On our way to dining and art walk adventures last night, we went by Crown & Anchor, one of the landmark gay bars of P’town, where Family Equality Council set up Family Week headquarters, but alas we were too late and they had wrapped up registration for the day. We had planned to go to the family beach picnic and campfire, but with high winds whipping up, and us feeling daunted by the prospect of finding where to catch the Provincetown shuttle to get us to the Truro beach point landing, we opted to pass on what would have been our first official Family Week activity. Better luck tomorrow.
Again, best of intentions. Our itenerary had us up at 8:30 am and heading to Family Week’s Little Gatherings for Little Ones, arts & crafts, games and a bounce house for ages 4 and under. Perfect! But at 8:30 rolled around, Stephen was still snoozing, so we set our sights on the next scheduled activity at 10 am.
Stephen finally awoke around 9 am.
After several trips to the breakfast extravaganza at our B&B, feeling replenished with fresh fruit and warm muffins, we set out on our day-two mission: get a stroller and get to Ptown High School for the 10 am to 12 noon Rainbow Friends Activity Time for ages 3 to 8. On a tip from our friends who we had met last night, we went looking for Arnold’s bike rentals, where we heard we could rent a stroller. Already temperatures were souring to the 80s with high humidity. Not only was the weather not good for hair, it was tiring to be out in it dragging around a preschooler who would rather run into the street and pick up and throw rocks every few steps. Hot and sticky, we trudged onward, slowly but surely. Only the slowly part went very slowly, partly owing to a short stop for Stephen get a balloon hat from a man entertaining children from a bench in front of Town Hall. Before we could get to Arnold’s, we realized we’d missed half of the activity time, so we detoured straight to the high school to catch what we could of the program.
The high school was a beautiful classic old building, the kind you’d see in a movie set in a stately old New England town. The staff who greeted us were friendly and helpful in guiding us to the room for 3 year olds. We stopped off first in the auditorium, which was dark and cool. Kids on the stage were laughing and running around, playing a game with the staff, all outfitted in orange T-shirts. As we found at every Family Week sponsored event, everything was impressively organized and orderly.
We placed Stephen in a room with about 15 other kids his age who were being supervised by half a dozen orange-shirted staff who were keeping them all happy and in line with games, crafts, songs and other activities. We stayed and watched for about 10 minutes, ever the overly protective parents, and when we realized Stephen had totally forgotten about us, we crept out to the parents’ program downstairs.
Family Equality executive director Jennifer Chrisler was speaking on several subjects: State of the Movement Address; then Talking to Your Children about Being in an LGBT Family; followed by Schools and Our Families with Stephanie Hazen and Tricia McCarthay, two experts on the topic. It was a standing-room-only crowd, so we stood outside the doorway to catch what we could of the program, which again, was highly organized and professionally presented.
After the program let out, we headed back to the activity room where Stephen was enjoying a rousing chorus of Ring Around the Rosies. We signed him out (again, the organizers had the entire process down to a science), and went on our way into town, finally got a rental stroller and strolled to the Crown & Anchor for lunch. We figured we should patronize the restaurant/bar since they had been so generous to host Family Equality’s registration for the week, but honestly we did not expect much in the way of cuisine. We we were very pleasantly surprised that our lobster mac-n-cheese and lobster lunch (when in New England…) would be the most delicious meal of our visit! We also had a terrific server who brought us a cup of Crayons upon our arrival for Stephen to draw right on the table, covered with a paper roll.
After lunch we swam in the Crown & Anchor pool which was open to the families attending Family Week every day leading into a daily family happy hour at the bar! The scene was like any resort pool, crowded with kids and parents, except on closer inspection one would notice all the couples were of the same sex. Completely wholesome.
After lunch and swimming, it was nap time. Back at the inn we rested up for our next adventure, a guided sunset tour of the dunes. When we booked our tour we learned just how unaccustomed P’town was of pint-sized tourists. None of the cars in the fleet of Chevy Suburban’s at Art’s Dune Tours www.artsdunetours.com had a child car seat. Thanks to the kind folks at Dorel, makers of children’s gear, we accessorized one of the trucks with a hot pink Cosco Scenera car seat ($59.99, Target) which not only provides a secure ride with a 5-point harness and a clear view with an up-high profile for tiny travelers but is also ultra lightweight and comes with its own plastic carry bag which makes it perfect for air travel. Art, the owner of the tour company took one look at the bright pink seat and declared, “It’s perfect for P’town!”
Off we went for our off-road tour experience through the heart of the National Historic District of the Cape Cod National Seashore Park. There we saw the majestic dunes where our guide pointed out the “dune shacks” where famous artists and writers like Eugene O’Neill and Harry Kemp became inspired to create their art. We also passed the remains of the Peaked Hill Life Saving Station and learned how the brave “life savers” enacted their heroic efforts to save the lives of thousands from the doomed shipwrecks.
The climatic moment of the tour was the sunset, for which our trucks pulled over near the shore for us to enjoy sitting on the beach. Some of our fellow tourists brought blankets, picnic baskets and wine. Stephen was unimpressed as we watched the sun dip into the Atlantic, preferring us to chase him into the water where he would shriek and run away as the waves crashed. We didn’t mind his shenanigans, as it was a great way for him to burn off energy before our dinner at a fine dining restaurant.
After landing back at Standish Street where our dune tour dropped us off, we hurried to get to dinner at the Waterford Inn, Cafe & Tavern (386 Commercial Street, 508-487-6400, www.thewaterfordinn.com) where we were already late for our 8 pm reservation. The host was gracious about our tardiness and seated us with a smile.
Despite the fact that the restaurant catered to discerning palettes and tastes, we were pleasantly surprised to find a cup of Crayons on the table and we were handed a kids menu. Then we learned why this elegant establishment was so kid friendly when we met the wonderfully affable proprietor Al Gordon, who quickly bonded with Stephen, making it evident he was a family man. Al told us he had two children of his own, so he sympathized with parents who often feel children are not welcome at gourmet restaurants, so he strived to make the environment at Waterford Inn inviting for families while still providing the upscale atmosphere that the adult diners seek in a fine dining experience. He succeeded!
To fully appreciate the Waterford Inn experience, we ordered several of the house specialties. We started with the lobster sliders, mini lobster salad sandwiches served on home baked brioche minis with Asian slaw; and the Waterford wedge, a flavorful iceberg wedge topped with shitake mushrooms, sun dried cranberries and homemade bleu cheese dressing. We followed with the Asian tuna entree of seasame enrusted and seared rare tuna with orange soy reduction, wasabi mashed potatoes and steamed bok choy; and the filet au poive, a succulent tenderloin griled with cracked pepper and served over goat demi glace with potatoes au gratin and asparagus.
A delicious ending to our delightful day.