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Fun & frolic on Cape Cod.

Still n’ always

January 10 - 24 2012


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On the cover: An unknown surfer braves sub 30 degree temps and some wipeouts for a New Year’s Day session at Nauset Beach. Photo James Joiner

(Not so) fine print. Dinghy is published bi-weekly right here on Cape Cod, by a locally owned business. We believe in supporting local at every possible opportunity and think you should too. We’d love to hear your comments, story ideas, or submissions. Send ‘em to If you’re not of the digital persuasion, you can use the good ol’ USPS at P.O. Box 404 Cotuit, MA 02635. Although at that point you may as well just give us a call at (508) 348-9845. Can’t wait for the next issue? Or make it Facebook official:

Get Your Cape Cod On

“There’s one born every minute.”

Dog a y s


Toffee nut bars Looking for a quick, simple and delicious snack for these cold winter nights? Toffee bars will do the trick! Sweet, salty, crunchy, chewy... Store-bought candy doesn’t hold a candle to the real deal. Enjoy!

What you need: 15 Graham Crackers 1 Cup packed Brown Sugar 1 Cup Butter 1- 6 oz pkg Milk Chocolate Chips ¼ Cup Chopped Nuts Line 15 x 9 x 2” pan with aluminum foil. Grease or oil the bottom (not with butter), then arrange graham crackers to cover bottom. Combine sugar and butter in saucepan, cook & stir over medium heat until boiling. Remove from heat and pour evenly

J. James Joiner photography

over graham crackers. Place in over, bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes. Remove, sprinkle chocolate chips over sugar mixture and then spread when soft. Add nuts and chill for 30 minutes. Cut or break into pieces. Store any leftovers (there won’t be any!) in refrigerator.

Happy Trails Hiking and exploring Sandy Neck Beach.

by Peter Crosson photos James Joiner

Back in my unmarried, pre-kid days, I was a pretty hardcore hiker. I have fond memories of scaling Mt. Washington, descending into the Grand Canyon to drink from the Colorado River, and gazing down at the valley floor in Zion National Park from high on Angels’ Landing. Those hikes were measured in blisters, sweat stains and burning thighs. Since relocating to the Cape and starting a family, I have had to adjust my expectations. For the most part, hiking on the Cape seemed to involve walking on flat trails through stunted pitch pine and scrub oak forests. Pretty enough, sure, but where was the challenge? This question was answered for me when I tried the Big Kahuna of Cape Cod hikes, the stem-to-stern traverse of mighty Sandy Neck. A six-mile long barrier beach, Sandy Neck is a land of windswept dunes, emerald green marshes and wild cranberry bogs, as well as abundant wildlife. The Marsh trail runs pretty much the whole length of the peninsula, providing access to the magnificent dune system and all sorts of hidden wonders. There are four spur trails coming off the Marsh trail that

The author as sherpa.

cross the dunes to the beach side, allowing for hikes of various lengths. Much like a restaurant menu, you can choose how much you want to bite off. Trail 1, at about 1.5 miles round-trip, provides an appetizer, a nice short hike suitable even for young children. Trail 2 is more of an entrée, much more challenging at 5.5 miles round trip. You’ll feel this one tomorrow. Oddly, there is no trail 3, but trail 4 will bring the pain, with 9 miles of soft sand and some pretty good hills. If this doesn’t make your thighs burn, you’re a better man (or woman) than me. The full enchilada is trail 5, which clocks in at more than 11 miles. It’s a knock-down, drag-out war that’s both exhilarating and exhausting. Along the way, depending on the season, you may see hawks, deer, coyotes, and much more. You’ll pass old hunting shacks and breathe the salt air off Barnstable Harbor and Cape Cod Bay. Simply put, there’s no better or more challenging hike on the Cape. If you decide to tackle Sandy Neck, be aware that there is very little shade, so sun protection is a must. Bring lots of water, and be prepared for miles of soft sand, which can fatigue you much faster than walking on a firm surface. Greenhead flies can be brutal

in the late summer, so I’d recommend spring or early fall. Be aware that hunting is allowed in season. Trail maps are available at the visitor center or at libraries in Barnstable. If you are up for it, you’ll never forget a traverse of the most wild and magnificent area on Cape Cod.

View of Sandy Neck’s lighthouse from Long Pasture.

Get out.

(Mis) adventures in birding.

by James Joiner

The author and an “ah ha!” moment. Photo Peter Crosson

All I could think of while attempting to nestle even further back into my puffy jacket’s hood was how this spate of warm winter weather had left me soft. My blood must have been running thin. I mean, it was only 30 degrees, but that isn’t really all that cold. Though here on Cape Cod, temperatures can be deceiving. You have to factor in the wind, of course. And then there’s the bone chilling dampness that cuts through what should be cold crispness, clinging to you like a heat-drawing leach. I should probably have been enjoying this, one of the coldest days of the year thus far, from the warmth of a coffee shop somewhere, steaming cup in my hands.

Instead, I was on a beach at the outermost tip of the Cape, the last vestiges of heat being sandblasted from me by wind gusts that were driving the ocean into frothy waves a dozen improbable shades of blue. Just down the sandy stretch in front of me, a dozen or so seagulls alternated between huddling low and floating in place on spread wings. I say seagulls, which is a blanket term. According to my friend Peter who, bundled like a swaddled Eskimo, was just a bit ahead of me gazing through his spotting scope, these were special seagulls. Not your run-of-the-mill dump divers, but something rarer. Better somehow. Beyond generalizations, most birds look the same to me. Soon we’re back in the car, its heat stinging our wind burned cheeks as we struggle to undo some of our layers with numb extremities. Off to the next spot. Every year at Christmas time, the Audubon Society conducts a count, taking to the fields with an army of volunteers to record the numbers and varieties of birds in an area. It seems a monumental undertaking. We are not a part of this count. No, today we act as birding privateers, slowly and methodically before working our way back from Provincetown to our mid-Cape homes seeking, or so I’m told, rare off-course desert birds, gulls and maybe a snowy owl, which are known to lurk in the dunes of the national seashore and Nauset beach. Thus far, we have seen some white seagulls, some brown small birds, and I think a couple of ducks. I’m not much of a birder. after

It’s not that I don’t enjoy the activity of birding, which is essentially walking around with a camera and binoculars on a scavenger hunt, then bragging about what you find (if you find anything) on the Internet. I just don’t really know much about birds in general. I have the passing layman’s knowledge, the kind you get from operating a bird feeder outside your kitchen window: Red ones are cardinals, blue ones are blue jays, the fat A stuffed possum @ the Wellfleet Audobon sanctuary. ones with the tails are squirrels. My friend Peter is far more “in the know”. He can identify even the distant silhouettes of birds, sometimes pointing them out. “Look, over there, on the other side of the pond! It’s a wooly footed thresher dove!” He would exclaim, pointing to a crook in a tree a football field away. I’ve even caught him listening to various birdcalls on his iPod, singing (well, whistling) the way you or I would rock out to Abba on the local oldies station. His dedication to his craft is something I admire, a fervent thirst for knowledge that rivals my thirst for, well, beer and coffee if anything. Which brings us back to the present, crouched yet again in some bushes, trying not to be concerned about the inch long daggers of a briar vine that wrap all around me. Peter’s locked onto something; making low hissing noises that he says emulate a bird’s challenging call. It seems to work, as a small form hops from low hanging branch to low hanging branch, head cocked as though it were the one studying us, wondering what two seemingly sane fellows

were doing crunching through a hard frost so early in the morning. After dismissing it as a sparrow of the common sort with the wave of a thickly gloved hand, Peter packs it in and we head back to the car, going through the same laborious de-bulking of winter layers. This process of crouching, hissing and disdainful hand waving is repeated, again and again, with periods of driving and trudging in between, until the sun is high above us, taunting us with light that does not emanate heat. I have always believed that anything, no matter how fun, can be made much funner (yes, I just made up a word) with the addition of cheeseburgers and drinks. One of my favorite things about Peter is that he heartily agrees. An hour later, with full stomachs and responsibly quenched thirst, we’re back in the car. One of our wives has called in and ordered us home – there are children to be ferried and chores to be done. We drive the 45 minutes back to our respective enclaves and awaiting responsibilities, lighthearted despite heaviness in our bellies and lack of trophy sightings. Though he doesn’t say it out loud, Peter blames me for the latter. We’ve been on many such expeditions, suburban Indiana Joneses prowling beach, field and forest in search of uncommon avian antics, mostly unsuccessfully.

It seems as though my presence is some sort of deterrent. He doesn’t know how to explain it, and neither do I. To be fair, he has the same effect on fish when we go fishing in the warmer months. They may have been there an hour before we arrive, but once Peter sets his line in the water, ocean life disperses for points unknown. Perhaps the presence of two such suburban fellows, decked out for adventure, is too much for small animals to handle. Perhaps we don’t really try that hard. It’s enough just to get away for a couple of hours, living our L.L. Bean fantasies, getting in touch with the wild man inside (you know, the one that eats medium rare cheeseburgers). What’s that adage? “It’s the journey, not the destination”, or maybe in our case, “a watched pot never boils”.

Next stop: England.

Snowy owls? No. Cold feet? Yes.

P h o t o s

Railroad tracks in West Barnstable. Photo James Joiner

A monarch butterfly contemplates warmer climes. Photo James Joiner

Dreamy light and lazy seagulls. Photo James Joiner

Lonely winter day at the Sandwich Boardwalk. Photo James Joiner

Chris & Ava Hilley enjoy a snack at Jo Mama’s Bagels. Photo James Joiner

Ridgevale Beach in Chatham. Photo James Joiner

A spider and its holiday dinner. Photo James Joiner

Baby, it’s cold outside! Warm up at the

Kettle Ho Fine dining in a casual atmosphere




I’m not opposed to exercising. Everyone wants to be fit, or at least not fat. It’s just that there’s something about getting out the door, some insurmountable obstacle that stands between the verging-on-double-chin, leaving-my-youngeryears-behind-me me and the trim jeans-and-a-concert-t-shirt me that exists in my head. On the rare occasion that I do manage to tear myself away from whatever seemingly important tasks I use as excuses not to do things I don’t really want to do, I almost always enjoy myself. I decided at the beginning of last year (which is interesting, because I’m writing this on new year’s eve, and making it “last year” because in a scant 11 hours and 31 minutes it will be 2012. It’s like I’m creating my own time warp) to start running on a regular basis. This started out well, as most resolutions tend to do, but then slowly denigrated to an occasional jog, and finally what could best be described as disorganized meandering in the woods by my house with one of our dogs. Fitness was not achieved. There was also a spate of “high intensity training” a couple of months ago. I read in a men’s magazine (no, not an adult magazine) that you could achieve the same workout in 10 minutes as you can in 45. Anonymous experts agreed; this wasn’t too good to be true. And so I started. I’d run as fast and as hard as I could for 30 seconds, then walk for a minute, then repeat multiple times. Sounds easy, right? Well, it kind of is. It’s also fun and holds your attention, which is good as one of the fastest killers of prolonged physical activity for me is my own bored brain, which quickly turns on itself and renders me couch-bound surfing the web. Web surfing, despite its name, has nothing to do with actual surfing.

Actual surfing apparently makes you buff, tan and a good guitar player, instead of chubby, pasty and a good Facebook stalker. So. I’d sprint in circles around our long dirt driveway, then walk for a while, then turn and sprint the other way. Our dog, which has always looked rather askance at me, is now certain that I am insane. As usual, in possession of an MTV video bite attention span, I only read the bullet points at the side of the article, decrying how pounds would slip away and pudge would morph into lean muscle. And so, after two weeks of enjoying this intense activity on a daily basis, my endorphin stoked ego laughed when my knee started to hurt. “Oh, man up knee,” it said, scoffing at the odd grinding sensation coming from the left side of my kneecap. “Pain is weakness leaving the body!” Well, the old adage may be true, but it forgets to mention that sometimes pain is your body saying, “hey dude, 20 years of skateboarding coupled with at least five of almost complete inactivity has rendered your knees feeble and shaky.” After common sense prevailed (far later than it should have), I limped back down the driveway and deposited myself on the sofa, passiveaggresively vectoring for sympathy from my wife. She was quick to point out that pursuing such intense a workout without resting in between was probably not a good idea (it strikes me now that this wasn’t the first time I had heard her say this, but it was definitely the first time I heard her say it). Indeed, a quick hobble (I wasn’t

playing it up, it really hurt!) to the magazine rack revealed that, in paragraph four of the article (approximately two below where I stopped reading), it said you should intersperse these workouts into your regular routine, a couple times a week. By “regular routine” I don’t think they meant making multiple trips to the pantry for snacks during a movie, which was certainly the closest thing to recurring workout time I had up until this point. For the next couple of weeks, I got to limp around and explain to those who would listen that I had a sports injury, which in my eyes made me look a hero but in their’s most likely just kind of pathetic. I don’t think anyone was looking at me and thinking the world was down a great athlete. Now that we’ve made it through the holidays, during which time I made sure to pack in some extra pounds to work off, I’m eyeing the coming new year and it’s imminent drunken resolutions with a cautious optimism. If our unseasonably warm weather holds up, I look forward to getting in some jogging and mountain biking, though at a more reasonable and sustainable pace. There was also this article in the new Esquire...

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Dinghy. The Little Magazine. Issue 5  

Fun and frolic on Cape Cod and the Islands.

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