Since my brief visit to New England in the fall 2017, I had longed to return to the East Coast. Last October (2021) this longing intensified and I started thinking about taking a road trip with my son to Plymouth, Massachusetts for Christmas. My son is a college sophomore majoring in history. As Thanksgiving approached, I was torn between staying home or traveling east for the holidays. Driving from Dallas, Texas, to Plymouth, MA would be our longest road trip to date and would cover ten states and an estimated 3,800 miles.
On December 13th, we decided to make the trip, weather permitting. As I write this post, I am unsure why my soul craved a New England fix. I knew last month; I needed a break from the rut I had dug. I needed to recharge my creative battery and ease the longing that consumed my thoughts. Most importantly, I needed to get away and travel for the sanity of my soul.
At 5:45 am Christmas morning we departed Dallas. The tension from the year felt like a vice clamped shut on my being. This feeling persisted through eastern Texas, Arkansas, and the western part of Tennessee. We made a fuel and lunch stop in Jackson, TN. My son took a break, and I took over driving. The beautiful rolling hills slowly unwound my stress. The fresh landscape with perseverance subtleties unveiled its peaceful beauty as we consumed miles.
I drank the scenery and I thought – am I traveling to Plymouth, MA for clam chowder, or am I traveling to Cape Cod, like Thoreau and others before me in search of something greater? Does my soul long to walk along the Atlantic beach seeking mental freedom from the confines of family chains? Or to break free from the constant family pressure to remain invisible where they seek to keep me? By evening, we had arrived in Knoxville, TN, and spent the night.
Sunday morning, we were greeted with heavy fog as we continued our drive north through Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. Instead of staying a second night in PA, we continued driving and found a hotel on Staten Island, New York. Earlier in my career, I commuted to NYC for a while and always loved the city’s energy. I was excited to be back and wanted Italian for dinner. We ordered pasta and pizza from Patrizio’s.
I woke early Monday morning (December 27th) and was excited to share the city with my son.
We visited the Liberty State Park and then drove north along the Hudson to view Manhattan from New Jersey. While driving, we were gifted with snow flurries which were a welcome treat from the unseasonable warm temperatures back home.
We made a brief stop in Greenwich to visit Miller Motorcars. Afterward, we continued northward and stopped again in Mystic, Connecticut where we grabbed a toasted bagel at Anchor Mystic Café & Sweets. By the time we arrived in Plymouth, the weather was perfect – misty, chilly, with a hint of snow! Before the trip, I searched for restaurants and had selected Tavern on the Wharf for dinner. I had clam chowder and cod, my son selected surf and turf.
While we enjoyed our meal, I knew that I was finally where I longed to be.
Following dinner, we viewed the Plymouth Rock. My mother taught AP Honors English and visited New England twice to enrich the learning experience for her students. For us, the Plymouth Rock did not disappoint as it represents the risk individuals took to settle a new land over 400 years ago. While looking across the dark harbor, my son, rhetorically asked, “how did these individuals survive in an area with little land to farm?” I wondered myself staring down at the rock.
The next morning, Tuesday, December 28th, we viewed the Plymouth Rock again and the nearby historical sights. At every step, I thought about the settlers and the difficult terrain and conditions they encountered. Afterward, we traveled south to Cape Cod. While planning the trip, we considered driving to Salem later in the day. However, once we were on the Cape, we knew exploring the island and walking along the beach was where we wanted to spend our time. At Fisherman’s View in Sandwich, MA we enjoyed a relaxing lunch. I ordered clam chowder again, and my son and I shared crab cakes and lobster. Any motivation to return home flew away on the sea gulls’ wings as I savored the food and harbor view.
After lunch, while making our way to the Atlantic side of the Cape, I discovered the most enchanting bookshop – Titcomb’s Bookshop, in East Sandwich. The instant I walked through the doors, I was simultaneously in love with the shop and overwhelmed. THIS was the bookshop I had envisioned as an author. If any of my characters ever owned a shop, it would be exactly like Titcomb’s. My son helped me search for books that were on my “to buy” list. As I glanced at the books, I felt as if I was viewing a list of fine wines. Carefully curated selections of new, old, and rare books were displayed throughout the shop along with unique gifts. I purchased Thoreau’s Cape Cod by Dan Tobyne.
The sandy walkway and beach on the Atlantic side looked exactly like every picture I had seen of Cape Cod. Like a kid on summer vacation, I ran to the shoreline joining the birds who were busy hunting for food. The ocean was mellow and offered a welcoming hand to its Texas visitors. We took photos, walked along the beach, and soaked in the Cape as much as possible while intentionally delaying our departure. As the sun began to set, we reluctantly resumed our travel and headed to Mystic, CT for the night.
Dinner at Bravo Bravo in Mystic was an excellent choice to conclude our New England trip. While enjoying dinner at the bar, I mentioned to the bartender how tempted I was to stay and find a cabin either in Mystic or on the Cape. I could walk, write, and follow in the footsteps of fellow authors and poets. Our meal of shrimp pasta and crab cakes was delicious. The service from the bartender was excellent, which only caused us to linger for dessert which was divine.
On Wednesday morning we left Mystic and headed back to Texas. We stopped again in Knoxville, TN, and arrived in Dallas Thursday evening having traveled 3867 miles. For now, my longing for the East Coast has subsided as I recall our trip memories. However, I know the longing will return pulling me back to the Cape to write as others did before me.
Longing for the Cape
I am a poet
who longs to be near the sea,
to be one with the surf.
To feel the Earth’s tide
to relax into the ebb and flow of time
to walk along the shores of Cape Cod.
For now, I sit at home 1932 miles away and dream of my return.