Martha's Vineyard -- 08/15/03

Took a vacation day today... Nancy and I and her mother took the new high speed ferry to Martha's Vineyard.

[Note to those not familiar with the many islands along the New England Coast -- Block Island is just off the Rhode Island coast and there are several islands in Narragansett Bay, including the two largest, Jamestown and Aquidneck (a/k/a "Rhode Island" -- i.e., the one that gave the state the first half of its name, noted for the city of Newport) and then there are a number of islands just a bit further up the coast, near Cape Cod -- the largest being Nantucket and the second largest Martha's Vineyard, plus a scattering of smaller islands, the most famous (or infamous) being Chappaquiddick Island where Senator Kennedy drove off that bridge in 1969, killing Mary Jo Kopechne.]

After two weeks during which it rained during at least part of every single day, it was wonderful to get some nice summer weather. Thursday was warm and sunny (the great electrical black-out day for New York and vast areas of the country -- as far west as Detroit and reaching up into Canada -- but which spared us in Rhode Island) and today was an absolutely beautiful mid-August summer day.

The ferry operates from Quonsett Point (the former military base that gave its name to the Quonsett Hut of World War II fame, now the site of an air museum, an industrial and office park, a small container port, etc.)

Once it has backed away from the pier, the ferry moves quickly, generally cruising at more than 30 knots... note the windblown hair in photo as we are about to pass under the Jamestown bridge.

It's about a ninety minute cruise from Quonsett to the harbor at Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard. We wandered about Oak Bluffs for a little while, checking things out. (We were actually a party of five because my nephew's girlfriend and her mother also came over, but they returned to Rhode Island on the 3:30 boat while we stayed until the 7:30 departure.) We took a tour bus around the island -- two and a half hour tour, including a half hour stop at Gay Head. Had a very knowledgeable and entertaining driver; we all agreed it was more than worth the money. Drove past the beach where Jaws was filmed. The picture below was taken at Gay Head -- which is no longer called that -- the Wampanoug tribe, who make up just about the entire (sparse) population of that town, voted a few years ago to officially rename it back to its Indian name, Aquinnah.

There's a beach along the base of these bluffs. We were told that the beach is very traditional and modest at its beginnings, but that as you go further and further along the shore towards the bottom of the bluff you see in the background, by long-established tradition, the amount of clothing worn becomes more and more optional until it is a nude beach.

After our tour and after a late lunch back in Oak Bluffs, Nancy and her mother and I took a public bus to Vineyard Haven in the Town of Tisbury. Very friendly, very low key, very relaxed place (of course, that could describe the entire island). We asked the woman in the information both at the bus stop for advice and, after we admitted that we did enjoy art, she suggested we check out the murals in the town hall ("Just stop in the offices and ask them") so we found the Tisbury Town Hall (built in 1844), wandered into their offices and a very nice woman led us upstairs into the main hall (which had been refurbished as a theatre as a gift to the town from Katherine Cournell) where she left us to enjoy looking at the large murals painted on the walls (she told us we didn't have to come back down through the offices, could exit through the front doors, just "pull it closed so you hear it click").

It was a wonderful day trip -- and we were quite thoroughly tired by the time we finally reached home that night. I'm going to close this with another picture from Gay Head, this one without Nancy and me standing there blocking your view...

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