Happy birthday to 1874 Wellesley High School graduate and Bates Elementary School namesake Katharine Lee Bates, widely known as the author of the patriotic song America the Beautiful. In honor of the prolific writer who taught at Dana Hall School before landing a job as a professor of English literature at Wellesley College, I took a spin on the Shining Sea Bikeway. The 11-mile paved and level bike path stretches from Bates’ birthplace of Falmouth, to Woods Hole.
I started out at the Depot Road trailhead in Falmouth, about a 90-minute drive from Wellesley Square. There’s a free parking area there for about 80 cars, and you can’t miss the trailhead right across the street from the lot. Signs warned that the path was crowded and masks should be warned. During my mid-week trip, the path generally looked about as crowded as the above picture. As I got closer to busy Woods Hole, I saw more cyclists.
Once at Woods Hole, I was pleasantly surprised to see that even in this time of pandemic, the bathrooms in the Steamship Authority ticket building were open (and sparkling clean), and the fountains were functional and supplying ice-cold water. One of my favorite part of Woods Hole is the drawbridge, of course. Here’s a video:
Last stop: Landfall restaurant, where a table overlooking Woods Hole Harbor awaited. After a half-dozen beautiful raw oysters and a Caprese Ciabatta sandwich, I was ready for the 11-mile trip back to Falmouth.
Lunch over, I hit the Shining Sea Bikeway once more and pedaled under the Cape’s spacious skies, meditating on Bates’ line, “America, America, God shed his grace on thee…”
The trail must be on an incline on the way back, because getting back to Falmouth seemed to take longer than powering through to Woods Hole. It couldn’t have been me. I wasn’t tired or saddlesore, no way. Those weren’t tears of joy when I saw my car. Just a little trail dust in my eye, that’s all. Bring on the next adventure.
Happy birthday, Katharine Lee Bates.