An Adventure to West Dennis on Cape Cod

When I was making plans to visit Cape Cod, in my mind I always saw my goals as having fun . . . and eating lobster. In the end we had lots of fun and I had lots of lobster. Sorry, but we saw a 17 pound lobster in a preview tank and didn’t eat him. We were there for the funeral of many of his relatives, however.

For nearly ten years, our friend Al Burrage of West Seattle has been asking us to join him in his cottage in West Dennis at Cape Cod. We were finally able to schedule a trip to Massachusetts and not surprisingly, we loved it. Al rents his cottage, The Mainstay, out during the “season” but visits Cape Cod before the season and then again after the season to first prepare the cottage for guests, and then to close the cottage for the winter security bollards.

The cottage is a three bedroom home that features a glassed-in porch as well and an outside shower for getting rid of sand and salt before entering the house. The home has a crushed shell driveway and walkway. Typical of Cape Cod homes it has a cedar pole fence across the front and down one side of the yard. It’s painted a fresh looking aqua with maroon shutters. One bedroom has twin beds and two bedrooms have a double bed. The kitchen has a dishwasher, range, refrigerator, and microwave. We can attest that it is very comfortable. The Mainstay was our center of operation, while we were on Cape Cod. Each day we would venture forth to places like Boston, Wood’s Hole, Provincetown and then return to The Mainstay.

While Al lives in West Dennis he has plenty of opportunity to visit with people and scout out good places to go. Once we arrived Al kept up a steady litany of places we could go and things we could do and should do. Even when we ignored him he still made suggestions. We took him up on most of them . . . and never found a bad one.

One of the best places to find reasonable priced local goods is at the local thriftstore. We scored big. Al bought a miniature brass cannon for $2.00, and Peg bought two framed handmade lace collars. She was thrilled. Al finally prevailed on a suggestion and took Peg to Cuffy’s of Cape Cod. The two of them brought back purchases of a couple of hundred dollars . . . or so it seemed. Eventually we had to purchased another suitcase to accommodate souvineer shopping.

I managed to confine my souvineer shopping to The Music Meister and the Christmas Tree Shops. Al loves bargains. For the wives of my friends I bought Tee Pee Dreams herbal tea. I bought my golfing buddies a Cape Cod golf ball each and a box of rattlesnake repellant, which contained some odd little bundles of aromatic herbs and spices. I’m not sure what they do, but I never saw a snake nearby. I gave a box to the son of a friend on his way to a party in Seattle. He held one of the bundles up to his nose. I warned him, don’t let the police search you. I don’t know that either the herbal teas or the snakebite repellant had anything to do with local Indian heritage, but the gifts were bought in Massachusetts, which should count for something.

Generally, each day started off the same. I would rise earlier than Al or Peg. I would turn on the coffee maker and then sometimes go for a drive or a walk. Returning I would knock on Al’s door and he would be up in a jiffy and ready to go. I knew we would probably have a big lunch and a big dinner, so breakfast I wanted to keep light . . . but within reason. My first breakfast in West Dennis was at the Good Friends Cafe, which is only a few yards from the local post office.

I never like to eat at national chains. I prefer local establishments. You never know what you’ll find. Al had eaten at the restaurant before under its old name, but never at the Good Friends. I saw on the menu something called “grilled bread” and I asked the waiter, a young man named Tchigo (I hope that’s spelled correctly, I’m not sure with the accent and all) what it was. The bread is homemade by his father, who was a cook at a different restaurant before the purchase of the Good Friends where he is now cook and owner. It was excellent. A good hefty slice is cut and then grilled until warm and aromatic. It’s served with a dollop of butter on top. There are three kinds of grilled bread: apple, cinnamon raisin, and cranberry. I ordered both the apple, and the cranberry. The bread was good without the butter. It was delightful with the butter. It was good dunked in coffee. It was good just plain grilled. I shared the apple grilled bread with Al, but never offered the cranberry to him. I REALLY liked the cranberry. Sometimes they use the bread in their French toast. I’ll have to try that another time.

I ate at the Good Friends my last day in West Dennis by myself. Again, I just wanted a little something. I ordered the corn beef hash expecting something from a can. What I got was homemade corned beef and onions. I don’t think there was even a potato anywhere in sight with it. While I was wolfing it down, I almost ordered some hashbrowns to mix in. When I walked in and sat down, Tchigo asked if I was waiting for my friend. It had been a week since I had been there and he remembered me and Al. Now, that is why I like small, mom and pop, family run cafes if I can find them. Another meal or two and I would have been behind the counter helping my good friends Tchigo and his papa out at their Good Friends Cafe. Very nice.

As we left the restaurant a couple drove up and asked us directions to Dennisport. Al complied. I think this is funny because as we drove all over the cape we often had to consult maps and get our bearings. Driving is a constant state of confusion on the Cape. When I left the restaurant a week later by myself I saw a man with his car parked and the hood up. The license plate showed that he had been an American POW (I’m guessing in World War II). I drove up beside him and asked if he needed assistance. He said he didn’t need any help. He had the engine belts replaced and his wife complained that they were squeeking. The Vet, with two hearing aids, couldn’t hear them, so he had to open the hood and stick his head down near the engine. We had a nice chat. If it hadn’t been my last day, I would have begged him to tell me stories of his military career.

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