This morning I awoke late than I had planned, with Martha and I leaving for a Dune Tour at 10:30am I had hoped to get a painting started by then. I ended up having just barely enough time, after showering and getting ready, to swipe a paintbrush lightly and rushed over the surface of the waterfall and rocks rain. I gathered my good camera and multiple outer layers and we headed to take one of Art’s Dune Tours.
We arrived exactly at 11am, the time for our reserved tour. We were introduced to Rob, the owner and son of the original Art, who started Art’s Dune Tours in the 1940s. We loaded up in the Suburban along with a senior couple, with we three women in the back seat and Rob and the husband up front, so that nobody had to be relegated to the third row seat. As we drove to the entry point to the off-road section of the dunes, Rob filled us in on his own personal history, his father’s history with the the dunes, and the history of the Cape Cod National Seashore, which is government-protected national treasure.
Even the brief drive to the dunes was scenic, and as soon as the tires spun into the first spit of sand, it was on! I took off the lens cap of my camera and snapped photos left and right, adjusting my shutter speed since we were taking photos while in motion. We rolled and spun and flew over the dunes, sometimes taking a slow climb up a steep dune with deep treads in the road. There were a few spots where there even appeared to be puddles, like mirages in the Sahara desert, but they were in fact aquifers from springs under the dunes, making their way up to the surface. As we rode along, Rob would point out some of the local flora and fauna, from reindeer lichen and Tom’s Beard Moss, to cormorants and whitetail-tailed deer. At one point we even drove almost right through a flock of cormorants on the beach, causing them all to fly up and away in slow motion. Driving through the dunes felt, at times, like we were driving some some kind of alien landscape on a sci-fi show, or like we were combing the Gobi desert on an episode of National Geographic.
We were even able to stop and get out the car a couple times to take photos, and to take it all in. The guide even offered to take photos of us and the other couple, having a great time! When we did get out the car, man was it cold! It was maybe 42 degrees (F) out, but with the ocean wind whipping over the dunes, it felt much, much colder! I could barely feel my hands after we finally got back into the warm vehicle. Next time I’ll wear gloves if we go out again at this time of year. We couldn’t tread very far from the vehicle because the lands were roped off beyond the dune trail in order to protect fragile sea grasses and lichens from being trampled underfoot. Apparently, according to history, the dunes used to be like any other wooded area in Provincetown, but the early settlers picked the land clean of wood for their homes and ships, leaving nothing to really anchor the dirt and sand underneath and subject to erosion, which made the sand dunes we see today. Over all we had a really great dune tour, with a Rob as an excellent and personable guide, and we are so very glad that we did decide to do the dune tour. My camera battery also had a good time, deciding to only shut down my camera in the last 10 minutes of the trip, so at least I didn’t miss snapping photos for most of the tour, but I do need to buy a camera battery charger because I left mine at home and didn’t remember to bring it for the residency.
After we recovered from the awesomeness of the dune tour, Martha and I walked across the way from the dune tour office to try out a little pub called The Squealing Pig for lunch. Since I was still a bit frosted from the dune tour, I ordered a small cup of tomato basil soup, and Martha ordered a hot coffee. The place had a cozy pub-like ambiance, but the menu was much broader than just pub food. I ordered the chicken pesto panini (have you noticed yet that I love pesto?) and Martha got a fish sandwich. Martha and I just spent half of our lunchtime fawning over the sheer amazingness of the dunes, the paint colors we would use to capture their majesty, and laughing over the dune jokes that our guy used often during the tour. The food was very good, and I would definitely return to this little spot again sometime.
After lunch we walked around Commercial Street a bit, looking to stop into the store Womencraft, a shop with art and craft objects for sale by women artists and writers. We wanted to find a poem published by Kate W-R, the hospitality coordinator for the residency and a very good poet. She had ready one poem to us on our first day, and again at the open mic last night, that was perfect for the art process, and I would love to have a copy of the poem. When we arrived at the shop, it was closed because it was Tuesday, and most places on Commercial Street were closed on Tuesdays, only to open again on Thursday through Sunday. We turned around and started walking back towards where we had parked before the dune tour, only to stop briefly into the Purple Feather to get one of their famou hot chocolates. It was very good and loaded with whipped cream, and a tiny little chocolate heart on top of the whipped cream. As I ate the whipped cream with the gelato spoon they provided, the little chocolate heart had nothing to float on, so it sunk to the bottom of my hot chocolate, to melt and be enjoyed later as I finished my beverage.
We returned to campus, and touched up the dripping waterfall rain painting for awhile, before I realized that I needed to go find a camera shop for my Canon Rebel T3i camera battery to get a charger for it. I recalled that my studio mate, Patty, had mentioned a camera shop she went to in Orleans to make prints. I asked her where it was, and realized that they close by 5pm. So I had to drop my paintbrush right then in order to make it to the camera shop in time before they closed. I got in my car and went, arriving just in the nick of time. The staffer there was very knowledgeable about cameras and their battery needs and recommended a multi-battery charger that would also accommodate mine. I bought it, thanked them, and got back on the road to Truro.
When I returned, I had just a couple hours in which to work in the studio before I had planned to meet Maartha to try to catch the potential sunset over at Race Point or Herring Cove. I had asked the dune guy which beach to see for which best time of today, and he said Race Point. We got in the car around 6:45 to hopefully catch the beginning transition to sunset, which had the official sunset time of 7:28, but I think that’s when the sun officially dips below the horizon. I wanted to be there at least a half hour before that time. We followed signs to Race Point, taking a right long before I had remembered, thinking it was straight that I was supposed to go. But oh well, we were following signs so that should help us. We drove through dunes and hills, trying to keep a sense of which side the fading sunlight was coming from. There was a slow car ahead of us that we were getting frustrated that it was blocking our opportunity to catch the full spectrum of the sunset. We drove to what seemed to be the end of Race Point, with a big officially looking house nearby, a parking lot, and the ocean just beyond a short walking path. But this wasn’t the drive-up ledge that I remembered parking at last year to watch the sunset from the comfort, and warmth, of my own car. Something seemed off.
I thought then maybe the guide might have been off, and that we should have headed to Herring Cove to catch the best sunset over the bay and to live our best life. We got turned around and followed signs towards Herring Cove, with some sort of warning about beach construction. Up ahead by about 50 feet was a barrier blocking the road, Road Closed, said the sign amidst traffic cones. We couldn’t go any further so I turned the car around with a 3-point turn, and headed back to Route 6to get our bearings again. When we got to the red light, we turned right, to correct for where we should have gone straight initially. We followed a new set of signs for Herring Cove Beach, which brought us to a parking lot (which was open) of a bunch of road construction vehicles (plows, bucket trucks, dump trucks, etc) and another road block, which would have lead to that ledge over a the beach where we could watch the best sunset from our cars. After all this, we drove back to that little spot around Race Point and watched the remainder of the sunset from our car, but it wasn’t right over the beach and ocean water, but the sky was still pretty. It wasn’t an epic sunset like the intense reds of a few nights ago, but it was still pretty cool to see and to photograph. We stayed through the end of the sunset, sometimes getting out to stand on the nearby picnic tables in the window to get a. Better photograph. At one point we were joined by two other people also trying to photograph the sunset before they moved along to the other side of the parking lot.
We returned to campus shortly after which out much fanfare or additional adventures. I was totally drained from the exciting day and there wasn’t much more time left tonight to really get a good chunk of painting done (without staying up until 2am), so I just touched up the currently dripping rain painting, and then I went to the main building across the courtyard to get some laundry washed and dried, and then I was in bed by 11pm.