Showing posts with label truro. Show all posts
Showing posts with label truro. Show all posts

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Massachusetts Sharks In Our Archives

Eddie Fairweather be havin' fish or dinner!

We've been very Nature-oriented this summer. This pattern will continue, as several ideas we're kicking around involve oysters, foxes, bluefish, owls, stripers and God knows whatever else walks/swims/flies in front of one of our cameras.

You're going to get all of that soon enough, but today we're going to issue a recap/filler article about our toothiest locals. Great White Sharks own the news around here, even though more people are hurt by schnauzers than sharks in Massachusetts.

This will be our tenth article devoted to sharks, not a bad total at all for a publication in a region with an 100 day swimming season.

Rather than make you wade through our archives for some good ol' fashioned Shark Talk, we're going to give you a list of these articles for you to peruse easily from this very location here.

If you get through all of this and still need more Shark in your life, you should probably just open a wound in your skin and jump into the waters off of Monomoy. We probably have a few Shark articles lurking on Cape Cod TODAY or perhaps even AOL, but this is everything for which we'll get paid if you read it.

Apologies in advance if you see us re-telling a few stories or even telling the same story twice with different details. We have several authors on this site, and occasional short circuits will occur.

What If? A Cape Cod Shark Attack Fatality

I'm very much in Mayor Vaughn's camp on this one, as I feel that a fatal Outer Cape shark attack caught on video would end Cape Cod's status as a vacation destination.

We were actually wrong about this, at least as far as we have been able to prove. Sharks have attacked a couple of people in Truro and also said howdy-do to a couple of kayakers in Plymouth. It seemed to have no negative effect at all on the Cape's tourist flow.

Aim high, fall far.

Historical Massachusetts Shark Attacks

If you want to know your odds, you have to get the stats.

Location is everything in this category, too. Someone who had done no research most likely would not be able to guess where our three shark attack fatalities went down in the Bay State.

We branch out to include Rhode Island, Maine, Connecticut and New York.

Great White Shark Spotted Off Duxbury Beach

This, and the Plymouth attack, brought it all home to the Irish Riviera that sharks are not solely the problem of Cape Cod. You're more likely to be killed by a shark on the bay side of Cape Cod than you are on the ocean side, and the same goes for the South Coast.

This was a brief article, written the instant I heard the news,and more of a warning to my friends and family who live on that beach. If I go to Thanksgiving and have to sit with a one-legged niece with a very personal Duxbury shark attack story, I will very much need my "Well, you should have checked my site updates" guilt-block.

Best line? "Wow, and I thought that Duxbury didn't get Cape traffic."

Ol' Toothy, The Kayak Eating Shark Of The Irish Riviera

We discuss a theory of ours, focusing on the possibility that Cape Cod Bay only had one shark. That's why we named him. We had some theory that he was a rogue, who split away from his posse off Chatham for some reason that probably makes perfectly good sense to a shark.

This theory, like many of my theories, was wildly off-base. Shark tagging and receiver buoys proved me wrong pretty much right away.

I'm pretty sure that this article at one point also included a Stacey-conducted interview with the shark who dumped those two girls out of the kayak off Manomet. We may have had to remove the interview, as the shark's frank talk on race (he prefers white meat) and age (he steals a Mark Leyner joke about brittle-boned/osteoperosis-having old people being crunchier to the shark) would have been  upsetting to a greater portion of our readership.

Best line? "I'm assuming that the shark was male. Boats are girls, Sharks are boys. That's how I roll."

How To Not Get Eaten By A Shark

This is important stuff to know if you plan to go into the water. In short, if it is at all possible to be attacked by a shark, there must exist steps which will lower those odds.

Some advice ("Don't swim where people are fishing") makes sense. Other advice ("Do nothing at all seal-like") we play off as a joke when the advice is actually sound. One ("Swim with people fatter than you") sounds like a joke but was not denied when I approached a nationally-known shark expert for his thoughts about my theory. Yet another ("Be local" ) is true factually, but true in a category with a body of evidence small enough to magnify coincidence.

"Follow these rules, and you'll have mad bread to break up. If not, 17 feet on the wake-up."

Sharks In Cape Cod Bay

Speaking of shark experts, we went to Duxbury  to attend a lecture by shark expert Dr.Gregory Skomal. He's the guy you see on te news, tagging sharks.

We got to ask him all of our stupid questions ("Have you ever met a friendly, seems-to-enjoy-hanging-with-people Great White Sharks?" and "Can you make a Great White Shark do tricks?"), and we got to hear more serous people ask more serious questions.

I'm pretty sure that I'm the only journalist on Earth to ask a shark expert, at length, to weigh in on Dr. Hooper's territoriality theory from Jaws. It turns out that true Territoriality involves one shark claiming an area and driving off other sharks, something which isn't happening around here.

Written during a blizzard, I might add.

Where Exactly Do Our Great White Sharks Hang Out?

Dr. Skomal's efforts do give us some amazingly valuable information. We know where they go in the winter, and we also know where they go when they are up here.

This article tells us where sharks were registered as having swam to. It also tells you how many (tagged) sharks are working any particular stretch of coast.

This is another wake-up call for the South Shore and even the North Shore. Sharks show up from Cape Ann to Cape Cod.

Cape Cod holds the title, no doubt. While Plymouth, Scituate and Duxbury combined for 200 shark tag signals, Chatham had over 14,000 in that same period. Granted, Dr. Skomal spends his days tagging off of Chatham and may never have set foot on the South Shore, 14,000 to 200 is a pretty wide gap.

Can Orcas Chase Our Sharks Away?

This was actually our last article. If you're reading this, you most likely read that. It involves yet another theory of mine.

I still think that a robotic Orca could be employed by Outer Cape towns to drive away the sharks. even if it didn't, there must be some cool use for a 40 foot mechanical Killer Whale.

Deep-Sea Surfcasting Methods

I think that this article, concerning inventions we're working on to allow even novice fishermen to make casts out to sea that would fly completely over small towns if they casted towards land, gets into shark-fishing at some point.

Our best idea involves hooking a shark with a chain that is attached to a Jeep. Dr. Skomal somehow was able to avoid my question about a huge shark taking on a Jeep in a tug-o-war.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Top Ten Places To Get Attacked By A Shark In Massachusetts

Before we start the discussion, we want you understand a few facts about the likelihood of suffering a shark attack.

You're significantly more likely to win the Powerball than you are to suffer a shark attack.... shoot, like 30-45 people win the Powerball every year, which is about 50 years worth of American shark attack deaths. More people have put Lindsay Lohan on the D Train to Pound Town than have been killed by a shark this century.

If you're worrying about a shark attack, stop. You need to instead prepare for the lightning bolt strike which- however unlikely as it may be- is much more likely to kill you than a shark is.

This "Top Ten Places" list goes to 10 even though we have had less than 10 shark attacks in Massachusetts white-guy history.

If you ignore reputations and just crunch the actual numbers, I would not be at all surprised to find that the shark which has killed the most Americans is the Loan Shark.

That said, being devoured out of nowhere by a station wagon-sized monster with 250 teeth is nothing that you want to experience. If it can happen, and even if the odds are as slight as can be, there must be steps you can take which will lower those odds in your favor.

One step we can give you, beyond obvious ones like "Never swim if you have just been stabbed," "Do nothing at all seal-like" and "Get out of the water if you hear alternating tuba notes start playing" are simple ones that you probably already know. If you don't know those rules already, there isn't much that we can do for you.

What we can do for you is tell you which beaches to avoid, and why.

1) Monomoy Island, Chatham

If you need the Why for this one, just do a Google Map of the area and zoom in. You'll soon see little black marks all along the shoreline, thousands of them. Those are seals.

Seals are shark food, and everywhere the seal went, the shark was shore sure to go.

This is the gold mine if you like Great White Sharks. It's also a rotten place to swim, especially if you have even one seal-like trait.

Chatham in general is very lucky that sharks don't like People Food. It remains the only viable location on Cape Cod for a sharknado to happen.

2)  Ballston Beach, Truro

In spite of her fearsome reputation, the only recent shark attack on Cape Cod was a 2012 attack on a boogie boarder off of this Truro sandspot.

The victim was 400 yards offshore, near where the seals hang out, and paddling around in a manner that he had no way of knowing would register as "injured seal" to the monster shark swimming under him.

He managed to kick it away before it killed him. He described kicking it as akin to kicking "an underwater refrigerator, with skin." It maimed his leg.

3) South Beach, Edgarton

One of... no, scratch that... THE most famous shark attack of all time went down here. The victim was Chrissy Watkins. She was torn to pieces by Bruce, who is the world's most famous shark.

The fact that the attack which I'm referencing is the opening scene from Jaws will in no way prevent us from ranking this beach right near the top.

Joseph Sylvia State Beach in Oak Bluffs is where the Alex Kintner attack went down, but that one didn't have a nude 1970's chick.

4) Nauset Light Beach, Eastham

The whole run of the Outer Cape is a high risk area, as the sharks who get bored of Chatham can head up the coast for a little variety.

This is one of those beaches that you see mentioned on the news with "was closed after a 15 foot shark was spotted offshore" following it.

5) Manomet Point, Plymouth

This is where the (current) most recent shark attack went down. A porker rose up out of the water and chomped on a kayak, dumping the two pretty kayakers into the water. Concluding that humans taste like a kayak, the shark swam away and left the girls unharmed.

That's a pretty impressive resume line, which is why beaches in Chatham and Wellfleet are looking up at America's Hometown.

6) South Beach, Chatham

When you get attacked by a shark here, he's usually not pleased. When he got his rooming assignment, he was like "Yeah! South Beach! Miami, here I come!" Some older shark then has to take him aside and tell him "You're thinking of South Beach, Miami. You're actually going to South Beach, Massachusetts."

When he arrives, he's pissed. "Hangry," as the kids say.

7) Marconi Beach, Wellfleet

When a shark gets a taste for People Food, you have to start worrying about extenuating circumstances.

In this case, the two areas of concern are 1) "Marconi" looks like "Macaroni." Sharks are unique in that they can make American Chop Suey with actual Americans if they have access to lots of macaroni.

Also, 2) is that "Marconi" implies Italian food. It is safe to imply that he is a picky eater, as he travels up the entire East Coast via tail propulsion to sup on a particular sort of Seal. Developing a taste for Italian food isn't really much of a stretch compared to that.

8) Hollywood Beach, Mattapoisett

Holly Wood (aka Hollywood) Beach is where the last fatal shark attack in Massachusetts went down, in 1936. A boy swimming out to meet a boat had most of his leg bitten off by a juvenile Great White Shark.

Holly Wood should be #2 or #3, maybe even #1A.... but we're going on 80 years there, and you can't live on your past in my magazine, folks.

No, sharks aren't afraid of New Bedford and Fall River. You can just shush....

9) Duxbury Beach, Duxbury

Duxbury seems to have a very lively and burgeoning shark population. She has an impressive stretch of uninhabited beach for seals to crash out on, and the bleedover of seals (and, following the seals, sharks) from Cape Cod looks to up their numbers.

If you're a shark hanging around at Race Point and you decide to see how the seal action is if you swim west for a while, the first beach you'll come to will be Duxbury Beach.

Added bonus: Duxbury Bay is a breeding ground for Sand Tiger Sharks. They're just the friendliest 8 foot flesh-eating shark (with a look which belies the fact that they are not physically equipped to hunt or eat humans) that you'll ever see.

10) Egypt Beach, Scituate

Scituate had the second most recent fatal shark attack in Massachusetts history. It was about 5 miles offshore, I chose Egypt Beach at random. The attack went down in the 1800s, which is why they are ranked #10 instead of #1.

In a story that really should be a movie, a shark swamped a smaller boat and devoured the occupant. The victim's brother returned the next day and caught what is believed to be the same shark. He then put it on display in Boston, and charged people a dime to see it.

Honorable Mention:

- Boston Harbor (home of the first shark attack in colonized New England history)

- Rockport (a fisherman was bitten by a shark here, but he survived)

- West Island, Fairhaven (beaches were closed after a fisherman spotted a shark 50 yards away from swimmers)

- Fall River (one of the two fatal Rhode Island attacks went down in Bristol Harbor, about a mile from her nearest Massachusetts neighbor)

- Nahant (a fisherman was bitten in 1922)

- Cold Storage Beach, Truro (James Orlowski had his leg mauled by a shark in 1996. No one believed him at the time, saying "Shark attacks don't happen on Cape Cod," and intimating that he might have crossed a really ornery bluefish. He got the last word when his attacker was listed as a shark in the Shark Attack Database.

- Dartmouth (another guy who says a shark bit him, but everyone was telling him it was a seal... notable in that the victim didn't go to the hospital until infection set in... which is why St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Brighton, who treated this victim, has had more shark attack experience than more likelier places like Falmouth Hospital or Jordan Hospital)

- Gloucester (sharks follow fishing boats)

- New Bedford (see above, plus they have had shark sightings/beach closings)

- Horse Neck Beach (Westport (has been closed after shark sightings)

- Brant Rock, Marshfield (seal-friendly rockpile offshore)

- Buttermilk/Little Buttermilk Bay, Bourne (a 9 foot shark entered this bay and hung out a while in the 1990s)

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Most Isolated Roads In Eastern Massachusetts

While Jessica and I are finishing up work on the South Coast Compound of our media empire, we thought that we would take to the countryside and see what we could do for you all...

This article could have had several titles. I've erased several of them myself, and Jessica vetoed one. Among those titles that we considered and discarded for one reason or another were:

"Where To Hide A Body In Eastern Massachusetts"

"Where To Have A Sasquatch Run In Front Of Your Car"

"Where To Teach Your Clumsy Daughter How To Drive"

"Where To Smoke A Joint And Drive 27 MPH With No One Behind You"

"Where To Illegally Dump Your Washing Machine"

"Where Old People Who Just Now Bought The '57 Chevy That They Always Wanted Go To Drive With Elvis Playing And Not Have Modern Kids Laugh At Them"

"Where UFOs Look To Scare Isolated Individuals Whom No One Will Believe"

"Where To Stumble Onto A Satanic Ritual"

"Where To Bet Your Car's Pink Slip On A Drag Race"

"Where To Introduce The 'Put Out Or Get Out' Dating Quandary" 

"Where To Be Mistaken For A Deer And Shot By A Hunter"

"Where To Go If You Feel Like Driving But May Have A Warrant Out For Your Arrest"

Among the contributors to this website... Stacey, who is a soccer mom, came up with "stashing a body," "Satanic ritual" and the date rape joke. Her daughter, who is in her teens, came up with the Elvis joke. Non-hunting Stephen came up with the hunting joke. Abdullah, who has no kids, came up with the Clumsy Teen Driver joke. Stephen had Stacey's "Where To Stash A Body" joke as a working title for this article before Jessica intervened.

A nice, isolated stretch of road is a wonderful thing, and it gets more and more rare every passing day. In other parts of the world and even in other parts of Massachusetts, a lonely run of street isn't a rare thing. Eastern Massachusetts isn't other parts of the world, however.

As my friend Beth once noted after leaving New Jersey, "You forget how accustomed you can be to white trash, overpopulation and air pollution."

As people diffuse throughout America, these empty spaces will become harder and harder to find. Our elderly residents can no doubt recall when somewhere with a busy mall used to be a back road to nowhere.

We all have our own reasons for seeking an isolated road to drive on. We listed some up above, you may have other reasons, and no one is here to judge you. We're just here to guide you to some cool places to drive.

We'll use some of those aborted titles as logic for including certain streets in the list, and we will also try to point out where certain practices might prove impractical. We try to be inclusive to anyone who might stumble onto our humble web page, even chronic litterers and serial killers.

So, without any further ado, we give to you but a small sample of some places you can go in our area to have the road all to yourself.

courtesy of Sara Flynn
Gurnet Road/King Arthur Road, Duxbury

I use the dual designation here because, even after growing up there for 30 years, I'm not 100% sure where Gurnet Road ends and King Arthur Road begins. Google Maps says KAR juts out just a few hundred yards from Saquish. Other people, maybe more for convenience than for authenticity, use the Powder Point Bridge as the dividing line between the two roads.

Gurnet Road implies the residential section of Duxbury Beach, while King Arthur Road would be very handy for describing the road south of the bridge. However, I'm fairly sure that it is Gurnet Road right up until you get to the actual Gurnet, at which point it gets named after the silly English king.

The differences are minimal, however. What you have here is about 5 miles of sand road, as bumpy as a golf ball, and probably the best coastal scenery in non-Cape Massachusetts. 4WD only, at least once you get to the bridge.

You can very easily pull over on this road somewhere and, if you see no approaching headlights, be pretty sure that the closest person to you would have to swim across Duxbury Bay to say "hello."

Bournedale Road, Bourne

There is no truth to the story that "Bournedale" is an Algonquian word for "Shortcut." That may have been made up by a Bournedale-area website content generator guy.

Other than a few dozen houses, Bournedale Road is uninhabited. It's little more than some gorgeous scenery, and a way for Buzzards Bay and Wareham residents to get home from Route 3 without messing around on the Scenic Highway.

This road can be fairly busy at certain times of day, but you can have it to yourself if you pick your spots.

This is a terrible road to train a teen driver on. It winds a lot, has numerous high-angle descending S curves and is lined with sofa-sized boulders right at the road's edge. It isn't a very challenging road, but it is very unforgiving.

Added bonus: The Buzzards Bay end of it has a farm stand and a horse farm.

West Wind Shores, Plymouth

Not a lot of people know about this area, as there is really no reason for anyone to use it. "If you ain't from here, you don't come here" applies to this tiny Plymouth village.

Essentially all of Plymouth 1) west of Cedarville, 2 ) south of The Ponds Of Plymouth, 3) east of Wareham and 4) north of the village of Buzzards Bay, it's a unique spot on a political map. You can fire a gun from certain spots in the area and have it be heard in 4 towns, 3 regions and 2 counties.

West Wind Shores is fed by what is either Bourne or Plymouth Road, depending on what town you're in. There are some side roads which veer off into extreme southern Plymouth's lake region.

Where the mentioned-earlier Bournedale Road is a shortcut which Wareham and Buzzards Bay people use to skip the main road traffic when coming and going from Route 3, West Wind Shores is what they use when traffic is bad enough to snarl up Bournedale Road.

If you're reading this to find a place to illegally dump a sofa, this is a bad spot. The road, perhaps owing to her shortcut status, is busier than it should be.

However, once you got the sofa off the road and into the woods a few dozen yards, even God might have trouble finding you.

Just be careful that the locals don't see you... you can get a smack for that.

Glen Charlie Road/Agawam Road, Wareham

It is somewhat interesting to note that of the first four or five roads we mentioned, only Duxbury's contribution is not in a fairly linear run of roads, separated by mere meters of forest.

West Wind Shores, Bournedale Road, the College Pond Roads and Agawam Road are really only kept apart by there being no real need for a shortcut from an isolated Plymouth lakes village to an isolated Wareham one. They wouldn't be isolated if they cut out a road to them, right?

Some people, myself included, even pay to be isolated.

The Myles Standish State Forest and her adjoining regions provide a great portion of the areas we'll explore in this article. It's the Swamp Yankee hinterlands.

Glen Charlie Road, while sticking out into the middle of nowhere, isn't that isolated. If you really need to pour some lime on a former human, you want to veer off onto Agawam Road.

I have no idea who Glen Charlie is/was. I know the road is named after Glen Charlie Pond, which used to just be called Glen Pond. If you know, hit us up in the comments.

Lower/Upper College Pond Road, Carver/Plymouth

That's actually Barrett Pond, not one of the College Ponds. It's off one of the College Pond Roads, so it's good enough.

These roads punch into the Myles Standish State Forest, and you can pretty much go from Carver to the Pinehills on them.

This one is the #1 seed if we break this down to brackets. It is one of or perhaps the only road that goes through the seasonally uninhabited MSSF region. The MSSF makes neighboring towns like Plympton or Freetown look like the lights of Paris.

There are probably some serial killers in the region who have buried two or three generations of victims in this area.

This is as much road as you can have to yourself in Eastern Massachusetts, to my knowledge. It would be awesome for a very brief and hotly-contested NASCAR race. I might have to make some calls.

Old Indian Trail, Marion

This road isn't that long, but it does have the look that we were seeking. I was creeped out driving down it, and it was 2 in the afternoon. There was definitely a chance of Yeti Attack on this street.

There is no Young Indian Trail in Marion, or anywhere that I'm aware of. That might be in regular India.

This was our bumpiest road, and you wouldn't want to try it with an open beer or mixed drink. It's not the road to try in a Dodge Stratus. There were a few potholes on this road in which, if it rained, you could float a battleship around. If your girl isn't having any nonsense and you both know it, this road will at least bounce her around a bit. You gotta take what you can get sometimes, player.

Fortunately, we only needed to go 20 yards from the last house on the street to get the shot above. We went deeper, but that shot did the trick.

Quanapoag Road, Freetown/ Braley Hill Road, Lakeville

There's actually a road or two between Q Road and Braley Hill Road, but the differences will only matter to locals.

This is actually a very nice drive through some beautiful Lakes country. If you're here looking for nice country drives as opposed to somewhere to get rid of a refrigerator, you can do a lot worse. I intend to return with a camera next October, during foliage season.

After researching this project- which for some time had the title Where To Bury A Body In Eastern Massachusetts- one thought kept hitting me. Whitey Bulger used to dump bodies on the banks of the Neponset River. He was about 100 yards from one of America's main highways. He must have been able sit on his own balls.

I suppose some audacity is a must in his line of work, and nobody knew the dark spots of the town better than Whitey Bulger... but we'd be driving 10 minutes in isolation on some roads without being 100% sure that we could get a (theoretical) body out of the trunk and into the ground without being seen, even in a Nowhere Land like Lakeville.

That's why I got into Journalism, folks. I just murder time. Mine, yours, Jessica's... whatever pays.

Lingan Street, Halifax

The lakes region of the interior South Shore has been used as a dumping ground by numerous killers. The killers that I'm aware of used the Chaffin Reservoir in Pembroke and Bartlett's Pit in Pembroke instead of the wastelands at the end of Lingan Street in Halifax. They also got caught.

This road punches through the swamplands on the south side of West Monponsett Lake. It ends at a former campground, if you are willing to circumvent some gates. It looks exactly like where they should have based the Friday The 13th movie.

I used to teach in the city, and I'd take my little Hood Rats out into this area for field trips. Several of my students, far more used to an urban environment, were nervous about being in such a remote area... even in broad daylight.

"This is the s**t where Michael Myers kills all those white girls," one kid from Roxbury told me. "Black people have more sense than to go to places like this." I really couldn't argue with him.

I used to date a girl from Lingan Street. "Date" may be the wrong term, as I do believe that she could barely stand me. She looked like she could scrap some, too. I'm probably lucky that I'm not pushing up daisies at the end of Lingan Street.

Thompson Street, Middleboro/Halifax

You know that you're in the boondocks when you can host drag races on one of the main roads (Route 105, nonetheless) in this area without getting caught or endangering innocents.

I don't want to say that I have gone out early on Sunday morning and seen crude START/FINISH lines painted a quarter mile apart on a straightaway here... but would you look at that, I just said it!

This road is also full of farms. It's a great place to buy flowers, as well as a great place to go if you have never seen a cow in person.

Much like that Camp Murder from the Lingan Street section of this article, this is another spot that I used to field trip my city students to when I lived in Monponsett. Even a genuinely dangerous thug student becomes a cute 7 year old when he sees farm animals for the first time.

This is a beautiful road for the most part. I just shot the scariest part of it.

Will's Work Road, Mashpee

I fished WWR off of Facebook suggestions, and we here at CCM thank the readers for their help.

We'll use WW Road (which I didn't feel like driving to) and this awful screen cap to illustrate a few things this list is looking for.

It's easier if you highlight "Will's Work Road" and Google up the map, but we can see enough here for the basics.

Isolated area? A beach? A marsh? No houses? Minimum expectation of police interference, perhaps a border area of two towns? Plenty of road? Chance of wildlife? In our coverage area?

Will's Work Road, off of Waquoit Bay meets all of those criteria. She'll hold a nice rank on this list if we decide to get competitive.

Oyster Way/Seapuit River Road/Indian Trail, Osterville

This is another reader submission, much obliged!

Oyster Way has a lot of the same features that Will's Work Road enjoys, such as a tidal bay, some nice road to work with and a lot of forest cover.

Working among the wealthy neighborhoods entails a certain set of risks. For starters, you have to get by a gate. Also, the kind of guy who is disposing of a washing machine illegally might stand out in Osterville. Calls to the police will be investigated promptly. There is the chance of video surveillance.

Added bonus: After burying that body, why not unwind with 18 holes at the neighboring Oyster Harbors Golf Club? Not a member? Hey, you've already buried one body today, why shirk at adding a bothersome golf course employee onto your tab with God? God may even take your side on it, there is little guidance in the Bible concerning golf etiquette.

Big ups for being the second Indian Trail to make the list.

Service Road, Sandwich

You could actually classify this as anything between Sandwich and Shootflying Hill in Centerville.

This one requires a Bulger level of testicular fortitude, as you are 50 feet from Route 6 when doing whatever it is that you're up to. However, with the cover of darkness, some foliage... may as well be the deepest, darkest part of the forest, right?

It can also be highly-used, and that usage can spike unexpectedly if there is an accident on Route 6 and people start seeking alternate routes.

This is a nice, safe road that is fine for teaching the teen to drive on. However, the people you do encounter there may be in a great hurry.

Navigation Road, West Barnstable

The Cape is dotted with fire roads, roads that were abandoned after hurricane flooding, Indian trails and service roads. The minor width of the Cape prevents you from getting too isolated, but it can be done... especially in the off-season.

On this road I visualize a guy with every possible sort of infraction on his driving record who just needs "Deer Strike" to win a sort of Irish Lottery with the insurers.

Don't let the name of the road intimidate you... it's a straight line. "Forward" is all the navigation you'll need.

This was another FB suggestion, many thanks! The comments around the FB suggestion include "I drove down there, and my gas tank fell off the car."

Collins Road, Truro

This was the stomping grounds for the Beast Of Truro, who tore up a bunch of livestock in 1981-82.

The Pamet Puma was neither caught nor identified. There were numerous sightings, including one by a Truro policeman.

Some people said it was a pack of dogs, some thought it was a cougar, some thought it was a monster like The Beast Of Bray Road.

He eventually just went away... or did he?

If a monster, mythical or not, roamed your road... your road is going to be on this list, my friend.


Not Massachusetts, but here's what Stanley Kubrick did with the Isolated Road theme....

We hoped you enjoyed.... here's some more Duxbury, Plymouth and Halifax , below...
via Kerri Yanovitch Smith

Did we leave any roads out that deserve to be on this list? Let us know!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Where Exactly Do Our Sharks Hang Out?

The coast of Massachusetts has been home to a burgeoning Great White Shark population for a number of years. If you're just finding this out now, I apologize for being the bearer of bad news.

Anyone who even wades into the ocean should want to know how many finned nightmares are swimming around offshore. People who love sharks or who just have a general interest in how nature moves along may also ponder the question now and then.

Are you alive right now because thousands of sharks off of every beach ignored you? Is seeing a shark akin to winning the Powerball while being struck by lightning as you read the Qur'an? Is the answer in the middle somewhere?

While it's impossible to tell how many sharks we have overall with our present technology, you can use certain tricks to get an idea of at least Relative Activity between beaches.

Dr. Gregory Skomal is in this column as much as I am, but he does very important work. He's that guy who you see on the Discovery channel, jabbing harpoons into sharks. He's not hunting, though, just putting tags on them. He has various sorts of tags for Great White Sharks. Some can be tracked from space as the shark moves around. Others pop off the shark, float to the surface, and are gathered by fishermen/returned to scientists for data collection.

The harder Dr. Skomal works, the larger the data pool gets. The payoff favors the scientists at first, but it soon grows large enough that we regular people can almost score it like baseball standings or the presidential primaries.

I can do it right now. Chatham wins the Outer Cape in a rout. Wellfleet and Truro have a nailbiter going on the Bayside Cape, with the winner being dependent on how you score the game. Plymouth has a slight lead over Duxbury for the South Shore championship, while Martha's Vineyard owns a run from Buzzards Bay through Vineyard Sound.

They have a fun way of scoring these totals. One of those tags they use on sharks can be read by various receivers that are floating around various spots off of the Massachusetts coast. Over time, they can get a good idea of which sharks go where. They don't get all of the sharks, but they do gain valuable insight.

They (and we) use two numbers. One of them = "How many tagged sharks does a particular beach see every year? The other one is "How many total readings of tagged sharks does each beach get?" You end up with "We had X amount of visits by Y amount of sharks."

I'm going to try to make my own graphic for this, as it could be problematic if I steal the one from the Cape Cod Times. However, I can give you the numbers I have right now:

Boston: 22 appearances by 1 Great White Shark

Cape Ann: 26 appearances by 3 sharks

Massachusetts Bay: 7/1

Scituate: 37/3

Duxbury: 74/2

Plymouth: 104/4

Buzzards Bay (body of water): 3/1

Vineyard Sound: 18:2 (You'd think that Amity would own this contest, but No)

Provincetown: 902/8

Truro: 4748/20

Wellfleet: 6564/5

Orleans: 4367/23

Chatham: 14,124/28

Here are the locations of 11 of the 13 buoys, locations based on me rough-guessing by town:

A Few Things To Know (Or To Try To Find Out):

- I do not know if the sharks on the South Shore or in Boston are ones that were tagged off of Cape Cod. I'll try to get Dr. Skomal on the phone before I publish (never overestimate the pull with important people that this column has), but for now I'd say they were all tagged off of Cape Cod. I'm not aware of Dr. Skomal operating on the South Shore.

- I don't know if 2 of the 4 sharks off of Plymouth are 2 of the 2 sharks off of Duxbury. It is fun to ascribe people scenarios to fish, a la "the two sharks who make it up to Duxbury have a second home" or "two of the four Plymouth sharks are Jewish, and, well, Duxbury Beach is sort of like a sandy little country club" and so forth.

- If the Boston/Scituate/Duxbury/Mass Bay sharks are all the same ones, it implies both a low number (one shark is bad news, don't get me wrong, but if only 4 sharks round the tip of Provincetown and  get to the South Shore, I'm fairly safe when compared to 2 dozen or more making 14,000 appearances off of Chatham) and more of a wide range per shark.

- I have rather extensive archives via my time with different publications on Cape Cod, and have no intention of digging up the maps (I already have to make a phone call, c'mon!), but I'm thinking that, once you imagine these 4 sharks working western Cape Cod Bay, it looks a lot like the route taken by the tagged seals who are released off of Scusset Beach now and then.

- Places where I'd like to see Receiver Buoys that don't have them now... Sandwich, Marshfield, Hull, Hyannis, Dennis, Falmouth and Nantucket.

- I don't know how many RBs are in Buzzards Bay, or where in Buzzards Bay they may be. A good spread running from Wareham to New Bedford to Westport would be proper-like. Our last fatal shark attack was off of  Mattapoisett, in the 1930s.

- I don't know how much receiver buoys and transmitter tags cost, but it might behoove towns with large beach-tourist populations to spend the paper, follow Dr. Skomal's lead, hire some fishermen and try to tag any shark that comes across a sort of mid-Cape-Cod-Bay version of the Rubicon.

- If there are people who watch fishermen catch wicked tunas on TV, it's safe to say that I could sell my Taggin' Porkers show. I'd just need a few colorful fishermen (which, at last count, was all of them) and a bit of grease money to get the process moving.

- I'm not sure how long a shark has to hang around a buoy for it to count as an Appearance. Chatham has 14,000 appearances, but maybe half could be the same 3 or 4 sharks hanging around the edge of the range of the same buoy.

- At least one South Shore town should build a 70 story Quint statue right on the water facing the sea, to scare away any sharks who have seen Jaws (Jaws is viewed as a tragedy in both the human and shark worlds). "The Colossus Of Quint." I'd put it right where the trailer park is in Brant Rock.

- It'd be cool if one really bad-ass shark worked the whole coastline, sort of like how boxers or wrestlers used to barnstorm back in the proverbial Day.

- I still think that, once the sharks eat someone, lifeguarding will shift from beach chairs to boats with fish-finders, sirens, and cell phones. I'd also bet on drones getting in the mix somehow. The Hasselhoff/Pam Anderson/Beach Patrol style of lifeguard may be as much of a relic as a redcoat British soldier with a musket.

- Someone should invent a 50 foot, 50 knot-swimmin' killer whale Orca robot and have it patrol the South Shore. While killing sharks is frowned upon and most likely is illegal, if my robot did up one GWS in front of his buddies, they might all go to the Outer Banks or somewhere.

- If Donald Trump were a Duxbury selectman instead of the GOP front-runner, there would be a 5% chance that we'd at least study the possibility of running an underwater wall from the tip of Provincetown to, say, the tip of Hull. I doubt that the Mexicans would pay for it, but the short-fingered vulgarian would think of something.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Beast Of Truro

The particular Beast in question was newsworthy enough to make the New York Times in 1981.

One advantage Cape Codders hold when discussing Not Being Killed By A Beast with mainlanders is that we got here first, cleared the forests first, and that the most dangerous thing on Cape Cod for a lot of White Man History was a Bluefish. We had wolves and bears and other scary things at one point, but they were all chased westward into the frontier as European civilization encroached upon Cape Cod.

The other edge we hold is that we chopped Cape Cod off from the mainland in 1914 or so. Anything that wasn't on Cape Cod already wasn't getting on, short of a perilous swim across the Canal or a highly-visible trot across one of the bridges.

Even before then, most of Massachusetts had been cleared for farmland. This eliminated the routes that something like a cougar would use to get some Cape Cod eatin; in.

Cape Cod was also cut off by a stretch of urban territory that lays between Eastern Massachusetts and the more like-nature-used-to-be wilderness of New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and Canada. Nothing that couldn't slink unnoticed through Worcester or Cambridge was going to be visiting Cape Cod.

This (and our particular climate) saves us a lot of the bears, wolves, cougars, wolverines, giant hogs, Sasquatch and other megafauna that other parts of the country have to deal with. We had it pretty easy.

When former farmland in mainland Massachusetts was abandoned as farming ceased to be America's primary occupation, wilderness crept back into eastern Massachusetts. We were protected by the urban corridor and, later, by the Cape Cod Canal.

Truro is a small town (2000 souls) right now. It was smaller (1500 or so) in 1982. Much like today, the majority (I read 80% somewhere, lost the link) is undeveloped swamp.

There are about 5 reasons to live to Truro....
1) you like beaches,
2) you inherited property there,
3) you're an artist,
4) you dislike living near other people, or
5) you're an artist who loves beaches but dislikes living near people and you inherited property there.
If it exists, Reason #6 would almost certainly be "Nothing ever happens there."

That's why it was so disturbing when a series of animals began to be slaughtered in Truro. At first, it was the local cat population. More than a dozen Meow Machines from the same part of Truro turned up un-living. Then, whatever was responsible started going for bigger prey. The time was about September, 1981.

A hog that weighed 175 pounds was mauled badly enough to warrant euthanasia. The flanks of the hog were grooved with claw marks, and it's throat was mauled. A few days later, another hog pen in Truro suffered an attack by a mystery hunter. In this incident, two hogs were clawed in their pen. People across Truro also reported hearing strange, eerie, cat-like screams.

Experts said that the attacks were the work of either a dog or a pack of dogs. Packs of dogs are not unusual in the countryside, and they roll deep enough to kill deer and livestock. Anything beyond that- even things that we know are here now, like coyote, wildcat, and bear- would have been close to science fiction in the minds of authorities back then.

Hogs don't talk (except in Charlotte's Web), so they make poor witnesses. However, you can tell a lot by the damage that was done to them. You can't tell enough to say anything definitively, however. The wounds to the throat could have been canine, feline, or even ursine. The slashes to the flanks appear to be only feline or ursine.

Big cats, wolves, and bears all will tear out the throat of prey if able to. Cats use their claws to latch on to the animal. Bears will attack by swatting with their powerful paws in an attempt to break the prey's back. Either attack would be consistent with the wounds seen on the hogs.

The problem is that the animals were still alive and not consumed. A bear or a mountain lion would destroy a hog, while smaller animals wouldn't be able to inflict the wounds that the animals suffered. You can imagine the slashed hogs were maybe attacked through fencing somehow, which you'd think a bear would knock down or a lion would leap over.

A cougar's killing bite is applied to the back of the neck, head, or throat and they inflict puncture marks with their claws, usually seen on the sides and underside of the prey, sometimes also shredding the prey as they hold on. Coyotes also typically bite the throat region, but do not inflict the claw marks.

One thing was for sure... it wasn't a pack of dogs. It was something we hadn't seen before around here, at least in our lifetimes.

The mystery got wilder soon after. A local couple, the Medeiros, saw what they described as a mountain lion on Truro's Head Of The Meadow Beach. Other sightings soon followed, including a policeman, an accountant, a noted sculptor, and a school principal. All spoke of a slender, big cat with a long, J-shaped tail. The couple described it as knee high, 60 pounds, and definitely not a fox.

The sightings led to some terror. A cougar is a very bad thing to be attacked by. Several or so Californians a year are mauled/killed/eaten by cougars, also known as Mountain Lions. One of those walking around Truro would be very bad for the locals. Pets, livestock, kids and even adults were at risk. Unless it met an armed man or jumped into the water with a shark, it displaced the Cape Codder as the apex predator on Cape Cod.

The sightings also led to some skepticism. Eastern Cougars, which once roamed all over America, were then (and are still now) the subject of debate. Many experts feel that North America has two sorts of cougars.

One school of thought is that the Eastern Cougar is a subspecies of regular Cougars, while others feel that they're all in the same gang. Many biologists (then and now) believe that the Eastern Cougar is extinct, while others feel that it is making a comeback.

Cougars show up in New England now and then (one was killed by an SUV in Connecticut in 2011), but some and maybe even most officials feel that these are either escaped captives or western cougars who wandered extensively. The cougar killed in Connecticut was actually found somehow to be from South Dakota.

Either way, a cougar in Truro would be amazing. The last confirmed cougar of any sort in Massachusetts was in 1858, before the Civil War. A cougar in the Berkshires would be amazing. One in Truro would almost defy science.

The Beast of Truro, who was also known as the Pamet Puma (the Pamet River, named after the Paomet tribe, lent the Beast his second nickname), was national news for a while in 1982.  An article by the New York Times went viral (pre-Internet), and our Beast was being spoken of in New York, Florida, Maine and probably a bunch of other newspapers that I didn't actually see. Long before she was dishing in the Herald, a then-unknown Gayle Fee was sent to obscure little Truro to seek out the Pamet Puma for the Cape Cod Times. Fee listed a "Bengal tiger" as a possible culprit.

Then, by early 1982, he was seen no more. This led to another mystery. Unlike other monsters like an alligator or an anaconda (which would freeze like a popsicle up here as soon as winter fell), a cougar can survive a Massachusetts winter, especially the milder Cape Cod variety. A cougar would be the apex predator on Cape Cod the instant he arrived, meaning that- unless he went swimming off Chatham- nothing ate him. No one reported hitting one with a car, and no carcass was found. There are more than enough deer on Cape Cod to support a big cat.

With no physical evidence (eyewitness sightings are not considered to be as reliable as tracks and scat, meaning that humans actually know less than sh*t), no definitive analysis could be made. State officials, who always try to be conservative in such cases, say that it was a dog or a pack of dogs.

With 20/20 hindsight, we can read and laugh at officials saying, "Some people even claimed it was a fisher!" Fishers, then thought to be urban legend on Cape Cod, are now accepted as legitimate residents.... just like bears and bobcats were thought to be extinct here until people started getting video.

Maybe he realized he was the only Beast for 300 miles, and the instinct to get laid drove him back to the mainland. Maybe he went for a swim, and a shark ate him. Maybe he was shot by a hunter who then realized that he had just blasted an animal that was thought to be extinct and which probably had a jail term attached to it.

Or maybe, just maybe.... on certain nights when the moon passes too closely, someone on Cape Cod- maybe even someone you know- sprouts fur and claws, and roams the night in search of his next 150 pounds of meat. It sounds funny now, but it wasn't so funny in 1981.

The moors of Truro have been quiet for 30 years now. State officials view the whole thing as the work of a dog pack. The locals who even remember the tale do so with a sense of humor- the Pawmet Puma has been immortalized with a 5K road race, for instance. The Pawmet Puma even has a Twitter account, and seems to be a Dawson's Creek fan.

The local white trash staggering out of the nearby taverns pose a greater threat to Trurorians than cougars do, and probably always have. The last megafauna attack on a human there was from the current villain, a Great White Shark. With a monster like that just offshore, hunting humans... only a fool would worry about a most-likely-mythical Beast of Truro.

Still... anyone who was sentinent and living in Truro in 1982 most likely will never feel 100% at ease on the moors of Pamet, on a dark night when the wind is up and the Hunter's Moon shines.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Truro Hurricane Primer: Inundation And Evacuation

Hurricane season is upon us, and we are nearing the peak of it.

Now, we're in Massachusetts, and we haven't been hit dead-on by a hurricane since the 1990s. That means that we don't get them often, and it means that we are long overdue.

They aren't a frequent enough event that you should walk around wringing your hands or anything. However, there are certain things that a wise person might do which can actually eliminate a lot of the hand-wringing.

Ironically, the first step to a peaceful mind is to view some Disaster Porn!

We have two maps for you to look at, and they are specific to your town. One is for Inundation, and the other is for Evacuation. They pertain to a direct-hit hurricane hitting your town at mean high tide.

"Inundation" means "covered in water," although you can call it a Deathflood or a Sea Plague if that gets your people motivated. It refers to which areas in town will be covered with seawater (important distinction, these maps do NOT project freshwater flooding) if you play host to a hurricane. 

The map for Inundation (the top one) is color-coded, with light green, dark green, yellow and red. Those colors equate to which areas will get wet in what kind of storm, i.e. Category 1, 2, 3 and 4. Where you see colors changing on the map, that's where the experts think it will require a greater storm to flood that area in seawater.

The map for Evacuation (right) is less complicated. If you look at the Inundation map for a moment and then look at the Evacuation map, the logic will eventually make sense. The red areas of the map essentially say "Those People Have To Leave," and the yellow areas say "You Have To Leave, Too."

See how you compare to your neighboring towns with the complete list of Inundation maps and Evacuation maps.

Remember, storm surge is not the only threat from a hurricane. Things like falling branches, freshwater flooding, lightning, flying debris, slick roads, tornadoes, downed power lines, looters and a thousand other variables can mess you up plenty when the barometer drops heavy.

Truro is very exposed to the sea, but also has a few advantages that limit the damage of hurricanes somewhat. Most people in Truro live on the bay side of town, rather than the open ocean part. Truro's east-facing beaches have an impressive wall of dunes that swat down ocean waves like they were goaltending.

Truro is also well-positioned in that hurricanes that hit them will be somewhat blunted by contact with the South Coast or the more western/southern parts of Cape Cod. Cape Cod Bay is colder than the Gulf Stream Atlantic or even Buzzards Bay, and cold water is the deathblow for a hurricane.

This doesn't mean that you should schedule 18 holes or anything. Truro will be a very dangerous place to be in a hurricane. Pamet Harbor becomes the Pamet Marsh and then becomes the Pamet River and flows into Pamet Hollow. All of them will be a fine way for ocean water to move ashore.

Pamet Harbor is going to be the first place that the water starts coming ashore, and some other parts of town (including the beaches east of East Harbor) will also flood during minimal hurricanes. The land east of East Harbor around Pilgrim Lake would also be a threat to flood, although it require a next level-type of storm. Corn Hill Beach and Fisher Beach could go submarine if the storm is bad enough.

Truro is in the mix as far as worrying about hurricanes goes, and any resident (or even visitor) should have an idea of where they score on these maps. 

Hey, we'll throw in the Provincetown map, because we're good like that!
"Truro" is one of the very few words that people with Boston accents pronounce both Rs in...

Monday, July 27, 2015

Barnstable County Fair 2015

This year's Barnstable County Fair was a blast. There were many things to do and see there. It was nice to see some returning vendors and acts and also nice to see new ones, The Barnstable County Fair is located in Falmouth Massachusetts (Cape Cod, MA).

The BCF has been coming to town since 1844. It was originally a livestock/crafts sort of fair, and that is still a big part of the show today. They didn't have electric ferris wheels or anything like that back then, maybe they used horses or something, I have no idea. The big draw early on was the merry-go-round.

Other than a brief shutdown during WWII, the fair has been going strong ever since. They have since incorporated spectacuar rides, and have brought in performers and other acts.

One of my favorite acts was Wacky Chad with his Pogo stick tricks. He has been on America's Got Talent... twice!

The animals and petting zoo have always been a nice thing to look forward to. This cow is trying to go viral, I saw him practicing that look in front of the mirror before I shot.

Who wouldn't want to feed a goat or a yak out of the palm of your hand? 

If you were at the the fair you may have noticed the baby animatronic T-Rex. He was about half-done eating this old guy when I asked him to pose for me.

The Three Dog Night performance was spectacular, my phone's video recorded it in poor quality. I guess you'll have see them in person to get the real deal. We were so close to the stage that we could feel the beat through our entire bodies. I was so psyched to see them perform in person. Their hits include: "An Old Fashioned Love Song" featured in the video below, "Joy to The Word," "Shambala" and many, many more.

We can't forget about the rides and the amazing view of the fair from the Ferris wheel. 

I saw a little bit of the Lumber Jill's Performance - wish I had a better view (I was too short to see over everyone else). And I was really hoping to see the Willis Clan

But overall, this years fair was awesome.