The Capital of the Cape.

“I believe it is important this country sail and not lie still in the harbor.” -President John F. Kennedy, August 13, 1962.

On a beautiful late October Sunday, with unseasonably warm temperatures making New England feel more like early summer than mid-autumn, I thought a trip to Cape Cod was in order before the winds of winter begin to blow. A co-worker who lives on the Cape suggested that I visit Hyannis, and added that given my love of ships and the ocean, I would appreciate the Cape Cod Maritime Museum. With no road trips during the past several weeks, I jumped in my car on Sunday morning and headed out to Cape Cod once again, not only visiting the Maritime Museum, but also stumbling onto a Presidential museum that I did not even know existed.

Hyannis is a village in the town of Barnstable. Originally explored in 1602, Barnstable was founded in 1638. Barnstable was a farming and fishing village until the late 1800s, when it transformed into a summer resort town. The most famous family to inhabit Hyannis is the Kennedys, a political dynasty that has captured the American imagination for over 70 years (via Wikipedia). The Kennedys remain in Hyannis to this day: the late Senator Ted Kennedy’s son (Ted Kennedy Jr.) lives in the house once owned by President John F. Kennedy.

While I have much to share about my adventure to Hyannis, I do want to also give a few quick updates as well before I dive into my latest adventure.

Right rear fender and wheel of Honda Accord.
The first bit of good news is that DH’s damage is all fixed. Columbia Auto Body in Bridgewater, MA handled the repairs. I dropped the car off on a Thursday morning, and it was ready for me on Friday afternoon. Terrific work!
2012 Honda Accord parked in front of football stadium.
The auto body shop even cleaned up my Accord and gave it a fresh coat of wax. As one friend texted me: “It looks brand new!”
Sunset sky on the highway in Rhode Island.
Last week, I was invited to guest lecture at the University of Rhode Island. On the way to my destination, I caught this amazing fall sunset. The view was spectacular! (And my lecture went well, too!)
Map of eastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod. A pin in the map indicates Hyannis.
Today’s destination: Hyannis, MA.
Cape Cod Maritime Museum. Cars are parked in the lot in front of the museum, and a flag flies on the left of the image.
With Labor Day long past, we are officially in the off season for seaside resort communities – the drive to Hyannis was thankfully traffic-free. The Maritime Museum’s building is so nondescript that I missed it and drove past when I arrived. I had to circle the block and come back.
Display showing a boat workshop.
The museum certainly packs a lot into a small space. This exhibit shows the types of tools used in a typical boat building workshop.
Exhibit detailing the specific names of pieces of the hull in wooden ships.
This exhibit described in great detail the sections of a boat’s hull. I appreciated the two cross-sections of a ship’s hull (in the center) so you can learn what every piece is named, from a floor timber to a stem knee.
Display of a line throwing gun.
I know it looks like something from a 1930s gangster movie (“Run away you rascal, before you feel the heat of my Chicago piano!”), but the weapon you see here is actually a “line throwing gun,” designed to fire a rope from one vessel to another while at sea. Once the rope is secured, a larger rope can be run across in order to transport supplies between the two ships.
Boat building workshop.
The basement of the building is a functioning boat builder’s workshop. The museum hosts events throughout the year where local youth can learn how to build a boat. When I stopped by, three boats were in various stages of construction.
Card detailing the original nautical definition of "three sheets to the wind."
Near the workshop was a display of slang terms that originated from sailors. Words like “bamboozle,” “rummage sale,” “hulk,” and “hand over fist” all originated with sailors. My favorite was this definition for “three sheets to the wind” (pictured).
Art museum featuring nautical art.
The museum also houses a small art exhibit, currently featuring works by John Stobart. The thirty-one paintings on display were beautiful. If anyone is trying to figure out what to get me for Christmas, well…
Exhibit on engravings on whale bones.
As I was leaving, I saw a very large glass case full of scrimshaw: the art of engraving on whale bones. During long voyages on whaling ships, sailors would pass the time by creating elaborate works of art from the whales’ bones. There were twelve shelves full of these objects – this particular shelf caught my eye.
Entrance to the JFK Museum in Hyannis.
The clerk at the Maritime Museum told me that I should also stop by the John F. Kennedy Museum in Hyannis, just a few blocks away. I did not know that the museum even existed!
Wall of images of the Kennedys in Hyannis.
Much different than the Kennedy Library that I visited in Boston in July, this museum almost solely focuses on President Kennedy’s connection to Hyannis and Cape Cod.
Pins, buttons, and bumper stickers supporting President Kennedy's election.
Of course, there is also plenty of information regarding President Kennedy’s political career. Side note: look at the button at the top right: President Kennedy was elected during a time when the voting age was 21, not 18 as it is now (the voting age became 18 in 1971).
Glass case of magazine articles regarding the Kennedys, as well as their correspondence.
The letter in the center is a note of thank you from President Kennedy’s father, Joseph, to a well-wisher, after the assassination of his son.
Wall chart detailing the complete Kennedy family.
Need assistance keeping track of all of the Kennedy family? This large chart (about four feet high by ten feet long) can help.
Display of photos of President Kennedy, nautical knots, and a statue of his son standing at attention.
The museum uses photos and videos to tell the life story of President Kennedy. The statue is of John F. Kennedy, Jr., who at age 3 famously saluted his father’s casket as it was carried from the funeral.
2012 Honda Accord parked in front of beach on Hyannis Harbor.
After leaving the JFK Museum, I decided to explore some of the beaches near Hyannis Harbor.
2012 Honda Accord, parked in front of the beach.
DH and I, just a couple of beach bums.
Panorama of Hyannis Harbor.
What I was not expecting was to be so thoroughly charmed by Hyannis. It is a beautiful seaside resort town.
Photo of sailboat on Hyannis Harbor.
Instead of getting on the road, I sat on the beach and began looking up house prices on my phone. It started as a joke, but I was stunned to see that many houses in Hyannis are… and I can’t believe I’m using this word in Massachusetts, where there is a housing bubble right now… affordable. Most houses I saw listed in Hyannis are significantly cheaper than comparable homes at the New Jersey shore.
JFK Memorial in Hyannis.
Before getting back on the road, I stopped at this small memorial to President Kennedy.
Flowers in foreground, Hyannis harbor in background.
Goodbye for now, Hyannis. I WILL be back soon. I promise.

The Cape Cod Maritime Museum is open every day, year round. Admission is $6 for adults, students ages 9-17 and seniors are $5, and children 8 and younger can enter for free. The John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum is open from June 1 until October 31 from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm (12:00 pm – 5:00 pm on Sundays). Adult admission is $10, seniors are $7, children 8-17 are $5, and children 7 and younger can enter for free. Thanks to a professional organization I participate in through my job, however, my admission to both museums today was free of charge.

When I was at the JFK Memorial, I struck up a conversation with the park’s caretaker. He asked me what I thought of the Maritime Museum and the JFK Museum, as, in his words, “they’re kind of small and don’t seem that special.” I shared with him that neither museum should be the sole purpose for a trip, but if you are already visiting Hyannis both museums worth a visit. After pausing for a moment, I added that Hyannis itself is worth visiting again and again. He, a lifelong resident, strongly agreed.

Finally, before closing, I wanted to share one more cool story. I have written before of my friend Tyson and my friend Josh, whose blogs about their road trip journeys inspired my own venture into online writing. A few weeks ago, Tyson, behind the wheel of his 1994 Acura Legend coupe, set out from his home in Phoenix, Arizona. Josh then headed out of his home in Boise, Idaho in his 2005 Acura TSX. They met in the middle in Utah, with both cars achieving the same milestone simultaneously: 555,555 miles! Forget synchronized swimming, there should be a gold medal for synchronized driving! You can read more about this cool accomplishment on Tyson’s blog: Drive to Five.

Thank you for coming along on another journey down the open road ahead!

‘Til next time.



7 thoughts on “The Capital of the Cape.

  1. Thanks for linking to my post! You and DH make quite the beach bums. That repair work came out perfectly. It’s funny – just as your region is getting into “off-season,” we are getting into peak tourist season. You can already tell some of the snowbirds are starting to migrate our direction for the winter. Gotta love it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I realize I forgot the .5 in your mileage goal! That really was impressive.

      As I’ve said before, the off season is my favorite time of year to be near the coast in the northeast. All the people clogging our beaches go south (and west!) for the winter!!


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