The summer when I was 26 I did a lot of traveling. That was the summer my long-term boyfriend and I broke up and traveling was how I coped. I went to Washington and visited one of my closest college friends (going to Washington has never been unusual for me, though). I also took off to San Francisco to visit my best friend from high school (and I’m heading there again this October).
It also was the summer I discovered Cape Ann, Mass. I had planned a trip to Boston with my ex-boyfriend, and I wasn’t going to stop myself just because we weren’t together any more. Now I was free to do what I wanted. At the urges of one of my sources, I planned some time to go to the North Shore too. Reasons it’s good to have casual chats with your sources.
Gloucester and Rockport have since become mainstays on my travel rotation list, and it’s where I was last weekend.
When I first visited Gloucester, “The Perfect Storm” was still fresh in people’s minds. It attracted interest to the area since that’s where the movie was based. But the glow of the movie has faded since then. It’s still a working fishing port, although the industry has taken a beating. You can sit along the harbor and watch the working boats mixed with the casual fishermen and recreational boaters on the water today.
Since my first visit to Gloucester, I read “The Last Fish Tale: The Fate of the Atlantic and Survival in Gloucester, America’s Oldest Fishing Port and Most Original Town” by Mark Kurlansky (Amazon | Barnes & Noble), which further opened my eyes about the community. If you’re even slightly interested in fishing, quirky communities, history or New England, it’s a book worth reading. It’s a heart-breaking story to see how the community’s backbone has changed and been threatened over the years.
But Gloucester and its history is more than just fishing. Rocky Neck is booming with artists, many of whom open their studios each day for people to visit. Last weekend I wandered through some of those studios, seeing the paintings and unusual art. Like at Imagine at Rocky Neck. I bought two heart magnets there, and there’s an honor system. You write what you bought and leave the cash.
And the art extends out to Rockport too, and Bearskin Neck is a fun place to wander on a warm day. Granted a Saturday afternoon during the summer is crowded. The parking situation made Montclair, N.J. on a weekend look tame. But the shops are fun, the views are beautiful, including Motif #1. It’s considered one of the most photographed/painted buildings around. And last weekend I ate a lobster dinner for under $20.
There’s plenty of other things to see and do around Cape Ann. Salem is there, which has a history far beyond the witch trials although that’s why most people visit. Essex is home of to the restaurant where the fried clam was invented (worth the hype).
The point of writing this, though, is Cape Ann has been a source of inspiration over the years. I’ve always come back relaxed and ready to tackle a new creative project. And while I’m there I usually shoot a slew of photos. You can check out the photos from last weekend by clicking here.
I’m sure other creative types have that one spot where they feel at some peace they like to visit.