With the focus on cruise travel the past few years, a favorite family summer destination had begun to fade to the background. Not that Wellfleet, Mass., wasn’t still my favorite seasonal escape. In fact, Wellfleet will always be our go-to spot to do nothing but relax, enjoy the beach and take in the sea air in this most peaceful of places on outer Cape Cod. While cruising is a great way to explore new places all over the globe, there is just something so special about re-connecting with family and retreating to an old favorite for a week of fun, relaxation and quiet reflection.
David and I discovered the magic of Wellfleet nearly 30 summers ago. Thanks to President Kennedy, the Cape Cod National Seashore became a reality in 1961, providing miles of protected beaches, ponds, salt marshes, sand dunes, hiking and bike trails from Chatham to Provincetown.
In the midst of this natural wonder lies Wellfleet, known for its art galleries, big ocean waves, tranquil bay beaches, fishing, boating … and oysters! We’ve had many week-long summer retreats here – and a few brief off-season ones, too! Memories of sunsets, long bike rides, swimming, beach combing, clam shacks and family hikes fill our minds and our photo albums.
With another cruise planned this summer for the two of us, this time to the Mediterranean, it looked as though another summer would pass with no family week on the Cape. With vacation time scarce and the small fortune involved in a 2-week European sojourn at sea, an additional week on the shores of Cape Cod seemed highly unlikely.
Then came Alex! When my daughter and son-in-law mentioned last fall their desire for a beach rental this summer in Wellfleet with our first grandchild, that was all I needed to hear. Time and money be damned! I immediately sprang into action, searching for the perfect bayside cottage to show off our beloved Wellfleet to 15-month-old Alexander. A new tradition with many future years of Cape Cod summers immediately came to mind, and I made it my mission to start one.
There was just one problem: The tiny 2-cottage colony we called home for our many years of Wellfleet summers were sold, and I now had to find something similar which would leave us with similar new memories.
With great excitement, I went to my computer and googled Wellfleet rentals, which brought me to Home Away, a site dedicated to weekly vacation rentals. With a family of 8 or so, we needed either a roomy 4 bedroom house or a pair of 2-bedroom cottages. Finally, we found exactly what we were looking for: a pair the cutest little white-brick, blue-shuttered cottages I’d ever laid eyes on, directly across from the beach. I contacted the owner, and learned that both side-by-side cottages were available for the second week in July. While not the best week for Grandpa’s busy summer work schedule, he begrudgingly agreed to spend part of the time with us, and commute the rest. With our cruise buddies also on board – also known as my brother and sister-in-law – I happily paid the deposit and eagerly awaited the arrival of summer and our return to family bayside bliss.
That week in July had finally arrived, and as we drove through the familiar narrow street to the tiny two houses on the shore, I felt that inner warmth and happiness that overcomes me whenever I arrive here in Wellfleet after a long absence. It’s like returning home.
As I sat there one early morning, amidst Wellfleet’s unassuming splendor, I thought how so very grateful and so very blessed I was to have this opportunity to share this best of vacations with my grandson. I hope he learns to love and appreciate this amazing place as much as I do.