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Category Archives: Hurricanes

Summer Dreams meet Spring Reality in these Snow Photos of Cape Cod

March 28, 2014 by Beth Colt

romantic Cape Codbike tour of Falmouth and Martha's VIneyard, Cape Cod activitiesBrazen Belles, Cape Cod

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Dreams — I am officially dreaming of summer, long days where the light lasts, and I luxuriate in the cool breeze on my skin after a nice long swim, or sit at the edge of the sand with a tattered New Yorker, a fine sun hat, and strong dark glasses watching puffy clouds pass over Vineyard Sound.  Add a chilly drink nestled in the sand at my side, and this is a dream of summer perfection.

With spring officially here, I was hopeful to see witch hazel, snow drops and crocuses popping in my neighbor’s yards here in Woods Hole.  But March came roaring through, her most lion-ish self, with a something the weather service was calling a “bomb.”  Sounds a lot scarier than it turned out.  Nevertheless, Tuesday dawned with snow coming down sideways and wind blowing 50 knots.  Nantucket got it the worst, with over a foot of snow.  We had high winds and a couple of inches, but it blew around so much you wouldn’t know it.  Best of all, no shoveling required.  Most people slept in, stayed indoors for the morning — by mid afternoon most everything was back open for business.

Here is a glimpse at the look and feel of the storm at the height — Tuesday morning March 25th, 2014.

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Cape Cod Blizzard in Woods Hole

January 3, 2014 by Beth Colt

Woods Hole Inn cosy and warm in blizzardThe first storm of 2014 hit fast and furious in the middle of last night, blizzard conditions with gusts rumored to be up to 50 mph from the northwest.  Storm watchers called it “Hercules” — Really?

I love a good snow day, and this one started early with a phone call from Charlene (our breakfast chef) letting me know there was no way she was going to be able to drive in due to the blizzard.  I considered driving myself, but one look at the snow mound that covered my car  I  decided it would be easier to walk.  In daybreak’s grey light, I trudged thru the swirling snow to the Woods Hole Inn, stopping several times to attempt to capture the look of this gorgeous Cape Cod blizzard (see photos below or more on my Facebook page).

Inside, the Inn felt remarkably cozy and warm.  I quickly dug out the front steps and fired up the first pot of hot coffee for our sleeping guests.  The New York Times delivery guy handed me the paper as I was shoveling.  Thanks, I said — Appreciated!

Something about the smell of hot coffee and guests started trickling out of their rooms, happy winter vacationers enjoying a respite from everyday life with a visit to wintery Cape Cod.  I produced our usual breakfast spread — fresh cut fruit, Greek yoghurt, house made granola, cinnamon rolls, sausage quiche and slices of Charlene’s spiced cranberry pumpkin loaf.  I think they enjoyed experiencing the Cape Cod blizzard in their slippers with a great meal to start the day.

While guests watched the snow swirling from the warm breakfast room, I headed back for more shoveling.  The drifts were incredible, and with the wind still roaring it was possible to toss each shovelful into the wind and watch the snow burst away.  I managed to get the driveway and sidewalk cleared by about 9 am, although it was still snowing and I was sure it would need another pass.

Back into the house to begin the cleaning for the day, clearing up breakfast, washing the floors of the salt and sand that follows everyone inside in winter.  Cape Cod blizzards are fun for guests, but lots of extra work for innkeepers. For me, finding pleasure in the small things that fill each day is the secret to happiness.  That and taking pictures to share with you all.

Here are some photos of the rest of this glorious day.  If you enjoy this blog, please consider sharing the link with friends.  And thanks so much for all your support — we are deeply grateful to all our friends and customers for their help spreading the word about beautiful Woods Hole.

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Hurricane Katrina

October 16, 2013 by Beth Colt

Sam and Marsha Smalley of Folsom, Louisiana share their sign recovered from Hurricane Katrina.When I bought the Woods Hole Inn, my attempts to purchase the web address woodsholeinn.com led me to Sam and Marsha Smalley of Folsom, Louisiana.    Yes, turns out there was another Woods Hole Inn, down in the bayou near New Orleans.

When I called in 2008, I discovered that the southern Woods Hole Inn had been wiped out by Hurricane Katrina (2005) and the memory of the disaster that ruined the Smalley’s quiet life was still very fresh.  Sam Smalley was kind enough to sell me the web address for a reasonable sum plus the promise that he and Marsha would visit as my guest one day.

Well, here we are five years later, and I am pleased to tell you that the Smalleys drove up this week — took them four days — and I was lucky enough to get a minute to hear more of their incredible story.

The Smalley’s bought their property in Folsom, opening a three-room inn in the late 1990’s.  Sam ran the place and Marsha kept her day job in real estate.  Things were going pretty well for them by 2005 – favorable reviews in Southern Living and plus Sam’s involvement in the local tourist bureau created a strong demand from New Orleans which was a scenic hour drive north across the longest bridge in the world, Lake Pontchartrain Causeway.  Sam told me that he used to get bookings all the time that would end with, …and so how far is the drive from Boston?   Well, that’s quite a ways, he would drawl with a smile. 

As Hurricane Katrina approached, the Smalleys decided to tough the storm out.  One guest who was booked (a woman on dialysis) chose to remain home, thank goodness.  Another guest took one look at the swaying pine trees and drove north.  By nightfall of the first day of the storm, they were solo on their heavily wooded property.

What followed was the epic and now famous storm that hovered longer than expected and brought down over 40 trees in, on and around their house, cottage and garage.   Trees came up with their entire root balls intact, erupting the earth.   A tree crushed their garage.  A tree in their courtyard destroyed one side of the main house while they hid in the foyer hoping for the best.  As the storm cleared, the Smalleys realized they were lucky to be alive, but contacting worried family took another five days.  Their beloved property was damaged beyond repair.

As Sam told the sad story of how it all ended, both he and Marsha’s eyes pooled with tears.  And yet the Smalley’s have kept their good sense of humor and spirit of generosity.  They have six kids, scads of grandkids and they profess to love the northern Woods Hole Inn, talking about coming back for a family reunion and appreciative of the breakfast, the staff, the service. 

They brought me the sign that stood at the end of their front driveway, and I will hang this with pride.  Connections like this make inn-keeping special: living in hurricane country is scary, but the world is a better place when we share it with people like the Smalleys.

Finding Nemo, a photo essay of the Big Storm

February 10, 2013 by Beth Colt

IMG_0791 IMG_0783 IMG_0737 IMG_0789 IMG_0788 IMG_0778 IMG_0790 IMG_0784 IMG_0800 IMG_0795 IMG_0782 IMG_0820 IMG_0823 IMG_0820It’s been a long couple of days, first marked by the howling winds of a blizzard (the fifth worst nor’Easter on record in these parts) then the relentless clean up from the storm they named Nemo.  The first half of the storm was all wet snow which became leaden and icy, and was topped with a lighter snow that blew and drifted all over the place in the 60 MPH winds, making the shoveling out particularly challenging.

Miraculously, we found ourselves with power as the storm started to lessen on Saturday morning, and as reports came in on Facebook and other places that more than 3/4 of Cape Cod was not in the lucky position we were in, I decided to offer all the rooms at the Woods Hole Inn for free to any local person without power.  I posted that on Facebook and Twitter, and the phones lit up almost immediately.

I offered our rooms on a first come, first served basis and they filled up very quickly –waitresses, women with small children, a young scientist and his pregnant wife, an older couple plus daughters and twin grand-daughters.  People who had been in the cold and the dark well on 12 hours, and who were so sweet and grateful for the warm bed and a nice hot cup of coffee.

In between checking all those people in, then cleaning every room in the house after they left (phew!), I managed to sneak out and get some wonderful pictures of Woods Hole in this rare deep snow.  First are the ones taken while the wind was still raging, then later in the weekend when the sun came out.  The Blizzard of ’13 was a lot of extra work, but it sure was fun!

After the Hurricane

November 3, 2012 by Beth Colt

Woods Hole one of the most vibrant villages on Cape Cod

In the days after a hurricane, we sometimes get the clearest most beautiful weather of the year. Today, the water is glistening in the clear sunshine, and there are big puffy clouds scattered across a vibrant blue sky.

We were spared this season in Woods Hole, and there is no lasting damage from Hurricane Sandy.  Our power was restored within a few hours (thanks NSTAR!), the few trees downed have been cleared and the minimal flooding has receded.

Even the fall foliage is mostly intact, and looking gorgeous on this cooler fall day, which was not true last year after Hurricane Irene sprayed salt water over all the trees.  I think since Sandy blew from the East here, we were in the lea and the salt spray did not roll in as it sometimes does, blanketing us in an early winter brown.

As I watch the TV news and see the devastation in New York and New Jersey, my heart goes out to those suffering and in need.  At the Woods Hole Inn, we are donating to the Red Cross, visiting the blood bank and hoping that our friends and guests from these places are safe and sound.

traditional Cape Cod houses in fall

 

Hurricane Sandy

October 30, 2012 by Beth Colt

 

Cape Cod impact Hurricane Sandy

 

 

Hurricane Sandy blew through Cape Cod yesterday, and we were so lucky that the center of the storm was 400+ miles to our south.

I took this photo of a pink climbing rose a few hours before the storm hit our area, on the assumption that at the end of the day, this delicate flower would look very different.

I was at the Inn first thing in the morning, answering emails and the phone as travelers plans changed, and newcomers sought refuge from the coming gale.  We lost power about noon as the storm seemed to intensify, and by mid afternoon the ocean surge was threatening Waterfront Park.  Thank goodness for our generator, which is very handy in storms, as we were able to proved food, hot showers and shelter to many who found themselves without a home in the storm.

Woods Hole hurricane

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I managed to sneak away and see the storm waves at Waterfront Park at about 3 pm, and it got worse later, wrecking the dock maintained by the MBL in this location.  I headed back to the inn to be sure our customers were getting the attention they needed — cheese, crackers, a few bottles of red wine always helps the anxieties that come with the hum of a tropical storm.

Woods Hole Inn best B&B on Cape Cod

 

Then I dug into the pantry and started cooking a Bolognese sauce for pasta, and chopping cucumbers for a bean salad, and washing lettuce for a nice green salad.  I wanted to be sure that our guests felt well cared for.  I mean there were no lights or TV or wifi at this point, so really, what more do you want in a storm than a nice glass of Cabernet and a warm bed?

Woods Hole Inn, best B&B on Cape Cod

As I prepared the meal, the fire department came down to check on the Landfall — the high tide was cresting into their restaurant.  It receded shortly thereafter, and I am pretty sure the building escaped with little damage.  You can see the Steamship Authority ferries, with brave men on board ready to move the boats off the piers if the storm turns, which thankfully in our location it did not.

I wish I had a photo of the meal we shared together, but really, it was too dark for photos.  The candle light was a nice way for people to meet each other, and experience the camaraderie of the storm.  We will be Hurricane Sandy friends forever.

Frankenstorm misses Cape Cod.  Cape Cod B&B

Best of all, the rose in my driveway seems to have survived.  Along with our rowboats, which also did not blow or float away.

We were spared, really, and as I watch the news of New Jersey and New York, my heart goes out to those who have lost so much.  All of us who live so close to the sea take this chance every day, but you never think you will be the one.  My thoughts and prayers to those in need on this dark night in Atlantic Coast history.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Still Waiting…

August 27, 2011 by Beth Colt

The streets are empty, the restaurants deserted and the air completely still.  The last of the ferries hurrying out of Woods Hole getting people to their destinations.  There is an odd green hue to the afternoon light, muted with a grey low sky.  After moving another set of porch furniture in, making two banana pound cakes and allaying the fears of many guests about the storm situation (which appears to be improving), I grabbed a little “me” time.  I walked home past the Eel Pond where many parking meters stood empty like sentinels and I went to Stoney Beach.

It was incredibly flat calm down there, the waves so tiny they made a miniscule little whoosh as they lapped the sand.  Dead high tide, moon tide which is especially high, leaving the beach a sliver and the distance to the swim buoy more challenging.

I breast-stroked out and floated on my back, toes in front of me in the water like my Dad used to do, and looked back at the houses that line the beach.  Many have boarded up.  There are shutters closed, or removed to keep from blowing away.  But some houses seem to have made no preparations at all.

I thought about what a privilege it is to live so close to the water that I can walk to the beach for a quick after-work swim.  But that this same proximity is a huge disadvantage in a storm like Irene.  If the surge comes at moon-high tide, there could be 10 extra feet of water.  That would turn my street to a canal, my basement to an oily swimming pool and my lawn to seagrass.  Floating, I thought about how amazingly mutable the sea is, one minute calm, warm, embracing; the next roaring, foaming, angry.

I thought about my Aunt Ellen who spent her waning years living in the Big House on Wings Neck (a place lovingly described by my cousin George Colt in his book “The Big House”).  She loved to bathe in the sea, luxuriating the in the way the salt crunched on the sheets when she fell asleep.   In her youth, much of which was in the Great Depression, the Colt children were not encouraged to wash the salt off after swimming, so for her that feeling became reminiscent of long summer days, childhood games and fresh seafood at supper.

I learned at her memorial service last month that when she became too ill to walk down to the ocean to take her daily swim, the nurses brought up buckets of seawater to gently wash her with cloths.  “If you can’t come down to the ocean, we will bring the ocean to you,” one of them told her.

I think I will resist showering tonight, for that swim was so sublime I think it may cradle me in a well deserved sleep where I will dream of my father and his sisters, frolicking in the waters of Buzzards Bay so many years ago.  And pray that when the sea welcomes Irene later tonight, that perhaps the memory of an woman bathing in her dying days might mitigate the damage.

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.

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.

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