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Category Archives: Cape Cod

Boating on Vineyard Sound

August 22, 2012 by Beth Colt

Exploring VIneyard Sound in a boat

Re-discovering Cape Cod from the water is one of my favorite parts of summer.  As the days started to get shorter, and the crispness of autumn snuck into the air, I rushed to take my boat out onto the Sound.  The warmth of the summer water made me feel bold, and we packed the boat with kids and set off in our small vessel last week.

We departed from Woods Hole in the late morning with the goal of visiting Lake Tashmoo on Martha’s Vineyard, and making it up to Menemsha to get fresh fish for dinner at Larsen’s Fish Market.  Some people would take that time to go fishing themselves — I would rather buzz around with a boat load of kids, see the sights and purchase my fresh catch from one of the world’s best fish markets.

Martha's Vineyard boat trip

So off we set with sunscreen, bathing suits, beach towels and plenty of cash to buy our fabulous fish.  First stop, Lake Tashmoo, just about 20 minutes across the Sound on a clear calm day like this one.  Storm clouds hovered over this part of the Vineyard, and I am usually the first to wimp out in the face of real weather but the rest of the sky seemed bright enough and we pushed on.  Brave!

Summer visit to Marthas Vineyard by boatLake Tashmoo was once a pond and the entrance has been opened to a small channel that then lets you into a rather large protected harbor.  We slowed way down to avoid leaving a wake (waves would disturb the other boaters moored and anchored about) so it took the better part of half an hour to putt putt all the way in and see the whole thing.  There were scads of lovely boats, and houses with great green lawns yawning down to the sandy shore below.  It was exciting to peek in the back yards of the valuable waterfront real estate on Martha’s Vineyard and we were not the only ones snooping along the shore.

At the entrance, there is a barrier beach that was packed with people enjoying a lovely day in the sun:

Visiting the Vineyard by boat

Onward we traveled to Menemsha!  The Vineyard is not small (18 miles long) so we powered at full speed for about 20 minutes along the coastline to get to this tiny little town at the very end of the island.  A channel with a strong current flowing let’s you into a beautiful protected harbor packed with real fishing vessels.

Menemsha Harbor with lovely red fishing vessel

We struggled to get a spot to tie up, then found one along the pier and ran to get our fresh fish from Larsen’s.  The kids clambered along the island road to the local ice cream shop, and the day was so hot that it was a challenge to eat the ice cream before it melted all down your arm.  The smarter members of our crew bought “frappes” which is the New England way of asking for an ice cream shake.  Yum.

colorful fish signs in Martha's Vineyard up islandLarsen’s is an institution up island on the Vineyard (you can read more about visiting Up Island as a pedestrian on our blog).  I have seen Larsen’s t-shirts proudly worn in Los Angeles and New York, a way insiders telegraph to each other that they are “in the know” about what is cool on the Vineyard.  It was lunchtime when we got there and people were clustered around lobster trap tables enjoying the fresh fare and harbor views.

Larsens Fish on the VineyardI especially liked the look of this meal, but there were too many kids with us to indulge in a lobster feast.   Gotta love those all-American paper cups:)  Next time!

Lobster meal on paper plates in rustic setting

We explored the Menemsha harbor a wee bit more, then read a few days later of a shark sighting right near there.  I guess they come for the same reason the fisherman like these waters — plenty of fresh fish!

I love my annual peregrination to Menemsha, and I will be back soon before the weather turns the water cool again.  You simply can not beat a day on the waters of Vineyard Sound.  You can re-create this journey with one of many local charter boat captains.  Book a room at the Woods Hole Inn and with a little advance notice we would be happy to set a day trip just like this one up for you.  Sharks, lobster and all:)

Visiting Vineyard Sound

My Summer on Cape Cod

August 17, 2012 by Beth Colt

Summer is always too short, and the days and weeks are as fleeting as signs of the season – beach days, blooming flowers, and warm midday rainstorms come and go as fast as they arrived. My summer in Cape Cod has been too short, but entirely fantastic and memorable.

Living in and becoming apart of the town of Woods Hole has been wonderful. Before my time on the Cape I have always lived in larger cities and I was originally unsure about spending three months in a “small, sleepy” town. However Woods Hole has surprised me again and again and kept me very busy for the last couple of months.

While the list is long, some things I will miss most about living here are,

The smell of the Inn breakfast in the morning and my hot cup of coffee.

Every morning a delicious, gourmet breakfast is prepared in the Woods Hole Inn for the guests and I love starting my day with the warm smells of freshly baked muffins and just brewed coffee. There is something inherently comforting about walking down the stairs to the heartening smells of a hot breakfast.

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Being less than a five-minute bike ride away from the beach.

Coming from landlocked Minnesota, it’s been an extra special treat living near the ocean. I can see it out my bedroom window, smell it when I walk outside and whenever its sunny and I have an hour or two to spare I go for a quick midday swim. I haven’t swum this much in ages and being in the sun almost everyday makes me feel like a kid again.

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The small-town charm of Woods Hole.

Coming from Minneapolis, and having attended large universities both there and in Copenhagen, I’ve never lived somewhere that had the same feeling and atmosphere as Woods Hole. I love that I can go almost anywhere and run into someone that I know. It’s been interesting to feel apart of a community so easily and I’ll miss the sense of familiarity and friendliness that Woods Hole now has for me.

I’ll miss living in Woods Hole, and working at the Woods Hole Inn. It really has become a home away from home for me. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my perspective on the Cape, and all the wonderful things there are to do, see and try here.

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Thanks for reading and all my best to my friends in Woods Hole,

Megan

Visiting Beautiful Up-Island Martha’s Vineyard

August 16, 2012 by Beth Colt

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Blog Post by Megan Jensen

My early trips this summer to Martha’s Vineyard kept me close to the main island towns of Vineyard Haven, Oak Bluffs and Edgartown. Each town is unique and has plenty to offer for the casual journey to an offshore isle. But, for my last sojourn to the island before heading home, I decided I was up for something more adventurous – Up Island, as the locals call Menemsha, Chilmark and Aquinnah.

It was a rainy and cloudy day but I decided to brave the weather and optimistically bought a day pass for the bus hoping to see all of the up-island hotspots, from the Menemsha fish markets to the Gay Head lighthouse.

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Taking the bus is my absolute favorite way to get around the Vineyard and I love the helpful and informative bus drivers. They really are the true guides to the island. They’ll drop you off anywhere along their route, and make sure you get picked back up again. They can point out anything from Jackie Onassis’s property to the greatest breakfast stop, and will tell you the best and fastest route to get where you are going.

To head up island you will need to take the number 2 or 3 bus. I would recommend buying an all-day bus pass for $7, otherwise its $1-2 every time you get on and off the bus. When I took the bus I went to Menemsha first because I wanted to have lunch in the historic fishing village, but the bus driver told me it would have been much easier if I had first gone to Aquinnah and then worked my way back to Menemsha.

Menemsha

This tiny, historic fishing village offers visitors a chance to see and experience a different way of life. I was beyond excited to try the fresh seafood and it really was incredible, just-caught fresh and I found myself trying one of everything. The fish markets are little more than one room shacks and you have to eat your meal while sitting outside on lobster traps at makeshift tables. Menemsha Harbor offers a great public beach and beautiful sunsets. For five dollars, you can take the bike ferry across the water to the bike path that leads all the way to the Gay Head cliffs and lighthouse. If the scenery seems vaguely familiar to you, it might be because parts of the movie Jaws were filmed here. Give yourself a few hours here – and keep in mind the bus only comes once an hour.

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Chilmark

Chilmark offers a great in-between stop on your way from Menemsha to Aquinnah (or vice-versa). The Chilmark Store is sure to be busy, and here you can stock up on groceries, local produce and grab lunch – the pizzas are delicious and homemade. Down the street is the Chilmark Chocolate Shop known for a constant line out the door.  I found it to be a great place to relax and refuel before heading to Aquinnah.

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Aquinnah

Aquinnah may arguably be the most beautiful place on the Vineyard.  The name was changed from Gay Head in 1998 to reflect the year round Native American population that still lives there.  This town is known for its stunning clay cliffs, lighthouse and Jungle Beach.  Located near the lighthouse there are quaint rows of shops where you can buy beautifully crafted jewelry or have a bite to eat. Be sure to give yourself 2-3 hours here – there is plenty to see and do. Although if it is really rainy I’d come back a different day, as all activities are outdoors.

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Exploring this side of the Vineyard gave me a very different look at the island and personally I prefer the up-island area to the bustling towns. I love the remote feeling, the broad vistas and the sense of peace.  I hope you get a chance to visit this less-seen part of the Vineyard and find it as beautiful and memorable as I did!

Road Race Frenzy

August 12, 2012 by Beth Colt

Early this morning Woods Hole went from a bustling village to a packed-to-the-brim racetrack. Runners, and their family, friends and coaches all came for the 40th Annual New Balance Falmouth Road Race. The dark clouds and rain couldn’t dampen the excited spirit felt this morning. Donning garbage bags and raincoats participants came in droves to take part in the race.

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Over 11,000 runners were present for this seven-mile race beginning in Woods Hole on Water Street and ending in the Falmouth Heights. At its heart the Road Race is a “fun” run, perfect for all ages and skill levels, however there were elite athletes present.

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Watching from the deck of the Woods Hole Inn we were able to see the start of the race, the blur of colors as they ran past and hear the cheer of the crowd. The Road Race really is the event of the summer. Congratulations to all this years participants and especially our own Amanda Benoit who ran this year!

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Guest Post by Megan Jensen

 

A Day with the Whales

August 3, 2012 by Beth Colt

Guest Post by Blogger Megan Jensen

Last week I had the opportunity to go whale watching in Barnstable with Hyannis Whale Watching Cruises. Before coming to Cape Cod, I had heard about all the fantastic marine life off this unique spit of sand. During my first week here I was lucky enough to see Harbor Seals off of Race Point Beach in Provincetown. But I had yet to see any whales, and was excited to take to the high seas like a modern day Herman Melville.

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I got up early in the morning, hoping to catch the earlier of the two daily cruises. Hyannis Whale Watching recommend arriving a least an hour prior to the cruise departure time – and I recommend calling ahead of time concerning availability and precise cruise times.

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After a quick stop at Pie in the Sky for breakfast, I headed to Barnstable for the 9 am cruise (it’s about 50 minute drive from the Woods Hole Inn). Parking is an additional cost to tickets – around $15.00. I recommend arriving early so you can get good seats on the boat (but once the cruise begins everyone moves around and stands up).

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The first hour is informational, as you make your way out of the harbor with stunning views of Sandy Neck Lighthouse and Provincetown.  As you pass Provincetown, you head out towards the Stellwagon Bank National Marine Sanctuary for the whale sightings  – and the real excitement begins.

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I had not anticipated how great, and close, the sightings would be! I recommend sitting at the top (open to those over 18 years) since you can easily see all sides of the boat. We saw tons of Minke and Humpback whales, many with calves cavorting alongside them.  It was amazing to see the whales catch fish and truly beautiful to watch them dive, flip their tails and empty their blowholes.

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I highly recommend taking a whale watching cruise during your visit to Cape Cod.  I was worried it might be touristy, or the whales would be hard to see, but I was very impressed with both the cruise and the staff.  Don’t forget sunscreen, sunglasses and to dress in layers! The ship has tons of snack and drink options but feel free to bring your own as well.

After whale watching, I stopped by the Cape Cod Beer Micro Brewery that is just down the street for a quick tasting and to pick up a souvenir growler. Other nearby attractions includes the Oldest Wooden Jail in the United States, and the Coast Guard Museum. If you are looking for a bite to eat Osterville Fish Too is right next to the Whale Watching Cruise parking lot. I tried the XL lobster roll and it was delicious!

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I hope you get a chance to spend a day with the whales like I did – it was really unforgettable!

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Sandwich: A Little Town as Great as Its Name

August 1, 2012 by Beth Colt

A guest post by blogger Megan Jensen

If most visitors to Cape Cod are anything like me, then they probably get a kick out of hearing there is town in the area called Sandwich. Looking at a map when I first arrived I had to laugh, and subsequently make a few bad jokes, “I wonder if they have a good BLT,” “that town sounds delicious, and “lett-uce go to Sandwich!”

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When I visited Sandwich I found there was much more to this village than an interesting name – this town is full of great places to visit, explore, spend time outside, shop and grab a sandwich.

Here is what I saw, did, ate…and highly recommend.

1. Visit the Boardwalk

By far my favorite thing about Sandwich is the boardwalk fording Mill Creek across Sandwich harbor. At 1350 feet long, located in the heart of Sandwich this is an attraction you can’t miss. This boardwalk is actually a replacement of the original that was destroyed in the early 1990’s by a hurricane. When walking the boardwalk pay special attention to the engravings on the planks, which helped pay for the new boardwalk. Messages range from heartfelt to funny, to mysterious. You can park in the boardwalk parking lot (10$), but there is also parking available in town (free) and the distance is easily walk-able.

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2. Grab a Bite to Eat

This town has lots of great places to stop and have a meal or just grab a bite to go.

Café Chew – Called Sandwich’s Sandwichery this organic café has delicious and healthy options on their extensive breakfast and lunch menus. Café Chew is more than just sandwiches; they have all your breakfast basics and a good selection of soups and salads as well. I tried “The Bavarian,” and the brie was amazing!

The Marshland – This Bakery/ Restaurant/ Diner has something for everyone and offers great casual dining on the upper cape. The Marshland’s Stuffed Quahog was featured on the Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.” When I stopped by around 2 pm they were still very busy and the woman working at the bakery knew most of the customers by name. She was incredibly friendly and gave me a day – old bakery muffin for free, it was so good!

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The Roost – Located near the boardwalk on the corner of Rt. 6A and Jarves, this café has a wide selection of locally brewed coffee’s as well as sandwiches. I got the special of the day to go and brought it with me to the boardwalk to eat on the beach.

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3. Heritage Museums and Gardens – Beware – you could easily spend an entire day here. “Comprised of three galleries and expansive gardens located in historic Sandwich, Massachusetts” Heritage Museums and Gardens, “includes galleries for American Folk Art, a vintage carousel, automobiles and traveling exhibitions.” This is a great place for families with children to visit, and it has something for all ages. Don’t miss the Hidden Hollow: an outdoor play complex, that was featured as part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” initiative. When I visited the special exhibition was on Norman Rockwell. Running until September 3rd, I highly recommend seeing it if you get the chance.

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4. The Glass Museum – This was my first stop when I visited Sandwich and besides the several rooms and exhibits filled with amazing glass works I found this museum to give a detailed account of this historic towns history. It’s interesting how the history of glass works in Sandwich is closely tied to the founding, expansion and economic success of Sandwich. References to many of the great glassmakers can still be seen today, Jarves Street is named after Demming Jarves – the founder and manager of the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company. Make sure to see live glass blowing demonstrations every hour on the hour. Also a secret tip, when the glass blower asks for volunteers, raise your hand, you might get a souvenir!

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5. Twin Acres Ice Cream – Don’t forget the ice cream! This local favorite is easy to spot by the crowd usually present outside its serving window. I stopped for ginger ice cream and it was delicious!

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6. Jarves Street – Located near the Sandwich Boardwalk and intersecting 6A this street has several cute shops, café’s and is a great place to park and relax.

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7. Burgress House – When in Sandwich stop by the Burgress House, the home of the author of the famous Peter Rabbit Tales. Thornton W. Burgress grew up and lived in Sandwich and his stories focus on the wildlife he loved around him. “Over 170 books and 15,000 stories by Burgess chronicle the tales of Peter Rabbit and his animal friends, including Jimmy Skunk, Grandfather Frog, Johnny Chuck, Sammy Jay, Reddy Fox, Hooty Owl and many others.”

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Don’t miss these upcoming events at the Burgress House:

August 4:   BLUEBERRY FESTIVAL 

August 15:  PETER RABBIT’S ANIMAL DAY 

This is the route I drove from the Woods Hole Inn to Sandwich. Enjoy!

Queen of Versailles comes to Woods Hole

August 1, 2012 by Beth Colt

Great Harbor with Lauren Greenfield, director of Queen of Versailles

The Woods Hole film festival is in full swing this week.  Lauren Greenfield, director of the hot new documentary Queen of Versailles stayed with us at the Woods Hole Inn, and she screened her incredible movie to a stunned Woods Hole audience on Sunday night.

Lauren’s gift is capturing the zeitgeist, and she sure did it this time, chronicling the riches to rags tale of the extraordinary Siegel family of Orlando, Florida.  The movie opens as the Siegels are building the largest house in America, which they have aptly named “Versailles.”  The story turns dark when the crash of 2008 clobbers Siegel’s timeshare business, and we are rapt as these over-consumers are faced with what every American faced in the recession, writ very, very large.

A still from the movie Queen of Versailles

While tiny Woods Hole has it’s share of multi-million dollar waterfront spreads, the currency here tends to be less plastic surgery and more Phd’s, less private plane than leather-bound book, less limousine than yacht.  None the less, this cautionary tale hit home as locals talked about it’s themes and colorful imagery for days.

Patrons of the Woods Hole Film Festival were treated to a “master class” with Greenfield on Tuesday afternoon.  In a two-hour session, she traced the roots of her work back to her undergraduate years at Harvard, and made connections with images about beauty culture (the subject of a documentary of the same title), current youth obsession with money (kids + money a short documentary from 2008) and our relationship to celebrity and fame.  Greenfield also screened Thin – her 2006 documentary and book project for HBO chronicling the emotional reality of life within the halls of a residential treatment center for eating disorders.

Greenfield was joined by her husband Frank Evers (executive producer of Queen of Versailles as well as founder of the photo agency Institute for Artist’s Management) and their two kids for the week.  They were spotted at lunch at Quicks Hole, exploring Great Harbor in an outboard, and at dinner at both the Landfall and Fishmonger Café.

Waterfront dining at the Landfall in Woods Hole

Queen of Versailles director, Lauren Greenfield.

Our little village is a  mecca of the talented — we may have to start calling Lauren the Queen of Woods Hole.

Graham Nash visits Woods Hole

July 22, 2012 by Beth Colt

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A guest post by blogger Megan Jensen

Since coming to Woods Hole, I’ve been surprised again and again at how busy this small town can be. You really never know what opportunities might turn up each week.

Last night I was lucky enough to attend a ceremony held by the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary awarding singer/songwriter Graham Nash of Crosby Stills Nash and Young with the Conservation and Environmental Stewardship Award.

Mr. Nash, who is well known for his work with CSNY as well as The Hollies is a true renaissance man. He is also photographer, artist and strong advocate of the environment. After a brief explanation of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, Nash was asked to give his thoughts on current environmental issues we are facing today.

Nash stressed how important it is that we leave a better world for our children, and that we work together to do all that we can. He quoted Willie Nelson, who recalled that things were better when, “you looked around and if there’s anything wrong here, there, anywhere, you took care of your own area. And I think that’s a pretty good thing to go by. If everyone just takes care of their own area then we won’t have any problems. Be here. Be present. Wherever you are, be there. And look around you and see what needs to be changed.”

After this hopeful discussion Nash was given his award and preceded to play a few favorite tunes. In the spirit of marine conservation he played “Wind on the Water,” for the first time ever on acoustic guitar, which he wrote after an encounter with a blue whale while on a sailing trip. The ceremony ended with Nash playing “Teach Your Children” and the audience couldn’t help but to sing along.

Having grown up listening to CSNY, it was amazing to meet Graham Nash, right here in Woods Hole!

(CSN is currently on a 70-plus date world tour, and they just released their first live performance in over two decades titled, CSN 2012).

Seven Great Things to Do Around Buzzards Bay

July 17, 2012 by Beth Colt

Guest Post from blogger Megan Jensen

My favorite part of being an intern here at the Woods Hole Inn is the opportunity it gives me to explore Woods Hole and Cape Cod. So when I found out part of my job was to take weekly driving tours and write about what I saw and did, I was ecstatic!

Last week I took my first driving tour along the coast from Woods Hole to the Bourne Bridge. I started at the Inn early in the morning on a hot and sunny day, and drove up along the coast to the Bourne Bridge. It’s a fun and easy drive, with lots of great places to stop, for both locals and those coming from out of town.

Here is what I saw, did, ate…and highly recommend.

1. Visit the Knob

Just a few minutes drive from the Woods Hole Inn, the Knob offers a great short walk and beautiful views of the water and harbor. There is free parking available near the knob, on Quissett Harbor Road. The path is easy to find and the small conserved forest offers two trails, both ending up at the end of the “knob.” I recommend taking the right hand path, it will take you through the forest and along the water – offering great views, sunshine and an optional stop at a small beach. At the end of the path are benches where you can sit, relax and look out onto the water.Image

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2. Stop and grab breakfast or lunch at the West Falmouth Market

As you continue your drive along the coast stop at West Falmouth Market for food, drinks and anything else you might need. When I got there it was nearly noon and very busy. They have a fresh deli – where you can choose one of their signature sandwiches or you can make your own. You can also order pizza to go. They have all the picnic essentials – coals for the grill, paper plates, and a good selection of beer. When I stopped I also grabbed a tempting looking muffin – all their bakery items are homemade each morning!

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3. If it’s a beach day head for Monument Beach

Driving along the coast I passed by popular beaches with steep parking signs (20 -30$) and crowed shorelines. While Chapoquoit and Old Silver are great beaches, I recommend continuing north into Bourne and stopping at Monument Beach. When driving north it will be on your left, and can be easy to miss. Parking is free along the side of the road, and the beach is just across the railroad tracks. There is parking if you have a beach sticker, and there are also public restrooms and an outdoor shower. I loved swimming in the peaceful harbor, and the beach is great for all ages!

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4. If it’s not a beach day stop and explore the Little Bay Walking Trails

These walking trails are a great way to spend an afternoon. Found alongside Shore Road in Bourne (before you get to the beach) there is a small area to park your car and take a walk in the woods. There is a map located at the beginning of the trails.

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5. Grab dinner at the Lobster Trap

Only one mile north of Monument Beach this restaurant is a great place to eat after a day at the beach. Lots of parking and indoor and outdoor seating – this casual seafood restaurant has something for everyone. Next door to the restaurant is a fresh seafood shop where you also have the option of buying your own food and cooking it at home, or at the beach. I got a stuffed Quahog to go, and am in love. Being from the Midwest I’ve never tried this before and loved eating my meal off of a shell.

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6. Drive across the Bourne Bridge

The last destination on my drive was to drive across the Bourne Bridge. I’ve always thought it was fun to drive across bridges (maybe a Minnesota thing?) and this one is really great. The bridge is huge and the views of the Cape Cod Canal are awesome. I also love driving back onto the cape and seeing the “Cape Cod” bushes welcoming me!

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7. On the way home stop for ice cream at Somerset Creamery

This can be done at anytime during the drive. Located in Cataumet off of Route 28A, this is a good stop on your way out or back home. The ice cream is delicious and there are a ton of flavors to choose from. I opted for the waffle cone (they are homemade and have ingenious no-drip bottoms) with ginger flavored ice cream.

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This was a great drive and can take as little or long as you would like. I suggest following the coastal roads for a better view and more places to stop along the way. Route 28A is a quick alternative however, and each stop is easy to navigate to from the main road.

This is the route I took Woods Hole Inn to Bourne Bridge.

A Cape Cod Summer

July 11, 2012 by Beth Colt

from Guest Blogger  Megan Jensen

Loving my summer in Woods Hole...

Every summer prior to this one has been a Midwest summer – long days filled with senseless humidity, mosquitos, lakeside bar-b-cues, and countless county fairs.

When I loaded up my car three weeks ago and drove across the country from Minneapolis to Cape Cod I had no idea what to expect of the summer to come.

I’ve traveled all across the US, and having just returned from a year abroad in Denmark, I was excited to once again pack up my bags and explore somewhere new.

Being on the east coast and particularly the Cape has been very different, surprising and refreshing from what I grew up with.

When I had heard about this internship from former intern Caroline Matthews, who I met while studying PR and Design abroad in Copenhagen, I knew very little about Cape Cod. I imagined Woods Hole — which sounded like a storybook village — would be a quiet, sleepy town.

However, when I got to the Cape I knew I had made the right choice. Far from sleepy, Woods Hole is a busy place with plenty to do. Filled with restaurants, an active harbor and a friendly local community – Woods Hole knows how to keep you busy.

Most mornings I wake up early to the sounds of the ships in the harbor. Walk outside my front door and the ocean is there, the smell of the sea and a beautiful view of the water.

I’ve come to love Woods Hole and feel at home here – I can’t walk down Main Street or go out for dinner without running into someone I know.

I don’t miss being landlocked at all, and the beaches here are perfect for swimming day and night. When I’m not working, one of my favorite things is to hop on one of the inn’s beach cruisers and bike to nearby Nobska or Stoney beach or take a small cruise on the Shining Sea Bike Path.

I’m looking forward to what the rest of the summer will bring and hope to share some of my experiences, discoveries and “Midwest” take on the Cape with you.

Cape Cod getaways start in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

Loving life and lobster barley-pops on the Fourth of July in Woods Hole.

Glamour and answering the phone are all in a days work for Megan Jensen, the Woods Hole Inn's summer intern.

All in a day’s work for Girl Friday Megan Jensen, behind the scenes at the Woods Hole Inn.

Woods Hole's Great Harbor, across the street from the Woods Hole Inn.

Fabulous Fourth of July

July 9, 2012 by Beth Colt

Greatest parade on Cape Cod.

Fourth of July in Woods Hole is like marine biology Halloween — students from all the local laboratories pour into the streets dressed in patriotic costumes with a science theme.  This is your chance to see PhD graduate students clad in balloons, clustered like sporozites or bearded like “G-nomes.”

I love this parade with all it’s quirky glory.  Where else would you see blow-up Santa’s with “Year Round Jobs Wanted” signs walking next to the buxom “Brazen Belles,” a local burlesque show.

Lively entertainment in Woods Hole on Cape Cod.

Or the Ward family in an Italian surrey celebrating 55-years in Woods Hole?

Cape Cod family at the Fourth of July parade.

Even the sidelines are a visual treat, with freckle-faced little boys sucking bright red lobster barley pops and grandmothers sporting red, white and blue t-shirts and vigorously waving their flags?

Here are the photos that tell the whole tale, from the dancing lobsters to the vintage American flags.  All I missed was the water balloon fight at the end, where as I heard it told, a near-riot broke out and a local police officer called for backup after the science students continued peppering him with balloons and laughter.

Exploring the SEA

June 18, 2012 by Beth Colt

Corwith Cramer open for tours in Woods Hole.

Yesterday, the Sea Education Association (SEA) opened the hatches to their primary Atlantic sailing vessel, the sturdy clipper ship Corwith Cramer, for an afternoon of guided visits.  Students and teachers were on board explaining the ship, their scientific mission, and the logistics of day-to-day life on a floating school.

SEA runs semester and summer learning excursions for high school and college age kids.  The group we met yesterday had spent five weeks in Woods Hole training and preparing, then the last six weeks sailing up the East Coast from St. Croix aboard this very ship.

Home port for the "Corwith Cramer" is Woods Hole.

The ship is a floating laboratory, replete with a science library, and lots of gear for water collection, monitoring and analysis.  Students had vacated the hold that morning, and will spend the next two weeks preparing research papers on the data collected in the cruise.

Since getting out on the water is one of the great perks of the marine scientist, you can imagine that there is a long list to berth/study on the Corwith Cramer, and I got the sense that the students were very serious in their pursuit of science.

Corwith Cramer below deck in Woods Hole.

Being in the hospitality business, I was curious about the sleeping arrangements…Let’s just say this is not a pillow top mattress!  But students said the narrow berths were very comfortable, especially when exhausted by a long day at sea.

Corwith Cramer, an SEA vessel, docked in Woods Hole.

Every young Jacques Cousteau dreams of life on the water, and these students get to live it, literally learning the ropes needed to hoist the full sails of the ship.  Students told us that while there is a motor, most of the journey is under sail, including maneuvers to collect water samples that involve jibing and going in irons.  Tricky stuff even for experienced sailors!

"Steer a course for others to follow"

It was a great afternoon on an incredible clear summer’s day, but I especially loved the school motto, emblazoned in brass on the helm:  “Steer a course for others to follow.”  Words to live by.

Landfall Restaurant and the rest of Woods Hole seen from the deck of the Corwith Cramer, Cape Cod summer.

It Takes a Village

June 17, 2012 by Beth Colt

Puffy clouds on a cool June day in Woods Hole.

They say it takes a village.  And in the lovely town of Falmouth, Mass (where there are eight villages that make up the municipality), I would say it takes NINE.

Nine Bed & Breakfast’s that is.  All members of the Falmouth B&B Association.  Together we offer over 70 rooms with many styles and locations.  Want the beach?  Try Baileys, Inn on the Sound, or the Beach Rose.  Love being in the middle of town?  Well there are four great spots clustered around the Falmouth Green, walking distance to the shops, restaurants AND the beach.  Want a convenient way to take the Martha’s Vineyard ferry?  Try your options in Woods Hole… and the list goes on.

This august group came together last winter and decided to re-do our association’s website (check it out here!) AND add some video as part of the “Better Way to Stay” campaign.  Since I have some film experience, I was elected to usher the filmmakers around town.  And be the craft services team, and the first AD, and the production coordinator, and the still photographer… See unlike my former days in Hollywood, where a crew might be about 200 people, this was a lean, mean operation.

Our “guests” were wonderful local actors and all-around great people like Davidson Calfee,  Maura Aldrich, Jenn Perault, and Jared and Jennifer.  We were so grateful they donated their time to make this shoot a success.

Here are a few “behind the scenes” shots of the “making of” the Falmouth Better Way to Stay video!  And if you want to see more  of the “Better Way to Stay” campaign, look here.  Stay tuned as we wait for the final edited version that we hope you will help us share with the world.

Falmouth, and it’s nine bed and breakfasts, are FOR SURE, the smarter way to visit Cape Cod.

Jennifer of the Pink Polka Dot in Falmouth helps out by modeling for the Better Way to Stay campaign.Luke Stafford of Mondo Media is behind the camera, while Jared and Jennifer (owner of the “Pink Polka Dot” a Falmouth gift and wedding boutique) serve as our breakfast models at the newly renovated Captain’s Manor Inn.

Part of the Better Way to Stay PAII campaignMaura Aldrich and Davidson Calfee playing guests at the Palmer House, an original Queen Anne property with 17 rooms on the Falmouth Green.

Davidson Calfee and Jennifer Perrault framed in the window.Luke works deftly to get this romantic silhouette shot on the porch of Bailey’s by the Sea, a wonderful B&B right on the beach in Falmouth Heights.  Davidson Calfee and Jenn Perrault oblige with faux martini’s and a toast to the sunset.

Thanks to all who made this day happen.  Stay posted for the results.

Science, Meet Art.

May 25, 2012 by Beth Colt

Where the clay for Joan Lederman's pottery glaze comes from.

They come from all around the world in buckets and ziplock bags, tagged with masking tape and a sharpie, from places with exotic and unfamiliar names like the Kane Megamullion, Galleon’s Passage and the East Pacific Rise.   Sea muds, magmas, cores dredged up from the bottom of the ocean — some from as far away as Antarctica and others as close as Martha’s Vineyard — are the cornerstone of a 35-year experimental journey by local potter, artist and scientist Joan Lederman.

I was fortunate this week to be invited to a tour of Joan’s studio, tucked away in a lovely spot right here in Woods Hole.  Here she receives the bounty of the sea (most of it from curious and helpful science friends back from research trips in marine biology).  This rare collection from all corners of the earth does not look like much sitting in plastic buckets and dried bags draped all around her kiln.

But what dazzling things happen when it is fired onto hand-thrown pottery!  Joan stumbled upon this wonderful confluence as a young artist here in the midst of a serious science community, and she has been perfecting the use of these glazes ever since.

Pottery studio in Woods Hole

As you will see yourself when you tour her place, or look at these photos, she is a master craftsman. Blues and browns crisscross with her delicate calligraphy, marking the seven seas or the latitude of the source of her glaze.  Her work is the confluence of science and art.  She likens the patterns that emerge from these ocean glazes to the DNA of the earth’s core itself, almost like an X-Ray of the origins of life.  Under her careful tutelage, ghostly images emerge from these muds, some like prehistoric seaweeds reaching for the sun.

Glazes made from ocean sediment and magma

You may recall from sixth grade science, or in my case helping with the homework of a sixth grade scientist, that the earth’s magma or core comes bubbling up where the plates are shifting, mostly at the deepest and darkest spots in the sea.  Modern machinery and robotics now allows us to see  glimmers of these dark unknown corners, like Robert Ballard did when first exploring the wreck of the Titanic (adjacent sea-mud has been used in Joan’s work!) with a submersible robot called the “Alvin.”  Later explorers have identified “hydro-vents” in which the most primitive forms of life are being studied as we speak, ground breaking work that is re-shaping textbooks, both challenging creationists and hinting at the mysterious hand of God.

Woods Hole is ground zero for this sort of cutting-edge conversation.  Come here to visit the retired “Alvin” (on display along with all sorts of other data about the exploration at the WHOI Exhibit Center on School Street), then stroll out onto Juniper Point and see Joan’s work (by appointment only).

You will especially enjoy the ocean vista from her potters wheel, and imagine her on warm spring days with the french doors flung open, mud in her hair and the wheel whirring along with the bumblebees in her garden just outside.

A wheel with a view

Woods Hole — where science and art meet at the edge of the sea.

New Rooms

May 6, 2012 by Beth Colt

The Nonamessett Room is made more special with a lovely flower arrangement.

While we renovated the inn this winter, we did not renovate our website, SO for the time being, this post will serve as an introduction to the look, feel, vibe of the “New Rooms” at the Woods Hole Inn.

Some general comments:  these rooms are all on the second floor of the inn.  They all have vintage restored wood floors, the same wood floors that were always here just polished up.  All have rain showers and bath tubs.  All have views either of the village of Woods Hole, or over the harbor of Woods Hole.  All have king beds, luxury linens, ipod docking stations, cable TV with DVD players. air conditioning AND free wireless internet access.  Two have private water view decks, and all share a large deck with a great view of the Martha’s Vineyard ferry coming and going.

We continued with numbers on some, and others received names, like the birthing of infants which is not unlike how making them felt at certain moments.  So without further ado…here they are:

ROOM 10: private entryway, private bath, king room with peekaboo view of the Eel Pond

Romantic getaway in Woods Hole.

Cape Cod getaways start in Woods Hole, near Martha's Vineyard.

ROOM 11: private entryway, private bath, king corner room with views out over the village green

Vintage restored king room at the Woods Hole Inn.

Romance starts with red tulips and clean modern design on Cape Cod.

Nobska Room: Delux private bath with vintage bathtub and glass rain shower, king room with killer views of the harbor and Martha’s Vineyard ferries

Cape Cod's best lodging.

Vintage restored Woods Hole Inn

Penzance Room: Private water view deck, large private bath with twin pedestal sinks, vintage bath and glass rain shower in a large king room with water views

Woods Hole Inn's honeymoon suite.

Marble tile shower and vintage exposed brick.

Nonamessett Room: Private water view deck, large private bath with distinctive wall mount sink, vintage bath and glass rain shower in a large king room with water views

Views of the harbor and a private deck in this sunny corner room at the Woods Hole Inn.

Modern decor and amenities at the Woods Hole Inn.

The ultimate Cape Cod bathtub, at the Woods Hole Inn.

So there you have it, pictures and information about the five new rooms!  Please use our secure online booking agent at www.woodsholeinn.com OR call 508-495-0248 to book these rooms.  We look forward to welcoming you to Woods Hole.

The Big House on Wings Neck

April 2, 2012 by Beth Colt

Atkinson House written about in "The Big House" by George Colt.

I often get asked if I am related to the family in “The Big House” which is a memoir of life on Cape Cod written by George Colt.  The short answer is yes.  Mary Forbes Atkinson Colt was my grandmother, and George is my first cousin.  The central tension of the wonderful book is what will happen to the house, and (spoiler alert!) the great news is that it remained in my family, purchased from my grandmother’s estate by one of my first cousins.

The house was is a state of advanced disrepair when that transition happened, more than ten years ago now.  My cousin Forbes and her husband David totally renovated the place.  There are many parallels to their process and my purchase of the Woods Hole Inn, not the least of which is the vast amount of work that was needed to bring the structure up to modern building code.  Packed with family and friends all summer, I’m sure they sometimes feel like they are running a B&B.

The house is sited in the most wonderful spot on Wings Neck with incredible views of Buzzards Bay.  The porch looks over Bassett’s Island; my grandmother called it the verandah.  She also pronounced Miami “Mee-ahhmee” and made mayonnaise three syllables (“my-on-aisse”) in a vaguely french manner with a dramatic sss at the end.  She and my grandfather dressed in black tie every night for dinner, although by the time I came along this garb from another era was rather tattered, and I had a childish hunch that they were actors in a play I didn’t quite understand.   Think Arthur Miller and you have insights that you will learn more about in George’s excellent memoir.

One of the best things about moving to Cape Cod last year was that my father’s older sister Ellen was living at the Big House.  I would drive out on Sundays to visit her, and she would fill me with stories about her parents, her life, her childhood on Wings Neck.  She remembered my father as a toddler,  all blonde curls and little boy giggles, lolling like a puppy in her mother’s bed.

Aunt Ellen was more bookish, she told me, and sometimes felt as if she did not fit in with the other four athletic siblings. She loved playing the harp, and came of age as a teenager in the middle of World War II.  Her nineteen-year-old  brother Harry was missing in action for over six weeks, during which time they all thought he was dead, but he miraculously returned from the war unscathed.  I can only imagine her life as a young person in such tumultuous times.

Ellen battled cancer for 20+ years, and the rumors of her demise had been unfounded for so long, I came to feel she would be with me forever.  Even her wonderful nurses seemed prepared to be with her out on the Neck for the rest of time.

Sadly, my Aunt Ellen died in the spring of 2011.  How lucky I decided to come to the Cape when I did!   I was so blessed to get a winter’s worth of visits before she wandered up to join my Dad.  At her service, the most poignant moment was her son’s description of the nurses bathing her in ocean water so she could fall asleep with the tight feeling of salt on her skin as she had done in childhood.

So that is the short answer, and in classic Colt fashion, it’s a decent story but it’s not very short:)  If you want more about the Big House, you can see my previous post on this subject here.

Follow my blog for more musings on big houses, Cape Cod and my life on the edge of the world by clicking the RSS feed button on the upper right of this page.  Or check out my Facebook page where I post news and photos of life on Cape Cod year round.

Red Chair Travels

March 26, 2012 by Beth Colt

The red chair looks out over Vineyard Sound and the Martha's Vineyard ferry before heading on an epic journey to Provincetown and back!

Remember the story of the red chair?  You know, the image I put on Facebook that inspired a visit from a Californian photographer who then sent me the most amazing photograph she had taken of the chair?  I wrote all about this last spring, and told everyone I ever met all about it, and you can catch up with the story here.

Well, now the red chair is headed on a very unique trip.  I have reached out to innkeepers all over Cape Cod.  This chair is going to have the most amazing spring visiting the very best places to stay on the Cape and Islands.

Having checked in on the phone with these fabulous hoteliers, I can genuinely say I am jealous of the chair’s journey.  I too want to spend five weeks crisscrossing the Cape, exploring every nook and cranny from the dunes of Race Point to the shops of Nantucket, from the farms of Martha’s Vineyard to the sand flats of Barnstable Harbor.  I too want to try a growler of Cape Cod beer in Hyannis, or see the whales and dolphins off Provincetown, or chow on steamers in Truro, or skip the boardwalk in Sandwich.

Why send a chair on a journey like this?  Because, like the surrealists used to say, this chair is not just a chair.  It is a metaphor, an invitation to come explore yourself in a quiet and beautiful place.  It is an open seat at the table of relaxation.  It is the beckoning hand of civilization, marking the edge of the wildness of nature where you can lose and find yourself at the same time.  It is the dialogue between artists and innkeepers, dreamers and shop-girls, lost travelers and those that welcome them into warm beds.

And that, my friends, is why the chair needs to travel!

Today I prepared my  heart, then drove the chair to thirty minutes up the road to the lovely village of Sandwich where the chair will be hosted by the Belfry Inn and Bistro for a few days.  This is a really cool place — a converted church with all the stained glass still intact.  I must admit, I felt a bit like a mother taking their child to overnight camp for the first time!  I mean, all the preparation I have put into this trip, and when it came down to it I really did not want to let that chair out of my hot little hands.  I was feeling anxious and worried, wrote a long note to my fellow innkeepers about it’s care and safekeeping, even fretted a little about leaving it on side deck rather than handing it directly to the next innkeeper.

But I have to remember, the soul of this chair was meant to be shared.  I found it at the swap shop, and so much joy has come already from sharing it.   I have to believe more joy, laughs, curiosity will come as others are touched by it too.

Some nostalgic images of the chair at the Woods Hole Inn before it headed out:

Red Chair before making it's journey from the Woods Hole Inn to Provincetown and back.

Oooh, that Cape light.

Red Chair enjoying the end of the day at the Woods Hole Inn.

On a foggy day:

Foggy day red chair in Woods Hole, looking over Coffee Obsession.

Then getting ready to head out today, with a little note that says “Read Me!” filled with instructions and well-wishes.

Leaving the waterfront across from the Marthas Vineyard ferry can be traumatic:)

Here we are all loaded up in the car:

Leaving Woods Hole in my Prius.

Arriving at the Belfry Inn in Sandwich MA, a lovely 30 minute drive on a windy bright day:

Arriving at the Belfry Inn in Sandwich, MA.And finally the hiding spot:

Red chair hidden in red brick wall at the Belfy Inn in Sandwich, MA.

Isn’t everything better when shared?

More to come on this story, plus read about it directly in a new blog called RedChairTravels.com.

Steady Pressure

March 8, 2012 by Beth Colt

Buffy Colt walking in Woods Hole.

My mother should write a self-help book.  With over 30 years logged as a kindergarten teacher, she has lots of great advice. My husband quoted her in our local paper this week and I have received a few calls and emails saying that her words inspired them.  She has certainly inspired me over the years, so I am going to share some of her wisdom.

Steady Pressure.  This is a central tenet of my mother’s philosophy.  When you are feeling overwhelmed, buried under a pile of obligations and work, do not despair!  Tomorrow is another day, and if you just apply steady pressure to your goals you will, like the hundreds of students my mother taught over the years, eventually learn to read, or climb Mt. Kilamanjaro, or get your inn open in time for the summer season.  Insert your problem here: __________.  Now apply steady pressure.  (Ping me in a few months and let’s see how this maxim is working for you, it’s a powerful one.)

Life is a series of sorting and collating exercises.  This gem has a lot of meaning for me.  Remember the simple sorting skills you mastered in kindergarten?   Place all the red apples in the bin with others,  move the oranges to the basket with their friends, place the bananas in another spot.  Put your coat on the coat hook with all the other children’s coats.  Keep your boots on the mat by the front door.  These exercises bring order to that first collaborative work experience (yes, I mean your kindergarten classroom) and help you start thinking about math.  But your adult work flow can be thought of exactly the same way.  Match like with like and you simplify, bring order, establish rules and systems.  Get in a rhythm, find the patterns and then refer to step one (apply steady pressure:).  At the very least, you will always know where your snow boots are.

Share the sandbox.  If you are always stealing the shovel from others, you will be isolated, lonely and bored when the other children stop playing with you.  If you were lucky and you had my mother in kindergarten, you were gently cajoled away from this, and coaxed into more civilized attitude.  Sadly, many people missed this key lesson.  The result, in it’s adult form, is hard to watch — angry, greedy and alone, these are the people who we all love to hate.  They are the staple of reality television.  To them I say, we are still here waiting to share the sandbox with you, so come on in and try again.

A Rising Tide Floats All Boats.  The slowest learner in the classroom is helped by the fastest, and buoyed along by the general skills of the group.  In my mother’s kindergarten, this meant working in groups, completing ambitious projects where everyone worked together.  To mix metaphors, think of it like tennis — you always play better with a better partner.  In business, this means you make your business the best it can be and you help your competitors improve as well.  The better you are together, the more will keep coming your way.  I certainly see this in Woods Hole, and not only out in Great Harbor where the boats all move together with the relentless tides.

Find the Farmyard.  My mother grew up on a farm, and as a teacher she developed what she called her “farm curriculum.”  She focused on the seasons, taught the kids all about farm life, even brought a baby lamb to school for a few weeks each spring during lambing season.  The benefits of this were huge.  The kids were enthralled with the information, and left her classroom with a knowledge that never gets covered in the years beyond.  Now her instincts are so in vogue!  At the Woods Hole Inn and the Quicks Hole restaurant, we are part of the “farm-to-table” movement, and because of my mother I never feel out-of-place when I visit the farms from which we source our incredible pea-green sprouts, our arugula and our fresh hot peppers.  It’s not too late for you to learn all about your local farmer; if you visit Cape Cod, the Coonamessett Farm right here in Falmouth is a great place to start.

Don’t Hold a Grudge.  You are the sum of your grudges, and they will only bring despair and unhappiness.  In kindergarten, the children were brought together, each holding my mother’s hand, crying and shouting at each other until they fully vented their feelings.  There may be no real resolution to their real feelings of hurt and betrayal, but waiting until they express, apologize (sometimes:) and it blows over kept the whole classroom open, vibrant and warm.  How great would it be if we could still do this as adults?  But the conventions of society shackle us in this effort, so take this to heart — work hard on your own feelings to air and move on from petty grievances with employees, customers and your competitors.  It leaves so much more open space for happiness, clear thinking and good work.  The benefits will be felt by all, but mostly by you.

My debt to my incredible mother inspired this, and I hope she will not mind my posting the lovely photo I took of her this weekend.  And now a few shots of Woods Hole, some from the walk we took on Sunday and others on my peregrinations later in the week…

Martha's Vineyard ferry passes Nobska Beach in winter.Ferry crossing from Martha’s Vineyard back to Woods Hole, as seen off of a wintery Nobska Beach…

One of my favorite houses on Gosnold Road.A wonderful house out on Bar Neck Road where it meets Gosnold.  Love the Cape light on broad shingles…

One of my favorite houses on Church Street, all decked out for Christmas.

One of my favorite houses in Woods Hole, on Church Street, still all decked out for Christmas…Lonely bike on the edge of the Eel Pond in Woods Hole. A lonely bike waiting in the edge of the Eel Pond reminds me of Ireland.

I never thought I would finish this blog post, but I used my mother’s advice, applied steady pressure, and look at me now!

Things Are Coming Together

February 20, 2012 by Beth Colt

Low tide in February on Cape Cod.

The winter has been unseasonably warm, with Quahog diggers out on the mud flats at low tide in the middle of February.  They scatter over the landscape, the afternoon light low on the horizon and it looks like a scene from the Breugel-era, all hand tools, muscle and community.  This warm weather is great for long walks, photographing and construction projects.  As you know from this blog, I am deeply embroiled in all three, so this continuing good weather is particularly appreciated.

Construction progress is good, and we are on schedule to re-open the main floor of the Woods Hole Inn in April and the new rooms in May.  The new rooms are really shaping up — tile went into the bathrooms last week, and the floors were sanded over the weekend so that the vintage tubs can travel up from New Bedford mid-week and find their new homes on shiny wooden floors.

Doors went in this week, decks are finished, and carpenters are working on the trim around the door frames.  The painters were there all last week, priming the walls.  They will be back next week for a finish coat.

On the third floor, we have been delayed by the insulation sub-contractor, who is supposed to blow this open-cell foam around the edges of the building sealing everything up like a styrofoam cup.  I guess he is busy which is great for him, not so great for us.  Fingers crossed on this one.

Here are some progress photos:

Doors ready for installation…

Marble bath under construction at the Woods Hole Inn.Marble tile shower completed…

Deck under construction at the Woods Hole Inn.Decks finished and waiting for their railings…

Open cell foam insulation on the top floor of the Woods Hole Inn, under construction.Foam blown into most places, but not complete yet…and no drywall until this is finished.

Rooms primed and ready for window trim.New inn rooms primed and ready for window trim…much of which was salvaged as we opened the place up in the fall.

So as I take my walks in this unseasonably warm winter, I am gratified by the pace of hard work happening at the Inn.  Next winter, these rooms will be full of people taking winter walks and enjoying these incredible sunsets:

Walking the Knob in Quissett at sunset.Walking the “Knob” in Quissett this week …

Penzance Point and Uncatena Island as the sun sets over the water on Cape Cod.and last light settling over Uncatena Island from Penzance Point last week.  I look forward to that!

A Walk in Beebe Woods

February 12, 2012 by Beth Colt

Walking the Cape Cod woods in winter is a special treat, especially after a light dusting of snow. The jewel in Falmouth’s crown of conservation land is a 300+ acre property called Beebe Woods, which astounds the visitor with ponds, paths, ridges, hidden stone walls and wildlife.  I wandered there for several hours yesterday, seeing few other people and enjoying the way the new snow makes the woods come alive with color.

Despite the low cloud cover, everything was aglow — the rusty colored pine needles lining the paths, dark roots growing over lichen covered rocks, sand pocked with footprints from deer and coyotes, slippery patches of swamp-mud and the flat black surface of the icy ponds.  We spent two hours exploring and never crossed our own path — from Ter Heune Drive (near the hospital) clear across to Peterson Farm with its wide open meadows, from a high ridge path fit for mountain goats to the edge of Ice House pond near Sippewissett Road and the perimeter of the Punch Bowl, another incredible kettle hole pond.

This refuge, a sanctuary in the Walden Pond vernacular, is an incredible asset to the town of Falmouth and it’s many visitors.  Here, you can visit the high church of nature and commune on your own with a spirituality that soars through the high tree cover like a red-tailed hawk hunting voles (which you may well see on your journey).  Moving though this landscape in silence — listening to the crunch of boots on thin snow, scanning the hilltops for deer or fox — erases your everyday woes, De-fragging the hard-drive of your barnacle-crusted brain.

Tracing the old stone walls, green with lichen and frosted with snow, made me think of the early settlers who spent decades hand-digging rocks from the sandy soil and marking the boundaries of their primitive homesteads.  How must they have felt, looking at these hard-earned walls?

Here are a few things I saw along the way:

Peterson Farm, birdhouse, winter

Bird houses covered with lichen…

Lichen covered stone wall in snow, New England.

Old stone walls nestled between decades of un-raked leaves and fallen limbs…

walking on Cape Cod in winter

Sandy soil paths, roots exposed when worn by thousands of walking visitors like me…

Falmouth Mass, walking in winter, snow

The icy black water of the Punch Bowl… no swimming today.

For a map and more information about this astounding resource, read more about the 300 Committee here.  Without the vision and generosity of a few local leaders, this land would have been developed into cul-de-sacs with matching mailboxes and over 500 cookie-cutter homes.   Forever insuring that this land is available for wildlife and the appreciation of nature, the 300 Committee is to be commended for all their efforts — my appreciative donation is in the mail.  And I encourage all visitors to the Woods Hole Inn to explore this unique spot in any season.   Ask us for the map at the front desk.

Snow Day in Woods Hole

January 22, 2012 by Beth Colt

Snow on the beach near Penzance in Woods Hole MA

Even though it’s Sunday, I feel like today is a real snow day here in Woods Hole.  I mean who can pay bills or even watch football (OK, maybe by late in the day football is OK) when it looks like this outside?

My photo essay on the January 21, 2012 snow storm:

Woods Hole MADusk last night as I walked to the Captain Kidd for a lovely private party.

Captain Kidd in Woods Hole MAI appreciate that the Captain Kidd stays open in the winter, even if it’s only on the weekends…

Gardiner Road in Woods HoleA lone snowplow clears the MBL lot as dusk falls over Woods Hole the evening of the storm.

Woods Hole porch in winterThe next morning, the light was a bit flat but I found some interesting stuff anyway.

Light over the Eel Pond in Woods Hole, winter 2012I love the moment when the sky opens up just a tad and lets that amazing reflection through…

Landfall in Woods Hole…and the colorful buoys at the front of the Landfall Restaurant, closed now for the season, come alive in the snow.

WHOI research vessel in port Woods HoleA research vessel gleams on the ink black sea.

View of the Eel Pond, winter 2012The Eel Pond glistens, so quiet in the early morning air that you can hear the shush of the beach from here.

Bank of Woods Hole in snow.Ribbons and greenery, announcing our village’s name at the top of Water Street.

Woods Hole Inn in winterThe venerable  Woods Hole Inn, looking stately and a bit half-dressed while under-construction in the snow.

The Spenser Baird house on the corner of Gardiner Road, hydrangeas dormant and lights off.

A rustic cottage closed up and lonely looking out over Buzzards Bay …

and the house with sporty turquoise trim nestled in by the Eel Pond .

If you enjoyed this, I urge you to subscribe to my blog (see RSS Feed button at the top right of the page), and become a fan of the Woods Hole Inn on Facebook for daily pictures and updates from our little village at the edge of the world. If you feel there are other people who love Woods Hole who might also enjoy this, I urge you to mail them a link, or share the page with your friends on Facebook.

I really appreciate your help reaching a wider audience.

Tools of the Trades

December 11, 2011 by Beth Colt

There are some weeks when being the innkeeper at the Woods Hole Inn does not feel like work, when I look out at the view over the water and just have to pinch myself.

This was one of those weeks.  The new exterior stairs were completed, and I now have an easy way to walk up and gander at this view whenever I feel like it.  If only I had the time…

The crew works relentlessly onward, and the plumbers and electricians are getting the rough work in pronto.  A mason comes next week to repair the chimney, and then the roof will be re-done, removing three old layers of roofing and putting a fresh new one down.  Hopefully that means the leaks will stop for a while, although with an old house like this one you never know.

I am in love with the artistry in the tools that are used, the colors and the shapes.  Here is a photo essay on what I see:

Saws with long cords that cast shadows in the afternoon sun….

Electrical wiring coiled like a snake with a blue metal hue…

Sawhorses occupying hallways with dignity….

Tool belts with worn buckles tossed to the floor during coffee breaks….

Saws with bright red handles, dressed up like a miniskirt on a pretty girl…

And most importantly, the men who use these tools deftly, with confidence, putting an elaborate jigsaw puzzle together board by board.  They consult the plans that are staple-gunned to a piece of plywood on the wall, but more importantly, they use their experience to make the building whole again.  I am so appreciative of the care with which these dedicated individuals work each day.  It is only because of their focus and determination that the Woods Hole Inn will all come back together again, better than before.

The Second Dormer

December 2, 2011 by Beth Colt

As the walls come down at the Woods Hole Inn, new bright lumber is installed next to the aged, dark timbers of 140 years ago — marrying the old with the new.  Vintage, restored.

This week, they ripped the second dormer off the top of the building.  I always knew these roofs would need to be re-built (as the structure was compromised years ago with the addition of shed roofs improperly installed) but I will admit that when I approved of that concept, I never imagined that the whole thing would come off and look open to the sky like this.  It is exciting to watch, and makes one think (briefly) of making it a solarium with a glass roof.  And from so high up over the harbor, you really feel like one of the seagulls circling the ferry for scraps.

The feeling of flying is augmented by the steady breeze off the water, and significantly more pleasant on warmer sunny days like this one.  The crew looks frequently at the weather forecast, because rain at this delicate juncture would be a disaster for the rooms below.  But, knock wood, very sunny all this week with hopes that this will be closed up tight in three days.

I went to visit my next door neighbor Joyce yesterday, to say hello and make sure she was alright with the proximity of all the banging and hammering.  She has run the shop next door “Under the Sun” for decades and she lives above it, making most of what she sells in her fabulous workshop filled with lamp shades in progress, metal wire for jewelry making, wool for felting, paints for water coloring and so much more!  She bought the property in the 1960s from the McLean family who also owned the Woods Hole Inn at that time.

She said she loved the radio and the sound of the crew singing along (we have one particularly loud crooner on site).  She said the sound of those hammers was music to her ears: “I have been waiting for this for thirty years!”   She is excited to see what it will all look like when it’s done.  Me too!

More photos of progress this week:

And so we continue!  To remain sane, I enjoy walks at dusk around Woods Hole with my family.  The photo at the top is a panorama shot on Penzance Point where stately houses line the harbor looking out toward Martha’s Vineyard.  Divine at dusk.

Peeling an Onion

October 24, 2011 by Beth Colt

Old lathe revealed as the plaster comes down to make way for a new interior layout at the Woods Hole Inn.

Week three of construction started today.  Our crew is still demolishing the interiors, literally peeling back the onion-like layers of time to reveal the bones of the house.  Our structural engineer Mark comes every so often to make sure the place is still standing.  Today he told me that the wood was in excellent condition, first cut hardwood like you can no longer buy.  Who ever built this did it the right way, he told me.  Seems a bit unseemly, but I will admit that I beamed with pride.  Like the mother of a newborn, projects feel like babies and no matter how ugly they may look, we love them.

I like to come stand in the barn-like space, gaping up two stories, ceiling and floor boards stripped away.  It looks like a SoHo loft, or the Parisian atelier of a famous designer.  Can’t we keep it just like this? I think.  And then I remember that there are not too many fashion designers looking for rental space in Woods Hole.  OK, I will stick with the plan and transform it into the weekend getaway FOR fashion designers…  Yes, yes, that is it.

Atelier or future inn?

The guys arrive at 7 am and they work with crowbars, sledgehammers, saws.  Masks are a must as the plaster dust swirls in the ocean breeze from open windows and wheelbarrows of debris head toward a revolving dumpster.  There is a majesty to the work, a pace respected to the minute.  Breaks are observed, meals shared, and “Lady on deck” shouted when I come close.  I secretly wonder what they are saying when I am not there, although they may not be able to hear each other much over the blasting radio and the thud of metal on horsehair plaster.  Underneath is the lathe, thin boards that were used before drywall to adhere the plaster to.  They are so beautiful, my heart aches as they are carted away.

Being in there now — views of the ocean everywhere you peek — feels like flying inside the bones of a huge feather-less bird.  There is a lightness — an airy feeling with the windows open, the roof space soaring two stories above you — that creates the sensation of flying.  Maybe it’s just me, as the project flies along, feeling suspended in time, searching for my place in the process.

I pace the dusty boards — this will be the bedroom, here is where the new window goes, oh you can see the ocean from here! — scheming and referencing the floorplans when I get confused.  I am desperate to make sure that when the dust settles, some of the majesty of the building itself, it’s strong bones and lithe walls, will still be evident.  Check back in to see future progress!

Miniature Tugboats

September 28, 2011 by Beth Colt

Late September is often cool and crisp, punctuated by the smell of woodsmoke as people start using their fireplaces to take the chill off rather than fire up the gas-burning boiler.   Grass mowing ends as the cool air ends the growing season and the tomato crop withers on the vine.

Not this year.

It has been hot, like middle-of-summer hot here for a week now.  Research vessels in to prep for peregrinations to southern climes are lingering to enjoy the fine weather.  Even the hard-working scientists are off early to go fishing or ride the bikepath.  I know the locals are into it because I see people sneeking off from work in their bathing suits, and heads bobbing way out in Buzzards Bay on long-distance swims.  In this calm, warm weather, why not?

I got out in my boat over the weekend, trudging across to Great Harbor with my oars, launching my tiny rowboat from the beach on Penzance and rowing out to my slightly bigger boat to go explore the Elizabeth Islands.  I brought a sweatshirt because you never know on the water but, wow, was that unnecessary!  It was so hot I was yearning to jump in by the time I had the engine fired up.

Woods Hole Great Harbor is filled with the most wonderful and eccentric boats.  I love this one, a tiny tug boat all made of well-polished wood from another era.  Not too practical, but adorable.

Clearly, I am a little obsessed with this vessel as I look through my photo-files for other shots of the harbor and find only more of the “Amycita.”  I don’t see her off the mooring often, but I do look forward to meeting her owners. Imagine a cruise over to Oak Bluffs (a great destination on Martha’s Vineyard)  in this stylish vessel!

And this is NOT the only miniature tug in our little harbor.  My friend Kimberly is lucky enough to have this wonderful boat, small as the smallest skiff but ooh, what style.  She was seen leaving work early yesterday madly texting to friends about a sunset tug cruise.  These are the perks of living so close to the water:)

So I guess this is what you would call Indian Summer.  Since my visit to Plimouth Plantation, I may need to re-name that Native People’s Summer.  Whatever you call it, it is something to be relished — summer weather long after is it expected to be gone is like a gift from the Gods (the Wampanoags called him/her “Moshop”).   Something to inspire us and help us prepare for the long winter ahead.

Off to swim!

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