Thursday, May 8, 2014

There's No Place Like Provincetown!

Provincetown, Massachusetts is a beautiful place to spend time.  I know, you've heard all about the gay community, and think that it's just for gay people.  I've heard that for years, and every time I head out that way people ask me if I'm secretly gay and all that stuff.  People are weird.

Provincetown was originally visited by Pilgrims.  They actually landed there briefly before continuing on to Plimouth.  For centuries, it's been a fishing village.  Trust me, they have great lobster.

What Provincetown really is, is a community for free spirits.  There's not just gay people.  There are all kinds of people there, and if you were to ask them about being gay, a lot of them would just laugh at you.  Provincetown is full of artists, chefs, entrepreneurs, business people, marine biologists, spiritual people, and everything else that you can imagine.  It's a very diverse place, it's a friendly place, and for those of us who live in uptight places like Connecticut, it's a great place to get away from it all and relax.

Are there gay people in P-Town?  Yes, so if you're a bigot don't go there.  It's your loss really.  I've been to the tip of Cape Cod many times, and it's one of my favorite places on Earth.  I love the shopping, the eating, the people, and the atmosphere.  There's no place else quite like it.

I have to admit that on this one, I'm plugging the little hotel we stayed in, The Cape Colony Inn.  This is an old style hotel with hospitality and real keys for the doors.  The folks who run this place are some of the friendliest I've ever encountered.  We really had a good time there.  They have volleyball, shuffleboard, ping pong, barbecues to use, a pool, and a great breakfast where you can make your own waffles.  I only stay here.  Remember that.

One thing that you are obligated to try and do when in Provincetown is to take a cruise to whale watch.  Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary is right off the coast of Cape Cod, and that makes Provincetown one of the best places in the world to see whales.  That's a tough one to turn down, right?

The Dolphin Fleet Whalewatch has been running for something like thirty years.  Anyway, they've been at it so long that they guarantee that you will see a whale, or they will give you a free ticket for another try.  They're a knowledgeable and friendly bunch too.  The Dolphin IX is a comfortable boat for the excursion and it makes for a pleasant trip.  Like most excursions in P-Town, you can catch them right at MacMillan Pier.

When you start out on your whale watching journey, you pass the very tip of Cape Cod, with it's lighthouse and it's greeting committee.  It sometimes looks like the seals are smiling as you pass by.  Now, don't be disappointed if they're not there.  I was told that if you want a chance to see seals too, you should take the morning cruise, because by afternoon the seals have other things to do.

And, whales, whales, whales.  You do see whales off the tip of Cape Cod.  You may not see the giant tail fins of the Humpbacks however.  There are several kinds of whales that hang out off the shores of the cape, and the most common ones are not the Humpbacks.  We did not see one this time, but we saw three other kinds of whales, so we saw whales.  What we saw the most of were Fin Whales.  They were everywhere.

You will enjoy chasing the whales around to get photos.  It's a lot of fun.  Some cautions though.  Remember the sun block.  I didn't and regretted it.  It's also wise to wear a hat.  The sun on the open ocean is beautiful and quite dangerous, so be wary of it and go prepared.  Also, the water changes on the open sea, so you might want to invest in some motion sickness pills just in case.  Just because you've never been sea sick on a boat does not mean that you won't get sick on one in open water.

Once you've gone whale watching you have to check out the shopping, the eating, and the architecture.  Provincetown has great shopping.  The place is full of art galleries, gift shops, clothing, furniture, and anything else you can imagine.

I do mean anything.

There are some classic buildings in P-Town from old churches to the town hall to the library.  There are lots of older houses and truly unique buildings to see.  The narrow streets and secret passage like alleys all over town just add to it's mystique and ambiance.

The dining is another great part of a visit to Provincetown.  There are tons of great places to eat.  I always have a tough time deciding where to go.  I've literally never had bad food  there.  At night for the partiers, the bars get a little crazy and everyone has a great time.  Whether it be music, or drag queens, there is a great nightlife in P-Town.

One of the great things about Provincetown is their sense of humor.  You will see that they only take themselves so seriously.  This is all part of the great atmosphere that you feel while visiting the area.  They love to do things their way.  They don't like it to be regulated and overruled.  They enjoy life, and that's what makes it such a great tourist destination.

Don't forget to enjoy the beach.  If you want to see the dunes at the Cape Cod National Seashore, do yourself a favor and take a tour with Art's.  Art's Dune Tours is a great way to see them.  You need special permits and stuff to go, so it's way easier to go with them.  You can even do an evening clam bake dinner if you like.  But, if you just want to go to the beach, there are several.  I like Race Point, because it's on the outside on the Atlantic.  It's a great place to go for a sunset.

But, why is this place an adventure for anyone?  Well, it all has to do with Pilgrim Monument.  The tower is the tallest building anywhere in the general vicinity.  It towers 252 feet in the air and has been around since 1910 or so.  This thing can be seen from just about anywhere around.  It is the centerpiece and the single most famous spot in all of Provincetown.

Once a year, the locals take to the 116 steps and 60 ramps inside the Pilgrim Monument Tower and have themselves a race.  The Run to the Top is a fundraiser for the Fireman's Cancer Relief Fund, and it is something to see.  It takes place the first weekend in May, and you should come.  They have a great barbecue, silent auction, raffles, and of course the race.  They have a civilian race and a race that's just for the firefighters.  For $25 you can run, or you can just spend an afternoon, make a donation, see a great event, and meet some great people.

Here's how it works.  You really should come and see this.  They run through this archway.  There's a device inside it that starts their time when their number bib passes through it.  There is a similar device at the top that stops the time.  The racers line up and ever 20 seconds or so, one takes off into the tower.  It's amazing, but one of them actually ran up there in 1 minute 56 seconds this year.  These guys are tough.

But, God bless the firemen.  They run their race in full gear.  That's right, coats, pants, boots, and helmets.  They are a rare breed, the firemen, and it feels good to come out and support them.  There were firemen there from all up and down the cape and as far away as Providence, RI.  It was a great time and everyone had a lot of fun.

So, Provincetown?  Yes, please.  There's something so special about this place where you can be yourself, whether you're gay, artistic, a drag queen, a fisherman, a fireman, or just someone truly unique; you'll fit right in.  At the Whydah Pirate Museum you can even see the only real pirate treasure in the country.  And, after you spend some time chasing whales and sitting on the beach, once a year you can race up the tower. It is available for climbing the rest of the year as well. It's all there and it's a place where you don't have to worry about how you look, who you seem to be, or what you like to do.  Be yourself.  Visit Provincetown.

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