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BRING THE FAMILY

Taking a drive on the Cape

(Gail Weiss)
By Joanna Weiss
Globe Staff / August 13, 2011

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Who: Globe columnist Joanna Weiss, her husband Dan DeLeo, and their daughter Ava, 7

What: Cloudy-weather competition

Where: Grand Slam bumper boats and Bud’s Go-Karts, Harwich Port

My 7-year-old has never been one of those ultracompetitive kids. With board games, she seldom upturned the board in anger when she lost. In soccer, the goals are immaterial; she just likes running across the field and sharing snacks.

But we have found one place where her inner Pedroia comes out: cloudy days on Cape Cod.

It started with the bumper boats on Grand Slam Entertainment in Harwich Port, where the whole point of the endeavor is to shoot other people with a stream of spray and ram them gently across a shallow pool. For $6 a ride - $30 for a six-pack - Ava and I go as a soaking-wet tag team. She shoots, I steer, we both get sploshed. Afterward, we hit balls in the batting cages - high-pitch softball for me, a special plastic-bat kids’ cage for her, and Dad occasionally tries his hand at 55 miles per hour - where Ava’s discovered that hitting a ball from a mildly fearsome mechanical arm is much more exciting than whacking it off a tee.

This summer, Ava was finally old enough to head to Bud’s Go-Karts, a few doors down, where tiny carts zip around on an oval track for a five-minutes-or-so spin that can feel like five hours. Ava is too young and short to race solo, so she happily buckled into a co-pilot seat. When I drove, we puttered along in the right lane as I gingerly made the turns. (Yes, I’m that slowpoke you just passed on 93.) Then, she got into the cart with her dad.

The first time they rode, I watched from the sidelines as they maneuvered around other carts, passing on the inside, gunning the gas. They were among the last carts out of the gate, but they were first to leave the track when the attendants waved everyone in. They took this as a grand victory, with bragging rights. When I informed them that there was no prize - that, in fact, nobody else on the entire course seemed to think this was a race - they didn’t care. Winning was the only thing. They’ve been back to do it nearly every day.

Grand Slam Entertainment, 322 Route 28, Harwich Port, MA, 508-430-1155; Bud’s Go-Karts, 36 Sisson Road, Harwich Port, MA,508-432-0964

Joanna Weiss can be reached at weiss@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @JoannaWeiss