Pups in Ptown
We’ve always had the convenience, of a live-in pet sitter. My father, now retired, would travel four hours to come and stay with Henry, Reese, and Charlie (now deceased).
We had booked a vacation; a week at a resort in Florida, and again, had arranged for my dad to come stay with his grand-pups.
A few weeks before the departure date, my dad informed us he had not been feeling well. Of course he down-played this, until a week later when he announced that his driver’s license had been revoked as a precautionary measure until further tests could be conducted. He felt well enough to pet-sit however, was unable to travel.
After much discussion, my husband and I decided to cancel our holiday. If there was concern enough for the Doctor to take away his driving privileges, my dad should probably stay close to home and await further instruction pertaining to the medical tests. Plus, Henry can be a handful at times, and we didn’t want to put my father in that position.
Of course health of family comes first. Still, we couldn’t help being disappointed we would not have the break we were so looking forward to.
We kept our leave from work, and planned to do some decorating and other household projects. Just days before we would have been leaving for Florida, we started talking about other options. I became excited again; not realizing the full extent of my disappointment, until the spark was reignited (it seems, my travel bug is a firefly). I researched ‘dog-friendly’ holidays online, and my husband and I decided that, instead of visiting the Gulf coast, we would take a trip to the East coast.
I may be among the minority that love to fly. In fact, several years ago, I worked for an airline and my job involved travelling to destinations worldwide. We have never flown with the dogs, and my husband is a ‘nervous’ flyer. As this was all very last minute, I did not feel prepared to deal with all that stress. I’m not ruling it out for future travel. This time we agreed, we would travel by car.
Enticed by scenes from movies such as ‘On Golden Pond’, ‘The Witches of Eastwick’, ‘Dead Poets Society’, and of course, Carrie’s weekend excursions (SATC), Provincetown, Cape Cod, New England, and Massachusetts have been on my ‘travel wish list’ for many years. I was thrilled at the prospect of finally visiting some of these famous landmarks.
When I think of Cape Cod, I think of American aristocracy; the Kennedy’s, vacationing at the summer whitehouse. Wealthy families and celebrities visiting the affluent summer colony, Martha’s Vineyard. Spending their days sailing and consuming lobster and clam chowder. My thoughts quickly shift, to the ‘Griswalds’ and compare the descent of ‘The Parker Pack’, upon this quaint, Northeastern town, to a National Lampoon movie.
Excitedly, I made some calls to enquire about accommodation, and was beginning to feel underwhelmed by the service received by a few of the larger hotels in the area. I was about to call it a day, when I spoke with Steve, at the Aerie House & Beach Club. Steve was very friendly, inviting, and helpful, sharing plenty of insights into our trip. This elegant, yet casual Bed & Breakfast offers a choice of charming rooms, with option of private or shared bathrooms, in the main guesthouse, perched at the top of Miller Hill. Also available, are luxury, waterfront apartments at the Beach Club – you guessed it, directly on the beach!
We booked our accommodation over the phone with Steve, and were invited to check in early, the day of arrival. This being the case, we decided to do a ‘midnight run’ on the departure date which, turned out to be more like 1:00am. We figured the pups would settle, and sleep most of the way. We were right. We had the roads, mostly to ourselves until the sun came up and although we stuck to major routes, the latter part of the journey, provided quite spectacular views, even from the highway.
The Cape is made up of fifteen different towns, with several villages. Once off the highway, we drove through some of these picturesque villages, including historical ‘Sandwich’, the oldest town on Cape Cod and home to museums and antique shops, including rare books, and art galleries.
We arrived in Provincetown, located at the tip of the Peninsula (East-facing), early in the afternoon. After registering at the guesthouse, we took the pups for their first walk in Ptown. After the long drive, we were glad to stretch all twelve legs. We walked along the beach, and enjoyed views of the docks; renowned for historic fishing fleets, and still a popular fishing ground today.
This was an exciting new adventure for Henry and Reese, as most beaches do not permit dogs on them, unless it is off-season. Granted, it was just after Labor Day. We were told it’s as if someone flips a switch at the end of that weekend, and Provincetown becomes very quiet. I can only imagine the bustle during the summer season, as we were among several other tourists in town this ‘quiet’ week. I’m not sure Reese would be comfortable in the large summer crowds.
After a rest, and freshening up at the guesthouse, we ventured back into the town to explore dining options for supper. Along the way, I was captivated by the beautiful displays of art in the shop front windows. Our hotel was located in the East end gallery district.
The next morning, before heading off to see the sights, we enjoyed breakfast; a buffet, served on the deck with complimentary view, of the beautiful harbor below. Bicycles are provided, for guests that would like to use them to explore this charming town, which includes a diverse selection of restaurants, boutiques, galleries, and tours.
As if the previous day’s travel wasn’t enough, we got back in the car, and headed to Race Point, North Truro. It was a beautiful day to enjoy the sights, which included ‘Race Point Lighthouse’, located only a few miles offshore and accessible only by foot, or dune buggy. The lighthouse, operated by the U.S. Coast Guard, is, in fact, a guesthouse. Both the Keeper’s House, and Whistle Building, attached to the (functioning) lighthouse, have been fitted to accommodate small groups who would like to experience life as a twentieth century lighthouse keeper.
The tide was out, so we were able to enjoy the view close up. Although confined to their leashes, Henry and Reese thoroughly enjoyed a sprint along the beach and our normally water-fearing dogs boldly ran back and forth through shallow bodies of sea water. By the end of our short stay, their coats were incredibly soft, and I credit the salt water also, for eliminating Henry’s ‘allergy related’ itching.
On the way back to the guesthouse, we stopped at 141 To Go. As a vegetarian, leaning towards veganism (cheese being my one vice), I can’t tell you how thrilled I was, to find this gem of a market. As well as their selection of bulk products, 141 To Go offers a variety of wheat-free, gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free selections, and delicious ‘ready-made’ meals, prepared fresh, each day in their own kitchen. You can see them happily working away, as you shop for organic goodness. Our room was equipped with small fridge, so I grabbed a basket, and filled it with a selection of snacks and a black bean cake with chipotle sauce, salad (highly recommend). As this account, is about our experience travelling with Henry and Reese, it would be remiss of me, not to mention their selection of natural and organic pet food, treats and goodies.
In fact, it became apparent early into our first full day in Provincetown, why this holiday destination is considered one of the most ‘Pet-Friendly’ holiday destinations in America. After some lunch on the deck at Aerie House, we ventured back down the hill, passing other, uniquely distinct guest houses, on our way to the beach. Dogs on leashes welcome.
We walked, barefoot, along the water’s edge, to the harbor with a picturesque view of three working lighthouses; Long Point Lighthouse, Wood End Lighthouse, and Highland (or Cape Cod) Lighthouse. Docked in the marina, were a number of fishing trawlers and commercial boats. We saw several signs for tours, including whale watching. Oh, how I wished we had more time. Dog Gone Sailing and Dolphin Fleet were two operators offering dog friendly tours.
At the end of MacMillan Pier, was the ferry to Boston and Plymouth. Parallel to us, I spotted the most interesting building at the end of Fisherman’s Wharf; it was an old fish-packing plant. What intrigued me however, was the outdoor art installation, featuring five large photographs by Norma Holt. This display of portraits, called ‘They Also Faced the Sea’ honours five local Portuguese-American women.
As we turned, and made our way back, the panoramic view of the town, was equally spectacular. In the distance, stood the pilgrim Monument, built to commemorate the first arrival of Pilgrims in 1620. The Monument is located in Provincetown’s Historic District. Neighboring the monument, is the Provincetown Public Library, itself a landmark with much history. The building was given to the town by Mr. Nathan Freeman, who stipulated the first floor must always be used as a library. The second and third floors have facilitated various charitable organizations and other functions. Also, pet-friendly, the library’s website features a ‘Pet of the week’ category, and promotes events for the local rescue organization CASAS. This animal shelter, hosts a ‘Pet Appreciation Weekend’, the last full weekend in September.
Once again, we enjoyed the sights of Commercial Street; the mix of restaurants, cafes, bars, shops and galleries that made up Provincetown – Lovingly referred to by locals, and tourists, as Ptown.
Most of the shops posted signs, inviting dogs to visit. Eateries had designated areas for pups, and their owners. I deliberately placed pups before people in that sentence, as it seemed when we visited such venues, a bowl of fresh water arrived at the table only minutes after we were seated.
Unlike the movie ‘Groundhog Day’ our second day started with some new faces and tails on the deck at breakfast time. The atmosphere was relaxed, and casual. We enjoyed visiting with the other guests; April and David with Sadie (love the name), Kacy and Luna, and Beri and John with Bruiser – a stem cell dog, before getting ready for a new day of adventures.
First stop, a quick dose of caffeine at ‘Wired Puppy.’ This is where wi-fi junkies can get their online fix, while enjoying specialty coffee and tea.
We then made the short drive, back to Race Point to visit the other side of the dunes where the Old Harbor Life Saving Station was situated. Although constructed in 1897, this station which served as a U.S. Life-Saving Service Station, has only been located at the end of Race Point Road, since 1977 – two years after it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The station was originally located at Nauset Beach and moved to Provincetown because it was threatened by erosion. It is now used as a park exhibit where demonstrations, of deployment, reminiscent of a twentieth century ‘breeches buoy’, are carried out once a week, during the summer months.
Today was blowy, and the water fairly choppy. After a bit of a play with a new pup friend on the beach, we headed back into town for some lunch.
The New Crown & Anchor advertises a ‘dog-friendly’ dining area. It seemed we arrived at a quiet time. When we were greeted, our host, manager and owner Richard Murray escorted us onto the lovely dining area porch. These pups were living large today.
My husband was happy to be the first ever customer to try the sausage stuffed calamari. I opted for the ‘new to the menu’ heirloom tomato and feta salad with peaches. Neither of us was disappointed. We happily recommended it to guests that joined us on the porch. Everyone was in holiday mode and although we offered to return to the ‘dog zone’, no one minded sharing the space with our canine companions. In fact, they were often the topic of conversation. What a breath of fresh air this beautiful town turned out to be.
After lunch we visited some of the quaint shops lining the streets. Among these ‘The Black Dog’. The shop sign, and all merchandise (t-shirts, caps, other apparel and gifts) embellished with the simple, yet poignant image of a black Labrador Retriever. The enterprise, donates to, and fundraises for animal rescue. The story; Captain Robert Douglas agreed to look after the homeless retriever whom he referred to as ‘black dog’. It was to be a temporary situation however, Black Dog proved to be an ideal crew member. A wonderful sailing companion and it would seem, an incredible source of inspiration that continues to benefit the community.
The style of art in the galleries, is as diverse as the food and activities in Provincetown. The Poli gallery, featuring the works of artist Nicoletta Poli, was one of my favourites. Nicoletta, an obvious dog lover, creates beautiful portraits in watercolour and oil paints. Nicoletta’s beloved dog Pablo, is the subject in many of her pieces.
Our quick trip was nearly over. We chose the Seafood Grille as the place to dine on our final evening. As soon as we were seated on the patio, Manager Pedro Abreu came over to greet us – after greeting Henry and Reese. We talked dogs, and looked at pictures of Pedro’s pup Cooper. Henry and Reese were served fresh water, and we enjoyed a lovely meal. While we ate our dinner, Pedro, walked down the street to Ptown scoop, where owner Coco generously dished out two portions of “Pilgrim Bark Park” (doggie ice cream). John and I aren’t big dessert fans however, the highlight of the trip for Henry and Reese was definitely this delightful cookie topped ice-cream they were served. Watch this space; The Seafood Grille hopes to serve pet-friendly treats in the near future!
For those with a sweet tooth, as well as ice-cream I recommend a visit to The Purple Feather Café and Treatery; chocolate, cupcakes, gelato as well as coffee and many other delights.
One final breakfast, which included another of Dave’s home-baked delights, before we were back on the road, headed home.
It’s easy to see why Provincetown is voted one of America’s best ‘dog friendly’ destinations.
We had such a wonderful trip and will definitely return to Ptown – with pups.
Thank you to everyone who made our trip so memorable.
Seafood Grille (at The Waterford Inn)
The Crown & Anchor
Old Harbor Life Saving Station
The Black Dog
The Purple Feather Café and Treatery