Category Archives: Cape Cod

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!

Time Machine

September 13, 2011 by Beth Colt

Plimouth Plantation.

In fall, the early settlers of the real Plimouth settlement would have been busy preparing for winter, digging root vegetables into cellars, salting fish caught in the remaining long days and checking the seams on their thatched roofs before the winter storms.   Today, a visit to the Plimouth Plantation (a recreated village replete with role playing settlers and native guides) is like a jaunt into another time, when a handful of brave souls clung to a stern version of Protestantism on the edge of a clear blue bay.

Wandering the paths of the faux settlement, you meet men and women who “live” there and who talk directly to you, answering questions simple and complex about their journey to the new world, their motivations and daily life.  The pastor told us all about the hardships, 12 years spent in Holland gathering funds followed by an epic sail across the Atlantic where nearly half the pilgrims died. He told us how they grew corn to trade with “Indians” who came from a northern place called “Maine.”   These native people, he explained, lived in a place with a short growing season and counted on trade of furs for corn to make it through the winter.  The furs were valuable back in England, so the Pilgrims traded them for olive oil, salt, gunpowder and many other staples that they did not have in the new world.

We explored the little clapboard houses inside and out.  I was especially taken with a lovely garden, filled with rhubarb and chard and the old fashioned split rail fencing that kept a big black cow grazing in a meadow nearby. It is hard to imagine the isolation of this little community perched on the edge of such a vast wilderness, so separate from their own culture.  Many could not handle it and returned to England, we were told.  Others were seditious and banished from the community.  With so few people, it is no wonder petty issues had the possibility to become major problems.

The occupant of this little house was a feisty lass who told us about pub life in England and all the sacrifice she had made to come to the new world.  Her authentic dirt floor, open hearth and simple wooden furniture made for a setting that Vermeer would have painted, and I was pleased how the iPhone captured the limited light from a small window:

Up at the top of the hill is a meeting hall, a church I guess, with a gorgeous view out over Plymouth Bay and the lighthouse in the distance.  Built with cannon on the top, it is a fitting metaphor for the fire and brimstone church style of the rigid Pilgrims. This young woman told us she had just been married and was hoping to have children soon, if the Lord saw fit:

Around the bend, Native Peoples dressed in period garb work and play in a series of tents.  The “winter house” of the Wampanoag looks like this:

Inside, a Wampanoag descendant sat on furs, weaving a colorful ribbon.  The Native Peoples do not role play; rather they describe native lifestyles and culture when asked.   There is a sign on the way in reminding visitors to be respectful.  Some of the suggestions were so obvious as to be insulting (don’t “war whoop” or call someone “chief” or “squaw” — I mean please, who would do that?)  But others are more subtle, for example, don’t ask what percentage native the people you see here are.  OK, that’s fair.

We learned that Wampanoags spoke an Algonquin language that had common roots for all Native Peoples on the eastern seaboard.  That they had a varied diet of meat in winter, fish in summer plus corn and many other vegetables both cultivated and gathered.  That they made canoes from hollowed out tree trunks and larger vessels with pontoons that they used to catch whales off the tip of Cape Cod.  Once captured, they would plug the blowhole of the whale and the whale would swell with air so they could drag it inland.

We learned that they lived in a simpler structure in summer, usually close to water they could fish but come winter they moved inland 10 miles or so to larger structures covered with bark.  Around the outside of the tent were beds made of saplings lashed together and covered with many layers of fur.  Whole families lived together this way, with a cook fire in the middle and a hole in the roof to let the smoke out.

Fall is the perfect time to step back in time and spend a few hours in the 17th century.  Plimouth Plantation is about a forty minute drive from Woods Hole, and offers fun for the whole family.

All About Irene

August 30, 2011 by Beth Colt

View from the second floor of the Inn, looking toward Juniper Point in the rainiest part of the storm.

Sunday is already a bit of a blur for me.  Mix exhaustion with adrenaline and too much caffeine and you get a solid forget-me drug.  I know I made it to the Inn to help with breakfast and there was a large crowd there enjoying the meal after several successful weddings (yes, we had guests with us attending THREE different Woods Hole affairs).

It was rainy, grey, still so very hot the air thick like in a movie but everything seemed normal — hot coffee flowing, baked goods fresh from the oven, halogen cutting the flat grey from outside.    Then the electricity flickered and died.  Wow, everyone could use a little makeup in the light of those camping lanterns.

By late morning, the wind was really howling, screaming into Woods Hole’s Great Harbor and the tide was high, lapping at the tops of the docks.  The Martha’s Vineyard ferries were bobbing visibly on the piers outside our windows.  Salt spray was washing over the building, covering the plants whipping in the 40-50 MPH winds.

Inside, many went back to bed, lulled to sleep by the roar of the winds and the dark light.  A group from one of the weddings gathered to watch a ten-month old baby crawl across the king size bed.  Little Susannah was adorable but I bet if the TV had been on with weather news, that would never have happened.  Someone broke out the Jenga and played a few distracted rounds before moving back to the hot tea and cookies.  Even the Sunday New York Times held little appeal — it was yesterday’s news and we were in the middle of the story of the week.  There really was nothing to do but wait it out.

By mid afternoon, it seemed to be tapering a bit.  It never hit the intensity of my memory of Hurricane Bob where the scream of the wind put your teeth on edge and the curvature of the glass windows threatened to bring the storm inside.  It didn’t rain a lot, which is a blessing as I watched roof tile whip past me to the street half the morning.  For us, several hundred miles from the eye, Irene was downgraded to a “tropical storm” and she was an entertaining but well-behaved actress, like a burlesque dancer from the roaring 1920’s (Irene) compared to a stripper on the “Sopranos.” (a stripper named Bob?  I guess on the Sopranos…)

I wandered out in the car.   The surf on Nobska Beach was intense, really churning in a way that we never see in Vineyard Sound (protected from the prevailing winds by Martha’s Vineyard.)  There was this bright yellow foam whipping off the top of the waves and oozing over the road in strips.  I heard that Surf Drive was impassable, covered with drifts of sand and seawater.  When I ventured from the car I felt small and vulnerable, the sound of the wind an overwhelming roar, and I struggled to keep my balance.

Crazy people frolic in the dangerous surf of Irene.

On the way home, I saw a power line bucking and sparking by the Sands of Time.  I later heard that when NStar tried to put our grid back online there was an explosion in a local house, burning it to the ground.  Terrible.  I hurried home, made a light dinner and collapsed.

Then it was just over.  A gorgeous day today, sunny and cool, the taste of fall in the air.  Except for the downed branches and the unusual smell of fresh green crushed leaves, you would never know there had been a storm.  The ducks were out on their favorite little dock, the only difference that a summer’s worth of duck poop was miraculously gone, fresh scrubbed, as if it was made new by some magic cobblers in the night.    I marveled at the small brown birds – so resilient! Where did they hide in all that wind?

Up way too early, I conquered the Inn’s generator system, managing to make warmish showers, hot coffee and freshly baked croissants with one plug and five gallons of gas.  I have to admit, I was pretty impressed with myself as mechanical tasks are amongst my most dreaded, and generally least successful.  Charlene took the sheets into Falmouth (can you say laundromat?) and Amanda and I cleaned rooms with brooms, dustpans and rags.  By three pm, we were still without power but miraculously ready to check in new guests.  We even managed a new batch of cookies.

When NStar showed up on the pole right outside the front door of the Inn I knew we were close.  Power was restored about 5.30 pm, my trusty generator put away for another day.  Irene was relatively sweet to us.  We we ready for worse, but so lucky we only got her simple side.  Our hearts go out to others out there not so lucky. We know first hand how scary it can be.  Now I hear there is a new tropical depression brewing out there…so we take our experience from this one and we wait for another battle.   Next time, less florescent camping lanterns and more battery operated candles!  I am gonna need that forgiving faux flicker to weather the next one.

Preparing for Irene

August 26, 2011 by Beth Colt

Woods Hole's "Eel Pond" the day before the day before...

We are preparing for Hurricane Irene.  Will she pass with a whimper like last year’s Earl, or rumble through roaring like Bob or Carol, or the dreaded Hurricane of 1938 that decimated this coast so many years ago that only octogenarians remember.

Doesn’t much matter because no one can actually see into the future (even those hurricane trackers) to tell us where the eye of the storm will pass.  And so we must go through the same rituals every season, all the stuff up from the basement in case it floods, sandbags at the doors, boats out of the water, flashlights, gasoline, duct tape, spare water, tubs filled, canned goods at the ready.

I went to Eastman’s Hardware and stocked up.  What a place!  A real, old-fashioned hardware store with knowledgeable staff and plenty of the supplies you need.  I filled the gas can and tested the generator.  Jeremy moved all the porch furniture into the basement and tied down what was too heavy to move.  We put batteries in all the flashlights and took down the flag.

The only thing missing is chewing gum, playing cards and a ball of twine:)

And so we are ready.   And then we wait.  I wandered out onto the street to compare notes with other business owners — have I thought of everything?  Is there more I can do?  I thought of the early settlers, and the Native Americans who survived on this narrow peninsula for generations without doppler radar and the constant barrage of media warning to prepare prepare prepare.  Perhaps some of them came to be able to feel the low pressure systems in their bones, or noticed how the birds get very quiet.

But on a sunny hot day like today, it’s really hard to imagine that a huge storm is coming.  And easy to think that people were caught unprepared before modern tracking and the relentless clack clack of the TV’s StormWatch!.  I guess that makes us lucky, but sometimes the anticipation is worse than the storm.

For real time pictures and news, follow my FaceBook feed at “Woods Hole Inn.”  As long as the cell sites are operating, I will be posting up to the minute news and information.  After the dust settles….

Eel Pond at 7 am this morning when I started my day.

Musings from the Midwest

July 15, 2011 by Beth Colt

This dispatch by Casey Manning, a wonderful writer who is here with us for the summer:

“There’s something internal that breeds in those who grow up in landlocked states — something that fascinates them about water. For those who age watching blurred cornfields out of passenger windows, it’s hard to fathom the expanse of endless blue that must exist along the far-reaching coasts. For those who can’t claim a single acquaintance with a boating license, the term “lost at sea,” etched here in so many memorial park benches and aging gravestones, is both haunting and intangible.

And so when I arrived in Woods Hole mere weeks ago, Ohio born and raised, I was equally fascinated and slightly unsettled by the ever-presence of water at every turn. A cool evening spent on the bike path lent countless bodies of ponds, bogs, and marshes new meaning to what I had always clumped together easily as “lakes.”

And when, on a jog along that same path, tempting dark-clouded faith to get in a tempo run for my Falmouth Road Race training, it started to rain, something pulled me off the paved path and toward a beach. I sat mesmerized in the downpour for what felt like hours by the monstrous churning of the ocean and the dissolving of sea and sky. Like many things of terrible beauty, what sparkles on the surface merely hints at what immeasurable force and incomprehensible fervor lies beneath.

I’ve spent countless summers sunning myself on pool decks, relishing the first hint of chlorine smell on my skin and knowing won’t fade until September, splashing around in hopes that my pre-teen crush will notice, and flying past the ever-present “NO RUNNING SIGNS” that I never failed to disobey. And by the age I could stand on my tippy toes in the deep end, I thought I had conquered water in its most magical, otherworldly-blue form.

But an infinite ocean, like the myth concerning Eskimos and their words for snow, lends its reveler countless new definitions of the shade we call blue. My first summer defined on a scale, variably hued.

When I talk to friends back home (who are just as amazed as I that I’ve found myself on Cape Cod for the summer), the first thing they never fail to ask is if I’ve been to the beach.

“Of course!” I respond, giddily detailing minutes walks, breezy bike rides, and quick ferries to beach after beach after beach.

But I know what they envision — white sand and sparkling water under a bountifully blazing sun — and it no longer matches my own mind’s painted scene. For now my Midwestern sensibilities can appreciate not only the postcard-perfect calm of an ocean moment frozen in time, but the live, vicious churning that can surround; teasing to pull me in and never let go so that I too could dare to become a shade of blue.”

–Casey Manning, Cape Cod Summer 2011

June is for Weddings

June 17, 2011 by Beth Colt

The produce, finally fresh. The sun, steadily shining. The weight of school children’s daily burden, graciously lifted. June is a month understandably adored.  And June, throughout centuries of folklore and more modern tradition, is the month for weddings.

In Roman myth, the month of June was thought to be lucky for marriage because its namesake, the goddess Juno, represented women and love.  And this past June weekend, the Woods Hole Inn played host to a wedding party, with the bride Meg effusing goddess qualities all her own, rain or shine.

Despite an uncharacteristically gray June morning, the bridesmaids started the day early (post-gourmet continental breakfast, of course) with smiles and a garment steamer.

And with the sight of tulle and the smell of hairspray wafting through the halls of our historic inn, the anticipation grew throughout the morning.

And then the wedding dress was revealed.

And though the gray skies opened into gray showers, the bridal party remained cheerful and calm.

And preparations for the lovely event that was to be held rain or shine at Woods Hole’s own Nobska Lighthouse continued.

Along with a few last-minute dress alterations.

Once the bride was dressed, the troops were rallied.

And after last minute touch ups…

it was bridal party portrait time.

For as soon as the rain let up, it was time to say goodbye.

Or perhaps hello, as these sort of life events seem to lend themselves.

We wish Meg & Mike the best of luck on their new adventure. We are confident that the blessings of a joyful smile on a cloudy day will fill their lives together with genuine happiness.

From Guest Blogger Caroline Matthews

June 6, 2011 by Beth Colt

Summer in Woods Hole.  Long evenings where the light lingers past 9 pm.  Steady ocean breeze from the southwest.  Cocktails on the stern of a wooden boat in seersucker suits and floppy hats.  That’s what it looked like to me from the glossy magazines.

I am excited to share my many adventures with you as I wander in and around Woods Hole.

In my 22 years of relentless travel, somehow I had never made it to this corner of the world.  I’m from Texas and like to explore with not much more than a backpack, a Lonely Planet guide and my Nikon D80.

Needless to say, I jumped at an offer to come to Woods Hole for the summer and explore.  They told me they needed “marketing advice” which is fine since I just earned a BA in PR and journalism.  But what I really came for is the chance to do a little more urban archeology:  What makes this place tick?  Why do people return here year after year?  What is the real Cape Cod?

In my first week I spent a majority of my time wandered the village of Woods Hole.  Two words: absolutely stunning. There’s a surplus of great seafood just waiting for a dash of cocktail sauce. The people are so unbelievably friendly— I certainly have made a friend for life with one of the locals who grew up North of here in Chatham.

My favorite thing to do so far is to borrow a bike and head down to Stoney Beach for some amazing sun set shots. Nothing makes me happier than to feel the weight of my camera in my left hand as the shutter closes in and out. In a blink of a second, I’ve got it— a moment that I will remember forever.

Even though Woods Hole is technically a village, there certainly isn’t anything sleepy about it. The nightlife is great. There’s awesome live music almost every night and tons of people to meet, even out on the streets. The ferry horns sometimes get me right up at 7 a.m., but I certainly don’t mind. It just means I start my day with a swim and a bike ride. There’s just nothing like that.

I may only be here for six weeks, but I look forward to sharing my perspective with you.

Waterworld in Woods Hole

June 6, 2011 by Beth Colt

Houseboats in Great Harbor, Woods Hole.

One of the most unique things about Woods Hole is it’s collection of houseboats.   See, most of Woods Hole is right on the water.  Look at a map and you will see that we are on a peninsula of a peninsula of a peninsula, literally the last little strip of land on the southwestern edge of Cape Cod.

Just like Provincetown, only on the other end of the Cape and a lot less campy.

Anyway, the summer months are so precious here (rents go up by a factor of 10x) that it’s tempting to rent your regular house for a few weeks and earn enough to pay the mortgage all winter.  But then where do you go?  For generations, people moved out to their boats for a few months but, back in the 1970s, locals got clever and started building cabins on rafts and the Woods Hole houseboat phenomena was born.

People take day trips from the Vineyard, Chatham and Nantucket to tour the harbor and look at the charming house boats (it helps that some of the best fishing on the east coast is right here as well).

Every spring, the drawbridge in Woods Hole is occupied with the migration of the houses from their winter gam in Eel Pond, a slow march out to their spectacular perches looking out over all of Woods Hole.  Perilously close to the multi-million dollar houses of Penzance Point, these tiny house boats have some of the most spectacular views in town…plus no need for air conditioning as out on the water, it’s breezy and cool most days.  The tides that rip through Woods Hole keep the water super clean (but don’t fall overboard after dark as the current could whisk you away).  I think there are about 25 of them; new ones have been banned but the existing versions are grandfathered.

At the Woods Hole Inn, guests like to watch the house boats at sunset from our front deck.  A pitcher of Cape Cod beer and a comfortable chair with this view?  Add a lobster taco and now you are smiling.  Pretty special.

We have even considered owning one and offering it as a watery room option.  It’s a short row back to dinner at the Landfall or ahi-tuna burritos at Quicks Hole.  In the morning, get your New York Times, hot coffee and a popover at Pie in the Sky?  Would you like to stay out in water world?  Can you handle the rush of the current and the wind swinging your oversized hammock over the bay? Can you live without wifi for a night or two?

Glamorous camping is called “glamping.” Are you up for it?  Comments please…

Captain Kidd roamed these waters back in the day -- could he live here now?

Woods Hole houseboats in the shadow of Devils Foot island.

Woods Hole houseboats in the shadow of Devils Foot island.

Looking back at the Woods Hole Inn from the house boats in Great Harbor, Woods Hole.

If you live here you come to dread the relentless question — “How do I get to Martha’s Vineyard”?  I’m told that a favorite Falmouth joke is to give directions to the bridge.  You know, the bridge to Martha’s Vineyard?  It’s right down there, near the house boats.  You’ll find it, just keep looking:)

Farm to Table

April 14, 2011 by Beth Colt

Exploring the hands behind the farm part of farm-to-table.

At the Woods Hole Inn, we often spend a lot of time on the “table” part of farm-to-table but today I got to head out into the field and see one of the farms that we source food from in the summer.

Coonamessett Farm was founded over 30 years ago by Ron Smolovitz, who along with his wife had a passion to save a piece of open land slated for development.  On their 2o plus acres, Ron farms everything from lettuce to turkey.  His rolling meadows with their vineyards and neat rows of lettuce, tomato, zucchini and summer squash are quite the summer destination for everything from weddings to the passionate members of his CSA.

Spring is the time to visit if you want to see where all that bounty comes from, so I headed over there yesterday in the pouring rain with a list of the produce we consume weekly to supply our breakfast kitchen and Quicks Hole — for example, 50 lbs of fresh tomatoes a week to make our signature pico de gallo fresh daily!  Try over 20 dozen eggs a week for the Woods Hole Inn’s fresh baked breakfasts?  Yeah, it all adds up.

It was pouring anew when Ron and I zipped into his rain covered golf cart and sped across the meadow to the growing cluster of greenhouses.  Ron put in a windmill a few years back and he explained that running the farm vehicles on electricity rather than gas helps keep down the price of vegetables.

We met with Stan Ingram, field boss at Coonamessett, who was literally ankle deep in mud transplanting rows of baby plants to larger containers (those are his amazing hands in the photo above).  The long low plastic roof of the greenhouse cast the most gorgeous diffused light and the drum of rain on the roof was soporific.  A lovely tiger cat leapt to greet me with a deep purr.  What a peaceful place, I thought.   “Earlier today when it was really coming down, we could not have held a conversation in here,” Stan remarked with a wry smile.

We talked about when they expect certain crops to come in, why they can’t grow tomatoes earlier (heating the greenhouses to 55 degrees costs too much money) and the logistics of getting relatively small batches of produce down to Woods Hole two or three times per week.  Their crispy arugula is essential for our “Wicked Fresh” salad — a best seller at Quicks Hole — but at the end of the day, it’s all about logistics.  Stan offered to plant more basil and cilantro to meet our weekly demand.  He also cautioned me against holding him to any dates.  I guess the plants mature when they feel like it, not just for our Quicks Hole opening day (which is May 6th this year, by the way).

Another exciting development is the local cultivation of oysters which Ron is going to distribute.  I signed Quicks Hole up for weekly delivery of the new “Sippewissett” which is out in Buzzards Bay fattening up right now from the cold winter.  Ron says the first of them will be ready by mid May.  Yum.

I left with a list of wholesale prices, an order form…  and a greater sense of purpose.  It’s not easier to source this way, actually it’s much, much harder.  But the sense of satisfaction in knowing my little business can be a part of keeping this meadow open for Ron and his golf cart?  Yeah, that feels good.

Hopefully it tastes good too.  Come check it out this summer at Quicks Hole, 6 Luscombe Ave in Woods Hole.  More info and our menu at

Lettuces feeding the people of Falmouth all winter grow in the Coonamesset Farm greenhouses.

Stan Ingram, field boss at Coonamessett Farm, in the greenhouse earlier today.

Ron Smolovitz, owner of Coonamesset Farm told me how he learned to do all this as we toured his many greenhouses: "Trial and error," he said.

Going Green in Woods Hole

April 13, 2011 by Beth Colt

What is this plaster cow doing in Woods Hole? Read on...

Woods Hole — Members of the Woods Hole Business Association were treated to a tour of the Woods Hole Research Center facility this week where they learned about the scientific organization’s cutting edge green building practices as well as the scope and nature of the WHRC’s research and policy initiatives.  The morning started with a presentation by Dr. R.A. Houghton, acting director of the WHRC and world authority on the carbon cycle,  and was followed by a tour of the main offices of the WHRC on Woods Hole Road.

The buildings that house the 60+ employees of the WHRC are about as green as it gets,  using eco-friendly strategies to offset 90% of the energy consumed on the campus.   How do they do it?  With special heat transfer systems that capture natural energy and reuse the heat that comes off computing centers,  many solar panels, a new windmill, extensive insulation strategies and plenty of window light combined with all compact fluorescent lighting.  Because the WHRC is especially focused on carbon use, the organization selected sustainably forested and reclaimed woods for most visible locations in the building.

WHRC also works hard to change individual behaviors — many of the scientists and staff walk or bike to work, buy carbon offsets when they travel, turn off the lights when they leave a room.  The most interesting strategy for behavior change in the building is the use of a plaster cow with a tattered straw hat pulled over its well-worn ears that sits in a main hallway, waiting to be dragged to an office if anyone forgets to close their window before leaving the office at night.  Tour guide and research assistant Tina Cormier said, “You do not want to arrive in the morning and find that cow in your office…  It only happens once.”

Member of the Woods Hole Business Association are committed to bringing green principles into their daily work as well.  The restaurant owners partnered with Cavossa Disposal last summer to start a paper and plastic recycling station where the waste stream is greatly reduced by proper sorting and re-use.  This effort would not have been possible without the donation of dumpster space on Woods Hole Oceanographic (WHOI) property and will continue this year with more local businesses joining in as well.

In addition, the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) has just completed a renovation of the Loeb Laboratory, winning gold level LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification of the 66,000 square-foot facility in the middle of Woods Hole.  The Loeb Laboratory is the MBL’s central research training facility and the cornerstone of its world-famous life sciences education programs.   “Climate change is one of the most pressing scientific problems facing our generation. I’m honored and proud that the Loeb Laboratory has achieved LEED gold certification and look forward to continued efforts that we can take here at the MBL to be a responsible member of the global society,” said MBL Director and CEO, Gary Borisy.

Speaking for the business community, WHBA chair Kevin Murphy said, “We are in the epi-center of one of the most important research communities in the US, if not the world.  When our esteemed neighbors tell us that the small changes we make to our business practices can effect the world?  We show up and we listen to that.”

Natural light floods the WHRC campus.

Amazing board room table made of a sustainably harvested Brazilian hardwood anchors the sunny conference area.

Woods Hole, a picture postcard village, postmarked from around the world.

From the Mountaintop

April 2, 2011 by Beth Colt

Contest winner Jordanna Silverberg atop Copper Mountain in Colorado.

In the summer of 2010, we decided to start offering our guests a custom designed t-shirt and announced a photo contest.  We asked guests to wear their “Woods Hole Inn, old number 28, Stylish Lodging and Victuals, Upper Cape Cod” shirts in unusual and visually arresting locations.  We asked them to take photos and submit them to us via email or Facebook.

Ask, and ye shall receive!

A full year and many submissions later, on April Fools Day 2011 we held a staff meeting and voted on the winner.  This is the most subjective of contests, we admit:  What is “unusual”?  What does “visually arresting” mean?   Our winner, pictured above, impressed us with a gorgeous location, one that is stunningly different from Cape Cod and provides a cool contrast to the t-shirt.  We liked that she was atop a mountain at a hip American winter resort.  And we fell for her big smile.  A smile that reminds us of the looks on the faces of our customers as they check out from the Inn, a blissed out, can you believe I’m really here? sort of face that made us all smile in return.

Jordanna wins a free two-day stay at the Woods Hole Inn, subject to availability and to be used by December 31, 2012.  We hope she books soon as we are filling up fast for summer 2011 and we want her to get a great room, enjoy our pillow top mattresses, luxury linens, gourmet breakfast, free bikes to explore the Shining Sea Bikepath and easy access to the Martha’s Vineyard ferry.  We are looking forward to more of her special smile!

This was a hard decision as there were many good entries.  We received photos from far flung spots like Kensington Castle in England and Devil’s Kitchen Sinkhole in Sedona, AZ and as well as close by ones like Hadley Harbor which is a short boat ride across Woods Hole passage.  We decided to offer our runners up a free Woods Hole Inn mug, to be hand delivered when they return to the inn (many of our guests are repeat customers so we have every expectation that they will be back and if not, we will ship it).

Thanks to all for participating in our contest.  Hold your breath for this year’s contest which will be announced when you check into your vintage restored room at the Woods Hole Inn.  And… drum roll please… here are our runners up:

Sara Isenberg in Santa Cruz, California.

Heidi Forbes Oste in Hadley Harbor.

Kelly Schwartz at Devil's Kitchen Sinkhole in Sedona AZ

Morey Phippen at Kensington Castle.

Spring is Around the Corner

March 18, 2011 by Beth Colt

Spring is coming to Woods Hole

I know it’s getting warmer because I have forgotten to put my slippers on three mornings in a row.  Now, when it’s really cold outside, my kitchen floor feels like ice and there is just no way that I can “forget” the slippers that wait under the radiator for me with their soft lambswool lining.  I went out yesterday with no scarf or hat.  And the time change means its light until well after 6 pm.  So, it’s coming, my dear friend called spring.  Maybe not here yet, but soon.

Yesterday was gorgeous, sunny calm no wind, and all of a sudden the streets of Woods Hole came alive with people.  St. Patricks Day green was observed on many, and the Falmouth Chamber of Commerce meeting at the Black Dog was packed with business owners and new friends.

I took another photo walk this week, and here are my spring-is-around-the-corner photos:

Secret beach, with public access looks gorgeous even on a chilly day.

Witch Hazel (NOT Forsythia as originally stated) starting to bloom near the pond. This morning there was a tiny frost but it has recovered.

Snow in the Hole

February 27, 2011 by Beth Colt

Landfall Restaurant, closed for the season, in snow.

Landfall Restaurant, closed for the season, in snow.

Charming little house on the back side of the Eel Pond in Woods Hole.

I woke up to Facebook messages about historic snow in Los Angeles, then looked out my window and saw that we had a wonderful dusting of our own here in Woods Hole.  Since we just relocated here from LA, it struck me as pretty ironic that it would have snowed in both places!

Add to that irony that Steph, our chef for Quicks Hole, is in LA this weekend trying all the cool food spots that inspire the Quicks Hole menu (La Lotteria, Ammo, Wahoo’s Fish Tacos, Clementine and much more).  The hope was that she would get some good eats and a little sunny R&R, well deserved vacation in warm tropical Los Angeles.  Ha.

So I scarfed my tea and toast to get out quick enough before it all melted.  Here are some of the photo observations:

Love the brave souls that just leave their boats in the water year round. I guess they are the first back out fishing in spring!

Pinky's Marina, politely referred to as a "seasonal" business.

From Juniper Point you can see the ferry coming in from Martha's Vineyard with Nonamessett Island dusted with snow beyond the Woods Hole Passage.

Private docks on Little Harbor in Woods Hole, MA.

Steamship Authority in Woods Hole - ferry to Martha's Vineyard. Only on a Sunday morning in February does this look empty. For all the summer people who fight the crowds here in July, this is a rare and amazing sight.

Hydrant waiting for a doggie guest from the Woods Hole Inn pet room:)

Hydrant waiting for a doggie guest from the Woods Hole Inn pet room:)

January on Eel Pond

January 22, 2011 by Beth Colt

Walking around the Eel Pond in winter.

I ran out of steam paying bills at my desk and decided to take a walk around the Eel Pond this afternoon.  The clear, still air is colder than usual today in Woods Hole.  My brisk walk while the sun was setting revealed boats, houseboats and summer docks stashed for winter.  Despite the feeling of summer in storage, the streets were full of joggers and walkers, some moving slowly with ski poles to be safe on the ice, others sprinting as if training for next year’s road race.

Rounding the corner of School and Millfield Streets, I watched the sun bow at the horizon, hovering past the frozen pond over the academic buildings beyond.  Like a large movie lamp, it illuminated the faces of the houses looking west.   At it’s finish, it turned from orange to bright red before sizzling into the sea with a glowery purple.  Woods Hole in winter brings new meaning to “magic hour.”

Here are a few highlights from my walk:

Houseboats in the Eel Pond for winter storage.

Locals hunkered down inside, lights on as dusk arrives.

Summer is a distant memory for this float.

The frozen pond is lined with dingies and motorboats awaiting the thaw.

Hurricane Season

September 4, 2010 by Beth Colt

The night of Hurricane Earl.

Hurricane Earl.  We watched you on the news, tracked you online, fretted about you for days.  We boarded up windows, moved all the outdoor furniture indoors, warned traveler not to come, even shut our restaurant down in anticiaption of your messy arrival.

The hatches were battened by noon Friday.  And then we waited.  I took a nap.  I saw half the staff headed to the beach for a last minute swim — it was so hot and humid.  In the late afternoon, I took a long walk with my mother.  Waiting, watching.  A gust of air would come and we would say — here you come now.  And then nothing.  You are such a big tease, Earl.

Finally in the late evening, with guests tucked happily in their air-conditioned rooms, I went to bed with all the windows closed, storms down.  I was ready for you, Earl.

And then you never really came.  Some rain, a little wind.  But there is no flooding, no power outages.  Just another sunny day on Cape Cod.

So it was a whole lot of prep, for nothing but a whimper.  I am relieved, but also somehow disappointed.  I was enjoying the crisis and now that there is no crisis, I feel like an army general who has been stripped of my responsibilities.  Now we put everything back, we return to the normal flow of things.  We chalk Earl up to a fire drill.

I guess I am glad we never really met Earl, but I was ready for you nonetheless.

Great Reviews

August 19, 2010 by Beth Colt

Looking out to sea, a short walk from the Woods Hole Inn.

There have been days spent just looking out at the water, contemplating why we are here and what does success mean.  Of  course, many hours are consumed with the day-to-day keeping guests happy, making beds, whipping up batches of chocolate muffins, hanging out the last of the laundry in a stiff breeze.  Sometimes it gets so busy you can barely think.

And it all feels worth it when a reporter comes to stay and really “gets” what you are trying to do.  I could not be happier about the recommendation we just received from Westchester Magazine and thank Malerie (who we loved visiting with when she came by on her research trip) so here it is (read the full article here with all her fab recommendations):

Woods Hole Inn
28 Water St /// Woods Hole, MA (508) 495-0248
From White Plains: 4 hours

The Woods Hole Inn is located just steps from the Martha’s Vineyard ferry.

Beth Colt and P.K. Simonds (producer of Ghost Whisperer) purchased a dilapidated hotel/boarding house, originally built in 1878, and turned it into a nautical chic, “vintage-restored” inn. With walls of turquoise and seafoam pastels, white wainscoting, distressed wood floors, and knickknacks cleverly displayed, the Inn is on the funky side of adorable. Across the street from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI), it’s just a fishing rod cast away from the Martha’s Vineyard ferry. Woods Hole (which Colt nicknames WoHo), draws both island hoppers and brainy scientists to its almost-too-perfect-to-be-true fishing village environs.

Room: Nine rooms are witty studies in white with walls and pillows in emeralds, jades, and blues for punch. White furniture is topped with trinkets that can be found in Home Goods or local gift shops—and small white extremely clean bathrooms are stocked with handmade green starfish soaps. Ask for room #4 ($150-$280), which has a direct view of the Ferry and the WHOI Research Vessel (of Titanic discovery fame). Beyond the boats you view the serene harbor and at the end of the day a rapturous sunset over the harbor islands.

Board: Until late 2009, the inn did not have a resident breakfast chef, so reviews were, let’s just say, unkind. Enter Sara Dillon, foodie extraordinaire, hired to put the B in the B&B. Her soaked steel-cut oats granola and asparagus/caramelized onion tart are revelations. She happily bakes breakfast from scratch every day and, says the divorced Sara, “I’m the happiest housewife on the planet.” For lunch and dinner, try soup or salad at Pie in the Sky (10 Water St) or, if you want to feel like a pirate, have a beer at the 100-plus-year-old Captain Kidd (77 Water St). Discerning diners won’t have to go far at all. The pier-side Fishmonger Café (56 Water St) next door has an inventive chef who can purée cauliflower, cook fish, and sauté mushrooms to perfection.

Only Here: Colt is so sure that you’ll be enamored of the drawbridges, lighthouses, boat-filled harbors, and secret beaches in Woods Hole, she’s got a weekend photography package, which allows you to tag along with an award-winning photographer to make your own memories ($495 includes two nights’ lodging, a two-hour “photo walking tour,” and a copy of Walking Woods Hole, a guide to walking around Woods Hole, as a keepsake. After October 31, the price is $400).

While Here: Skip on over to the Martha’s Vineyard Ferry (; $15 roundtrip) and spend the day on the island that celebs and presidents love—only 30 minutes away.

Facts: Room rates ($99-$325) include afternoon tea and coffee, chef-prepared gourmet breakfast, and free parking.

We look forward to welcoming the good folks of Westchester with open arms:)

Walking around WoHo

July 28, 2010 by Beth Colt

Naushon Island in the distance.

From our summer guest blogger Caroline Matthews:

I’ve had the great opportunity to live like a genuine Cape Codder: on the water. The nights are always cool and comfortable out on the back porch and the mornings start right at 6:45 thanks to the friendly folks at the Steamship Authority. What to do when you’ve got no TV, no Internet and the world literally as your oyster? Go explore, of course!

My two favorite things in the entire world are taking photographs and swimming at Stoney Beach. Beginning a day with both truly improves my mood and productivity while I’m running around the restaurant and attending to guests at the inn. There’s just something about finding a vacant beach and knowing you’re the first of the masses to take a dip in the Atlantic’s chilly yet comforting waters.

Woods Hole gets crammed with tourists in summer but if you venture past Water Street, the village is home to a hardy population of under a thousand. Traffic builds rarely during the day (except when the drawbridge goes up for a visiting sailor), and the quiet lanes and hedgerows are punctuated by crickets, birds and the occasional screech of a child at play.

Once the day is in full swing, the village can get hectic with all of the foot traffic — people dragging their rolling bags and fighting for a spot in line at one of the two local coffee shops.  Sometimes it feels almost like an airport with all the hustle bustle.

A morning along Eel Pond.

That’s what makes the quiet mornings so precious to me. Woods Hole reminds me of the unique treasures found only in a slow-paced life.


Pets welcome at Woods Hole Inn

July 28, 2010 by Beth Colt

Pooches and kitties are welcome in Room 6!

Why leave charming Fido at home when you will both be happier if you stay together?

Grab a leash and show Fido this quaint walking village.  Cross the drawbridge and peek at the mansions of Penzance or head toward Surf Drive on the quiet bikepath.  You will be amazed by the vistas across Woods Hole Great Harbor,  across Vineyard Sound or up Buzzards Bay to the Cape Cod Canal.  Fido will like the smell of the freshly mowed grass and the bunny rabbits that scamper under the hedgerows.

You will enjoy the local shops; he will appreciate the cool sea air.

You will like the choice of restaurants; he will gobble the treat at check in.

You will like the pillow top mattress; he will thank you for the stylish doggie bed.

At the Woods Hole Inn, we understand the joy of traveling with your pet.

Keeping it local

July 24, 2010 by Beth Colt

Downstairs from the Inn, we are lucky to be neighbors with an amazing little restaurant called Quicks Hole.

Open for lunch and dinner, this place is beyond the bomb-dot-com.  Our favorite part about it is their commitment to going green.  Like us, they support local farmers and fisherman, use compostable takeaway products and generally do everything they can think of to be responsible about the environment.

Chef Steph from Quicks Hole shops the Sandwich Farmers Market, July 2010

Chef Steph Mikolazyk grew up on the coast of Rhode Island, daughter of a lobsterman.  So she knows her lobster rolls and makes a wicked authentic quohog chowder with roasted local corn.  Steph ventures from behind the line a few times a week to visit local farms and pick the produce herself.  She likes to take heirloom tomatoes and use them with her crispy skin striped bass, or garnish the brioche lobster rolls with sweet pea tendrils.  Whatever looks good this week ends up in her amazing specials.

Keeping it local and fresh takes extra time, but it’s worth it when you taste the food.  Inn guests delight in a cool sangria with hot lobster tacos moments after check in, and most of our staff eats at Quicks every day.  You know its the coolest spot in town when you also see the local plumber, two fisherman and a nobel laureate sharing chips and salsa at cocktail hour.

Quicks Hole— another great reason to stay at the Woods Hole Inn.

Quicks Hole unites with water-loving community to celebrate Independence Day

July 4, 2010 by Beth Colt

Wacky water-loving locals and researchers combine sea life and patriotism to celebrate the Fourth.

The not-so-sleepy town of Woods Hole kicks off the Fourth of July every year with a town parade sponsored by the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory. The event showcases the summer lab students who convert their knowledge of the local marine life into festive water-themed floats.

Quicks Hole, an eco-friendly newbie to the Hole, joined in on the fun and passed out 300 Melville’s Olde Tyme handmade lobster pops to the crowd along Water Street on Sunday that included a coupon for a free bruschetta bite.

“We’re a restaurant that’s all about our community,” said Beth Colt, owner of the restaurant and Woods Hole Inn. “We are a Cape Cod loving establishment that only sources local seafood and produce. We love the locals and we jump at any chance to interact with them.”

Quicks Hole is a casual dining experience that offers Baja themed cuisine located at 6 Luscombe Ave., just a block away from the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard.

Everything is genuinely wicked fresh and prepared daily by a chef who knows the water. Raised by a commercial fishing family, Stephanie Mikolazyk from Rhode Island can attest to the positive influence that Quicks is having on the community.

“The demand is fresh and we are ready and able to provide that,” she said. “That being said, we’ve got to give back to our oceans. People notice what we’re doing: most of our dishware is compostable, we recycle everything we can and support efforts to keep everything local. It’s a great feeling to be giving back everyday.”

The restaurant has only been in business since the summer of 2007 but is quickly becoming a staple stop in Woods Hole. It now includes a fresh market that is restocked daily with local eggs, free-range organic honey, produce, grab-and-go lunch items, milk and specialty cheeses. Quick and convenient are at the top of their list at Quicks, but above all, they strive for providing a unique dining experience with friendly service and of course, wicked fresh seafood.

Quicks Hole marches in the annual Fourth of July parade outfitted in lobster costumes.

Everything is wicked fresh at Quicks Hole and just by eating there, you’re helping create change.

Divine Granola

May 13, 2010 by Beth Colt

A message from a recent guest, verbatim:

I was a guest at your wonderful inn over the weekend, and TRULY enjoyed my stay. It was the icing on the cake for my weekend in Martha’s Vineyard, and I have not been able to stop thinking about it! I am emailing now to ask you a question that you probably do not get often, but I really enjoyed the breakfast I had on Sunday morning, and I couldn’t get enough of the granola you guys had out to mix with the greek yogurt. I went to the local grocery store after I returned to Boston to find a similar type of granola, but I couldn’t find anything like it. Do you mind telling me where it is from? It was a very dark granola with raisins in it, and it was really delicious! I would appreciate it so much if you could please let me know!

Thank you and I hope to hear from you!



Dear Veronica,

Our unique Woods Hole Inn granola is growing more famous by the moment and we regret that we can not reveal the special formula.  When a national food magazine contacts us for the inevitable story about it, we promise then and only then to reveal the secret to the world.  In the meantime, you will just have to come back and stay with us again!

Continental breakfast at the Woods Hole Inn; homemade granola with Greek-style yogurt is on the bottom left.

Spohr Gardens

April 30, 2010 by Beth Colt

A public garden near the Woods Hole Inn.

I took a walk in Spohr Gardens the other day.  It was so quiet in the woods, with these cool old millstones lining the path that leads down to the pond.  Along the pond there is a spot to launch a canoe or kayak, and a collection of huge old metal objets like anchors and enormous chains.  I sat by the water for a few minutes, ripples of the dominant southwesterly breeze fluttering over the protected pond.  How rare the opportunity for quiet contemplation in our busy world!

This amazing resource was given to the public by Martha and Charles Spohr whose main stipulation was that their six-acre property on Oyster Pond be open daily.  Volunteers keep it well-planted and beautifully maintained.  I’m told the daffodil display in spring is particularly impressive, but they were not up yet for my meditation.

Cape Cod needs more Spohrs, generous souls willing to give away a valuable piece of property despite it’s potential for residential development.  Pockets of open land like this one are a prized part of the fabric of life in Falmouth.  What an incredible resource, both for visitors like me but also for all the frogs, geese, swans, osprey — the flora and fauna of the Cape perpetually squeezed into smaller open spaces.

If you come to Woods Hole, don’t leave without a jaunt into the Spohr Gardens.  This temple of nature will refresh and revitalize you — not just with it’s beauty, but also with the spirit of  it’s inspired donors.   Thank you, Charles and Martha, for my own mindful meditation on your land the other day.   Your gift inspires me.  And I’m quite sure I am not alone.

Upright millstones and an plaque honoring the generous Spohrs.