Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Cape

We spent the week before Memorial Day visiting Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard and loving it--even though it was sweatshirt weather. I had never been to either place, so that's one more item checked off my non-existent bucket list. 
Marconi Beach
I was prepared not to be too easily seduced by "The Cape," since that might imply some disloyalty to my own Jersey Shore. I remember standing on a jetty in Ireland years ago with my Aunt Eleanor at an inlet reminiscent of Manasquan and my aunt simply stating: 'It's nice, but it's not Point Pleasant." But the Cape's combination of dunes and beaches, marshes and great sunrises and sunsets, the charm of New England villages and the slow, peaceful pace was very appealing. Part of it had to be that we were pre-season and didn't have to cope with crowds or excessive traffic on Route 6. The Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, we both commented on the oddity of finally seeing non-senior citizens. Look, young people, families, kids!

I decided there's never been a beach I didn't like whether it was the Outer Banks or Florida, Capetown or St.Maarten. They each have their appeal and sometimes a downside. But there's nothing like being near the water and a lobster dinner never hurts! Growing up every summer on the Jersey shore has special memories for me and these easily translate whenever I see an ocean view.

Is this guy famous?
We saw no one famous on Martha's Vineyard, although I had sworn beforehand that I was going to capture a celebrity's photo in a baseball cap, oversized sunglasses or a gray hoodie.  It rained on and off most of the day we were there, so that may have been  a reason for celebrity hibernation.

We stayed at the Oak Bluffs Inn and went there immediately from the ferry. Our host greeted us and I commented that my son's name was also Eric. "With a C or a K?"  "C", I replied. "Wrong," he said. "It should always be a K.". Quirky guy, our Erik with a K, but we loved the insider map he gave us with scribbled notations on what not to miss while touring the island.
Gingerbread houses in Oak Bluffs

At one point on Chappaquiddick Island we were turning up an unmarked sandy, gravel road that Erik had assured us would lead to an impressive overlook of both sides of the bay without having to go the long way around and have a beach driving permit. We were skeptical at first, and a little nervous when a truck coming the other direction asked if we lived on the North Neck, but in the end Erik proved to be right.

Of course, we had to view the fateful Chappaquiddick Bridge and google the events of 1969. I clearly remembered my father back in the day, harping about it every night at the dinner table, but I had forgotten many of the details. The bridge now has guard rails and the water seemed too shallow to swallow a car, but it was eerie to be there.

Another highlight for us was the Province Lands area of the National Seashore. Gary biked through the dunes and scrub pines on one of the best bike trails he'd ever been on. I enjoyed Race Point Beach and the fact that the dune shacks from Eugene O'Neill's day still exist and are rented out to artists and writers who crave the wildness and solitude of the dunes for creative inspiration. There are still 19 shacks with no electricity or running water, locations not generally known, in order to maintain privacy. A few are visible via jeep tour or hiking, but I preferred my imagination's version to the real thing. Little known fact, but Eugene O'Neill had spent the winter of 1918-1919 in West Point Pleasant at his in-laws house and described the Jersey shore as flat and boring, compared to his beloved Cape Cod. I could appreciate the wildness O'Neill described.

We stayed in Provincetown at the Lands End Inn in the tower bay room which had magnificent views in every direction.
I was the Princess of the Tower, enjoying the late afternoon and a well deserved nap while Gary golfed after we had risen at dawn to see sunrise over the bay.

I'll end with my first BobbyPin map which will show you the highlights of our itinerary. (Bobby Pin is an offshoot of everyone's favorite scavenger/tour

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Back to the sixties!

Two recent weekends reminded me of the good old days. Back to the Sixties! I attended college from 1968-1972, which still ranks among the most controversial campus years -- with Vietnam demonstrations, black student protests and radical organizations staging sit-ins in administration buildings. It's interesting to speculate on how that has shaped my world view and political opinions.

Anne, Ginny, Roseanne.  Where's Barbara?
This past weekend I had a mini reunion with 3 of my college roommates. One legacy of a late 60's college education is a continued and acute interest in social and political issues. We covered most of them, along with a little reminiscing and catching up on the present -- kids, grandkids, husbands, careers and retirement. On Sunday, Gary remarked: I can't believe you are still talking!" "Not just talking," I said, "fixing the problems of the world!" 

If only it were so easy. I suppose now we have a more measured view of what can be accomplished and perhaps even a more cynical one. How have our life choices supported our early views and how much have they instead reflected the pressures of conforming and being successful? Racial discrimination and a permanent underclass seem as bad as ever. How have we helped solve that problem?  But I do love how we easily slipped back into our college roles. We sat around on deck chairs sipping mimosas, but could have easily been sprawled out on each other's narrow twin beds in Mary Donlon Hall, as we did 40 years ago.

A few weeks before, I attended the Metastatic Breast Cancer Conference in Philly, sponsored by an organization called Living Beyond Breast Cancer. They do a great job presenting topics of interest to patients with mbc and their caregivers. One new aspect of the conference this year was Hear My Voice Advocacy training held on Friday before the sessions started. The program presented factual information on mbc's biology, treatment and research as well as the needs of the mbc community as presented in the 2014 Landscape Report of the MBC Alliance. There were many young women attending and they were inspired to action. Some cited Metastatic Breast Cancer Network's President Shirley Mertz who spoke and compared the mbc statistics to those of the early days of the AIDS movement. Shirley cited the figure that 108 people die every day from breast cancer and asked why no one was making the media stand up and take notice.

108 die today and everyday from metastatic breast cancer
So the young advocates decided to stage a "Die-In" in the lobby of the Philadelphia Loew's Hotel. 108 women would lie down on the floor, while a eulogy was read to emphasize the lack of progress in this part of the breast cancer campaign. Yes, there are more treatments and early detection, but the fact remains that 40,000 women and men still die every year from mbc--breast cancer that has spread or metastasized to other parts of the body--and this number has not changed in the last two decades. No one knows what causes breast cancer or what causes it to spread.

I was just claiming my car from the parking garage, planning to detour to the shore before coming home, when I got the text from Shirley. Whoa! Back to the 60's! If there was a protest march on an issue I firmly believe in, I was all in. The die-in was moved to the third floor hallways where the conference was being held, but it was moving and emotional.

I was pumped."Back to the sixties!" I yelled and then realized that I was surrounded by some who had not even been born then. One young woman next to me said she had protested when she was in college, too. They were raising the drinking age from 18 to 21! "Oh," was all I could muster.  We may not have accomplished much, but at least my generation aimed higher.