Sunday, October 30, 2005

Martha's Vineyard and Chappaquiddick, Massachusetts

, Martha's Vineyard Houses

Off to Martha's Vineyard to celebrate our anniversary!

The ride from Philadelphia, PA to Woods Hole, MA was to take 6.5 hours. Our ferry reservation was at 2:30. We were going to leave by 7 am to give ourselves an hour of cushion-time for traffic or whatever. The alarm went off early Thursday morning but I didn't get up-I just worked the sound of the alarm into my dream. So we overslept. We left about 2 hours later than expected so that wiped out our 1 hour cushion-time AND, likely, our ferry reservation. We sped through PA and into NJ totally prepared to take Tappan Zee Bridge when we must have read each others minds: Maybe we should risk taking the George Washington Bridge b/c its a more direct route and we need to make up time? We talked about it for like 45 seconds until we had to either stay to the right for GWB or continue to the left to ultimately take Tappan Zee. Cement median is approaching! What should we do what should we do!? We stayed to the right and risked it with GWB. Although Ive not seen so MUCH traffic in my life since rush hour on the capital beltway we actually moved along at a slow but steady pace.
In the end we did miss the 2:30 ferry but we were able to get across on the next one (3:45 I think). Our ferry was a smaller one (took a larger one home) and we were one of the last cars on, right behind a lady in a silver Honda. We looked around and everyone was sitting in their cars except for Honda lady. Where did she go? Were we allowed to get out of our cars?? If so, then why wasnt anyone else getting out? For about 10 minutes we all sat packed in our cars looking at each other. Finally Chris asked one of the crew members and he kindly informed us that we were allowed to get out of our cars-yeah!

We climbed the steps and looked out over the water-it was a GREAT day! We saw land ahead and didnt mind asking the nice gentlemen next to us if that was in fact Martha’s Vineyard before we started snapping pictures. They told us about how we simply had to try some lobster while we were there and the best place to get it (Menemsha they said)-they were headed over there to enjoy some that very afternoon!

We arrived on the island in Vineyard Haven: land of beautifully faded wooden siding and greyed cedar rooves-exactly what comes to mind when you think Martha's Vineyard. We didnt hang around too long though-we were so excited to check in that we headed straight for our bed and breakfast in Edgartown: The Sharon House. The directions provided by a friend were RIGHT ON! Chris drove and as I read the commentary she provided (beach on the left, lagoon on the right) it made me feel like we had our own personal tour guide in the car with us!

Edgartown has a different look than VH in that many of the houses were white w/ columns and black shutters. “Greek revival” they say-very pretty. The lady at the front desk for check in was very nice and she walked us to our room. We were quite pleased with our room-we had chosen the second room over from the left in the website pictures (top floor w/ cathedral ceiling-called Bellagio or something like that) and the room looked just like the picture! Everything was very nice and clean and as advertised (queen bed, gas fireplace, flat screen tv) and thats always a good thing.

For some reason the tv only had volume on like 5 of the channels and the wireless internet was very weak at best. The bathroom was tiny and the tub was standard size-no frills there but, again, nice and clean! Between a dresser in the room and another in the closet drawer space was fine (at least for our 4 night stay). There was Chilmark Chocolate candy and champagne in the room waiting for us and a note that said Happy Anniversary Chris and Carrie-how sweet! The website states that the champagne and candy are standard this time of year b/c breakfast is no longer served but the note was a nice personalized touch. There is a dorm-sized refrigerator on the bottom level for everyones use. There are four rooms total in the Sharon House and you can hear everything. Thankfully we didnt hear “that” but we did hear a super loud television and slamming doors from the one other occupied room. We didnt complain about the tv or the loud neighbors so cant comment on how the Sharon House staff handle stuff like that. I will say that back in July I had reserved an 8:30 hot tub slot for our use that evening that we arrived (anniversary) but when we checked in was told that wasnt possible b/c the staff was leaving at six that day and we cant use the hot tub w/o staff present. We were disappointed but didnt say anything.

The Sharon House is located in the heart of the shops in Edgartown so if you stay there you can walk and dont have to worry about fighting for a parking spot-which was happening even now in late October!

After check in I unpacked and Chris slept. And slept. Around 8:00 I woke him up and went to have dinner at Newes From America. We were excited to eat here on our special night b/c the d├ęcor sounded neat and right up our alley (fireplace, low lighting, wooden beamed ceiling). Although the fireplace wasnt on (not sure why) it was still nice. The food was nothing special.  The service was pretty bad (unfriendly).

News From America Edgartown Martha's Vineyard
Fridays events didnt begin until lunchtime. We headed to Linda Jeans and there was no wait. Atmosphere was light and fun! Food was fine-pretty standard, like weve had better and weve had worse. The service was much friendlier!

Linda Jean's Oak Bluffs Martha's Vineyard
This was the only day that wasnt calling for rain so in order to catch the Menemsha sunset we did our “up island itinerary.” We fruitlessly searched and searched for the Mayhew Chapel and Indian Burial Ground. We gave up and located the Aquinnah Spring. Now this was interesting: our guidebook says cyclists quench their thirst with this water and locals come from all over the island to fill up their water bottles. When we arrived, however, there was a big sign posted that read something like: Non potable water Aquinnah Board of Health. So does anyone really drink the water? We filled our bottles with the water but never got the nerve to drink it.

Next we headed to the Aquinnah Cliffs, taking a detour to try some lobster as wed promised the guys on the ferry.  From Chilmark Chocolates of course :) We took the Moshup trail to the beach and the cliffs. The trail itself was cool b/c we got to see flora and fauna completely different from anything wed seen before. The Cliffs, of course, are pretty sight.

Chocolate lobster Chilmark Chocolates Martha's Vineyard

Aquinnah Cliffs Martha's Vineyard

It was around 4:30 and I DID NOT want to miss my Menemsha sunset-that was thee thing I wanted to make sure I saw (and like I said, the rest of the weekend was to be cloudy and rainy) so we headed over to the beach. We arrived at Menemsha Beach and navigated along some huge rocks to await the sunset. Clouds had already set in and it was getting cold. We tried to take our own picture and a woman called out to us that shed assist. We had seen her earlier-she and what turned out to be 4 of her sorority member friends (all in their fifties) had huddled on a bench under a blanket with some wine! It turns out our camera battery had died so she took several shots of us w/ her own camera and promised to email them to us-how sweet! She and her friends poured us a glass of wine and toasted our anniversary-I felt so warm and fuzzy inside (from the friendliness, not the wine)! She saw the law school sweatshirt I had on and asked where we were from-it turns out she is also from the Philadelphia area! What a small world! THEN another woman that none of us knew had overheard our conversation and approached me and said her sister lives in my town as well! We all laughed at what a small world it is and how wonderful it is to meet new people in new places and how good karma always comes back to you!

Martha's Vineyard

After the sunset we headed to Offshore Ale for dinner.  Great ambiance!  And the "peanut shells on the floor" thing was fun.  Bad food, friendly service.

Offshore Ale Oak Bluffs Martha's Vineyard
Saturday it rained. We ate breakfast at Among the Flowers outside on their heated porch which was really very cute. Service was pretty good and food was standard.  Served on paper plates w/ plastic forks and knives while our hot tea was served in China cups-a whimsical contrast! It was a nice experience! We stopped into Good Dog Goods and bought some goodies for the furry friends in our lives! Adorable shop.

Among the Flowers Edgartown Martha's Vineyard
Then we headed over to Chappaquidick! You drive your car onto the ramp and sit there for about a minute until you reach the other side. We first headed to Wasque and drove until sign read: sand vehicles only. We walked the rest of the way to the beach which was really amazing b/c we felt like we were the only people on the planet! I couldnt get over the beauty of the land.

Wasque Chappaquidick

Next we headed to Mytoi Gardens which would end up being one of our favorite activities. We were nearly the only ones in the garden so we got to take our time exploring and enjoy the truly peaceful atmosphere.

Mytoi Gardens Chappaquiddick

Mytoi Gardens Chappaquiddick

Still rainy and grey when we returned, we wanted comfort food so had lunch at the Black Dog Tavern.  We had the whole place to ourselves and really enjoyed watching the choppy sea from the large windows.  Service was friendly but a little slow (we needed drink refills: Bueller?) but our food was YUMMY! Chris got a bacon cheeseburger w/ bbq sauce (he thinks it was called smokehouse burger) and I got a grilled cheese on sourdough bread which I promise you this was the best grilled cheese on the planet! Despite others saying it was lackluster and touristy we actually really loved it!  After lunch we aimlessly checked out some of the gift shops, just enjoying the rainy day and each others company. We talked to lots of the shop employees who were all very friendly!

Black Dog Tavern Vineyard Haven Martha's Vineyard

We headed home and hung out in our Sharon-House-provided robes and watched a movie wed rented from home (called Scottsdale, PA w/ the lady from ER and Christopher Walken-pretty good). Chris fell asleep (surprise) and I watched Friday the 13th part 1 on tv. When we headed out to get dinner it was about 9 pm. I know I know-everyone told us this would happen: NOTHING was opened for dinner expect for a few bars. We drove back and forth b/w the towns so many times that even the Stop and Shop closed.  Dinner tonight: Champagne and chocolates courtesy of Sharon House.

Sunday, our last day, we shared an apple fritter from some bakery (next to the post office in Oak Bluffs) which was tasty. We headed out determined to find the Mayhew Chapel and Indian Burial ground. We drove all the way into Cedar Tree Neck Park (which means we traveled down many unpaved roads but, as our friend predicted, had no problem in our old Volvo) b/c according to the guidebook map the chapel was right near, if not IN, the park. When we arrived at trail head another couple approached and we asked them about the chapel. They didnt know either. When we planned our trip we thought we would take the trail in Cedar Tree Neck but we ended up changing our mind so offered our printed research material to this couple (tells you how to follow the trail and explains various markers along the trail so you know what youre looking at). They were happy to receive this and it felt good sharing-the whole karma thing you know. They pulled out their maps and tried to help us find the Chapel but to no avail. Cursing the guide(less)book Chris took matters (and map) into his own hands and got us there in like 5 minutes (must be those Eagle Scout skills).  The Chapel turned out to be one of our favorite experiences on the island.

Mayhew Chapel West Tisbury Martha's Vineyard

For dinner on our last night we headed to David Ryans.  Service was great and we ate like piggies.  We rolled ourselves out the door to just MAYBE catch a glimpse of some stars. No chance. Other than the first night we didnt see a single star (serious cloud cover). I imagine pole position for stargazing are the beaches-laying in the sand letting the world disappear.  How dreamy!

Monday, our day to return home (and back to school). We had ferry reservations for 6 am b/c Chris was supposed to take an exam that evening. He got it rescheduled so we had no time restraints. We arrived at the ferry around 9:30 and were in “standby” and didnt actually board the ferry until around noon. Yeah, we had to wait but we knew this was a possibility so we were ok with it. While our car held our spot in line we walked over to Beetlebung. I got a hot chocolate and scone and Chris got blueberry muffin and hot tea. It was a cute enough place but if Im honest-both the muffin and the scone were really quite bad. Chris does want me to add that our stuff cost $16.00-not a problem if food is good (or even edible).  We ate until we were full and threw the rest away. The ferry ride back was pleasant enough-we sat in the car this time and read. 

Our drive back to PA was a bit rough. It was raining which always makes traffic ten times worse than normal. We did opt for Tappan Zee this time and had no problems. The Merrit Parkway was a beautiful drive-covered with stoney bridges and lined with changing leaves!! We hit some serious traffic on Garden State Parkway-rush hour, rain, both. We like road trips but were ready to be home by the time we hit the final stretch at the Commodore Barry Bridge.

Martha's Vineyard was a really great low-key getaway packed with a good amount of nature and history that could easily be enjoyed over a long weekend.  With so many places to see in the world I dont often find myself saying this: I would go back!

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