GPP #5: Coastal Discovery

This weekend’s Great Park Pursuit was the big one that we’ve been waiting for! GPP #5 was the Coastal Discovery and Camp Out at Scusset Beach State Reservation in Sandwich, MA. Located right along the Cape Cod Canal with the Beach right on Cape Cod Bay this park also has a large campground and access to bike trails running along the canal. Since this event was quite a bit of a haul for us, we ended up getting there a little later than usual and had to scoot right along to see all of the activities. Piper is pictured above “fishing” for some of the species found in the Bay. She learned to identify them and was taught the legal sizes and bag limits. I admit not very useful knowledge for a vegetarian, but you never know when a kernel of knowledge will come in handy. We also had a chance to try our hand at the real thing in the Canal (no luck). Speaking of Vegetarians, I thought it was kind of silly to have the veggie DCR educator be the one stuck with cutting up the raw squid that we were using for bait. Poor lady – that’s over and above the call of duty.
As you can see we hauled the bikes along to take advantage of the Bike Path. The poor Prius was loaded down like a pack mule, and despite my worries the bikes didn’t even fall off the back of the car to be dashed to a billion bits by a passing semi. Riding on the canal was great. Lisa and I were marveling at how quickly little girl has progressed on her bicycle. She only learned how to ride two months ago and now she looks like a pro!

The Fire Protection Service had a mock up of a fire tower that you could go into and learn how they locate fires. In the picture the Fire Officer is demonstrating the tool they use to determine the relative bearing of the smoke. In the background you can see the map they use to plot the bearings. Piper got a quick lesson on triangulation using that map. Its pretty low tech, but very effective. Each Fire Tower is plotted on the board and a hole is drilled at their location on the map. Around each tower is drawn a 360 degree “protractor” and a string with a weight at one end and a push pin attached to the other is fed through the hole. So to locate a fire you take your bearing, pull the string out along the bearing on the protractor, stick your pin into the board, call your friendly neighboring Fire tower to do the same, repeat the process with their measurements, and where the strings cross is where your fire is located. Cool huh?

There were other displays of coastal marine life, such as the one showing the different kinds of crabs indigenous to the area (above), the challenges faced by shore birds such as the Piping Plover, and the danger of beachings by marine mammals. Piper is practicing moving a beached “dolphin” in the picture to the above right. Cape Cod has the third highest incidence of beachings by marine mammals in the world. The gentlemen shown in the picture speculated that it may be the result of the unique geography of the Cape and the relatively close proximity of deep water. The animals literally never see it coming until it is too late, and since they are social creatures the whole group ends up sharing the same fate.

Finally, no trip to the beach would be a trip to the beach without going to, you know, the beach. We closed up the day making sand castles while waiting for four o’clock to come so we could get our camping location assignment.

I don’t have any pictures of the camping area, but it is the same place as shown in the picture of Piper moving the dolphin. Wicked hard ground. You could tell that we were in a hurry because we remembered the camp stove, but forgot the pots, and my contact gear, and a flashlight, and a hammer to pound the tent stakes in with… I have to give myself credit for making due without contact solution or a lens case. I ended up using the cap from the camp stove propane and the sealing lid to the water jug. Add a little water, place them all on the dashboard of the Prius and you’re in business. Blind, but in business. All in all it was a very nice experience and we had a good time camping. This one was Piper’s favorite. Last weekend is this Saturday. The Grand Finale! Wish us luck in competing for the grand prize packages.

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