When tide is low in the Cape Cod Bay, it appears as if you might be able to walk from Brewster across to Provincetown but crossing the Sagamore Bridge to the outer cape via route 6 is a better idea. Visitors in all of Cape Cod will vividly remember the sights, smells and sounds that only the Cape can offer. Salty mists and crashing waves from the cold Atlantic are amplified as you venture farther north to the oldest links course on the Cape, Highland Links in the town of Truro. Established in 1892, this unique course has hardly changed since its inception. Fairways are not irrigated, greens are small and the landscaping features heather and gorse. You may feel like an intruder with your modern equipment although hickory shaft clubs are still available. No matter the clubs, the utmost accuracy is required as the fairways are as narrow as any we have encountered. It is a charming throwback to an era of simplicity. The Highland Light or sometimes referred to, as “Cape Cod Light” lighthouse is the focal point from most of the nine holes reflecting the natural history of the area. Lighthouse museum visitors gaze at the ocean as well as the golfers approaching the par 3, 7th green from the encased glass above. When President Kennedy asked Congress to declare this area as a National Seashore Park, the Highland Links course became federal property and is leased to Johnson Golf Management. Grab your knickers, spoons and brassies or come as you are to Highland Links where ocean views are astounding if dense fogs are not engulfing you like a blanket, as was our case. It reminded us of a recent movie, The Finest Hour, a true story of coast guard rescue attempts at stormy sea in nearby Wellfleet.
Happy hour in Wellfleet at Mac’s Shack is a deal with a view. Wellfleet is where Mac started as a fisherman. Now he has several eatery locations including Provincetown, which is one of only five restaurants open there year round. Tuna tails decorate the wall while chefs decorate plates with house-smoked delights such as pigs’ tails in the clams linguica – so good you’ll want to sop up every drop of sauce with the crusty bread. Wellfleet oysters are world famous for their sweetness, served raw on the half shell. Mac started the Wellfleet oyster fest, now in it’s 16th year in October, celebrating the best. All seafood is fresh for an extensive sushi menu. Tuna slices are shaped like roses and placed in a pool of spicy cucumber sauce with floating yellow watermelon pieces – light and refreshing. The grilled swordfish sits upon a succotash mixture like no other. What makes it so sweet? Sous chef Mike divulges the white wine-deglazing secret. We’ll try this at home along with the Great White Martini. Sliced ginger infuses white coconut rum for two weeks. Thereafter it is shaken with equal parts ketel one vodka, a dash of coconut cream and splash of lime for a good time. Lumps of lobster lighten and brighten a mashed puree bed for the halibut dish. The manager, Sebastian came from Normandy to the PB Boulangerie in Wellfleet. He transitioned to Mac’s and was assigned to get the Ptown location humming. The well-trained staff has propelled it to a favorite that locals know and where tourists go for a fine dining experience with premium parking included. If it’s Mac’s you’ll want to go back.
Ptown has so much to explore – the Pilgrim Tower, the pier for whale watching and fishing excursions and a pirate museum. Commercial Street is full of shops, restaurants, show stops and a promenade of tourists. The public library houses a half size replica of the Dorothea Sail ship. Ptown is an impressive art colony. The Inn at Cook St. is a gallery for local artists and comfortably decorated for a homey stay. A Chef cooks up breakfast and refreshments are served all day. The upstairs Retreat Room has a private deck overlooking a koi pond. It’s indeed a quiet retreat with deep cushioned chairs in what one guest calls the tree house. When we retreated indoors a red cardinal took our spot on the chair. The grounds are covered with pretty little garden scenes. Owners John and Patrick have created the perfect ambience in walking distance to everything including a private beach access.
The Dunes tour is a very different beach experience. We thought, hmm, out in a suburban with deflated tires to maneuver over deep sandy hills covered with scrub oaks and skirt pines? It’s a botanical history before settling on the western sandy shore. Chairs are unfolded and an optional dinner served (or bring your own bottle of wine and a lobster or Portuguese roll). The waves roll in as seals pop up grinning with their supper catch between their teeth. The sun sets with a rainbow of colors. Rainbows are implanted on flags and shirts, everywhere in Ptown welcoming and celebrating the LGBT community. Art loving Heteros have a great time too.