Thanksgiving Girl: Cape Cod

It did not escape me that I would be spending Thanksgiving in the land of the Pilgrims, our first settlers. Cape Cod is also called Nauset which means, “At the fishing place,” or “At the place in between.”

When I was first on Cape Cod years ago my friend Charlie’s family brought us to First Encounter Beach on the bay side. In 1620 searching for a location to settle, members of the Mayflower landed and first encountered Native Americans-the members of the Nauset Tribe on this beach. The Mayflower itself was anchored off Provincetown. Hence the name First Encounter Beach.

It is from here that you can experience beautiful sunsets. Which we did!

Honestly, I was thinking Cape Codders might make a bigger deal of Thanksgiving given their history-however, it seemed the holiday is celebrated as a family day just like we celebrate. I was expecting reenactments, parades, tours, ticker tape. Maybe I missed that part. However, the Thanksgiving I had the pleasure of celebrating was fun, lively and full of laughter and good food.


I flew on an extremely early Southwest flight as there are only two non-stops from St. Louis to Boston and I found a great price so off I went! Thanks to my neighbor who graciously took me to the airport at 5:30am when the moon was still shining! Arriving in Boston, we drove to Hyannis, wanting to get out of Boston as quickly as we could. Neither airport was overly busy, however we weren’t taking any chances. We stopped at Sea Street Café for a lovely lunch before driving around downtown Hyannis which looks like a quaint, small town. It actually looked like a city in a Hallmark movie.

We then drove to Eastham and picked up an apple pie at Nauset Farms, a cute farm store.

Stopping at The Hot Chocolate Sparrow to get our fix and pick up ice cream we headed to the beach cottage to make beef stew (wow!) and settled in to watch Where the Crawdads Sing. Loved the movie and as I thought about how we marginalize people, it wasn’t lost on me that I was indeed in the place where the settlers first met the people of America.


Waking for 6:37am sunrise on Coast Guard Beach, I said hello to the ocean in four layers of clothing including a down coat and winter boots. It was spectacular and worth getting up for. And the ocean was just as glad to see me as I was to see her. I felt my heart beat steady as I breathed in the salty air, waiting for the sun to rise. I was at the Mother Ship once more.

After a quick nap and breakfast, we headed to Chatham to check out main street and one of our favorite shopping haunts.

Driving back Charlie pointed out a cranberry bog.

“Wait. What?!” I asked. “Can you turn around? I need to see this.”

I’m not sure what I was expecting-maybe a huge field of cranberry sauce or at least the smell of what I would recognize as cranberries. Alas…this midwestern girl was stunned to see the “bog” which looked like a big pond with lots of vines. But that is exactly what a cranberry bog is.

Heading back to Eastham, we drove to Coast Guard Beach to enjoy the beautiful day.

We then zipped up to Nauset Light Beach for the stunning ocean views.

Finishing the afternoon at First Encounter Beach for sunset. It was very cold at 4pm, but worth the layers!

Once back at the beach cottage, I made a pumpkin cake for Thanksgiving. This cake has quite a history. Twenty years ago, a friend in playgroup shared this recipe and I began making it on Thanksgiving. Only on Thanksgiving. Weeks ahead of time my family would start asking about the cake. It is that good! My friend made it as a long cake, I love layer cakes so I made it as a layer cake with buttercream frosting. It is ALWAYS a hit.

After dinner we headed to Coast Guard Beach to look at the starry sky. And I saw a shooting star.


Sunrise at 6:40 am started muted with soft colors before exploding into a fiery explosion of colors.

This morning we walked on the beach as it was a three-layer morning. The air felt amazing and the morning lovely.

After icing the pumpkin cake, we headed to the beach all bundled up to spend some time ocean gazing. The seals were out swimming and other humans were walking dogs. It was lovely, even bundled up!

Sunset on First Encounter Beach was a lovely mix of colors and clouds and sun. First Encounter always has a show!

We had decided a Happy Hour was in order on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. After all it’s the best night of the year to be out and about. We headed to Mahoney’s a place I had not been.

Sitting at the bar we ordered drinks, and I was happy to see so many people at the bar and in the restaurant.

Mahoney’s is a little bit like Cheers and a little bit like your favorite restaurant. It’s casual, fun, and friendly. The drinks and food are great; they offer dishes you might recognize and some completely unique. We had been told the Tuna Bolognese, a house specialty was amazing and it was delicious!

I love sitting at the bar because it’s a great way to meet people. Tonight, didn’t fail as a lovely couple next to me was trying to take a picture of themselves, so I offered which began a great conversation and celebration. I might never see her again, but that evening, Lindsey was exactly who I needed to talk to. She was wise, fun, and funny and I felt like I had known her forever. Wishing you the best, Lindsey!


6:38 am arrived very early on Thanksgiving Day. The sky looked as if it was going to surprise us with a special sunrise, so off we went.

Lucky us-the sunrise full of clouds was gorgeous. Is this what the first settlers saw and thought, “Let’s stop here!”

The day was filled with Thanksgiving cooking, including local cranberries. Charlie’s daughter and daughter-in-law arrived mid-afternoon with their dogs and the house was alive with laughter and giggling, barking and fun. There is nothing I like to hear more than sisters having fun together.

Thanksgiving lunch was a grand celebration, the younger generation preparing a beautiful table for the feast.

After our celebration the girls chose a chick-flick for us to watch: He’s Just Not that Into You. Even after all these years, it holds up well. And after that, we had the yummy pumpkin cake!

I might not have felt like a Pilgrim, but I was incredibly thankful for my Thanksgiving this year.


Rainy, gray morning meant we could sleep in!!!! About 9:30am the girls asked if we wanted to head to The Chocolate Sparrow for coffees, their treat. Sure, why not!!!

This was the first time I witnessed their service dogs in action. Both dogs were on their public, best behavior while in the coffee shop. It made me think of my giant German Shepherds who would no more display such behavior regardless of the training I tried!

After breakfast of “Garden Egg’s”, the chickens who lived out back were laying eggs, we went for a drive to the beach. It was cloudy and cold, however, as you now know, I was still happy to be there.

We stopped by the lending library and then headed to First Encounter Beach where the clouds parted in order for the sun to set!

After an early dinner of leftovers, still so good the second night! we watched The Old Guard and then headed out to Coast Guard Beach for the star show. The night was clear and cold with the stars shining brightly. The sky so vast and reminds me of being in the desert. the ocean waves a beautiful sound in the dark. A lovely way to end the evening.

6:44 am and you would have found me at sunrise on Coast Guard Beach for one of the prettiest sunrises I’ve ever seen.

After breakfast we headed to the Swap Shop and dump. Sounds like fun, right?

Well, the Swap Shop is a place you can bring things you no longer need or are using and pick up anything you want. Charlie found an entire set of Wolfgang Puck pots and pans last year! It is completely run by volunteers and things change by the minute! I found a pretty good suitcase as well as a few spoons. I’m always short of spoons at my house for some reason. I loved watching people and seeing all the goods people were willing to part with. For a nominal fee, residents can come and go as well as bring their garbage and recycling. And from what I’ve heard each city/town has their own. Honestly, I could have stayed all day!

That afternoon the girls wanted to go skee bowling.

If you can imagine, using skee balls in a bowling alley with special pins and bumpers on the sides. It was discussed to remove the bumpers and I laughed and said, “Ladies, if given bumpers, use them!” We had a great time, choosing skee bowl names, (I was Glee) and cheering one another on. I’m pretty sure I yelled, “Use the bumpers!” too many times. It was a great time and wow, it felt so good to laugh.

On the way home, I suggested stopping to see the star-filled sky as it was already dark at 5pm. Listening to Springsteen as we put dinner together, it was a lovely way to spend the day.


Sunrise 6:43 am was spectacular and worth waking up for!

After breakfast of challah bread French Toast, we headed back to the Swap Shop, which is only open on Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays.

About 10am we left sleeping girls to hike at Fort Hill.

Fort Hill part of the Cape Cod National Sea Shore was the highest point to the meetinghouse built by Pilgrims of Nauset shortly around 1644. It is a trail that loops around and showcases views of the Nauset Marsh area. I had only been once before for a sunrise; however, I had heard it was a great trail and I needed the exercise and fresh air.

Fort Hill is lovely offering beautiful sweeping views of water and trees. I loved being outside and could feel myself breathing easier.

At one point, we came upon this fork in the road, which made me giggle. Like the meaning of Nauset, this reminded me of, “the place in between,” which seems to always describe my life.


Arriving back at the beach cottage the girls told us they were planning on heading out in a few hours and though we said we didn’t want them to, they packed up and headed out. Part of me was proud that they knew what they needed to do and part of me didn’t want the fun weekend with them to end. Safe travels, lovely women and thank you for one of my favorite Thanksgiving celebrations.


Last morning for sunrise on the beach at 6:36 am. It was well worth waking up for and we walked on the beach in the early hour. It was warmer than before and a lovely beach morning.

After a quick visit to The Chocolate Sparrow for chocolate gifts, we took a walk on the Cape Cod Rail Trail, a 25-mile paved rail trail that passes through the towns on the Cape.

This trail, which we picked up a few blocks from the beach cottage can be ridden by bike to the beach. For this St. Louis girl, it is one of the best amenities of the Cape!

Charlie had work to do so I settled in to watch Dead to Me for a lazy afternoon. After an early dinner and packing it was a good night sleep.


Awake at 2am to make it to the 3:15 Plymouth & Brockton bus to Logan Airport, I couldn’t believe how many people were on the bus!

We arrived at the airport at 5am with plenty of time for check in. Settling on the left side of the plane so that the St. Louis Arch could welcome me back, I was happy to see the sun rise as we taxied out of Boston. It was so early, the flight attendant welcoming us aboard had to pause to confirm our destination!

Falling asleep until the pilot let us know we were starting descent; I was happy that I was able to celebrate Thanksgiving on the Cape. The beach centers me…reminds me of who I am…how I breathe…Cape Cod is still a magical beach to me.

I am always happy to go. Pack my suitcase, think of the adventures to be had….and I am always thankful to be coming back to St. Louis-I might feel I am sometimes “at the place in between”, but as anyone who knows me understands…In my heart…I am a St. Louis Girl. Girl on the GO!

About Pam Wilson

I've been writing since I can remember. At heart, I am a story-teller; making sense of my world, finding humor and light through writing. Now I help clients to write their own stories. As I continue my own writing journey, my passion is to help clients write their own stories.