Thank You, Cape Cod

It is always good to step away from the world for a week. That is what vacations are for (an aside – I always liked the British term “on holiday.” It gets across that you ARE AWAY). Thus, my recent vacation to Cape Cod was not only my first time in the Northeast, but it also had a wide array of fun and excitement included that made it a very memorable trip.

First, a disclaimer. Lovely Wife and I made these plans for a week’s stay in a nice beachside cottage in Hyannis all the way back in March. At that point, people were beginning to get the COVID vaccines that were coming out, we were masking up and distancing, and the infection rate and, more pertinently, the death rate was coming down. We figured that, by August, the COVID situation would be under control, and it would not impact our travels.

Then idiocy hit…

The continued stupidity of part of the population of the States of America and their resistance to taking one of the THREE vaccines that have been created makes you wonder about the future of the human race. No, it is not there to inject some “tracking device” into your bloodstream; no, it isn’t “changing your DNA.” You have to be a special kind of stupid to believe these and many of the other idiotic conspiracy theories (“masks suffocate you” or “masks are an affront to God” are two especially moronic takes) that are floating around out there. As a final word, get the goddamn shot.

But I digress…

This is a huge “THANK YOU” to Hyannis and the Cape Cod area for a week that will be tough to top in the future. After flying into Boston’s Logan International Airport (under heavy construction but still OK), we drove to Hyannis. Now, if you do not know where this is, take your left arm and make a muscle. That point right in front of your elbow closest to your armpit is where Hyannis is located.

One thing that is important to understand is that, when driving around Hyannis and Cape Cod, the roads are VERY narrow. These are towns, villages, hamlets, and cities that have been in existence for over 400 years, and they try their best to make it safe for people and pedestrians (bicyclists? If there is not a sidewalk, I would not ride…just a suggestion) to traverse. Street names often change depending on what intersection you come to. So be on your toes if you are driving in the area.

One other thing to note about the cottages and homes in the area: do not expect a palace. The cottages are roughly 1000 square feet. Our cottage was very well divided, with three bedrooms, a small kitchen and a living room area that did not feel cramped. Do not expect a 3000-foot home in this area unless you are ready to pay a high price for it.

Now, on to the fun!

The first day of our stay was a trip to the beach near our cottage. The beaches here are not the pristine ones that we see in Florida, but they serve the purpose. They provide you access to the sound, which was quite calm during our trip. The beaches themselves had the residue of high tide but were very well taken care of by the locals and the people that visit them.

The second day was our “tourist” day, a trip out to Martha’s Vineyard. For this, you have to board one of the ferries that powers across Nantucket Sound to reach the island. For our trip, we chose Hy-Line Cruises for our purposes, and we could not have made a better choice. They were very professional and without a single issue swept us to the island in about an hour.

Once there, you are in an idyllic area. The island itself is only about one hundred square miles, but you can get to some areas that seem like they have not been touched by man (I am sure this is intentional). While there are several villages on the island, Oak Bluffs is pretty much where everything is located. All the shopping, restaurants and entertainment options seem to be in this area, and there is plenty to choose from. I was upset, however, that former President Barack Obama’s invitation to his birthday party did not get to me in time – maybe I was cut out as he reduced his 60th birthday celebration due to the influx of COVID!

For our cap of the day, we had an early dinner at the Sand Bar, located right on the harbor. The food was excellent and the service outstanding (something that would be a staple of Cape Cod), but you were paying for it (something else that would be a staple of Cape Cod). It was well worth the price paid, however, as we all had a great cap to the day.

For breakfast, the spot we kept going back to in Hyannis was The Egg and I, located on Main Street. Their service was sometimes a bit slow, but that was because it was extremely popular with both locals and visitors. They concoct various versions of an Eggs Benedict – some with sausage, some with ham, but all with the poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. They were tasty, but I found their sausage omelet to be outstanding and the fried potatoes definitely made for a hearty meal.

Another journey we took during our stay was whale watching. For those who are not aware, the North Atlantic is home to dolphins and whales during this time of the year, where they feed on the fish that populate the area (in the winter, they go to the Caribbean and do not eat at all – they breed!). The trip took an entire afternoon and was expertly run by Hyannis Whale Watching Excursions. Not only did they have a smooth trip through the seas, but they also provided excellent commentary on the animals themselves and the surrounding areas (we actually saw the Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown from a distance and the skyline of Boston, an indicator of how far north we went).

If the water is not your best friend (and there were a couple of people on these ocean trips that did not like it!), then there were things to do around town. The shopping on Main Street in Hyannis was outstanding, with several boutique stores, candy shops and T-shirt stands to visit. There was also Spinnaker Records, which should be something that any music lover should stop into when in the area.

If you have read my page for any length of time, then you know my love of record stores. Spinnaker Records was right up my alley, featuring both vinyl and CDs, new and used, and a plethora of music, video game and anime T-shirts for sale. I have never gotten into the Funko figures, but there were many of those adorning the walls too. I could have spent an entire day there!

We did have one particularly rainy day, but that was easily taken care of by a trip to The Cape Codder Resort & Spa’s Water Park. With a retractable roof to block the day’s rain, you had the complete features of an outdoor water park. A nice lazy river and two water slides were in the main area, while a wave pool, another water slide and a hot tub occupied another arm of the water park. All of it was well-kept and good for several hours of enjoyment.

There was also time to spend on miniature golf. For that, the only spot to check out was Steve and Sue’s Par-Tee Freeze, which featured a fun but tough miniature golf course and a soft serve ice cream store. At this location, you have to have cash, but it was well worth hitting the ATM for.

On our final night, we had to partake of the seafood that Cape Cod is known for, and there was only one stop for that. Spanky’s Clam Shack and Seaside Saloon might not sound like a very appealing place, but it has the best seafood in Hyannis and a view of the working harbor. The seafood was fresh, tasty, and excellently prepared, while the cocktails were large, and they made sure to keep taking care of you!

Everywhere you went in Cape Cod, people were glad to see you and there is a reason for this. For six months of the year, people flock to this area of the world for relaxation, excellent food and inspiring trips that cannot be done elsewhere. These visitors are the lifeblood of this area, because the other six months of the year are the doldrums of winter. The residents of the area WANT visitors and go out of their way to be pleasant to everyone.

In my life, I had never previously been north of Westchester County, NY. I have missed out on an incredibly special place in the U. S., surprisingly fun across the board and someplace that people should see at least once in their lives. I am glad that I took this opportunity to enjoy the area with my family and I hope it is not the last time that I visit the area. For this and so much more, including one of the best family vacations of our lives, I say “thank you” to Cape Cod, and hope that we meet again!

Protests Only Work When It Hurts…

It’s funny the things that will come up when you’re in the process of moving. During me and my wife’s latest move from the foothills of North Carolina to the Gulf Coast of Florida, I happened across probably one of the more disappointing moments from this year (at least until possibly the election in November)…

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Now, the seats weren’t fantastic – in fact, they were at the other end of the arena from where the stage was situated. But they were square on with the stage and would have offered a great opportunity to see much of the crowd enjoying the show from Bruce, one of the legendary performers in rock history (I could tell stories about seeing him in 1980 for a six-plus hour show, but we’ll save that for another time). My wife and I were eagerly anticipating the show as it had been many years since either of us had been able to see “The Boss” in action.

Then the North Carolina General Assembly and asswipe Governor Pat McCrory got their panties in a bunch.

In February, the Charlotte City Council passed an ordinance extending protections to the lesbian/bisexual/gay/transgender (LGBT) community. A part of this ordinance – and the issue that sparked the most controversy – was the provision for allowing people to use the restroom of their gender identity, rather than that of whichever sex they were born. In essence, the ordinance allowed those who were in the process of shifting from one sex to another to use the restroom of that other sex (male transgendered individuals could use female restrooms and vice versa).

The response by McCrory and the GOP-dominated North Carolina legislature (which has been gerrymandered to make it virtually impossible for a balanced legislature to occur – witness the THREE TIMES that the federal government has called the state’s legislative districts unconstitutional) was immediate. Convening a special session of the General Assembly (one outside the normal working times of the legislative body), McCrory and his henchmen pushed through HB2, a bill that was so overreaching in its aim it was destined for the “unconstitutional” bin almost from the start.

Not only did that bill immediately set that “all people” had to use the restroom of the birth sex, but it also removed the right for minorities and the LGBT community to sue through the state court system for discrimination. It included a provision that prevented individual cities from enacting their own laws that differentiated from state statutes. With many Democratic representatives protesting by leaving the voting floor, the statute passed through the General Assembly with only about 12 HOURS of overall discussion.

This was the end of March and, within days, the impact was felt. Several local productions in theaters around the Tar Heel State reported that the rights holders to significant stage productions (plays) were pulling their approval for performance over the bill. The streaming provider Hulu pulled the production of a program they had set for airing out of North Carolina over the bill and PayPal suspended expansion of its operations center in the state. This was but the tip of the iceberg, however.

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Many entertainment artists have also pulled out of shows that they were scheduled to perform, including “The Boss,” Pearl Jam, Boston, Bryan Adams, Ani DiFranco, Ringo Starr, Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato and Cirque du Soleil. The real thunder came down, however, over the past couple of months, first with the National Basketball Association’s removal of the 2017 NBA All-Star Game from Charlotte. Then, just yesterday, the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) removed SEVEN championship games or playoff sites from the state, citing the law as the reason. All totaled, the loss of business regarding all of these repercussions could total to as much as half a billion dollars by the year anniversary of HB2’s passage, with the NBA All-Star Game accounting for about $100 million of that total, and could even impact future business in the state.

The reason this came back to me was not only a result of the move. Finding that ticket stub for an unused concert was simply the catalyst for a reply to model Kate Upton’s Twitter hissy fit over athletes not standing for the National Anthem. Of course, over the weekend was the opening weekend of the National Football League season (and the 15th anniversary of 9/11, just coincidentally) and, following in the footsteps of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s continuing protest against inequality in the United States, some players either did not stand for, knelt in protest or displayed the “Black Power” salute as the National Anthem played. This bunched Upton’s panties, who stated, “This is unacceptable. You should be proud to be an American. Especially on 9/11 when we should support each other.”

The continued attention being drawn to what has now become a movement (hey, if a subject catches the nation’s attention for more than two years – yes, it’s been that long since the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, widely considered the spur – it is a movement) is only done when a protest has an impact. Kaepernick has been vocal in the past regarding the issues of black people in the United States and their treatment at the hands of law enforcement, but no one was paying any attention to what he was saying. It wasn’t until his act of defiance of not standing for the National Anthem – and attention was drawn to the fact that he was doing it – that there became a national conversation (admittedly sometimes not about what Kaepernick wanted to talk about, as with Upton’s attempt at using her First Amendment rights by silencing Kaepernick’s, but still there was discussion).

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For a protest to have an impact, there are a couple of things that it should have. It has to have some financial teeth, some fiscal bite, that pushes some to reconsider their positions (it also has to have a side that understands those fiscal implications – apparently North Carolina Republicans are morons if they issue this response). Along with that, it should have some emotional impact on people. There were plenty that were upset over Springsteen’s decision to not perform in North Carolina, just as there are more than likely many upset that Demi Lovato didn’t come to North Carolina or that LeBron James won’t be making an appearance during the NBA All-Star Game in the state. A protest only works when it hurts, either physically or emotionally. That is what makes a protest enact the change that comes about (eventually) with issues.

I’m putting those unused Bruce Springsteen tickets back in the desk as a reminder to myself for a couple of reasons. One, something has to be lost (in some cases) for a protest to have its desired effect, and Two, there is the ability to protest at all levels, from the richest of us all to the poorest. It will be some time before the protests of the actions in North Carolina and the national discussion of inequality are adequately addressed, but hopefully it is sooner than later.