The weather has cooled down to a brisk 88 degrees today, with a breeze from the sea, so it is much less stifling than it was. The local papers and tv news is all about the Heatwave of DEATH that is sweeping the north-east of the US, so we've had the enjoyable sense that we are in the middle of a climate-based disaster movie, possibly starring Jeff Goldblum or Will Smith, where stern men in hard hats glare at blueprints and yell into telephones. We've been fighting the Heatwave of DEATH by going to the beach and eating ice cream. Well, we all do what we can.
We all went up to Provincetown earlier in the week. That's the town right on the very tip of Cape Cod, poking out into the Atlantic a long way. Look on a map, British readers. It was incredibly, searingly hot. That was the day that the official temperature in Boston reached 100 degrees - a rarity, I understand - and it was not far off that in P-town, as we locals call it.
We were up there early as we had booked onto a whale-watching trip. Readers, we saw scads of the buggers. Humpback whales, of which I managed to take three photos, shadowy vague dark blots on the water. Mr WithaY took some fantastic photos which I will post on here if he lets me.
There is a huge marine reserve off the coast of New England, and because P-town is so far out it only takes an hour or so before you arrive at the prime whale watch area. We saw a mother and calf, rolling around on and just under the surface, the calf feeding from the mother as they both swam slowly past us. That was lovely. They're big, whales, aren't they?
We then plodded along a bit fiurther, leaving the mother and calf in peace, before encountering a group of five or six animals all feeding just under the surface. They were incredible, spouting and splashing and flapping their big tails out of the water. Lovely.
The boat is run by a company who are very keen on marine conservation, and they went to some lengths to make it clear that we might not see any animals close to, as there are strict laws about bothering whales (and other marine animals). We were very fortunate that the whales moved nearer to our boat when we stopped and watched them.
The same could not be said for some fuckwit in a small fishing boat. He and his scarlet, elephantine wife were gaily moving around right on top of the whales, at times starting their engines to get even closer. The captain of our boat was furious, and the on-board marine biologist filmed the whole thing. They reported it to the appropriate authorities over the radio (Coastguard? Navy? Department of Fisheries? Neptune? I was too excited by the whales to pay much attention) and told us that the fool driving that boat would be getting a visit from them in the near future, and there was anything up to a $100,000 fine for that kind of flagrant breach of the law.
As is traditional, on the way back to port I felt as though I was about to die. In my defence, I think it was probably mostly heat-related, as the sea was mirror-calm. To be fair, though, I could get seasick in the bath on a bad day.
Once back on land, we found a place to get lunch. It was air-conditioned to a mere 83 degrees, and we sat there for ages until we felt strong enough to go outside again.
We ducked in and out of shops but it was so incredibly hot and muggy that none of us had much energy for shopping. Something I now regret, as we found a place selling Big Lebowski t-shirts. I particularly liked the "You're entering a world of pain" one. We can always pop back to get some I suppose.
In the evening we had booked to go on a Dune Safari. There's a company called Art's Dune Tours, now run by the Son Of Art, where you all pile into large 4-wheel drive vehicles with most of the air let out of the tyres, and they drive you across the dunes to look at the wildlife, the artists' shacks and the incredible, freaky landscape.
Our driver and guide was a nice chap called John who works as a biology teacher in term time and a park ranger in the summer, moonlighting as a dune safari guide in his spare time. We told him we were disappointed he wasn't wearing his park ranger hat. Apparently they aren't allowed to unless they are working on official park ranger business.
I will post some pictures of the dunes when I get home. The climax of the trip was a stop at a beach to watch the sunset. I paddled in the water - crystal clear and beautifully refreshing after such a searingly hot day - where we had a large seal join us as the sun went down. He kept popping up closer and closer to the beach, which was a real bonus. I failed to get a photo, but I could probably draw a picture if anyone's interested.
A late-night sandwich from a cheeky man in a seafront sandwich shop, and we were home by 11.
Yesterday Mr WithaY went sea fishing, and returned home in triumph with bluefish and striped bass. No sunburn, and managed not to lose any fingers, toes or ears, so a triumphant day all round. We dined like kings on bluefish for supper. Nom nom nom.
I went out to Chatham and Orleans with our lovely hostess, where we explored the shops. There's a place on the seafront where you can get excellent lobster rolls, so we picked up some lunch from there and went to eat it sitting in the shade of a large maple tree in the old cemetary. Unusual, but pleasant.
I had to buy another memory card for my camera, as I have completely filled one already. Over 700 pictures. Hey family - bet you can't wait to sit through all those, can you?
Today it's much cooler, and we plan to do some domestic stuff with our hostess. Possibly there will be ice-cream.