A Visit to the NPC Factory

We’ve left the mysterious streets and cobblestone lanes of Providence behind for the pleasant weather out on Cape Cod.

We’re actually on the Plymouth side of the Cape Cod Canal. One heavily backed up bridge away from the cape itself. Probably a good thing. Fewer distractions has helped push my word count for book three of the Fort Black thriller series over 50,000 words.

But I did recently text my son that we’d gone to visit an NPC factory – I’ve got enough hours in Skyrim to know one when I see it.

At the village of Plimoth, all the employees dress in period costume and are clearly told to never break character. Ask them if their bread oven is a pizza oven and they’ll look at you oddly. Apparently, Columbus didn’t bring the delicacy along with him. The man we spoke to even failed to pronounce pizza properly.

Fortunately, we found the bathrooms on our own instead of asking.

Eavesdrop and nobody is on their phone InstaFaceTiking. No ring lights as they split wood and haul muck about. They’re having in-depth conversations about weddings and births and deaths and endless chores. Small town gossip from a lost century with which they’re intimately familiar.

At the front of the park is a native Wampanoag village. There the re-enactors aren’t under the same guidelines. Street clothes. Modern English. Maybe that’s good. The Europeans weren’t always having friendly feasts with the original inhabitants.

(A little Googling and I realized I’ve already said offensive things – this is why I don’t “social” media. Apparently, NPC is a derogatory term now. A man stabbed some kids for calling him one. Also, the museum is under a boycott by the tribes which explains the lack of natives in the village. They want the museum to be more inclusive as was promised. I imagine they have a solid point. The native village was pretty sparse by comparison. But I’m not sure how boycotting it realizes this goal…)

Plymouth, the actual city, is a little underwhelming. The rock is maybe not the actual rock, but a hunk of one placed in a sealed off display. The date 1620 was carved into the face in 1880…

It’s a good representation of the city itself. An eclectic mix of old and slightly less old. A place transformed by tourism more than history. Across Massachusetts, there are plenty of better examples of cities that have maintained their original historic appearance and vibe.

Sandwich and Yarmouth along scenic Highway 6A for example. Or Ipswich, if you want to go inland. The brick streets of Boston, especially around Bunker Hill, feel like a walk through another era too.

Plymouth? Non-cosplay Plymouth? Well, the Mayflower is in the harbor still. Not the Mayflower. A detailed replica built in 1956. And the knowledgeable guides there will carefully fill you in on every last historical detail.

For the true descent into a tourist trap, Provincetown has a stretch of quirky art galleries and souvenir shops worth exploring. Fittingly, the city is very friendly to alternative lifestyles. With a massive monument towering over the city dedicated to the first pilgrims, it makes perfect sense. People came here seeking freedom of expression and they still do.

But the Cape has miles of sandy beaches. Big dunes. Gentle surf. It’s a great place to put up your feet and read a book.

Or to write one.

The Cape is…pleasant. There are no mountains calling. No hidden glades to explore. No subalpine reaches to conquer and gaze out over the world.

You know, the stuff that might keep me from actually finishing this next book.

Then there’s the bridge. Ye olde damnable bridge. One of the two major arteries across the canal into Cape Cod is under construction. The backups are legendary. The drivers on these perpetually windy, blind-cornered carriage streets, questionable.

This also discourages me from sneaking away from my keyboard.

It’s a frustratingly inconsistent place. Thoroughly explored. Archaically hard to navigate. Comfortable but restless. Inspiring. But not enough to pull me away from the drudgery of work.

Quintessentially American, I suppose.

Categories: Discovery

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