Summertime on Cape Cod

Cape Cod is a summertime place to be. People brave traffic jams and rotaries to breathe the salt air and relax on the beaches. Summer means body surfing and swimming, building sandcastles, and collecting seashells. Bike paths wind along the shore or through sand dunes. When everyone is saturated with sunshine and salt water, there are always old fashioned band concerts and baseball games to enjoy.

Summer is also usually slow in getting here since the ocean keeps the land and air cool. Sometimes summer doesn’t really start until July. I haven’t jumped into the ocean waves yet this year but once I do it’ll feel as if summer is really here.

The influx of people is another sign of summer. The overall Cape Cod population is around 215,000. The population doubles in the summer months. Since Cape Cod is really just a sandbar sticking out into the Atlantic, sometimes it feels as if it’s being invaded. License plates become multicolored. Many are from New York or Connecticut. We’ve been known to scoff at these invaders, which is funny really because most of us are from someplace else.

This stretch of land is connected to the mainland by two bridges. In the summer, the bridges are packed with cars. I don’t go over the bridge when that happens. I’d rather hide.

There are still places to hide here and places to get lost. Unpaved places. Places meant for wandering. So for this summer, any travel posts will be on and from Cape Cod. Even though I’ve lived here for most of my life and work at a regular office job during the day, I still try to be a tourist as often as possible. Sometimes the best places to investigate are right outside the door.

Top Ten Craziest Things to Love About San Francisco

While growing up, San Francisco always seemed like some sort of a dream to me. My brother and I used to climb up into a cabinet that was on top of my bedroom closet. We hid candy in there, played games, and called it San Francisco. Every once in a while, we would look at each other and say, “Want to go to San Francisco?” and then we’d climb up into that secret place and play. I didn’t get the chance to find out what the real San Francisco was like until just a few weeks ago. Since photo opportunities are everywhere there, I thought it would be fun to share some of the crazier photos as a top ten list. 10. Signs with a sense of humor 9. Trees grow as abstract art 8. Everything is art (and art is everywhere) 7. Graffiti 6. Architecture with character 5. Chinatown 4. Sea lions that knock on houseboat doors 3. Crooked, slanted, steep streets 2. The Golden Gate Bridge and how it seems to hover everywhere And the #1 thing to love about San Francisco…the people and dogs (and dog people) you meet on the pier What do you love about San Francisco?

Up, Up and Away: Hot Air Ballooning as an Extreme Sport

Our hot air balloon pilot looked young enough to be at home watching cartoons. He probably didn’t have a driver’s license. Yet, he busied himself preparing a balloon and a rickety basket for an ascent thousands of feet into the sky.

Hot air balloon companies fly in the early morning calm. No wind could be felt on the morning of our scheduled ride so we figured it would be a peaceful one, maybe even boring. Little did we know that our pilot craved extreme sports.

You can’t really steer a hot air balloon. Altitude is controlled through the propane burner below the balloon opening. Since hot air rises, when the air inside the balloon is heated, the balloon goes up. Any sideways traveling depends on air currents.

When we first took off, we headed sideways and then somehow down into a canyon. The balloon wouldn’t go up fast enough but it did travel sideways pretty quickly. The wicker basket headed right for a canyon wall. Our pilot was in training so after some expert advice from another pilot who looked like he might have a driver’s license, the balloon finally moved up and away from the canyon wall just in time. The basket practically scraped the wall. We could have collected rock samples.

After that, we went up to about 3,000 feet. At least there were no obstacles up there that we could see, just clouds and a few birds. The sensation is more like floating than flying and when you’re that high up, you become very much aware that you’re really just in a basket. There’s not much else between you and the sky.

We floated over desert canyons and a shiny new neighborhood. When it was time to descend by letting air out of the balloon, the pilots figured the neighborhood would be the best place for a landing. We ended up flying in at a steep angle and almost landed on someone’s roof. When we did land, we bounced off a front yard bush and eventually came to rest in the middle of the street. The expert pilot turned to the trainee and said, “Nice use of the bush.”

Luckily, it was a quiet enough residential street and the people who lived there were used to this sort of thing.