Ruth Bass | At Cape or in Berkshires, you haven't seen it all

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RICHMOND — It must happen to people who've come to the Berkshires for years. They've been to Williamstown Theatre Festival, Tanglewood and Naumkeag; they've seen a ballgame at vintage Wahconah Park, met the challenge of the adventure course at Bousquet and driven to the top of Mount Greylock. But discovery isn't over: The future holds Bidwell House, the Sedgwick Pie, Laura's Tower, Colonial Theater, Moe's Tavern, Pleasant Valley Sanctuary — and more.

It happened to us this summer on Cape Cod. After 40-plus years on the beach at Dennis, we should have seen everything. But every year we'd find a new restaurant we liked, or a new indoor attraction to relieve the nightmare of a rainy day, or a place to take an easy walk for bird-watching or just to be in the Cape's piney woods or past a salty pond.

Among us, we've been to Audubon at Wellfleet, biked the rail trail, burned at our beach on the bay, enjoyed the boardwalk at Gray's Beach and the playground in Yarmouth. We've taken bird-watching trips to Monomoy, seen the lineup of seals on South Beach, been to the hot streets of Provincetown and the lighthouses along the National Seashore and caught stripers.

We've seen the view from Scargo Tower, eaten the best popovers, bought cross-stitch projects in Brewster and eaten countless lobster rolls from Captain Frosty's, a fairly small roadside restaurant that has thrived for decades.

We all remember the year when Max was little more than a toddler, not yet able to read, but capable of following the pictures in the Cape Cod guides. After one round, he became obsessed with mini golf, and in two weeks, his patient father must have taken him to a dozen different places, only to have the child, the next day, point out a new page in the guide and an as yet unplayed course.

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Once started, the list of things done triggers memories of so much more, including a couple of daytrips to Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. But every year we find something new. We also tend to scatter more, mainly because we have so many drivers in the family now. Still, like the Reagans of "Blue Bloods," we usually all gather for dinner.

At least one time, we swallow the check at a major restaurant, often Scargo Caf in Dennis. We couldn't do that this year because Scargo said they couldn't seat 12 or 13 of us at one table because their place wouldn't accommodate that. Odd. We had a long table last year and any number of other years. Only once did they split us between two. We reserved anyway, then called Riverway, then canceled the people who didn't want us.

In the meantime, we sampled three attractions that we've ignored for 40 years, all within a few blocks of our rental. The first was the 93-year-old Cape Cod Playhouse, oldest in the country, which was doing "Noises Off." One reason we'd ignored nearby theater was that the last thing my theater critic husband wanted on vacation was another play. Six of us went and laughed for a couple of hours at scenes almost as chaotic and zany as action in the White House. The theater was jammed, mostly older people and, obviously, many full-timers.

The parking lot spilled into that of the Museum of Cape Cod and a restaurant called Encore. We ended up another day at the delightful, reasonably priced gift shop and a dinner at Encore, a gourmet level restaurant where the lobster mango tower (with avocado and cilantro) proved a visual and gastronomical delight. Also new this year was bonito, a tuna-like fish from the charter fishing trip, which turned into delicious on our grill. And two of us floated over the bay as first-time parasailers.

Our discovery last year was the boardwalk in Sandwich, a mile-long way leading to a beach much wilder than most on the Cape. It's likely to be an annual venture, preferably as the sun is setting. And next year, who knows what new place we'll find — while, we hope, Berkshire visitors find new doors to open, new trails to walk.

Ruth Bass is an award-winning journalist. Her web site is www.ruthbass.com. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.


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