Written by traveling engineer on 10 Apr, 2009
We wouldn't have thought of Mansfield Massachusetts or nearby Norton as destination towns, but a trip to an outdoor concert at the Comcast Center (former Tweeter Center) made us realize that this was a place to return to. So, about nine months later we did.Wheaton…Read More
We wouldn't have thought of Mansfield Massachusetts or nearby Norton as destination towns, but a trip to an outdoor concert at the Comcast Center (former Tweeter Center) made us realize that this was a place to return to. So, about nine months later we did.Wheaton College, a small (1500 students) college in Norton, Mass achusetts, has history (built in 1832 as a female seminary), abundant art (including a gallery and a separate Mars Arts Humanities building featuring student art) a great Old Town Bookstore and charm galore.One day in April when we couldn't take any more winter, we checked out the Wheaton College website (www.wheatoncollege.edu) for events and learned that multi-media artist Anne Wysocki was showing and talking about her work. The small liberal arts college looks exactly the way the movies picture New England collegiate life: tree-lined and neat. There are always a few students out in what they call the Dimple, a large dip in the center circle of grass, where students, dogs and frisbees rehearse the rites of spring, never quite getting them right.At the moment, a gigantic cottage-like sculpture made entirely out of twisted twigs and branches by nationally known artist Patrick Dougherty rises from the ground, as if it were rooted there.(See photo.) The sculpture will remain there until it decomposes and returns to the earth. We made a day of it, parking in a visitors' lot on Route 123 and crossing by foot. Dougherty's sculpture, which could easily be a home for wood nymphs and sprites, sat a grassy slope to our left, just across from the Watson Fine Arts Buidling, which was our first stop.We went into the Watson Fine Arts building and up a flight of stairs to Wheaton's Beard and Weil Galleries, which offer 3 exhibits at once. On this particular visit, the central exhibit room featured a history of Wheaton, including photos taken by Walker Evans. You'll also learn that Walter Gropius entered a competition to design their arts building, only to come in second place. (To find out about the latest exhibits, go to www.wheatoncollege.edu/gallery.)After our gallery tour, we strolled the path along the mamade Peacock Pond. A student who was walking there told us that the pond had once been nicknamed "the Beach" by the 19th-century girls who swam in it regularly.At the end of the path, we climbed the stairs and entered the bustling Balfour Hood Cafe, where we ordered lattes at the coffee bar and made a quick check of our email using the computers there.We finished our mini-toru with a quick trip across the quad to the Old Town bookstore, where we picked up a sweatshirt souvenir and some great poem magnets for friends.From Wheaton, we drove about 20 minutes to the nearby Wrentham outlets, which has namebrand stores--Liz Claiborne, Barney's and Eddie Bauer, just to name a few.Although the outlet has franchise restaurants like Ruby Tuesdays where you can eat, we decided to wait and drove to nearby Mansfield (about 15 minutes), where the food is a lot better and a lot more interesting. It also put us back closer to Wheaton and the lecture that night.Close
Written by zabelle on 21 Nov, 2007
Let me begin by saying that there are several choices of hop on hop off trolley tours in Boston. Our hotel recommended Old Town Trolley and I am familiar with them having taken their tour in Savannah. The reason we chose Beantown Trolley was that…Read More
Let me begin by saying that there are several choices of hop on hop off trolley tours in Boston. Our hotel recommended Old Town Trolley and I am familiar with them having taken their tour in Savannah. The reason we chose Beantown Trolley was that they went to the Museum of Fine Arts and none of the other tours did. I would recommend Beantown if you plan to visit the Museum but otherwise the tour itself is about two hours to make the round and that is longer than it needs to be.Most of the tours have kiosk at Long Wharf. Beantown is behind the other tours facing Legal Seafood. We bought a two day ticket for $35 and it included a free Boston Harbor Tour (which I will describe in a separate entry). The Harbor Cruise is included May-October, otherwise you get free entrance to the Maparium. We took the 12:30pm Harbor Tour and were back to get on the Trolley at 1:30pm. You get a receipt that is a register tape so be careful to hang on to it, you need to show it every time you get on and off. The tour heads out of Long Wharf and into the North End. Our first driver was not very interesting as a tour guide, he sounded bored and it was pretty much by rote. In spite of this we enjoyed our first views of the area. We then crossed over the Charles River to visit Charlestown where the USS Constitution and the USS Cassin Young are docked. This is also the stop for the Bunker Hill Monument and the Park Department film “Whites of their eyes”. We got off at this stop on our second day of touring to see the film.Coming back across the river to Boston the next stop will allow you to visit Faneuil Hall Market Place, Quincy Market, The Old State House and the site of the Boston Massacre. Needless to say this is a very popular stop. Be sure to keep you trolley tour map close at hand it will tell you everything you need to know about each of the stops.One thing I was hoping was that taking the tour was going to familiarize me with the city and it did in some areas but in others we seemed to weave in and out of streets that made no sense what so ever to me. Stop 7 is the beginning of the Freedom Trail right across the street from the State House. We decided to visit the Otis House on Saturday and this is best reached from stop 8 which is right down the hill from the house.The trolley crosses the Charles River again at this point and goes over into Cambridge. It doesn’t go to Harvard or Harvard Square but it does take you on a loop through MIT.Stop 10 is the Back Bay Hilton and it is an 8 minute stop allowing for a bathroom break if you can find the bathroom in the Hilton (Which we did but not without difficulty and it is a very small bathroom). On Saturday we got off here and walked to the Mary Baker Eddy Center to visit the Maparium. The trolley goes to the Fine Arts Museum if anyone wants to go there otherwise it has a couple of stops in the Back Bay mostly at hotels, go figure. We headed back up Atlantic Ave and returned to where we had started. On our second day we had three tour guides who were much more enthusiastic and actually deserved the tips they so blatantly ask for. Close
Written by zabelle on 03 Dec, 2006
Christmas Tree ShopMultiple locationsChristmas Tree ShopsWith a slogan like "Don’t you just love a bargain" you know that you are going to enjoy shopping here and find lots of wonderful bargains to boot. This chain of shops was founded on the Cape over 30 years…Read More
Christmas Tree ShopMultiple locationsChristmas Tree ShopsWith a slogan like "Don’t you just love a bargain" you know that you are going to enjoy shopping here and find lots of wonderful bargains to boot. This chain of shops was founded on the Cape over 30 years ago and has expanded into the other states of the north east and the tri-state area. What I love about the stories on the cape is that they are smaller, less crowded and much easier to visit.We visited two on this trip, the one in Falmouth and the one in Sagamore and last year we visited the one in West Dennis. If you haven’t ever been to one it is a little hard to describe. Think floor to ceiling seasonal decorations at prices that you won’t be able to believe. Just one example, a three foot Christmas stocking for $4.99, I bought a similar one at Marshalls just 2 weeks ago for $12.99 which I thought was a good price.But it isn’t all about Christmas, there is wood furniture and household items. Last year I bought 2 beautiful hand-painted room screens for $59 each. Try to picture us with two screens in boxes, (they are over 5 feet tall) trying to fit them into our Ford Taurus. The boxes were way too long for our trunk, we had to put them into the car. I was plastered at an angle against the passenger window with my head tipped to the side. We drove back to the hotel to drop them off but it was a very uncomfortable drive, not to mention the 150 mile ride home. They were that good of a buy There are lots of other things too, lots of tea and coffee choices, specialty foods, picture frames and much, much more. It's all great fun and every trip is an experience. Christmas isn’t the only holiday they celebrate, they celebrate them all and all the seasons too. BooksmithFalmouth Plaza, FalmouthI love visiting an independent book store and it is getting harder and harder to find them. This one was almost next door to the Christmas Tree and across the street from the Hearth N Kettle Restaurant. They had a nice selection of local authors as well as books about the Cape. But what we found were an excellent selection of current fiction. Al was looking for a book to read and he found not one but two that were of interest. I picked up a travel sudoku book since I was suffering from puzzle withdrawal. They had a wide variety of magazines, travel books, and a very large children’s section. There is a very cute gift shop within the store. Mashpee CommonsJunction rt 151 & 28Mashpee, MAUsually I wouldn’t write about a Mall, if you have seen one yada, yada, however this one is not like any other I have ever seen. Yes it has loads of store, Williams Sonoma, Ann Taylor, Coldwater Creek, Gap, Talbots, Banana Republic, Pottery Barn and lots more over 90 shops, restaurants, and entertainment. So far nothing unusual but as soon as you drive in you will see the difference. This is a Mall set up like a traditional New England town center. There is a brick clock tower, streets, outdoor cafes, and lots and lots of stores. It is totally charming, even Al who swears he is allergic to Mall shopping had no problem strolling along the streets of Mashpee Commons.Green Briar Nature Center and Jam KitchenEast Sandwich, MaNow you can visit Green Briar and take one of their jam cooking classes or bring the children here to see the animals or you can hike on their trails. What I did however was to visit their shop. Oh my. I love jam and I love savory jellies, chutneys, and relishes, so I felt like I had landed in heaven. There is one wall filled with savories and one wall filled with sweet. Average price is between $4 and $5. There are some combination packs made up or you can buy the jars individually. Either way it is a good buy and very tasty too. Pairpoint GlassSagamore, MaNot only can you shop here for some very high end glassware but you can also watch a glass blower in action Monday-Friday. There are also some one of a kind pieces of glass jewelry from local artists.Hospice Thrift ShopBarnstable MaThis was one of those impulse stops. Brandon had forgotten to bring a swim suit so when I saw the thrift shop I thought I might be able to find one for him. As it turned out they didn’t have any children’s clothing but what they did have was a whole room of vintage Christmas decorations at ridiculously inexpensive prices. I purchased an Irish Coffee crystal Christmas mug and a set of four olive oil dipping bowls and together it cost me $2.50. What I passed on were pretty trays, a Spode bell and lots of very cute ornaments. I also passed on the warm cider and cookies, what was I thinking?Close
Written by richardhall99 on 01 Oct, 2006
A perfect 2-hour ferry ride off America’s east coast lies the island paradise of Nantucket, well away from the commercial chasm that is Cape Cod. From the moment of departure, you sail serenely towards the Cape Cod Gap knowing your heading to the most mystical…Read More
A perfect 2-hour ferry ride off America’s east coast lies the island paradise of Nantucket, well away from the commercial chasm that is Cape Cod. From the moment of departure, you sail serenely towards the Cape Cod Gap knowing your heading to the most mystical of places.
It was early September as the ferry wound its way past the fine array of vessels bobbing in the harbour – this is an excellent place for celebrity spotting as the rich & famous swoon over each others’ priceless sea vessels. The background was filled with an array of white sand, beach huts and an amazing blue cloudless sky.
A fine selection of beach shacks and remote islands glistened in the midday sun as we passed through the Nantucket peninsular. On arrival onto the island a five minute jaunt was all it took to get lost in the maze of winding streets. Stumbling into what I can only describe as a 'hippy heaven', filled with joss sticks and colourful batiks, as well as some of the finest and most genuine lemonade you’ll ever taste, it becomes immediately apparent why people rave about this place so much. The freshly squeezed drink was the perfect replacement for the caffeine loaded trash that had been the only option just a few hours beforehand.
Our hostel was a short taxi ride to the other side of the island and proved itself to be the ideal retreat. Situated on Surf-side Beach & housed in an old life-saving station, The Robert Weston hostel had pretty basic facilities, but it was clean and well priced. … a good forty-five minute trek from the hostel and Nantucket’s lively nightlife is before you. Not for one moment do you sense any murmur or threat, even with dusk set-in, for this is a place of free spirits, care-less thoughts and happy times. A casual wander along the cobbled streets and you’ll discover ample opportunity to sample local eateries and exciting seafood. The locals are experts in all things sea-related and they take great pride in their food. Those on a modest budget have the venerable option of trying out some of the local fish bars for a bite by the port.
Walking by the beach with the fresh September breeze and rising sun is an almighty privilege. I was about to have one of the most amazing experiences of my life. At 8am I stood alone on this spectacular beach; alone with the sea birds and the open ocean delicately playing around my legs. I stood there for about an hour, listening to the aeroplanes ferry out workers to the mainland and surveying the majesty of my surroundings. Jumping around in the waves – at peace with the world and happy as can be - must have been a spectacle for anyone who may have been watching. Certainly, for me it was an experience I won’t ever forget. Nantucket proved itself as one of the most special hide-aways you could ever hope for. It’s a world apart from the clichéd America and worlds away from the trivia and strife of any man's average day.
Written by pinkants on 13 Aug, 2006
With over 25 miles of bicycle paths (and more to come), biking is a great way to explore Nantucket. In addition, the island is only about 14 miles by 3.5 miles, so it is very manageable. Currently, there are 10 bicycle paths to…Read More
With over 25 miles of bicycle paths (and more to come), biking is a great way to explore Nantucket. In addition, the island is only about 14 miles by 3.5 miles, so it is very manageable. Currently, there are 10 bicycle paths to choose from, each marked with a color-coded sign. They are:• Madaket Road• Eel Point-Dionis Beach• Cliff Road• Polpis• Milestone• Nobadeer• Old South Rd.• Airport Rd.• Surfside Beach• Bartlett-SurfsideEach path varies (some are less than a mile long, some are more than 8 miles), so choose accordingly. However, some bike paths run along the NRTA's route (the island's shuttle service), so if you do get tired, you can probably just hop onto a shuttle. In addition, you may want to check with your bike rental store to see if they will pick you up. Each paved bicycle path is separated from the roadway for an ease and convenience. This is great for children as they will not have to bike in the streets with cars. However, in some cases, in order to arrive at the path, you may have to bike on the street for a bit. I should warn you that it is quite a challenge to bike on the cobblestone streets! I decided to walk my bike on the sidewalk instead.You must obey all one-way street and stop signs. There is no riding on the sidewalks--you must walk your bike. Most cars seem accustomed to biking tourists and will generally yield--especially if you are trying to cross a rotary/roundabout!Off-road enthusiasts need not fret--there are many opportunities to go off-road. Just be certain to pick up a map so you won't get lost (most maps are free with the bike rental). My friends and I started on the Milestone bike path, but soon veered off onto dirt roads. These roads are often narrow with many rocks and branches jutting out. However, it is a very interesting way to explore Nantucket as some roads led us to magnificent residences. Biking on Nantucket was a wonderful way to see the island. Breathtaking scenery, refreshing breezes, and blue skies made it a most enjoyable activity!Close
Written by zabelle on 19 Jun, 2006
I have been fascinated by the love story of John and Abigail Adams ever since I read the book Those Who Love by Irving Stone 30 years ago. They seemed in many ways such an odd couple. John, well John was opinionated and…Read More
I have been fascinated by the love story of John and Abigail Adams ever since I read the book Those Who Love by Irving Stone 30 years ago. They seemed in many ways such an odd couple. John, well John was opinionated and difficult and a bit of a hypochondriac and Abby was outgoing and way too smart for a woman. Actually just how smart she was is proven by her marriage to John, who was perhaps the only man in Colonial America who was appreciative of her sound advise and financial expertise. No shrinking violet Abby, she used her very considerable skills as a business woman to keep her husbands interests from failing, and to supply him with the funds he needed to survive in Europe during his several appointments there.There are three houses that we get to visit. The first two are the Birthplace of John Adams and John Quincy Adams. They are the two oldest presidential birthplaces in the US. The first house was purchased by John Adams's father Deacon John Adams in 1720. Originally it had six acres of land and was a two over two construction. It is furnished with period pieces, but not original Adams pieces.We begin in Susanna Boylston Adams kitchen. They were not a wealthy family, so Susanna would have done her own cooking over an open fire in the kitchen. In order to know how long to cook certain things they would sing a song or recite a verse the right length, pretty inventive I thought. John Adams wanted to be a farmer when he was young but his love of books won out and he attended Harvard and became a lawyer,I was much more interested in John Quincy Adams birthplace. This is the house where Abby and John lived, and had their children. But what really interested me was the parlor. There was the original desk where Abby wrote all the wonderful letters that have survived to John. While he was away on his lawyer circuit, while he was in Philadelphia, in Paris and London, their letters are one of the best historic records of the times especially at the ground level. We get her view of events as the transpired. She watched the battle of Bunker Hill from a hillside in Quincy. She was always hungry for information about what is going on in negotiations where ever John was. We also get John’s view on some of the other great figures of the time. He was not a big Ben Franklin fan. It is a simple house by today’s standards and small, the Adams were always struggling to pay their bills. The third House called Old House is a much larger house and it was here that the Adams came after John returned from England. It is built in the Southern style, and Abby had her uncle buy it while they were still in Europe. It was not nearly as well kept as Abby remembered, and required quite a lot to get it into shape. John Quincy Adams lived here to the end of his life and changed it from a farm house to a country estate. The last Adams family members to live here were the grandchildren of John Quincy. It is furnished with original Adams furniture and that alone makes the visit worthwhile. There is also a visit to John Quincy’s library which is fabulous. John Adams had 4,000 books when he died, 3,000 were sent to the Boston Public library, John Quincy added an additional 12,000 books. It is now managed by the National Park Service and security is very tight. All three of the houses must be visited on tours that are conducted by the park service. In 2004 230,000 people toured the houses. Visits to the house our conducted from the visitor center where a trolley provides transportation. The number of people is managed so you need to get your tickets early. Last trolley leaves the visitor center at 3pm. Allow 2 to 2 ½ hours to visit the three houses. There is also a carriage house that may be visited. Close
Written by chewie on 05 Jul, 2000
We headed for Edgartown's South Beach on our bikes one morning, riding along the bike path on Beach Road and not knowing where the road would take us next. These kinds of journeys are the best, when you never know what will be around…Read More
We headed for Edgartown's South Beach on our bikes one morning, riding along the bike path on Beach Road and not knowing where the road would take us next. These kinds of journeys are the best, when you never know what will be around the next bend. We passed majestic rows of Victorian houses along the beach, saw the ocean on one side and fields of grass and flowers on the other, biked through arches of trees, stopped to buy ice-cold lemonade and oatmeal cookies from neighborhood kids along the road, and even were surprised to see llamas casually grazing on somebody's front lawn. Strange but true. The distance of the ride to our beach destination was about 5-6 miles, exhaustive at some parts because of the sloping hills but still enjoyable because of the beautiful and sometimes unexpected scenery. Our reward was finally getting to a great beach, lying in the sun and relaxing from our long ride. After a couple of hours, we started again on our bikes and headed towards Edgartown. On our way, we ran into another young lemonade entrepeneur squeezing fresh lemonade with his juice press and concocting the best lemonade I've ever tasted. Only 50 cents. In Edgartown we took smoothie break at Mad Martha's, the local ice cream store that makes homemade ice cream (their mint chocolate chip ice cream is so good). Like reckless kids on our bikes, we rode back to our place in Oak Bluffs, exhausted but completely satisfied. Close
Written by ssullivan on 01 Mar, 2005
On the last morning of my weekend in Boston, my friend and I had about 2.5 hours between finishing breakfast at our hotel and the time we needed to be back at the hotel to check out and head for Logan Airport to catch our…Read More
On the last morning of my weekend in Boston, my friend and I had about 2.5 hours between finishing breakfast at our hotel and the time we needed to be back at the hotel to check out and head for Logan Airport to catch our 2pm flight home. Both of us love the Beacon Hill neighborhood, a section of the city we had yet to visit on this trip, so we decided that a walk through the neighborhood and adjacent Boston Common and Public Garden were in order.
Beacon Hill is one of Boston’s most prestigious neighborhoods, and from the 1790s through the development of Back Bay in the 1870s, Beacon Hill was the place to live in Boston if you were wealthy. After a period of decline through the 1870s to 1950s, Beacon Hill began to see a renaissance in the mid-20th century. Today, the neighborhood has regained its former status, and even the most modest homes are prohibitively expensive for the average Bostonian. The neighborhood remains home to thousands of historic Federal-style homes, many designed by famed Boston architect Charles Bulfinch; a number of beautiful churches; and some unique shops along Charles St.
Our Sunday morning walk through Beacon Hill started by crossing the Common and heading down Beacon Street from the Massachusetts Statehouse. The south slope of the hill facing the Common has always been one of the neighborhood’s premiere addresses, and the architecture reflects this. Beacon Street is lined on one side with a row of grand Federal mansions, and on the other, by the Common and Public Garden. Reaching Charles Street, the dividing street between the Common and Public Garden, we turned left and headed into the neighborhood.
Charles Street is primarily a commercial street, with some apartments on the upper levels of the historic buildings that house florists, produce markets, butchers, book shops, art galleries, and antique shops on the street level. Some of these shops are absolutely beautiful, with colorful displays of perfect fruits, vegetables, and flowers filling the store windows, enticing passers by to come inside to browse. The nearest supermarket is at Copley Square, so many residents in this part of town rely on the smaller markets on Charles Street for many of their groceries and other necessities. For a lover of urban living like myself, this type of neighborhood is almost divine; how nice it must be to just walk down the block to a nice neighborhood store owned by friendly people who have had the shop in their family for generations to buy a loaf of bread instead of getting in the car to drive to a nearby mega market like I must do at home in Houston! Walking by these shops, I wonder if the residents of Beacon Hill really appreciate what they have, or if they are as oblivious to it as I am about going to a huge supermarket surrounded by a giant parking lot.
Reaching Mt. Vernon Street., we turn left and cross in front of the historic Charles Street Meeting House, which dates to the early 1800s. Originally built to house a Baptist congregation, the building has more recently been converted to commercial use but still retains its classic architecture. Next door stands a site familiar to viewers of MTV’s reality show The Real World. The old fire station that housed the cast and crew of the 1997 season of the show is located at 127 Mt. Vernon on the corner of Mt. Vernon and River Streets, just off Charles Street. The building is now the home of Hill House, a nonprofit community center. Across the street at 130 Mt. Vernon is the whimsical Sunflower Castle, definitely the most unique and colorful home in the neighborhood. We continued down Mt. Vernon, then turned right and circled back toward Charles Street via Pickney Street, passing more unique and beautiful examples of Boston’s 19th-century residential architecture.
After reaching Charles Street again, I had to convince my friend, who is not a fan of hills, that it really was worth walking up Pickney to the summit of Beacon Hill. After a few protests, we crossed the street and started up the steep incline. Granted, Beacon Hill is nothing compared to the hills of San Francisco that I drug this same friend up and down for 3 days a year and a half earlier, but it’s still a bit of a climb. Going up the hill, it’s interesting to see how builders of these houses accommodated building the structures on the side of a steep incline. Many have half basements and half basements that are partly below street level and partly above it. Some houses are built with stairs leading up to the front door, while others have just a small step up from the sidewalk. Toward the top of the hill we reached Louisburg Square, still arguably the most prestigious address in all of Boston. This enclave of homes, which surrounds the city’s last private square, is perhaps the best example of the neighborhood’s architecture. In the center of the tree-filled square, which is surrounded by an iron fence to keep out nonresidents, stands a statue of Christopher Columbus, an 1850 gift of a wealthy Greek merchant. Louisburg Square is said to be the place where the Christmas traditions of Christmas Eve caroling and candlelit windows started.
Leaving Louisburg Square, we continued several more blocks before turning right and heading back toward Beacon Street. Sometime during this section of the walk, the air began to be filled with the bell peals of area churches calling their congregants for Sunday morning worship. The sound of the bells, resounding in all directions and echoing down the narrow streets, was a glorious celebration of a beautiful morning. It was the perfect compliment to an absolutely wonderful walk through one of Boston’s finest neighborhoods on a cold, clear late February Sunday morning. And it was the perfect way to end a short but fun visit to one of my favorite cities.
Written by SFPhotocraft on 15 Oct, 2004
The first morning, we headed right to R.W. Culter to pick up four bikes at 1 Main Street in Edgartown. It was a good outfit recommended by the front desk of our hotel. They had a lot of bikes to choose from.…Read More
The first morning, we headed right to R.W. Culter to pick up four bikes at 1 Main Street in Edgartown. It was a good outfit recommended by the front desk of our hotel. They had a lot of bikes to choose from. They staff was mostly young college guys who were very helpful at selecting the right bike height for the kids. It wasn't long and we were off peddling around the island.
The hardest part of the bike ride on Martha's Vineyard is driving in the towns. We were in Edgartown, and it was a bit of an obstacle course to maneuver around cars and pedestrians.
Once outside of the village center, driving was a breeze. Martha's Vineyard (especially around Edgartown) is fairly flat and easy to cycle. We had an eight-year-old girl with us on a very small bike frame, so we needed to keep things simple.
Our first bike trip was to the easiest beach to get to from Edgartown and is one of the most scenic. It's simply called Lighthouse Beach and is a small beach that surrounds the Edgartown lighthouse. Getting to the beach was less than a mile of flat road. It could have easily been walked to from Edgartown. Every beach, shop, restaurant, and public building on the island has a bike rack, so it's never a problem to find a place to store your bike. We locked our bikes and walked down to the beach.
This beach was great, a bit rocky, but had a lot of character with the picturesque, white lighthouse guarding the bathers. There were a lot of kids on this beach, and I think it was popular because it was so easy to get to from town.
The beach also had a small pond on the opposite side of the lighthouse, which seemed to be a big draw for the kids. Tons of small kids were there catching crabs in pails and finding other small marine life. I always marvel at how kids are able to make new friends at the drop of a hat, with no pretense like we adults have. However, all the fun soon stopped when a young shark was trapped in one of the small pools. He was probably about 4 feet long, just big enough to give every parent a bit of a scare and get the kids out of the pond. (Was that the Jaws music I just heard?)
The kids thought the shark pond was totally cool, but dad felt different, so we got back on the bikes and headed around the neighborhood around Lighthouse Beach. The houses were incredible. These are summer beach homes and each one was a lot larger than the house we call home! They had sweeping lawns down to the beach. A guy can dream, can't he? We peddled by the Harbor View Hotel, which is a grand hotel overlooking the harbor. It has a large inviting porch where folks were just rocking and letting the world go by.
We did find one beach that was somewhere between Lighthouse Beach, but not as far up as Joseph Sylvia Beach. I looked on several maps and none of them have the name of this piece of beach named. However, it was very clean and had a few families on it. The water was calm and the kids had a ball on it. They met a friendly lab and played fetch with him for hours. This may have been a private beach, and we were just too green to figure it out. In any case, it made for a delightful few hours.
The kids then begged to take the small ferry over to Chappaquiddick Island. They really had no interest in seeing the island, but they sure wanted to ride the ferry. The ferry leaves from Edgartown and is a small, flat ferry that only carries three cars at a time and as many bodies and bikes as it can carry. The line for cars was pretty long, but with a bike, you can move up to the front of the line. The ferry only takes a few moments, but is a fun old-fashioned sort of ride. The kids loved it!
There isn't a lot to see on Chappaquiddick; even the old Dyke Bridge where Ted Kennedy had his accident is now torn down. The road was gravel and got a little steep, and Breana started having a hard time keeping up, so we headed back to the ferry. On the way, we noticed a very pristine beach club and decided maybe we could pay the admission and spend a few hours here. When we approached the guard, he pretty much laughed at us and told us the wait for membership is just over two years. Sorry!
We did find a bit of beach, right next to the ferry on Chappy. It was a small little nothing strip of beach, but it had lots of kids. The water here very calm and it was fun to watch all the boat traffic float by. We watched a group of kids taking sailing lessons and our two kids wanted to take the class as well. I have to admit, it did look like fun.
All too soon we were back on the ferry and again fighting the Edgartown traffic. We parked our bikes at the Colonial Inn bike rack for the night and did our town exploring on foot.
The next day we agreed to take a longer bike trip, and we took Herring Creek Road to South Beach. This was a very easy bike trail and one we all enjoyed. The trail is very groomed and very flat. It was easy for the whole family. It's a pleasant ride: in some spots there are beautiful homes and in other spots pretty little vineyard ponds and some views of the harbor. The whole ride to South Beach is about 4 miles.
We loved the beach. It's a big broad, white-sand beach with a life guard, sweeping dunes, and even a porta-pottie. It had some fairly good surf and the kids loved playing wave tag in the Atlantic. This to me was what I pictured as Martha's Vineyard, and I was not let down. The beach was somewhat empty for a summer day, but I will admit, it was a bit cloudy.
On the way back, we stopped at a little grocery store and got some cokes in a bottle, some Cape Cod chips, and some great homemade crab dip and had a little picnic on the lawn. It was one of those impromptu travel moments that will stay with me for a long time. Everyone was happy, stress free, and enjoying our little family.
All too soon we were back to our hotel, and we had to turn in our bikes the next morning. We were happy we rented bikes and can tell you this was the only way to travel.
We did not make it around the island, but many avid bikers do. I am told that Gay Head Cliffs are worth the ride (although you will run into some hills here). We got just a taste, but we will be back for more!
Written by Drever on 20 Nov, 2004
"... Being thus arrived in a good harbour, and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of heaven who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth..."…Read More
"... Being thus arrived in a good harbour, and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of heaven who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth..." It is with these words that William Bradford described the arrival in New England of the daring group of English colonists known as the Pilgrims.
I have spoken with the Pilgrims and heard their stories – well as good as! In the recreated Pilgrim Village of Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts, each day represents that day in the year 1627. Skilled actors play the part of the Pilgrims. They speak with 17th-century dialects and having knowledge only of their own time they can discuss nothing of events since.
Taking a seat by the crackling log fire lighting up the dim recesses in the single roomed clapboard house of a Pilgrim from the Isle of Man, I stepped back into the 17th Century. I could understand why the Pilgrims seeking religious freedom and preservation of their culture sought new shores but the scheme still seemed insane. I wanted to know why they should have been so foolhardy to begin an Atlantic crossing in early winter in 1620 in the Mayflower, a ship that had only made the short crossings to Holland. It turned out that they had two ships but the other, the Speedwell, was partly rotten so they had to turn back several times. Abandoning Speedwell at Plymouth, England its passengers joined those on the already crowded Mayflower. When they left it was September 6 and winter was fast approaching.
I then asked why they missed their intended destination, the mouth of the Hudson River, by hundreds of miles. 'Would thou have done better?' I meekly replied, 'I suppose not.' The true answer was 'Yes' but if I had tried to explain GPS navigation I would have seemed insane to this 17th century gent.
Wandering down the roughly laid out street and into some of the crudely furnished houses, I watched the Pilgrims at work. I learned what a pottage is and saw a bluefish cooking on the hearth, cows milked and houses under construction. Depending on the season, they may plant a garden, hoe cornfields, or bring the harvest in and store it. Each day in the Village is different and each colonist is an individual whose conversation applies to his circumstances. One appeared to be a reformed alcoholic who had come from a settlement further south and had little interest in the Bible.
The Pilgrims settled in an area cleared of trees by the Pokanoket Indians. Unknown to the settlers, the Indians on the site had all died of plague. However if it hadn’t been for other Pokanokets living nearby and the Mayflower delaying its departure until April all the settlers would have perished during that first winter of a sickness – half did. Judging by the freezing gale blowing in off the sea when I was there, the temperature in their temporary turf built huts couldn’t have helped.
The site also contained a recreated Pokanoket camp of the period. Fascinated I watched the burning out of a log into a canoe. Entering one of their houses I found it to be on a par with the Pilgrims’ homes - apart from only having a hole in the roof to allow smoke from the log fire to escape.
Mayflower II (a reproduction of the 17th-century vessel) was available for inspection at the harbour in Plymouth. Unfortunately time was of the essence so I didn’t have time to explore it but visitors learn about the Pilgrims' ocean crossing. I have been on a recreated Golden Hind, Sir Francis Drake’s ship, so I could imagine the head cracking cramped conditions aboard.