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S.K.I.P.

April 10, 2013

Massachusetts – Thursday, April 4

It was a pretty, sunny day out, and Tula and I started off with a long walk through Provincetown. The first thing I stopped to look at was a towering memorial to the pilgrims on the Mayflower, which actually landed here first and the pilgrims stayed for about 5 weeks before making their way across the bay to Plymouth. Then we walked through town, and even though quite a few shops were still closed (many won’t open until mid-May), there were a lot of people wandering through town. It’s an artistic community, and it seems like there’s a gallery or 2 on every block. We walked down by the waterfront, and out on the big pier, and saw a lot of shrimp boats tied up to the dock. There seems to be a big Portuguese community here too. It was interesting to be able to look down into the boats to see all the nets, pulleys, cables, boots, rust – evidence of a lot of hard work!

After about 3 1/2 miles we made our way back to the van, and I was dismayed to see a bright orange ticket on my windshield. I didn’t know what I had done. It turns out it was a ticket for parking in a “no parking” zone. There was a sign a car length behind me that said “No parking this side” and that was all. I understood that to mean no parking on this side of sign, since the road narrows from 2 lanes to 1 at that point, so it was logical that no one could park along the street. I had parked behind 2 other vehicles, and actually stepped out to look at the sign again, and even left room for another vehicle behind me! I was not very happy and went right to the parking department at the police station. The lady there told me the sign meant “no parking on this side of street” although it doesn’t actually say that. She gave me an appeal form, and I filled it out right there, with my explanation. She said it could be a while before I hear back, so I kept my fingers crossed, but I just heard today my appeal was denied because the van was in that spot for over an hour. So be it. BUT, something good came out of the parking ticket! There wasn’t any room to park right at the police station – there seemed to be a lot of vehicles around, so I parked in the lot by the church right next to the police station. As I was walking from the van to the parking department, I passed a big sign on the front door of the church that said S.K.I.P. – for Soup Kitchen of Provincetown. And they were open – they serve lunch every Monday-Friday from November through April. I stopped in and talked with the director after the police station, and she told me that last season they served over 15,000 meals. I saw a lot of people coming out of the church since the lunch meal was just about over, and a lot of volunteers inside washing diahes and cleaning up. Like so many places I’ve been to, the need is on the rise. This soup kitchen doesn’t get any federal funding, so they were happy for a donation. I was actually going to do a different donation back on the mainland of Massachusetts, but when I literally came face-to-face with hungry people and a soup kitchen, I knew SKIP had to get the donation for today. So I will look at that as the silver lining of getting a parking ticket! I would not have run across them if I hadn’t gone to the police station. So perhaps there’s a reason that happened!

I decided to start the drive back down (up?!?) the cape, and didn’t get very far at all before I saw a paved trail through part of Cape Cod National Seashore. So I got out and walked nearly 4 more miles – Tula couldn’t come on that walk so she napped in the van. Then I enjoyed a pretty drive down to Chatham at the “elbow” of the cape. I almost hit a fox that darted out in front of me – I didn’t expect to see one all the way out by the end of the cape. When I saw a fox in Maryland, it was also at the far end of a peninsula jutting out into the Chesapeake Bay. Then I saw a bunch of wild turkeys. I’ve seen a few yellow road signs in this area that say ‘thickly settled’ and I don’t know what that means. I drove around Chatham a little and went down by the water where I ran across a coast guard station and a lighthouse. Tula and I got out to walk there, and mostly we went through charming old neighborhoods where the homes had cedar shingles and it just seemed like such a typical New England seacoast town. After a couple miles, I was feeling the cold and the sun was going down so I headed back. I passed a small seamen’s cemetery with some memorials – the sea has claimed its share of Chatham residents. There were some plaques in the little parking lot about some of the daring rescues the coast guard crews have made over the years, including one in the 1950s when a tanker broke completely in 2 during a violent storm and the coast guard crew went out in 60 foot seas (and their rescue boat isn’t all that big) and rescued 32 people, and made it back to shore without their compass which had been washed overboard. Pretty amazing. I was absorbing all of that when I turned around to get back in the van, and I just happened to catch 2 coast guards beginning to lower the flags for the day. I thought there were 2 of them because there were a couple flags to take down, but one guy lowered the flags by himself while the other guy simply stood at attention and saluted the whole time. When the flags were folded, they both saluted and went back into the station. I found that very touching – they weren’t doing this as a show, or for an audience – I doubt they even saw me watching from across the street because I was on the other side of the van. They were just showing respect. A nice way to end the day. I drove a little farther and stopped for the night in West Yarmouth – I thought I’d be back on the mainland tonight, but I poked around a little too much!
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