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More reassuring signs of a new Wellfleet season – FOOD!

Thanks to the Wellfleet Chamber of Commerce we have an update on the season openings of Wellfleet eateries.

Bob’s Sub’n Cone opened April 6th. Pam & I decided to hit it up for an early lunch that day and wound up being the first customers of the 2017 season! Bob’s (and it is indeed Bob behind the grill) offers ice cream, subs, fried seafood, pizza and a game room. (Insider tip: If you ever had pizza at Rookies – now Bocci’s, next door to Bob’s – you can get the same pizza now at Bob’s.)

Mac’s Seafood – Mac’s Shack, on Commercial St. will open April 14th, and Mac’s on the Pier – a short stroll from Wellfleet Cape Coddage will open in May.

PJ’s Family Restaurant on Rt 6 (across from the Wave) opens for the season on April 13th to the delight of kids and adults across Wellfleet.

Van Rensselaer’s  will also open April 13th.  “VRs” has an extensive seafood and landlubber menu, gluten-free and vegan options, and early bird specials.  You’ll likely be greeted by Peter, the owner.  Say, hi!

Since fall we also had several reliable options in Wellfleet. JB’s Pizza Bar & Grill (across from the entrance to the Marconi area) is open all year, as is PB Boulangerie Bistro (at LeCount Hollow Rd.) and The Well on Main St on the way into town (formerly The Inn at Duck Creek).

And a handful of other nearby restaurants have already opened for the season; Bookstore & Restaurant (mere steps from Wellfleet Cape Coddage), Finely JP’s & Marconi Beach Restaurant (a.k.a. “the bbq place”), Box Lunch (Briar Lane just off Main St.), and The Wicked Oyster (next to The Well).

The ospreys return!

The ospreys are returning to the Cape! – another reassuring sign spring is indeed working its way here. The April Fools nor’easter that blew through here Friday and Saturday dropping over 4 inches of rain pulled out and left us with a beautiful spring day – and a wonderful Wellfleet surprise.  The osprey’s nest high atop the pole at the Wellfleet marina is once again home to at least one osprey.  Only one was spotted in the nest today (April 2nd), but its mate can’t be too far behind (or perhaps was already out searching for a fish dinner.)
UPDATE: We now have a pair! On Monday (April 3rd) the second osprey was spotted in the nest. The pair appears to be getting on with nest repair and what’s necessary to populate it with a new generation.

Wellfleet osprey in nest, April 3, 2017

An osprey has returned to the nest at the Wellfleet marina, April 2, 2017.

I have been checking out the nest over the past week, anxious to mark the return to Wellfleet. Reports on several osprey tracking sites showed known (and tagged) birds to be making their way back up the east coast.  And a week ago, it looked like there was an occupant in the nest in Cedar Pond, which is on the right of Route 6 coming on Cape just before the Orleans rotary.

These amazing travelers migrate in the early fall to Cuba, various Caribbean islands, Central America and as far as Brazil, only to return to the same nest the following spring. The tracking maps at OspreyTrax.com show just how far they fly during the spring & fall migrations, as well as their relatively local ramblings at the summer and winter sites.

They take their time heading south, but when it’s time to return to their summer home, they waste little time lest a rival snags their well-positioned nest.

The Wellfleet Marina nest has been there since 2008 when it was relocated from a nearby power pole by the harbormaster’s office with the help of Mass. Audubon Society’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary and Lt. Tom Ferreira from the Wellfleet fire department, according to a 2009 WickedLocal.com article.

To learn more about the life and habits of the osprey, I recommend the All About Birds osprey page published by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Wellfleet marina osprey nest

Wellfleet marina osprey nest, March 28, 2017

Loving the off season

I have a confession.  I’m not a summer Cape Cod person. What I mean is, I have rarely been on-Cape between Memorial and Labor days.  Not that I don’t like to visit in the summer.  I love it here in the summer!  Sunshine! Fresh seafood! Warm bay waters! Sounds of the surf! Long days! Cold drinks!

It’s just that my first introduction to the Cape, and more specifically, Wellfleet, was in October. Beautiful autumn Cape weather and scenery.  Primacy rules. I was hooked.  Hooked good! So, for the next twenty plus years I made my annual visits only in the off-season.

As a result, my view of the outer Cape is the quieter, slower more laid back one that includes breezy walks on deserted ocean beaches, plenty of free parking – everywhere! – no traffic to speak of on route 6, early sunsets, and slimmer options for dining out.  (In fact, there were restaurants, like Arnold’s in Eastham, that I never saw open for twenty years – until I visited in August.)

The off-season in Wellfleet offers some unique perspectives on this special place.  Have you ever seen Wellfleet harbor frozen over solid with a foot of ice?  I have.  The pilings at the pier, the rocks of the jetty, even Uncle Tim’s bridge get layered with frozen sea water.  Spectacular! And little fishing boats act as their own ice breaker in attempts to make a free-water path out of the harbor.

Frozen Pier

Wellfleet fishing pier and harbor with frozen sea water. February 15, 2016

Cold-stunned loggerhead turtle

Cold-stunned loggerhead turtle being rescued. Wellfleet Audubon Sanctuary, December 12, 2015.

A November or December visit to the Audubon sanctuary may get you an up-close visit with a cold-stunned loggerhead, green, or Kemp’s ridley turtle that is being rescued from the cooling waters of the bay.

In the off-season, the sunsets are stunning right from Mayo Beach.  Beginning in late September, the sun disappears behind the dunes just to the north of the Gut (that low spot in the dunes when you look right).  The sunsets continue to march south as we head into winter until the sun dips below the horizon just off the tip of Great Island in late December. After that, it works its way back north until the summer when the sunsets are behind us, and you get a much better show from the bay-facing beach at Duck Harbor.

December sunset off Mayo Beach, Wellfleet

December sunset off Mayo Beach, Wellfleet. December 27, 2016

Summer is certainly prime time to be in Wellfleet – for all the great reasons we love the Cape. But I’m here to tell you that when you are ensconced away from here during the more wintry months, this wonderful place you love is no less wondrous and lovable.  Come back soon!

The Wellfleet oyster