Day 155 - The Longest Day

Trip Start May 19, 2008
Trip End Nov 08, 2008

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Wal-Mart, Newport, Rhode Island

Flag of United States  , Rhode Island
Monday, October 20, 2008

Wal-Mart, Newport, Rhode Island

We awoke to a very bright and sunny, but very cold morning. After a quick visit to Wal-Mart to use their facilities, we were packed up and on our way, on the hunt for a 7/11, hot drinks and blueberry muffins. We both thought that we had passed one shortly before arriving at Wal-Mart last night and so went back the way we had come. After a few miles it became apparent that we had either imagined it or it was much further back than we thought. And so, before we ended up back in Boston we turned around and headed south again. It was ages before we came across a 7/11, but we passed tens and tens of Dunkin Donuts. Massachusetts must be the Dunkin Donuts capital of the world!

Fed and watered, we continued on our way and it wasn’t long before we crossed Sagamore Bridge onto what is effectively a horseshoe-shaped peninsula better known as Cape Cod. The Cape Cod National Seashore is part of the National Park Service and so after passing through Barnstable and Yarmouth we stopped at the Salt Pond Visitor Center to pick up an information leaflet. The Cape is a glacial deposit that is constantly undergoing natural change as winds and water move sand along the shorelines, tearing away one place and building up another. The National Seashore was established in 1961 and contains 44,000 acres along a 40-mile section of coastline.

We decided to go to the furthest point on the peninsula and work backwards. Our first stop was the place where the Pilgrims had first touched foot on American soil on 11th November 1620. There isn’t really a lot to see other than a plaque, the sea and the coastline, although there did appear to be an unusually high concentration of gay male couples about, we’re not sure why.

Herring Cove Beach was our next stop, where we parked up by the beach and sat having our lunch whilst enjoying the view and watching the gulls catch fish. Despite being very sunny it was also very windy and whilst a few brave souls walked along the beach we were more than happy to enjoy it all from inside the bus.

We were braver at our next stop, which was Race Point Beach. After donning warm coats, hats and gloves we ventured onto the beautiful beach. The sand is so soft, fine and powdery that Mel sank into it, filling her shoes with it! The wind really was blowing a gale. You can see why the Cape is so prone to erosion.

Next stop was the Province Lands Visitor Center where we watched a film about the history of this area of the Cape, particularly its links with the whaling industry and the local Lifeboat Station. Life was tough for the early settlers. We also went up onto the upstairs viewing area with our binoculars in a vain attempt to spot whales, although we had been told that we were slightly out of season for it. Story of our lives!!

From there it was a short drive to Provincetown, a very picturesque seaside town with narrow roads, painted wooden houses, small shops and a quaint harbour. Nothing out of the ordinary…. until we spotted first one transvestite (not unusual), then another (whatever), and then another couple (this is a bit weird) and then more and more and more. You would think that you were driving past a couple of middle-aged women and then realize that they were men. There must have been a transvestite convention going on. Very, very, interesting.

As the afternoon was ticking away and there weren’t many campsites to choose from in the area at this time of year, we made one final stop at the Highland Light lighthouse before leaving the National Park. We spotted a State Park on our map and so decided to stop off and see if they had electric on their campground but there was no-one in the office to ask. Then we spotted the phone and so tried to use that to phone the DMV to chase our vehicle documents and also to try a couple of campsites in the area, but it didn’t work. And so we turned around and went into the town of Orleans to find a phone, but there wasn’t one to be found. Not in the shopping center or the supermarket or anywhere. Aaargghhh!!!

And so the decision was made for us. With nowhere to camp for the night (no Wal-Marts on the cape either), we would have to leave the Cape and head further south. As we did so we came across something we hadn’t seen in months. A roundabout! Although in these parts it’s known as a “rotary”. Shortly after crossing back onto the “mainland” via the Sagamore Bridge, we pulled into a fuel station for a coffee and to use the phone. Thankfully it worked. However, it gobbled about eight dollars of quarters whilst we were waiting for our call to be answered and when we finally got connected the news wasn’t good. Despite having been told last week that our paperwork would be processed and posted out by the 16th, today the computer was still showing that it was being processed. And could anyone go and physically check on it’s status? No! Computer says no!

And so, feeling thoroughly dejected, we continued south and west on the hunt for somewhere to stay for the night. It wasn‘t long before the sun had set on us, we had passed through all three areas that were supposed to have a Wal-Mart without seeing any sign of one and bad road signs had led to us losing ours a couple of times. So we decided just to carry on driving and hope that we came across somewhere suitable to pll in. We agreed that if necessary we would take it in turns to sleep and drive and go through the night if we didn‘t find anywhere. It was now well and truly dark and bitterly cold. Poor little Chippie‘s heater was doing it‘s best but fighting a losing battle, so we were gloved and hatted and Mel was wrapped in a blanket! And all we saw on both sides of the road were car showrooms and car dealers lots for miles and miles and miles.

Once we reached the town of Fall River we decided to find somewhere to get something to eat as we were both starving. There wasn’t a lot of choice on the outskirts and as we didn‘t want to go into the centre and didn‘t fancy McDonalds we settled on a Pizza restaurant called Papa Gino’s. What a good decision that was. The best pizza we have had in a long, long time, probably since we were in Italy. We also got to warm up a bit in the restaurant too which was a definite bonus!

From Fall River we headed south, across the state line into Rhode Island and onto the island of the same name. After about 30 minutes of driving through pitch-black nothing-ness we reached the town of Newport, but as it didn’t seem to offer us any overnight options, we were about to cross the bridge onto Conanicut Island and carry on with our journey through the night, when we spotted a familiar sign glowing in the darkness. Wal mart!

Too exhausted to worry anymore about whether we should or shouldn’t be parking there, we just found a good spot to park, hopped in the back and closed the curtains.

Miles travelled: 247

Total miles travelled: 14896

Days on road: 135

States visited: 31

National Parks visited: 21
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