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The Little Jaunt - Cape Cod and Nantucket

Late spring afforded me the opportunity to shed my bonds and skip up to Cape Cod for a few days. I hadn’t been in the area for easily 15 years, but somethings don’t change much, especially, it seems, “island time”. Heavy photo backpack and a bag of laundry set me on my way.

(At this point I should really contemplate a blog dedicated to TSA…)

RDU to NWR was uneventful, but the little puddle jumper that took me into Providence, RI was quaint. I decided on Providence because flying directly into Hyannis was a costly endeavor. Including the rental car, I was still very much under the price of the flight into Hyannis. For 45 mins of driving it made for a good deal (I even got to see the New England Patriots' plane- oooh). If you are looking to escape for a few days - look at surrounding airports for both hotels and flights you might find a niffy deal to take advantage of.

I have, on my recent travels, been “plagued” with less than ideal weather. I put plagued in quotations because it is what you make of it. My forever optimistic mind figures its easy to take pictures under ideal conditions, but often it is adversity that will give you that amazing series.

I am usually armed with two camera bodies and the normal host of lenses. I love having the two cameras for ease of the switch. The 50mm on the one and tele on the other. This covers most of my bases unless I want to get super creative and hook up the wide angle. If you are a novice photographer you might be thinking “yea two bodies, how do I afford that?” I was thinking that just a few years ago. Surprisingly easy to navigate financially though. Your second can be your phone at this juncture or in my case my “old” camera… last year I finally decided it was time to upgrade a bit. So my second is my trusty old Nikon D90. I know it inside out from so many years of use. Another great way to afford a second is the Used Camera Department at your favorite camera shop (this is a great place to get lenses too). What used equipment???? gaaaah... Well, actually yes. You have to think about how you take care of your equipment… If you are anything like me, then you baby your equipment. It is a pretty big investment. Last year while hiking I had my camera out and shooting, while I tripped and went down face forward, you know my camera didn’t hit the ground (hold my beer). I had a few good bruises but my camera didn’t even have dust on it. I imagine it was a great sight because the camera backpack was flung on to my head and I’m holding my camera up and out of harms way. So, Used Camera Department, check it out.

I digress… pretty flawless driving over to Hyannis and since it was the middle of the week, touristies were at a minimum. I hadn’t done my usual bit of research to hone in on what I wanted to shoot but Its Cape Cod… I think we are going for light houses (there are about 14 just on the cape). I also had a hankering to go over to Nantucket (4 more light houses). A hotel and great food in Hyannis and I was ready to do some exploring, despite the fact that it was quite overcast and wet, I was not deterred. I decided to head over to the Nauset Light.

It was tremendous to see the light cut through the fog. Three Sisters was about a quarter mile down the road and I was flush with history. The need for the lights becomes quite evident especially in this type of weather. Despite hauling my tripod (I have been known to disregard), I was shooting a bit higher ISO and running pretty slow shutter speeds. Here too is a chance to make your snaps your own (even with your phone- sans filters) High ISO giving you super grainy photographs but you can still run a decent shuttler speed. Nauset light was easy to get to and part of Cape Cod National Seashore Park. After leaving Nauset Lighthouse, I decided I hadn’t had enough and wandered over to Coast Guard Beach also part of the National Park. Quite dark and foggy I relied on some driftwood (heaven forbid I whip out the tripod) for a few long exposures and decided to pack it in after dark and the rain continued, my new leather jacket now perfectly broken in…

The next day the furthest easterly point was my goal. The map said Race Point Lighthouse. I want to say I love Google Maps and it has never led me astray. Maybe just the shifting nature of the shore or the belief that everyone has a 4x4. My rental was a little Nissan (by little I mean that little one that really shutters when a semi passes by).

The map says there is a road to the light house… I didn’t see it but there was parking and beach access… at which point the Map says the light house is a mere 3 miles up the beach. No problem. Are you a beach goer? Sand walking is a bit tougher than regular walking, so it was a little work out… as the sun was hitting the horizon We still hadn’t reached the light… I was about to turn back - something I rarely, if EVER do. Finally a beach access and over the dune is the ellusive Race Point Light house and the caretaker house which you can rent! You need a 4 x 4, I promise.

In the last gleams of sun I got some shots in and this time I did grab the tripod (YAY). After all the effort I had better get some good shots. This was one of those moments that I considered diving into that amazing Astrophotography. The darkness was profound. As we headed back to the parking area… It was pitch dark trudging through sand dunes, as the road - I use that term loosely, was definitely less traveled. But we made it. Tired but well worth it.

Next was Nantucket. We could have taken the fast ferry but where is the fun in that? Steam ship authority ferry - 2 hours to burn, it was lovely… you could almost feel the time warp. With the fog you could just about feel Stephen King writing this chapter. Entering the harbor is Brant Point Light house. Iconic for sure, and before my last read, I hadn’t really given much thought to there being more. Well that book was placed with the Sankaty Light being a prominent feature. So off we go. If you have never been to Nantucket, its great and in my opinion even better off season (we were right on the cusp - Lucky) There are a lot of shops and eateries in town but Sankaty was my target.

Onward to Siasconset on the outside edge to the island. Fortunately the bus had just restarted its daily schedule. Hopped off the bus seven miles later to rain… This time we asked a local for the best way to Sankaty, yes, walking in the rain. Again, my thoughts of sacking the hike invaded my thoughts. We continued and again, worth every step. The socked in weather gave an eerie feel to things, ghostly remnants. Time was standing still. At last Sankaty could be seen.

The bluffs dangerously hugging the streets and backyards and some porches in peril. Witnesses to the power of the sea. Sankaty, just as Nauset and Three Sisters had been moved from the original location, further testimony to the erosional forces of sea and wind. Upon our return to S’conset the weather had broken and we had time to wait for the bus. Fortunately for us there was ONE shop open on this blustery Sunday afternoon and I could get a much desired coffee, pound cake and some clam chowder. What could have been better.

The bus arrived and our steps were bouncy again.

Back into Nantucket town and word was out that a brewery outside of town was having a shindig. This was a perfect cap to the day, even better to have the shuttle drop us back to the docks and a slow boat back into Hyannis.

After all was said and done, maybe I didn’t take as many pictures as I could have but I feel my ratio was great and I wasn’t left wanting of a thing. My escape was complete and even the five hour delay at Dulles wasn’t unappreciated.

What did I learn? Appreciate every aspect. If the weather isn’t perfect a good photographer can capture something amazing - there in lies the artistry.

As Always,


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