Tag Archives: Captains Courageous

It’s Summer in My Mind: Dreaming of Cape Ann, Massachusetts

Sea breezes wafting over my bare skin, the smell of salt air, warm sun, gentle waves lapping on the shore….

In complete contrast to my last post on the Lake Superior ice caves,  I’m presently traveling to a warm weather spot, at least in my mind. I’m pondering plans for summer travel and looking fondly at my pix from last summer on Cape Ann, north of Boston, Mass.

Known as "Motif #1" to artists, this building is a Rockport icon.
Known as “Motif #1” to artists, this building is a Rockport icon.

Minnesota is beautiful in summer, but there’s just something captivating about New England that time of year and Cape Ann, known as Massachusetts’s “other cape” is a great place to experience it– in Gloucester, which is still a fishing town, and just to the north, the village of Rockport which has, for the most part, shifted from fishing to tourism.  Rockport is so darned adorable that on visits there my husband requires a periodic dose of ESPN to counteract the charm overload.

Everything in this part of the country is really old, like 1600s old, hence the charm, and the ocean has been the focus of life here for hundreds of years.  So before you go, you’ll want to break out a couple of classics of seafaring literature to enhance your appreciation of the area’s maritime traditon. They include Rudyard Unknown-3Kipling’s Captains Courageous, a story of  cod fishermen who work between Gloucester and Newfoundland;  Sebastian Junger’s The Perfect Storm Unknown-7about the ill-fated Gloucester fishermen of the Andrea Gail; and  Mark Kurlansky’s  The Last Fish Tale: The Fate of the Atlantic and Survival in Gloucester, America’s Oldest Fishing Port and Most Original Town. For more area literature, see my post about nearby Dogtown.

But put down your book.  There’s plenty to do on the water such as kayaking, stand-up paddling, and whale watching.  And, if you’re a imagesseafood lover, stroll down Bearskin Neck in Rockport to Roy Moore’s lobster shack. Eat it on the deck in back or take it out for a beach picnic.  Last year, there was a lobster surplus so we felt it our duty to help alleviate that problem. Also,  the Red Skiff gets my vote for the world’s best fish chowder.

Like any resort community, Rockport has its share of art galleries.  Some of the best are on Main Street where you’ll also find Toad Hall bookstore and another gem, The Shalin Liu Performance Center, where a giant window with a view of the harbor serves as a backdrop for the music.  As you can imagine, the area abounds with charming inns, B&Bs and homes for rental.

Cape Ann is one of the destinations in my book, Off The Beaten Page: The BeatenPage_12 4Best Trips for Lit Lovers, Book Clubs, and Girls on Getaways where you’ll find many other ideas for getaways year-round. 

Hydrangeas in Rockport.
Hydrangeas in Rockport.
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Weekly Photo Challenge: The Sea and the Imagination

Man at the Wheel, Gloucester, Massachusetts
Man at the Wheel, Gloucester, Massachusetts

I love the water, but as a Midwesterner, the ocean holds a special fascination because we don’t have one. Granted, the Great Lakes are big enough and fierce enough in bad weather to give the feeling of the ocean and the same waves of motion sickness wash over on me on rough water, salty or fresh. But there’s just something about the ocean that launches my imagination into overdrive.

First there are the tides. We visited friends one summer who live on a Pacific coast inlet.  When we arrived we were oceanside. The next morning the water was gone and the boats all sat in the sand awaiting high tide to float them again.  This was a freaky, Stephen King-like experience for a “lake person.”

The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald aside, the ocean simply carries a bigger cargo of tales, from Moby Dick to Captains Courageous to The Perfect Storm and about a zillion classic novels in between.  Gloucester, Mass., a real fishing town north of Boston, offers one of the best places to hang out and absorb a heavy dose of the maritime atmosphere that makes those stories come to life. You’ll get a double dose if you attend the Gloucester Schooner Festival this weekend.

Sailing the harbor, Gloucester, Mass.
Sailing the harbor, Gloucester, Mass.

Finally, few things are more pleasurable than being sea-side, dozing intermittently, lulled by the warmth of the sun, a view of the ocean, the sound of the surf, and the coconutty smell of sunscreen on your skin. I just read a post from a blog I follow, Jenn’s Bookselves, in which she writes about how much the venue in which we read a novel, can affect our

Beach reading, Rockport, Mass.
Beach reading, Rockport, Mass.

feelings and reading experience.  I nominate surfside as one of the best places to read, though it’s important to do so with books that give your brain a chance to relax along with the rest of your body.  So raise your pina colada and your copy of anything by Carl Hiassen. Here’s to beach reading.