach at low tide is that the mud is rainbowy. It's hard to tell in these photos, but the top thin layer of sand is tan. Then just under that layer it's sort of pink, then a dark gray.

I wish we'd had more time to spend at Cape Cod. The beach was great (except for almost drowning--ha), the countryside was beautiful, the towns were charming and it is full of history. I'd definitely go back.


  1. Glad you survived the ocean! It sounds like an incredible trip.

  2. Jacqui12:10 PM

    Just for your information, I would probably call it a NDE too ;-) I would have been terrified and would have felt like I'd never surface again. I'm very glad you survived.

    We've had great luck with Priceline. Only one bad deal, and it was in a smaller town. So we only use it for bigger cities now.

    I'm finally catching up on reading my blogs.

  3. That's it. You're only allowed to swim at Canterbury from here on out.