Thursday, June 01, 2006

Provincetown and the Pilgrim's real landing

One hour away from Hyannis is a place called "Provincetown". Little known in many history textbooks, this town is actually the first landing place of the Pilgrims, before moving on to "Plymouth"and the first US thanksgiving traditional beginnings.

The drive was lovely; the incredible sand dunes we passed looked just like tan colored snow, covering hills and valleys, surely deeper than it appeared too.

Our first stop was the "Cape Cod National Seashore" park. It gave an overview of the area, allowing for a spectacular view of the shores and an informational area was set up here and there for our perusing, like a giant learning center. Then someone spotted the "tower". "Let's go there" he pointed, and soon afterwards, off we drove.

Before the pilgrims left for Plymouth however, they spent five weeks exploring around Provincetown, and most notable in the annals of history, drew up and signed the social contract that would govern their life in the new land, the "Mayflower Compact". With this history in mind, the Cape Cod Pilgrim Memorial association was formed in 1892, to lobby the federal government to build a monument commemorating the Pilgrims landing in Provincetown. In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt visited Provincetown on a ship aptly named the Mayflower to lay its cornerstone and the building began. This monument took three years to build, and is still today the tallest monument made from granite in the United States.

Anyone can enter the museum and monument center for a fee and have the absolute privelege of climbing to their heart's content. Inside there are 116 steps and 60 ramps to its apex (think - Egypt and the pyramid architecture inside), and after a brief recovery, one can take in the most amazing view all around the east coast noticing this is likely the same sight the Pilgrims first saw when coming across the sea to the new land. A full sweeping view to gape from high atop the vista perch, there's nothing out there but the sea to the east, and on a good clear day, one can see Plymouth itself in the far distance. No kidding, what a view!

Look up. Look way up!

Look up! Look WAY UP!!! The view inside from below!
Our group tried hard to behave, but when the children realized the tower echoed, we all got into the act with JM's opera singing, laughing and howling, native chants, singing, army songs and the like. What a hoot we all were as we ascended upward to the skies. Once to the final destination, we truly admired the view then got so excited to find we would be awarded a sticker announcing we successfully made the climb back in the gift shop. Wahoo!

Inside the museum, many exhibits about the pilgrim's landing were displayed, and the Mayflower compact. Also on display were artifacts from the Wampanoag tribe, native to the region, the town's maritime background upwards in time, and that of the Portugese culture were also noted. A gift shop tempted many of the children with pilgrim, native Indian and pirate offerings to purchase. Also on view, a local Portugese artist's paintings were displayed inside of a private area for those who wished to browse through them.

The Portugese fishermen were an active community within the area, with little white cabins lined in a row along the waterways. Their professions were given away when stacks of crab and lobster traps surrounded their living areas, boats speckled here and there, and many nets draped on lines to untangle I suppose.

Much history is alive and well within this little place for those willing to take the trip to find it. We took the time and are happy we did.