Here we are trapsing through the woods collecting ticks as we go.

Here we are traipsing through the woods collecting ticks along the way.

Yesterday was a  big hiking day for us. We started out with an early breakfast of muffins and coffee from the Cottage Street Bakery in Orleans, which is one of the few bakeries I know of that offers up muffins as good as homemade. I was fortunate enough to get one of the last copies of a cookbook they published a few years ago, so I actually do make these exact muffins at home! A favorite treat at the Homestead is the Dirt Bomb, and you are all in luck because I found the recipe online at TasteBook, so you can try them wherever you are. When I make them, I replace half the flour with whole wheat pastry flour, which adds a nice nuttiness to them.

We ate our muffins at a place we call Muffin Point, which is a parking lot at the Fort Hill Area within the National Seashore. This little known parking lot offers one of the prettiest views of Nauset Marsh:

Nauset Marsh, which I would like to kayak some time this week.

Nauset Marsh, which I would like to kayak some time this week.

After eating our muffins, we followed the trail around the Fort Hill area, which loops around some old fields that are now filled with wildflowers and poison ivy. This is a favorite spot with bird watchers because of the great views out over the marshes as well as the many swallows darting around the meadows. In addition to the birds, we also found snails:

Thing 2 will pick up any critter, no matter how slimey.

Thing 2 will pick up any critter, no matter how slimey.

I recommend, though, that you use some sort of bug spray if you go for a hike on the Cape. The bugs are not bad in the open areas, but once you get into swampy woods the mosquitoes will show you no mercy, as we relearned on this hike.

Later in the morning we headed up to the Mass Audubon Society’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. The sanctuary offers some of the best hiking on the Outer Cape, with trails that offer views of the various Cape environments all in one lovely spot. The Nature Center is worth the trip alone–the building has Platinum Leed certification and demonstrates how comfortable an energy-efficient structure can be.

If you come up in late June or early July, you get treated to one of the Sanctuary’s annual baby events. The wee little baby fowler toads were everywhere, and more than one was snatched up by Thing 2, who gleefully allowed the little toads to poop on his hand. We also found fiddler crabs, red wing blackbirds, and tracks from a diamond back terrapin turtle who had been looking for a good nesting spot.

Hubby took this picture of a fiddler crab for you.

Hubby took this picture of a fiddler crab for you.

The Sanctuary is a great place for families to learn about Cape ecology. They offer many guided hikes and explorations, and volunteer guides are frequently found around the trails offering information on the various birds and critters that you can see. If you have young ones, you should plan on spending about 2 hours there, but you can easily go all day exploring the many trails, some of which are only easy accessible at low tide.

And I can’t believe I’m saying this…but check out the bathrooms at the Nature Center while you’re there. No, I haven’t been infected by whatever virus makes my kids need to see every restroom in the country! These toilets are really cool low water use miracles with a funky scrubbing bubbles action. I would love to have these installed at home, though I don’t think the dogs would appreciate it if we went with waterless potties.

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