writing wednesday

Writing Wednesday: Keeping a Travel Journal (+ Cape Cod travel ideas!)

Hi! If you’re here from Pinterest looking for the Cape Cod ideas, they’re slightly further down on this entry.

Keeping a travel journal has been the highlight of my Cape Cod vacations since 2016 when my sister bought me a beachy-looking one for Christmas. Actually, it was her who kept one first, back when she was a little kid. She wrote down what we did each day in her My Little Pony journal.

But what is the best way to go about it?

I like to stick to a certain format personally that makes it easier. It allows me to remember my day in greater detail. Here’s a breakdown of the categories. (I stole a bunch of these from a local science teacher who blogged about his Appalachian Trail hike. Thanks!)


Date: Self explanatory.
Weather: Temperature, skies, etc.
Purchases: Any personal of treat items bought that day
Restaurants: Where we ate
Happenings at home: Through Facebook or word-of-mouth, I write things down here that are happening at home, with family, or with friends. This has been made easier over the past few years because we have had house painting done during the week we are away. But I also write down birthdays, events, etc.
Cape Magic: One stolen from said teacher above. Originally this was a category called “Trail Magic,” or a special surprise happening on the hike like a free ride from a friend or snacks left by locals. I decided to alter it a bit. To me “Cape Magic” means anything different that happened that is just a little special. Past Cape Magic instances have included dolphin sightings, unusually great waves, or having our meal paid for in a random act of kindness gesture. I can usually find something to write her–there has only been one day of journaling so far where nothing particularly special happened.
Notes: this is where I bullet my day. I write bullet point paragraphs about the events that happened from morning to night that day. This really depends on what I feel is worth writing about (which is pretty much every time we go on an adventure).

Originally I also included Happiness scale AM and PM in this list, but I eventually felt like those were more appropriate for a hike than for a beach vacation and did away with them last year. The great thing about journaling, though, is that you can do it however you’d like; this is just my method. If you choose to do it this way, it might be best to do it when things are winding down at night and you can remember your whole day.


Here is another fun aspect of journaling: writing down little pieces of data that define your year. Every year since we started coming to Cape Cod, my youngest sister has had a TV show that she’s loved to watch during down time. I am sure to record it every year and this list has become a source of lore in my family. It’s amazing to see that her first favorite was Dora the Explorer and now they are The Office and Bob’s Burgers!

I am also now getting in the practice of who won our candlepin bowling and mini golf games each year. These little snippets are great ways to keep track of family memories.

Thanks for taking a peek into my travel journal. Because this was a short post, please take a look at…

My Top Twelve Cape Cod Experiences

And that said, in case you were wondering, here are my top ten experiences on Cape Cod that I’ve written about in my journal should you think about heading there yourself:

  1. Play 18 holes at Pirate’s Cove Mini Golf. Both courses are fun and challenging!
  2. Stay a night or two at the Cape Codder Resort. It’s kid friendly, but it’s not just for kids as the many events held here will tell you. It also comes with a wave pool that’s been turned into a larger water park and a fabulous homestyle restaurant, the Hearth and Kettle- –a great first stop once you enter the Cape. (The woman often running the gift shop is a delight; my mom speaks to her nearly every year!) Oh, and there’s also a spa. See why I said one or two nights?
  3. Spend daytime at Skaket Beach. This family-friendly bayside beach lets you walk out for miles when the tide goes out, allowing for tons of space to walk around and play in the tide pools. Despite less surf, at high tide I’d actually argue that the waves are better farther out than the ones on the ocean side on a windy day. It’s great for boogie boarding and the water is easier to get used to. In my opinion, this is probably the most complete bayside beach experience on the Cape with ample space, a snack stand, and beach houses. Evening low tides have been pretty buggy in recent years, but avoid this problem by…
  4. spending nighttime at Nauset Beach. Recent shark appearances make it a bit hazardous for swimmers, but avoid this problem by visiting in the evening without your bathing suit. See how many seals you can find–some get very close to shore and love to show off for the people. Monday night is concert night, so be sure to enjoy some free music. Spend your time playing paddleball, dipping your feet in, or just watching the waves.
  5. Go shopping on Chatham’s Main Street. You’ll find many boutiques in which to browse, some of which are high end. Eat lunch at the Squire (a delicious place that’s the fastest around) and stop by Marion’s Pie Shop on your way home for the best on the Cape. I recommend the chicken pie, but you can’t go wrong.
  6. Get ice cream! It’s not a corner on the Cape unless there’s an ice cream stand on it. My favorites are the Ice Cream Cafe that sells vegan ice cream, and Emack and Bolio’s just down the street. I highly recommend going to sit on their porch to enjoy a cup of Serious Chocolate Addiction.
  7. Try candlepin bowling. It’s more popular that regular bowling in New England, but a lot harder. You have three tries to roll a much smaller ball down the lane and knock all the pins down. We visit the Orleans Bowling Center but I’m sure there are others.
  8. Check out a Cape Cod League baseball game. These free games showcase tomorrow’s baseball stars. It’s just as much about the atmosphere, catching foul balls, listening to kids sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” in the 7th, and 50-50 raffles as it is about baseball.
  9. Indulge in the arts. Cape Cod is an artist’s paradise full of various galleries. Yak Arts is home to many quirky works and vintage items, or you could just stop in an artist’s gallery. Shops like Sydenstricker Glass also sell various artworks or glass designs. The Drummer Boy Park also hosts craft fairs regularly. Many gift shops sell artworks as well. Not a fine arts person? Cape Cod also has many playhouses where you can catch stage shows.
  10. Visit historical sites. Whether or not you believe in celebrating the Pilgrims, there is still a lot here. Try climbing to the Pilgrim Monument, or visit historic homes like the Hoxie house & nearby grist mill. (IMHO: Corn Hill and Pilgrim Springs may be historic, but they are not worth the visit or GPS hassle.) There are plaques everywhere for you to catch a glimpse of early Cape history as well.
  11. Visit a farmers’ market. The town of Orleans hosts them every Saturday, but permanent farm markets abound through the Cape as well. Nauset Farms has great meats and desserts.
  12. Run on Dunkin. Finally, on your way home, stop by a Dunkin Donuts. New England’s coffee shop of choice, I’m not sure if there’s more of these or of ice cream shops! Anyway, grabbing a donut on the way home has always been a tradition, so if you’ve never experienced Dunkin, now is the time.

Have you ever tried keeping a journal for certain times of your life?

reviews · writing wednesday

Writing Wednesday: The Happy Book by Rachel Kempster and Meg Leder

Welcome to a new “category” of posts! I like to write just as much as I do reading, and so I thought I’d take some time once in a while to talk about the process, and journaling, and all kinds of writerly things.

To start off, I have a unique journal for you.

Official Summary

It’s your happiness-in a book.
Packed with quirky and creative prompts, ideas, and activities, The Happy Book gives you an easy way to put a happy smile on your face.
Scribble thoughts, make lists, paste pictures, doodle, and dream about whatever makes you glad. (Think…hot chocolate with churros. ’80s hair bands. The first snowfall of the year!) You’ll create your own personal pick-me-up that you can flip through whenever you want.
It’s your happy book–discover and celebrate all the things (both big and small) that make you happy.

The Book

I like to journal…meaning, creating physical copies of memories. But long entries give me writers’ cramp. I could always just type on a computer, which I’ve also done, but that’s not nearly as special.

Enter The Happy Book. If you’re looking for an “adult activity book” that isn’t “adult coloring” (those detailed images stress me out more than anything!), you’ve found the place. When I first flipped through it on Christmas Day, I knew that hours of fun lay ahead. And it wouldn’t be a waste of time, because it would ultimately become a pick-me-up and even a memento.

Inside you’ll find:

*Lists of things to do, like office olympics at work, cakes to make, and how to use postcards to spread the happiness
*List pages, like ones for your favorite people, songs, or dance music or other things like good birthday memories
*Doodle pages, where you can invent an animal or just scribble colors
*Pages to save those all-important mementos like candy wrappers and nice emails
*Lists by contributors, in their own handwriting, of moments that make them happy

There’s a lot to do here. I did noticed that some pages repeated (there are several music lists and sticker pages, for example), so more attention might have been given to editing so those pages could have focused on different topics. Still, there’s plenty here. Despite being a little book, it’s packed with pages and ideas, so expect to spend lots of time on it.

Your friends can also take part in the action. While that aspect significantly decreases my chance of ever officially completing it (yes, there are pages at the end to celebrate your completion), you can invite friends to write nice things about you, or make lists together. Or you can simply draw portraits of the people who make life worthwhile.

Here is a personal list I’m working on now:

It’s a very versatile book that you can use in any way you’d like. Even tweens would probably be happy with The Happy Book, though I would caution that the playful tone of the book makes it more appropriate for women. (In a greater sense, of course that doesn’t matter, but in general…)

This was a great Christmas gift that beats boredom and makes memories. If you need something to do, I highly recommend The Happy Book.

Do you have this journal? If not, does it inspire you to pick it up?