A love affair with Orleans-a Cape Cod Photo Essay
Maas recalls purchasing the inn, which had been set for demolition, in 1996. “It was the craziest thing I’ve ever done,” he recalls. “I called my wife—she was in Florida—and I said ‘I think I just bought the Orleans Waterfront Inn.” Raised in the Sunshine State, Maas says he grew up hating the summer, associating it with Florida’s oppressive heat. Laurie, on the other hand, had regularly visited Cape Cod, where summertime is a celebration. In two decades of ownership, Maas says he has spent millions on renovations, but it’s been a labor of love. “Ever year it gets better,” he says. “I like it. I’m having fun.” For the couple’s first 19 years, they kept the inn open year-round, but in 2017, the restaurant is open May through mid-September, and the hotel offers accommodation through mid-October. At breakfast, we met a couple that was celebrating their 25th anniversary with a weekend’s stay. After all, this is where they met. Got any funny or inspiring stories, Ed? “Every day,” Maas says. “Every day.”
Town Cove is another Orleans treasure. Located near the center of town, the water body winds out through Nauset Harbor to the Atlantic. It’s a popular spot for kayaking, waterskiing and other recreational activities. Those in need of rentals and gear can find what they need at The Goose Hummock outdoor center on Route 6A.
Naturally, Orleans’ nature areas and beaches are attractive draws for artists, and the town’s many art galleries are loaded with images of and inspired by the sea and coast. Housed in a charming half-Cape, Addison Art Gallery shows the work of many accomplished Cape Cod artists. During our visit, the gallery was exhibiting the winners of the National Oil & Acrylic Painters’ Society’s 2016 National Juried Show. Scott Royston’s still life of a duck hanging on a door claimed the “Best in Show” prize. The title of the piece: “He Got Game.”
Around the corner, we browsed many of the quirky creations on display at Yak Arts on Route 28. Owner Robert Dalton visits many an auction and estate sale, but he also travels to Bali, Indonesia every year to find items no one’s ever heard of or seen before. Dalton loves his work—and returns to the Cape with a shipping container full of goods. “I get to travel and buy the funkiest things in the world,” he says, “and I love where I live.” In front of his shop, customers can look through a variety of large items spread out on the lawn, including furnishings fashioned from driftwood and a bust of Albert Einstein carved in teak. Dalton, who previously had shops in Provincetown, Rockport, and Newport, Rhode Island, says two items on his resume have helped him succeed: first, he has a fine arts degree; and second, he’s one of 70 million Baby Boomers. “I have an idea what people like,” he says.
Exploring further reaches of town, we drove through some peaceful residential neighborhoods in East Orleans. Walking along one beach overlooking Nauset Harbor, we met Randy Gallagher and Sarah Bartholomew, who were relaxing at Randy’s boathouse. “This is where I want to stay in summer,” Randy says—and who could blame him? First built in 1916, the cozy retreat just steps from the sand has been in his family for a century. There’s one bedroom with a loft, and a large deck with flower boxes and 180-degree views. During the No-Name storm in 1991, the cottage was washed away, so Gallagher rebuilt it—this time raised on pilings. And in the extra space between the pilings, he installed a chair swing for two.
In South Orleans, we found Ridgewood Motel & Cottages on Quanset Road. The buildings are grey shingled with red shutters, and there’s a white picket fence out front. There are 12 rooms, six cottages, and two owners—Stan and Agie Knowles—who have been running the business since 1980. “We’re a little bit of old Cape Cod,” Stan says. “It’s not just work. It’s a way of living, a way of life.” Stan enjoys gardening and chatting with guests, including many who have been staying at the Ridgewood for years. He’s got loads of stories, enough to fill a book, he says. Outside the office, flowers grow in abundance and a sign on the door reads “Just another day in paradise.”
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