The 2016 Great American Escape
I leaf through a Triple-A Tour Book and I feel like a kid in a candy store. So many places to go, so many things to see, so little time.
Today it’s the Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island edition, nearly every page of which brings me back to my days of residing in New England, now several decades in the past. And then, as I peruse the maps, the hotel and restaurant listings, the descriptions of state parks and historical sites, I am taken back even farther, to the days of my childhood.
The AAA travel series were called Tour Guides back then. My parents weren’t AAA members, but my grandparents were. Until they moved away from Connecticut to retire to Florida, they passed their castoffs on to me when they obtained the latest editions. I cherished the Northeast volume with the cherry red cover (New York and New England) and the Mid-Atlantic States volume with the teal cover (New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and D.C., with special New York City section). I devoured the details of New England towns and cities incessantly until I wore the cover off the book. I read selections aloud to my father, wondering whether we could visit these places someday. I even copied down in longhand some of the descriptions from the Tour Guides onto pristine white sheets of typing paper purloined from my mother’s cabinet. I was an eight year old geography buff who took pride in being able to draw state maps from memory, either in my special notebook (carefully colored, so as not to smudge the town names, courtesy of my box of 64 Crayolas) or on an Etch-A-Sketch.
Eventually, I resided in each of the three states covered in the Tour Book before me. It’s difficult for me to believe that, just a few weeks hence, I will again set foot in these places that I so loved in the days of my youth. I know they won’t be the same as they were back in the day, but I plan to drink up the experience nevertheless. This trip has been a quarter of a century in the making and I know very well that that it will never be repeated.
For now, the New England leg of our tour includes stops in several of my favorite locales: Misquamicut Beach in Rhode Island, Boston, the Maine coast and Springfield, Massachusetts. En route, we hope to drive through some of the New Hampshire countryside and hit up the boutiques in Brattleboro, Vermont.
But as I flip through the Tour Book, I find one glaring omission staring me in the face.
What about Cape Cod?
There are a number of storied New England locations that I have yet to visit. Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and yes, Cape Cod. Wouldn’t it be amazing to drive Route 6 all the way up the peninsula to the sandy roads of Provincetown?
Oh, yes. This we must do. But how to squeeze it in between Rhode Island and Boston? I don’t think it can reasonably be done. If we are to truly soak in the funky shops, campy nightclubs and rainbow flags of P’Town, we need to devote at least an entire day to the experience. It’s just not something that can be squeezed in on the way to Boston. Perhaps the whole idea of visiting Cape Cod is unreasonable. After all, the rocky coast of Maine beckons, and it’s a long, long drive back to California.
And yet . . .
I may never have another chance to do this again. If I miss the Cape this time around, I know I will always regret what might have been. Of course, we have to pick and choose. We just can’t go everywhere. And we’re already spending a ton of money to sleep in hotels for 27 nights.
I feel Cape Cod slipping away and I grab, clutch and claw in an attempt to hold onto it. Clearly, there’s just one thing to do.
Wave the magic credit card and turn 27 nights into 28.
Provincetown or bust, baby.