As you all know, I am a native Cape Codder/New Englander. When I was a kid, all I could think about was getting the hell off the Cape and away from the East Coast. "I'm bored. There's nothing to do. Cape Cod is so dull!!!" was a familiar refrain. Yeah I've done some touristy things, but when I think back to all of the missed opportunities when I lived there, I could kick myself.
Yesterday at lunch, I was browsing through "National Geographic Traveler" magazine. They were featuring some of the best driving trips in the world and I was pleased to see that Cape Cod was listed. There was a photo of a lighthouse called Wood End Light. I was very distressed when I realized that not only had I never seen that particular lighthouse, I had also never heard of it. I had to google it to find out on what part of the Cape it's located, and was surprised to find that it's in Provincetown. I'd only ever seen Race Point Lighthouse and had no idea there was another one up there called Wood End. In the list of things to see along the drive around the Cape, it mentioned the Museum of Natural History. Never been there either. Or to Nauset Beach. Or seen Monomoy Island. I've only been to Nantucket once, and Martha's Vineyard twice.
That got me thinking about all of the trips I could have taken......should have taken....when I still lived on the East Coast.
For example: I went to college in Maine for 2 years, which meant that I lived there pretty much full time from Sept. 1982-May, 1984, except for the summer months and winter holidays. My freshman year roomie is from Bar Harbor/Acadia National Park. While she came down to visit me on the Cape for a week, I never went up there to visit her. I've never been to Bar Harbor. In fact, I've never even been north of Lewiston. I've never gone to Cushing to see where Andrew Wyeth painted the Olson farm, including the famous "Christina's World" painting. I've never been to any of the Eastern Canadian provinces. Some kids used to take road trips to Quebec & Montreal, but I never went.
During the summer months, I worked. There was no backpacking across Europe, or even taking ANY time off, for me. Cape Cod's economy, esp. back then, was still driven by the tourist industry, and as a chambermaid at a 4-star hotel, I was busting my ass cleaning rooms, in high heat and humidity, so that others could enjoy their time off. I worked from the day after college got out till a day or so before I went back. Because my dad was the best plumber in the town of Sandwich, he could not take any time off in the summer months b/c that was his busiest season, what with all the old cottages that were now open for business.
In the summer of '84, I was able to finagle about 4 days off to go to Yonkers w/ my parents for a few days to visit family and bring my grandmother up to the Cape for the summer. And let me be perfectly honest: Yonkers is NOT a tourist destination. My maternal family settled there in the early 1900's, and that's the only reason we went. In fact, come to think of it, for all the time we spent in Yonkers back in the 70's, my folks only took me into New York City twice: Once to the Bronx Zoo in 1974, and once to Manhattan in 1978.
I lived in New England for 24 years of my life, and I've never been to Vermont either. My bff Liz went to college there and has remained in Vermont since 1982, but for a few years in the Toronto area in the early 90's. Did I ever visit? No. The only time I ever crossed the border into Vermont was when my dad got lost in New Hampshire and accidentally crossed into VT, where he promptly did a U-turn and went back into NH.
My bff Holly went to college in Toronto for a few years in the 80's too. Did I ever visit? No.
I simply took it for granted that the stuff will always be there so I'll get to see it "one of these days". Then I went to San Francisco the first time and that became my main focus. Getting to the west coast. Now that i live here, I lament the fact that there is so much I didn't do or see, and when I lived there, I had no interest in doing or seeing any of it.
So I guess next spring when I go back to visit my mom, I will have to check out some of these places on the Cape, like Wood End Light and the Museum of Natural History. No excuses.