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Category Archives: Things to Do in Woods Hole

Wellness Weekends

December 27, 2012 by Beth Colt

Beth Colt in lobby of Woods Hole InnStarting in January, as we all kick off those New Year’s resolutions, we are launching themed  “Wellness Weekends” here in Woods Hole.

Where better than Cape Cod to find peace, tranquility, and the quiet restorative power of nature with a walk on the beach, the exploration of a bird sanctuary, or just a few moments at the pier staring into the churning grey ocean as it meets a slate winter sky?

The wellness weekend includes a healthy snack welcome platter (hummus, almonds, fresh cut carrots & more), followed by healthy breakfast options — our private chef is working on gluten free quiche crusts, egg white omelettes and more — and a guided power walk each morning at 7.30 am.  Breathe in the salt air as you explore local beaches, hidden treasures and the stunning views from Nobska Lighthouse while starting the day with a brisk work-out.

On Saturday afternoon, we invite special guest and guru wellness coach Felicia Hilliard (of “Why Weight? Cape Cod”) in to share her nutrition and wellness secrets for one hour.  Felicia has transformed lives with her simple plans, and you will be inspired by what she shares in this seminar which starts promptly at 4 pm in the Inn.

Leave time Sunday to take advantage of our late parking deal, and hop the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard for a day of exploration.  Use this getaway to hit the reset button, move away from the glow of the computer screen and start the healthy habits that will put you on track for the whole year.

The Wellness Package is on sale starting today, only on Groupon.  Certain restrictions apply, and the offer is based on availability, and we expect it will sell out.  We look forward to welcoming you to Woods Hole!

Renaissance Fair December 1st, 2012

November 25, 2012 by Beth Colt

I have served the last of the turkey soup, polished off the pecan pie, and fought my kids to scarf the final serving of stuffing  so Thanksgiving is officially over and it’s time for the holiday decorations to come out.  In Woods Hole, that also means it’s time for the Renaissance Fair, a wonderful 30+ year tradition of gathering, shopping and feasting at the Woods Hole Community Hall.

Solstice Singers enter Community Hall in Woods Hole, holidays

Imagine a wreath-making shop with hand-made garlands and wreaths, a “tea house” with sweets and cookies of all kinds, plus plenty of hot tea and cocoa, the Community Hall (our local secular gathering place) decorated and packed with craft vendors selling all sorts of original items from beaded jewelry to stained glass, from sock monkeys to hand knit sweaters, from local photography to letterpress books and journals with covers from old maps.

This wonderfully eclectic collection is topped off by a visit from the “Solstice Singers,” a local choral group that will appear in Renaissance garb carrying a large stuffed pig on a platter.  I often wonder whose basement that paper mache pig lives in all year long, as he looks a bit worse for the wear with a few chunks missing, but the overall effect with the sun coming in sideways through the Hall’s windows and the good cheer in the room, plus the lovely voices of the singers brings a lump to the most cynical throat.

It has been a rough month for the Woods Hole community, as we lost a young man who grew up here and died in a car crash on our main road a few weeks ago.  People in this community came together to cradle his parents and siblings with love, helped fashion a pine box for him, crowded his funeral at the Church of the Messiah, passed a loaf of challah large enough for everyone lovingly made by his friends, the bakers at Pie in the Sky.

arts and crafts at Christmas

His mother has long been one of the organizers of the Renaissance Fair, and I can not help but think that this year will be especially poignant as we gather to kick off the holidays with hot cider, neighborly smiles and good cheer.  The fabric of a small town is rendered with these interactions, and it is as important to celebrate the winter solstice as it is to mourn a terrible loss.

Long Live the Renaissance Fair! 

December 1st from 10 to 3 in Woods Hole. Ample nearby parking.

All invited, free to enter.

Holidays by the Sea

October 22, 2012 by Beth Colt

Woods Hole Inn, the best place to stay on Cape Cod

Get in the holiday spirit with a visit to Cape Cod this year! The Falmouth “Holidays by the Sea” weekend is right around the corner (November 30 – December 2, 2012) so book your getaway to the Woods Hole Inn today!

What a great time to be on Cape Cod.  Wander the quaint boutiques and shops of Falmouth or Martha’s Vineyard (the inn is right across the street from the ferry landing making day trips particularly easy) and find the very best in original gift ideas.  Take a tour of a real lighthouse, Nobska Light, one of the most famous in New England.  See the lights come on for the decorations on the Falmouth Green, and watch Santa arrive by boat to our harbor.

Best of all, the Falmouth Christmas Parade, attended by thousands as one of the best spectacles of the season, kicks off on Sunday December 2nd this year.  Staying at the Woods Hole Inn, you can borrow one of our free bikes and tool up the scenic bike path to enjoy the parade.

For a full schedule of events, please see the Falmouth Chamber’s website.

Looking forward to getting into the holiday spirit with you in Falmouth this year!  Ho, ho, ho!!

Eight fun things to do in Oak Bluffs

July 20, 2012 by Beth Colt

Hot days in July sometimes cause sudden thunderstorms.

This week was hot, hot like life on the proverbial tin roof, so I lit out for the open air of the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard, hoping to catch a little wind on the way, and see the sights in Oak Bluffs.  I have been to the Vineyard many times before, but never explored every nook and cranny of this hip little island town, so here — after an afternoon of beating the streets  — are my favorite to things to do in Oak Bluffs:

1. Hunt for a Souvenir.

Island life is filled with long dusk walks, ice cream cones and trips to the beach.

From Soft as a Grape to Menemsha Blues to the Black Dog, there is a t-shirt for everyone on the main strip which is called Circuit Avenue.  I wandered into the Black Dog and admired their fluffy sweatshirts with the ubiquitous large retriever.  Tip for shoppers: While there appears to be a Black Dog on every corner, the “outlet” store sells much of the same stuff at a discount in a small shop down by the marina called the Dockside Premium Outlet.

2. Go Upscale.

Oak Bluffs now has a Vineyard Vines.

Since the Vineyard was discovered by the masses in the last decade or so (much to the chagrin of the folks who have loved it for centuries), the shopping has gone upscale, especially in Edgartown and Vineyard Haven.  But even rough and tumble Oak Bluffs now has a Vineyard Vines, so don’t miss this wonderful shop painted navy and hot pink at the end of Circuit Avenue.

3. Eat an  Ice Cream.

Ice Cream on Martha's Vineyard.

Do not leave OB without an ice cream cone.  Mad Martha’s, Ben and Bill’s —  doesn’t matter much which place you choose, you will be sure to leave with that blissed out, I-am-on-vacation-and-I-just consumed-three-days-worth-of sugar smile.

4.  Visit the Gingerbread Cottages

Illumination Night is a famous time to visit this incredible neighborhood.Just behind Circuit Ave sits the neighborhood known as the “Gingerbread Cottages.”  This incredible collection of brightly-painted Victorian summer cottages was originally a Methodist campgrounds but is now on the National Register of Historic Places and is a cherished spot for visitors and residents alike.  Stroll back in time on the tiny pedestrian streets, their yards cluttered with day lillies and porches jammed with Kennedy rockers painted every color of the rainbow.

5.  Grab an iced coffee.

A visit from the Woods Hole Inn to Oak Bluffs for the day.

Plenty of choice here for the quintessential frosty coffee crammed with ice.  I went with decaf and lots of milk, and the cup in my hand kept me cool for several extra blocks of exploration.

6. Ride the Flying Horses.

Near the ferry terminal in Oak Bluffs is a 100 year old carousel.

This 100+ year old carousel is just as charming as it looks in photos.  You will see it immediately as you get off the ferry in OB, and be sure to wait for a ride — it’s worth it!

7.  The Beach.

You don't have to go far to find the beach on Martha's Vineyard.Is there anything better than a beach right next to a ferry terminal?  The Jersey Shore has nothing on this, with calm waters, a waterfront park and the shops a stone’s throw from the sand.  Feeling ambitious?  Rent a bike and ride towards Edgartown.  You will come upon the “Jaws” bridge — with kids jumping off the causeway into the tidal currents below just like they did 30+ years ago in the movie.

8.  Ride the ferry home to Woods Hole.

Ferries leave about hourly all summer long between Martha's Vineyard and Woods Hole.Nothing better at the end of a full day of sightseeing than flopping into an ocean-view seat for the cool ferry ride home.  Watch the gulls circle above the deck and feel the southwesterly breeze on your face.  Well-earned relaxation at it’s very finest.

Home from a long day in Oak Bluffs, happy to be back in Woods Hole.

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.

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.

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.

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

Falmouth Mass, walking in winter, snowThe 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.

Martha’s Vineyard Chilifest 2012

January 24, 2012 by Beth Colt

The Martha’s Vineyard Chilifest is coming up this weekend, on Saturday January 28th in Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard.

I blogged a lot about this last year so look here OR here for more photos and information about my experience at the 2011 version.

FAQ’s about Chilifest -

How do I get tickets?  This is hard but not impossible.  You could have mailed a request to WMVY but that is sold out now.  Here is what the MVY Radio website has to say about it today:

Tickets are on sale now at Shirley’s True Value Hardware in Vineyard Haven, Trader Fred’s in Edgartown and they go on sale at The Courtyard in Cataumet on Wednesday, January 25th at 6pm.  A limited number of tickets will be available at the door on the day of the event.

How much are they?  Tickets are $30. Limit of 4 tickets per person.

How do I get there?  Steamship Authority from Woods Hole.  See the schedule here.

Who is playing this year? This according to the MVYRadio website:

Under  the tent
12n-1pm Mexico Lindo
1pm-2pm Entrain
2pm-2:45pm Mexico Lindo
3pm Awards
4pm-6pm Entrain

Inside in the New Bar
12-4  Syndicate
4-6.30 DJ Alvzie

Will I have fun?  Oh yeah.

What about the chili?  Lots to pick from, all free once you are inside.  Well worth the trip.

Where can I spend the night in Falmouth?  Usually I would say the Woods Hole Inn but we are closed for renovations.  Try the Palmer House in Falmouth, the Holiday Inn in Falmouth or Inn on the Square in Falmouth if you decide driving post the Chilifest is not a great idea.

Good luck and tell me how it went!

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.

Blueberry Zen

July 22, 2011 by Beth Colt

Coonamessett Farm on a summer's day.

Thursdays are pick-up day at Coonamessett Farm’s CSA (community supported agriculture) where I have already paid for my “share” of farm fresh veggies, flowers and fruit.  It also happens to be the day I stock up on Sippewissett Oysters (a local harvest that is a side project of Coonmessett) for the Quicks Hole restaurant, so if you want to see me in summer, you will find me over there like clockwork.

The CSA started distributing a few weeks ago and as you can imagine, summer is a little errr, can we say BUSY, for me so I have not yet had time to head out into the fields to pick my own berries as offered each week.  Yesterday when I left Woods Hole it was foggy and cold — hard to believe in the middle of what the papers are calling the first heatwave of the summer.  Seven miles inland on the rolling acres of the farm, the sun was shining and it was warm — not too hot, just perfect.

So I said, check-in be damned, I am picking some berries!  I donned a wrist band, grabbed a bucket and headed into the blueberry patch.  Surrounded by a light mesh fence, you enter through a screen door and then you are in a maze, rows and rows and rows of six to seven foot high bushes heavy with berries, many still green but the bright blue ones popping out at you like fireflies on a dusky night.  I quickly walked to the back corner to find more berries and feel alone, then worked my way backwards towards the gate.

The berries are at eye level and easy to pick.

It was the most zen hour of my week.  Alone, deep in these lush bushes, looking for berries, my thoughts erased to nothing more than reach, pick, cradle, dump.  The satisfying plunk of the plump berry in the bottom of the bucket, the steady breeze bending the trees in waves, while I reached higher for the one at the very top, the wind taunting me by pushing the largest cluster away.   A meditation on nothing more than a simple task.  My purse hanging from my arm like a vestige of some long forgotten suburban life, my feet shuffling among the fallen leaves and compost, I felt like a different person, maybe a farm girl from another century or a field worker like the ones you see in a blur while driving on the California freeways.

My bucket full and my head miraculously emptied of the everyday worries, I wandered out and gathered the other veggies — a bag of fresh kale, five spring onions still clumped with soil, parsley, summer squash, fresh flowers and more.  Still in a blueberry haze, I drove home with the windows down enjoying the way my hair blows into a huge fuzz ball with the humidity.

The haul from this week's CSA.

I paused on the lawn to snap this picture.  Another indulgence!  Get back to work, the little voice on my shoulder was shouting — but I can not shake off the clear headed feeling of the blueberry patch.  I linger.  I snap a few more of the berries on the kitchen counter and the flowers in that little blue vase I found at the Rose Bowl on another zen day many years ago.  Blueberry Zen.

Then back to work at the inn, prepping tomorrow’s banana bread pudding and welcoming guests as they check in for the weekend.  Yes, our blueberry muffins are very special this weekend — I picked the berries myself!

Locavores who want to recreate my zen blueberry experience will be pleased to know that Coonmessett is open to visitors as well, so drive on over to pick your own bucket before heading back to reality.

Rain or Shine…ing Sea Bike Path

June 12, 2011 by Beth Colt

Local sculpture at the 3 mile mark on the Shining Sea bike path in Falmouth.

The sky was glowering when I biked out of Woods Hole on the Shining Sea bike path yesterday, with a blustery wind blowing from the southeast which is where the summer storms blow in from.  The breeze was warm enough, it was cool and pleasant, a perfect day to explore.

The bike path, which is one of the biggest draws to Falmouth, is on the reclaimed path of the old railroad tracks (abandoned in the 1960s).   This means it is a nice straight line, far from any road except a handful you cross along the way.  How rarely do we get to bike on a paved road nowhere near a car? A special experience, it makes me wish that cities and towns across the country would have to foresight to install a unique right of way such as this one.

The bike path was extended last year, and now runs 11 miles from Woods Hole to North Falmouth. I dream that someday it will extend (as the abandoned train tracks still do) all the way to the Cape Cod Canal and hook up with the path that swoops out toward Provincetown making all of the Cape safely bike-able and connecting us in a green way to our neighbors in Chatham, Wellfleet, Truro and beyond.

I am working towards riding the whole thing round trip, and yesterday I made it past the five mile marker.  The first mile out of Woods Hole is in the shady beech forest, passing over several old wooden bridges the bike wheels going thump thump thump on the weathered boards.  There are glimpses through the trees of the houses on Fay Road that line a private beach looking out at Vineyard Sound.  Tiny intriguing foot paths veer off to the right and left with small painted “private please” signs.

About a mile up, you get your first big reveal of the ocean.  Surf Drive, one of the most beautiful of Falmouth’s many beaches, stretches two miles before you, surf crashing today over the breakwaters, the shore dotted with little cabins on stilts.  I think of the people who used to come here on the train, most headed to the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard,  and imagine that this view was an exciting moment as they emerged from the woods and saw Vineyard Sound for the first time, caught a whiff of that distinctive smell of eel grass drying in the sun, and felt the cool breeze off the water.  I can only imagine this was the first real taste of summer vacation.

View of Surf Drive from the bike path on a stormy day.

Yesterday, the southeasterly wind buffeted my bike as soon as I emerged from the woods.  I passed the Trunk River which is a tidal pond that empties into the ocean.  Herring run here in season, and fisherman gather at the breakwaters to catch fish drawn to the current.  There is another small wooden bridge, and a sign about the life of the tidal river that is worth a quick stop.

From here, the path veers inland, back into the lee, past several conservation sites with salt-water pond views and walks, toward the main streets of Falmouth.  The vista to the left across the Oyster Pond is particularly delightful, even on a gray day, with the Spohr Gardens in the distance.  Once in Falmouth, you can take a right off the path at the bus station for a pick-me-up at the locally-run Coffee Obsession on Palmer Ave., or continue onto Main Street for ice cream, homemade fudge, cupcakes and lots of fun local shopping.

I did not stop, as the weather was still threatening.  Past the village, from the path you can see the back side of the bus station, the back corners of the Steamship Authority parking lot, and the cooking vents of Seafood Sam’s  then you are back in the woods again, the canopy high above you and the light filtered green with the glow of the spring leaves.

I made it up to the Sippewisset Marsh, about mile five, before the rain started coming down in those large droplets that you can almost dodge between but indicate that much more is likely on the way.  I paused to look out over the marsh and read a sigh posted there about the Wampanoag.  It says, among other things, that “Sippewisset” means “place of the brook” and that this was a sacred site for Native Americans on their annual peregrination towards the fishing holes and summer hunting of what we now call Woods Hole and the islands.

History buffs will enjoy learning that this marsh is also the site of Rachel Carson’s 1950’s era scientific exploration into the devastating effects of DDT (a pesticide) on the environment which inspired her to write “Silent Spring” the book that launched the environmental movement in the US, ultimately inspiring the US Congress to ban the use of DDT.  Were she alive today, she would reflect again on the sacred beauty of this marsh, again filled with osprey and many other shore birds that have returned due to her clarion call.  Even with the threatening rain, I pause for several minutes to appreciate this achievement, a nice confluence of the scientific with the spiritual.  Louis Agassiz would approve.

View point from the Shining Sea bike path in Falmouth.

The ride home, I pick up the pace as the rain starts to come in earnest.  It is all subtlety downhill now,  I realize as soon as I turn around, and the trip back is faster and easier.  I fall into a trance as the rain drips softly from my hat and the view in reverse rushes past.

Rolling back into Woods Hole, almost two hours and ten miles later, I am ready for a snack and a place to put my wet feet up.  Lobster taco time!  Thank god for Quicks Hole, the restaurant on Luscombe Avenue across from the Landfall, the perfect spot for a dripping wet biker to unwind a bit before heading back to that comfortable suite at the Woods Hole Inn.

Twitteratti at WoHo Tweetup

May 15, 2011 by Beth Colt

Silver Stills entertains a standing room only crowd at Quicks Hole (@QuicksHole) on Friday night.

I will be the first to admit…a few months ago I did not really “get” Twitter.  What was that crazy feed of posts and who were all these people posting?  What was with the “#’s” all over the place and why were people so comfortable with the outrageous statement?  It all seemed totally crazy to me.

Then, I got hooked.  Hooked on the chance to cross all social and geopolitical boundaries to find people with like interests — like the thousands who adore “#CapeCod” many of whom might visit just once, or come only once a year.  Hooked on the connections I made with real Cape Codders,  twitter moms, foodies, locavores and news junkies who were living their lives in quiet obscurity just like me.

Last month, I decided to cross an invisible boundary and organize a tweetup.   A tweetup is an opportunity for people on Twitter to meet each other face-to-face, to turn anonymous social media relationships into real friendships.  Since Twitter is populated with early adopters, many of whom (like me!) live for social connections with others, the opportunity to deepen that relationship by putting a face to the funny series of 140 character tweets that you have come to admire is enticing.   Add free lobster crostini at Quicks Hole on the first warm Friday in spring, intriguing.  Silver Still (fabulous local folk du0) playing on the water-view deck with no cover?  Sold!

I will admit that I fretted — will anyone come?  I tweeted and tweeted like a veritable red breasted robin in springtime in hopes of getting the word out.  I re-tweeted the clever posts of my new found #capecod friends.  I created a hashtag to mark my tweets, #wohotweetup, and entered a dialogue with several other twitterers who were committed to coming to the event.  I got name tags at Staples, checked on the lobster crostini, double checked the free wifi in the restaurant and then I waited for the party to start.

My first sangria at the Quicks Hole tweetup.

What a pleasant surprise awaited me.  Tweeps from Hyannis mingling with Twerps from Martha’s Vineyard as the sun set over Woods Hole harbor and the Cape Cod draft beer flowed from the tap in pitchers…  Incredible.   See, despite all the people who pass through here, Woods Hole is not thought of by Cape Codders as a destination.  I mean, for people to drive from Centerville or take the ferry back from Martha’s Vineyard for a pitcher of beer and a great sunset…well it is unusual because each of those places has its own incredible decks from which you can enjoy the very same sunset.

There were some highlights.  I met Paula @CapeProducer who organizes the annual “Geek Girl Camp” and recently did a great job re-launching the Falmouth Bed and Breakfast Association website.   I met Todd and Beth Marcus (@CapeCodBeer), Alecia Lebeda (@AleciaLebeda) the mind behind the magic of FCTV, Jason Peringer, the sassiest massage therapist on Martha’s Vineyard (@MVmassage) and Mike Nunez (@mike_nunez) a cool guy who commutes onto MV.

Tweetup conversation can get a little technical and ahh, OK… geeky.  Mike and Alicia had a long conversation about bar code scanners and then mixed it up a little as they compete against each other as the “Mayor” of the Bourne Bridge on FourSquare.  These are advanced topics.  If you don’t know what I am talking about, don’t worry, you will soon enough.  I am just glad I got to be there to witness all the fun.  Thanks to the crew at Quicks Hole for making it happen and giving us such a great spot to hang out.   Comments below encouraged — if you give me your twitter name you will get a personal invitation from me for the next one…  And if you are coming to the Woods Hole Inn on a Friday afternoon, look forward to more hangouts at Quicks Hole all summer long.

@CapeCodBeer with @CapePruducer at the #WoHotweetup May 13, 2011.

@AleciaLebeda and @Mike_Nunez battle over Mayorship of the Bourne Bridge!

@Mike_Nunes, @MVMassage and @AleciaLebeda hang at Quicks Hole tweetup.

Gotta love those pitchers of @CapeCodBeer!

Did you say #FREE lobster crostini? Only for the twitterati:)

Afternoon light rakes across @QuicksHole as "Silver Stills" plays us into the warm spring evening.

Playing in Traffic

May 8, 2011 by Beth Colt

Sam Waterston entertains the actors attending "The Actors Symposium" last week in Woods Hole.

What is it about actors that captures your imagination and makes you want to know more about them?  You look at Sam Waterston’s familiar face and you think — is he like that guy he played on “Law and Order”?  Is he funny?  Is he smart?  Does he really know how to write a great closing argument?

Well, if you had been in Woods Hole last weekend, you would have discovered the answer to these questions and much more.  In collaboration with the Woods Hole Film Festival and the Woods Hole Inn, actors gathered here for a weekend of learning about the craft and the trade of acting professionally.    Caroline Pickman, of CP Casting gave a two hour presentation on the expectations of the audition process, including getting the actors up on their feet to try out some of her audition material (known as “sides” in the business) from a Showtime television series.  And Beth Colt presented a session on working with agents and managers, what to expect and how to engage the professionals who are the gatekeepers to a good career in acting.

But by far the highlight was our time with Sam Waterston.   In the interest of full disclosure, let me explain that Sam and I worked together about a decade ago.  Our company was called Stardance Productions and we developed many projects and made one wonderful movie together (called “A House Divided” starring Sam, Jennifer Beals, Tim Daly and Lisa Gay Hamilton for Showtime).  So I know Sam well, and am reasonably well-equipped to ask him interesting questions.

We started with how his career got started (Yale undergrad, summer stock and then cast in the play “Oh Dad, Poor Dad…”).  I asked him if he ever had a day job and he told a delightful story about working at Macy’s back when they sold bundles of theatre tickets.  Like all of Sam’s stories, this was a self-depricating tale that ends with his firing for insubordination to a customer.  It was hilarious.  He told us about booking “The Killing Fields” (for which he was later nominated for an Academy Award) and his transition to television in the NBC series “I’ll Fly Away.”  He shared tidbits about Roland Joffe, and many of the other notables he has worked with (Woody Allen, Jeff Bridges and more).

Sam’s general advice for the young actors in the room was not to pursue acting unless you have to,  as he put it, “Only if there is nothing else you can do.”  The demands of the profession are so bruising he told them, it leaves it’s mark on you.  But he also advised, “You have to play in traffic if you want to get hit.”

Woods Hole is more than established as an international epicenter for the life sciences and oceanography, so it is a pleasure to see the reputation of this little village extend itself into the national arts scene.

We are playing in traffic here, and we intend to keep playing until we get hit:)

Sam Waterston and Beth Colt at the Actors Symposium in Woods Hole May 1, 2011.

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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.

Chilifest on Martha’s Vineyard

January 19, 2011 by Beth Colt

Leaving America behind on the short ferry ride to Martha’s Vineyard from Woods Hole.

Mid winter gets cold and lonely out on Martha’s Vineyard.  And that is why we have MV Chilifest!  An annual ritual that draws thousands of participants from on the island and off, Chilifest 2o11 is on Saturday January 29th this year, starting at 11 am on the island.  Hosted by WMVY, the local radio station, Chilifest raises money for a local charity.  And is the hottest ticket on the island in winter.

What is Chilifest?  A four hour party under a tent in Oak Bluffs, complete with all the chili you can possibly eat from local eateries (each competing for the blue ribbon of “Best Chili”) PLUS alot of beer, mariachis and fun.  See a video of last year’s event right here.

Chilifest has a cult following, and getting tickets can be frustrating.  Which is why you are happy you have friends at the Woods Hole Inn.  We are selling a Chilifest package that will rock your proverbial red sox off.

Here are the details:  Three days, two nights at the Woods Hole Inn which includes free parking in Woods Hole and a wonderful gourmet breakfast, two tickets to Chilifest 2011, plus ferry tickets…all for $249?!  That is a sweet deal.  The small print: first come, first served; queen room only at this price.

Book now, ONLY BY CALLING 508-495-0248 during business hours — you will not regret it.

Vineyard Haven in January, where you will dock when you come to Chilifest.

Winter Walks

January 17, 2011 by Beth Colt

 

Woods Hole Inn guests Douglas and Mary enjoy a quiet moment at the end of the jetty on Stoney Beach.

It’s been cold here — oh yeah, it’s winter — but we still give our walking tour of Woods Hole in whatever kind of weather, because Woods Hole is dramatically beautiful 24/365.

Douglas and Mary came up from NYC for a four day getaway.  They took me up on my offer to see the “secret spots of Woods Hole” and we wandered out the front door of the Woods Hole Inn on a sunny morning to explore.  I took them down Water Street, over the drawbridge and past Woods Hole harbor.  I told them all about the history of this little village at the edge of the sea, about the whalers, how the harbor was especially protected like Nantucket’s, the clearing of all the trees up the hill for building ships, the way sheep used to graze everywhere, the coming of the railroad and the industrial age here, then the arrival of scientists from Harvard and the importance of the industry of science to the last 100 years, and finally the development of tony Penzance Point and the turn to a luxurious summer retreat at the edge of the world.

We walked up Bar Neck Road and peered at the Penzance guard gate and the manicured (even in winter!) hedgerows of the mansions out there.  Then we walked to Stoney Beach where Douglas and Mary walked out the jetty, gazed out at Buzzards Bay and embraced.  It was such a romantic spot, I snapped the photo above then quickly turned away to give them a little privacy.  Standing out on that rocky jetty, thrust into the ocean so calm, it looked as if they fell into a magical spell, bathed in the spotted light of the water with the positive ions of the ocean’s atmosphere washing over them.  I defy you to not feel relaxed in this sublime spot.

It was especially clear and I was able to show them the windmills of Falmouth and the railroad bridge over the Canal at the top of the Bay.  In the other direction, you could see to New Bedford and imagine the joy of a fisherman heading out to sea on a calm day like this one.

We continued up Gardiner Road and peeked in at the hidden beaches, then up the hill on Buzzards Bay Avenue, densely wooded now and more for houses than grazing sheep two centuries later.  Back on School Street, we paused at our third view of the Eel Pond where a man was rowing a boat through the ice — crunch, crunch — to get to the gammed houseboats frozen together in their protected spot by the shore.  We stopped at the Woods Hole schoolhouse and reflected briefly on the storied history of science as well as the instincts of this village to preserve this old building.

When I left Douglas and Mary back at the Inn, I gave them a copy of Susan Witzell’s charming “Walking Tours of Woods Hole” for further study.  I imagined them poring over it back in their room — or perhaps just taking a well-deserved nap.

Douglas and Mary, guests of the Inn, on our winter walking tour.

Views to the Eel Pond on our winter walking tour, winter 2010-11.

We watched a man crunch his rowboat through the ice on the Eel Pond to get to the houseboats. I learned later he was one of the caretakers. Note the submerged boat to the right of the houseboat cluster -- that will be a project come spring!

The Woods Hole school house is now used as a preschool and in summer, houses the Children's School of Science, an amazing program that has existed here for 100 years.

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.

 

Hop on, hop off: WHOOSH TROLLEY

July 27, 2010 by Beth Colt

I’m pretty fond of chugging along in my dated 12 MPG Suburban back in Texas, but after being hired by an eco-friendly inn and restaurant, I figured I’d trade in my tank for a bike or a better pair or tennis shoes. I was so thrilled to explore the nooks and crannies of the village during my first few days, but then I realized I needed groceries! And shampoo! And toilet paper!

Quicks Hole has the only market in town providing fresh produce, milk, eggs and specialty cheeses. But Falmouth, just three miles up the lush Woods Hole Road, has an adorable Main street stuffed with tee shirt and souvenir boutiques, ice cream and candy shops and three supermarkets.

WHOOSH Trolley takes visitors on up to Falmouth for shopping and good eats.

Fearful that there’s not enough time to go to the Vineyard? Grab a famous tee at the Black Dog General Store. Be sure not to miss Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium for a typical Cape Cod treat: ice cream and fudge. Try the lobster ice cream if you’re brave!

The open-air trolley only costs $2 and leaves every half hour from the Steamship Authority just down the street from the inn. Strike up a conversation with the drivers, the owner of the red trolley car has the most character, and maybe he’ll let you toot the horn.

I’d trade my Suburban for a worn pair of tennis shoes and the trolley anyday.

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.

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.

Spring daytrip to Martha’s Vineyard

April 15, 2010 by Beth Colt

Daytripping to the Black Dog Tavern from the Woods Hole Inn.

It was 70 degrees and sunny last week when we hopped the noon ferry to Vineyard Haven to see the sights on the famous island of Martha’s Vineyard.  We sat on the front deck of the ferry, which leaves just steps from the front door of the Woods Hole Inn, and watched the gulls soar over our heads.  We munched our snacks from “Pie in the Sky” until it got too breezy, then moved into the inner part of the ferry where there are tables and a snack shop.

It takes about 45 delicious  minutes to make the crossing.  The views of Vineyard Sound and the islands are quite stunning especially with the perspective of being so high off the water.  The kids loved making flattened pennies in the old-fashioned crank machine (fifty cents to ruin a penny but what the heck, you only live once:)  It’s still the off season so the boat was filled with real Vineyarders returning to their island home.

When we pulled into Vineyard Haven, we got a little confused about exiting the ferry and ended up walking out where the cars come off — one of the stevedores yelled at us but it was really OK.  I suggest following the crowd as the exit only happens on one side of the boat.  As you walk off the ferry, you are smack in the best spot on the Harbor.  Lovely houses stretch up the hill to your right, moorings and boats fill the harbor and the commercial street is just one block up.

We beelined it to the Black Dog Tavern, famously the first restaurant to operate year round on the island back in 1971.  This place is an institution, fabulous ship timber decor and smack on the beach with a great view.  We got a table right in front (nice benny of going off season — I hear the wait is crazy in summer) and were served a terrific lunch of chowders and salads.

Get the Chowdah with the paprika croutons.

With our bellies full, we walked up the hill to the main drag and explored the shops.  There is a terrific independent bookstore called “Bunch of Grapes” where we bought a few kids books and the staff was really helpful.  I loved “Midnight Farm” which is Carly Simon’s funky furniture and clothing store — think Anthropologie but better.  I also enjoyed watching artist Kara Taylor painting in her gallery, and admired her abstract aerials of the Vineyard coastline.  We drooled outside the window of Martha’s Fudge shop, but sadly they were not open yet for the season.

After exploring town, we briefly thought about taking a taxi to Oak Bluffs but settled on a walk along the sand instead.  Our boys skipped stones across the flat harbor as my husband and I enjoyed watching the sloops and lobster boats swaying in the light breeze.  We caught the 3.45 boat back to Woods Hole, home to the Inn by 4.30.  It was another great Cape Cod day.

Don't miss the Black Dog general store for great tshirts and more.

Nobska Beach

July 15, 2009 by Beth Colt



Nobska Beach at 8 am in early July.

One of the finest parts of life in Woods Hole is the warm water swimming. And Nobska Beach is the very best beach in my humble opinion. Cape Cod gets the gulf stream, so the water is really lovely in the summer.  And the fall.

I walked to Nobska one memorable morning. You head up the hill from the village of Woods Hole, past Little Harbor where the Coast Guard are stationed. You take a right on Church Street which must be named for the adorable stone church on the left. It was cool under the tree canopy, and the early morning light filtered through the trees and danced on the grassy curb. A few cars whizzed by me, and I smiled at the steady stream of runners and bikers (this being the path of the famous Falmouth Road Race its a popular and scenic run/bike).

Down the hill a little and then the beach emerged, the ancient light house standing guard. A small row of bath houses stands guard, for locals who like to change before swimming I guess. A woman was out in a chair early, reading a book but other than that the beach was empty. I saw the ferries headed across the Sound and the air was so clear it felt like you could reach out and touch the Vineyard.

I was particularly taken with the clarity of the water, swirling the rocks and gently lapping the beach sand. I took the picture above; it seemed to call out to me.

Try this walk some morning.  You will not be disappointed.

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