Monday, June 21, 2010


My daughter visits Cape Cod regularly and told me about the Kettle Ponds of Wellfleet. Looking through brochures we found Salt Pond Visitors Center at Eastham, which is near Wellfleet. Starting there was a good idea. The visitors center has an excellent museum and two 12 minute films. One deals with the geological formation of the island, the kettle ponds and salt ponds.  The other shows actual 1900's footage aboard a whaler. The museum has nicely done artifacts of whaling days from Cape Cod. Well worth a visit.
  This salt pond outside the visitors center was once a kettle pond of fresh glacial water. The sea broke through and turned it into a salt pond. It is now stocked with lobster eggs and local people can pay to harvest here. A Lobster female can emit as many as a million eggs. Much of the eastern arm of the cape is part of the Cape Cod National Sea Shore. As such, many places are public, beaches, fresh and salt water ponds, marked trails for bikers and walkers, bird watching and, of course, preservation. Its difficult to do as we like to do and visit a place briefly, take pictures, talk to people and get a feeling for the place since parking regulations here are strictly enforced and one needs to pay $15 to park just about anywhere in the National Park. In fact, the map given us at the center tells of each beach controlled by the city they are within. All have that same permit parking. Some parking areas are unmanned.  One person stays in the Bronco while the other takes pictures. We must make it necessarily brief. On manned beaches, we've asked to park briefly to take pictures and leave.
Also, all roads around private property near beaches have strictly enforced No Parking regulations on both sides of the road all over the cape. It does solve a host of problems for residents.
  On our way to Gull Pond, we stopped at the Marconi Bluff, (parking here was free), to visit the spot where once stood the first wireless telegraph transmitter. A model of the station and wreckage of the old station are on this spot.
The first transatlantic telegram was sent from this station from President Roosevelt to King Edward the VII of England on January 19, 1903.
Passing through Wellfleet, we found a real, working drive-in theatre. There are just over 500 of them left in the U.S.
Gull Pond is a beauty. Fresh, warm water. Shallow for a long way out. Kids about 3 1/2 feet tall can still walk out to the raft here. These freshwater ponds are the Cape's source of drinking water. They are not spring fed. My expectation was of small ponds, in a string, like large natural hot tubs vanished when I saw this beautiful sight. I only went in up to my knees. (Parking, doncha know.) 

Here people swim and can rent a kayak.

We left and drove the Ocean Rd. and sought other ponds at Eastham, smaller ones like this Depot Pond.
The beach isn't very wide but you can pull up your car and a chair and swim, fish and enjoy-no charge for parking.  Herring Pond is the same, even smaller with tighter access. Quiet.
This pay-to-park beach is right in the arm of Cape Cod Bay. Not quite the romantic setting one thinks about reminiscent of the song. Maybe by moonlight when the tide is in. It looked like tidal lowlands for a mile out. Every type of clam, snail, tube worm and other critters are found here in these extended tidal flats. Many people seemed to be clamming as we watched.
We stumbled across an old cemetery and carefully parked in the driveway of an empty house and visited it.
Here are old slate stones, interesting tales they tell of epidemics, child birth and heartbreak. This cemetery and one called Cove Burying Grounds are on the Historic Register.Cataloged and every inscription here can be found on-line at this link:
Thanks to the park, much of the salt marsh here is preserved.

Since it was Fathers Day, we decided to stop at Rock Harbor and pick up a couple lobsters.The first time I ever cooked one. Delicious. And, to think the early pilgrims and the Indians didn't eat lobster. They used them for bait. In fact, during the 1800's they almost fished them to extinction in the area. A good fisherman could gather 25,000 in a load that sold in New York for a penny a piece.

All the tools I gathered were mostly unnecessary.
For more pictures click the following link:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your photo labeled as Depot Pond looks like Great Pond. I don't think Depot Pond has any place you can just pull your car up.