On our way to Provincetown, we had a quick overnight in the Gateway to Cape Cod campground. It’s a Thousand Trails resort about two hours from P-town, and it’s right next to a cranberry bog. We stayed there again after leaving Cape Cod and in the midst of a huge Halloween party.
On our first visit, the cranberry bog didn’t look like much. We figured it must have been harvested and drained. But when we returned, the bog was in the midst of harvest, and what an incredible sight. As soon as we set up Bessie, we went down to the bog to watch the harvesting.
Harvesting cranberries is a two-day process, and we were there to witness both days. On the first day, the bog is flooded with two or three feet of water, and workers drive machines, called “egg-beaters” through the bog. This stirs up the water enough to release the berries from the plants, and the berries float to the top. We watched men with two egg-beaters work the field, marking their progress with sticks and flags. As they worked, rivers of ruby red berries followed them. It was a beautiful and fascinating sight.
On the second day, harvesters in fishing waders maneuver long coils of floating hoses through the water, corralling the floating cranberries to one end of the bog. A special truck vacuums the berries up from the bog and shoots them into a waiting cargo truck.
We were just driving out of the campground that second day when we noticed a semi truck full of cranberries leaving the field. We pulled off the road and I ran out with my camera. When the driver saw how excited I was, he pulled over, too, and suggested I climb up to the top of the truck to get better photos. He was so nice, explaining the harvesting process to me. “Try one,” he said, and I was surprised to discover that the freshly harvested dark ones are really quite tasty (if tart). “Want some?” he asked. And when Kate brought him a grocery bag, he filled it full of fresh berries for us. “Go check out the harvesting over there in the field,” he suggested. “You can get photos of the berries shooting into the trucks.”
We did walk over to the bog’s edge, as he suggested, but they had just shut off the vacuum equipment for lunchtime. The harvesters finished up and waded slowly in for their break. One of them, a woman, talked with us for a bit about the work. It was frigid cold that morning, and I couldn’t imagine wading in the cold water all day, but she showed up the waders that came up to her chest and the layers of clothes she wore. Even so, she said, “It’s really cold!!”
We felt so lucky to be there for the two days of the year that this is done, and to have met such nice people who were happy to talk with us about their jobs. I’ll think of them every time I drink a glass of cranberry juice.
We knew when we came back to the campground that it was the last day of the season and that there would be a Halloween party, but we had no idea it would be as big as it was. The campground was packed full and swarming with kids in costumes when we arrived. Probably 90% of the RVs were decked out in Halloween décor, some so elaborate it must have taken days to put together.
We had not come prepared with Halloween candy, so we didn’t display the sign inviting trick-or-treaters, but while Kate processed mounds of laundry, I walked around with my camera and grabbed shots when I could. Kids of all ages raced from RV to RV, eager to show off their costumes and collect their loot. Parents
I wasn’t sure who was having more fun, the kids or the adults. One guy had built a hugely elaborate haunted walkway to the candy bowl, including flying bats, dying zombies, a spider that pops out at the unsuspecting, flashing lights, haunting sounds, and a big screen TV showing scary scenes. Half of the kids were too scared to walk through it, even the bigger ones. Other adults were dressed up in costumes, and one partying group was passing out Jello shots to the grown-ups coming by.
Who knew such excitement went down in RV parks? It felt a little like crashing a stranger’s party, but it was fun to find ourselves in the midst of it.