Saturday, July 19, 2008

Islander For A Day

We were up bright and early Saturday and on the turnpike and headed east, by 7:30. We were heading for Martha's Vineyard, on a long awaited group trip...



Leaving so early, we managed to avoid any real traffic snarls, right up until the Bourne Bridge, which crosses over the Cape Cod Canal, and into Cape Cod proper. We caught a little traffic there, but it crawled along and soon we were over and into the enchanted lands of the Cape.



It always amazes me how they built this titanic bridge in two years, in the 1930's no less, yet the renovations on the small bridge in my home town took about four years.



We were finally over, and from there it was a short 20 to 30 minutes to Falmouth, where we were to catch the ferry over to the island. Unfortunately we had just missed the 10:05 ferry, and were forced to linger about waiting for the next one, due about noon time. We sat around the docks for a while, and watched how they made room in the crowded marina for all the boats; stacking and picking them like toys on shelves.



We had rushed down to the dock to try to catch the ferry, but now that we had time to spend, I bicycled back up to nearby Falmouth's main drag for a look around. It was quaint New England, with healthy doses of tourist business mixed in. That would turn out to be the rule of thumb throughout the day...







For a second I thought we had passed through a wormhole, and emerged in Amherst...



We got back in time to mix into the huge crowd of people waiting for the ferry. Luckily the people with bicycles are allowed to go to their own section, in the front of the crowd.



The ferry arrived right on time; everyone was boarded and we set sail, in short order.





After about 30 minutes of open water travel, we could see our destination emerging from the mist...





We landed in Oak Bluffs, one of six towns on the island. Stores, restaurants, bars and shops abound in the business district immediately by the docks.





People also abound. There were a lot of people here. I heard the island's population surges from 7,000 to 70,000 people in the summer months.



In the middle of it all is the Flying Horses; which is supposed to be the oldest carousel in the U.S...We stepped in for a quick look...





They started it up, and the photo-op was over. It was one of those grab the golden ring carousels. I've haven't seen one since I was a kid, I think that was in Old Lyme...



There is a nice big park nearby, overlooking the water.



There are marvelous Victorian era mansions and beach houses surrounding the business district, and in the nearby neighborhoods.







As early as we started out, the rest of our group had started even earlier, and had managed to catch the ferry over a couple hours ahead of us. We made contact with Tom Daponde and Judy over the phone, and were soon heading down the bike path that runs along the eastern edge of the island to meet them.



They were at a beach a few miles down the way. We passed a big golf course, and then a huge lagoon.



Finally we found them, parked our bikes on seashells, and immediately took a refreshing dip in the sea. The water was clean, and just about perfect temperature...



In a little while, the rest of the group converged on our location. We all saddled up, and continued south along the seaside bike path, to Edgartown.



A convoy of advertising-equipped Segways were headed the other way. I wondered out loud why they haven't really caught on yet as conveyances, and the reply came back immediately from the group...cost. I guess they still go for about three thousand dollars or so...That's a lot of Bud Lights.



On the Border of Edgartown and Oak Bluffs, is a bridge. 'Jaws' fans might recognize it from the movie. It now serves as a popular jump spot. A big crowd was gathered there to watch or participate.



We were getting pretty hungry by now, and continued on to Edgartown. Here, our group of tourists play fast and loose with local road regulations, and descended on peaceful Edgartown like a biker gang.



Right after I took the above picture, the lady in the minivan yelled out the window "GO HOME!" I can see how the seasonal invasion of tourists swarming everywhere might wear thin on the natives. But hey, it's Martha's Vineyard... Every other encounter we had with the locals was above par. Very nice people, and loaded with patience, I'm sure.



Like Oak Bluffs, there are sections of Edgartown where they allow cars and massive SUV's to pass though the narrow streets, but inexplicably ban bicycles. You have to park your bikes a couple streets over and walk. The central district was nice and clean with beautiful white houses everywhere. The shops were pretty upscale too. This was definitely a more monied area than Oak Bluffs.





We stopped at a deli for some quick sandwiches, and were soon heading back up the trail. The heat of the day was beginning to weigh on us, and time was beginning to run short. We wanted to have a look at the Shark catching tournament in Oak Bluffs, before it was time to head back to the mainland. The ride back up was as pleasant and scenic as the ride down.









For some reason the butterflies seemed to be exclusively all over these red flowers...



We were soon back in Oak Bluffs, and headed down to the docks for a look at some dead sharks. You heard me.





Shark-Eating Man

The Monster Shark tournament is a huge event for Martha's Vinyard, and a huge draw for tourists and tourist dollars.



Crowds flocked down to the docks to watch the competing fishing ships come in, weigh and record their catches.





There are very specific rules regarding the size and weight of the sharks, and only about one in twenty ships come in with a tournament sized catch, the rest are released. It is a big event, often broadcast on ESPN. Scientists and Marine biologists, as well as the fishermen themselves, come from all over the world to participate in the torunament, or observe and collect data on the sharks brought in.



Of course, that's all one way of looking at the event. Others saw it differently.





This plane had been flying overhead all day.





Whatever your take on the event I'm sure the shark meat, regarded as delicious, does not go to waste.



We had missed the bigger weigh-ins and they were wrapping it all up by the time we got there. The sun was beginning to set, and on some boats, the crews were furiously and meticulously cleaning their vessels of the sea-salt, before it got dark. Meanwhile on other boats, swabbing the decks was lower on the crew's list of priorities...



We walked up Circuit Street (bicycles banned) where a lot of the shops and restaurants were located. We were pretty much wiped out by now, from the heat and travel of the day. The setting sun was beginning to rouse up more and more of the evening's festivity-seekers along the docks. And apparently the people staying on the island were coming back out of their hotels, showered and freshly dressed for a night out. We stopped at an outdoor bar for a cool drink ourselves and watched the sun set, as we waited for our ferry to take us back...





We hope to return again and explore more of the island...maybe for a more peaceful visit, slightly off-season next time...

...for more islander blogging, check out Mary Carey, as she is doing her own island simulcast from nearby Block Island...

2 comments:

wombatclov said...

Very nice post. It has been a few years since I have been there, but it is a great place. Early June is an optimal time, and believe it or not, the winter months are also wonderful for hiking and exploring. The islanders are very nice people, I dated one for a while....

Tony said...

Thanks. It is a truly beautiful island, isn't it. I hope the memories are good ones...!