Would you believe I have only been to Cape Cod a couple times, and the islands never? In the early 1970s I camped at Otis Air Force Base and explored the Cape, and in the early 90s spent several days with high school friends, one of whom has owned Ridgewood Motel and Cottages in Orleans for decades. That is changing now. A fantastic TravelZoo bargain (75% off) prompted me to book two nights at the 1891 Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown. About the only planning I did was to book the ferry from Woods Hole for 2:30 on Sunday the 26th to explore all of Martha’s Vineyard.
You can see the “grey ghost” on the left. this is an open ferry, I saw two others with enclosed vehicle spaces. The ferries are always on the go “ferrying.”
With almost 60 images to share, many are in “galleries” that if you wish to see larger images, just click on any image in that group to open the “slideshow.” And, you can “click” on single small images to see a larger version.
I first wandered around “downtown” Vineyard Haven and got a bite to eat prior to heading off to Edgartown.
But, on the way I decided to first stop at Oak Bluffs, which has been a curiosity since high school because of the cottage style architecture. Originally begun as a Methodist Camp Meeting Ground in 1835, it was camps such as this that lead to the development of the summer resort and summer vacation experience. I was shocked when I arrived, because unlike other camp meeting grounds that I have visited around the country this was not gated, it is huge, and encompasses fantastic Victorian architecture extending well beyond the grounds of the camp association.
But first almost on the ocean I discovered The Flying Horses. This Flying Carousel is the nation’s oldest platform carousel. Constructed in 1876 by Charles Dare, it is one of only two Dare carousels still in existence. It originally operated at Coney Island, New York, and was moved to Oak Bluffs in 1884.
And, enjoy this “moving” experience.
The Methodists first camped in tents surrounding the park where services were held. A tabernacle seating more than 3,000 was built of iron in 1879.
In time, tents were replaced by cottages leading to the original name of the town – Cottage City. These Gothic revival “gingerbread cottages” number about 300 around the tabernacle on the church grounds. Cottage City in 1907 became Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts, and within the town is Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association.
Here is a collection of more of these wonderful structures.
I arrived at the Harbor View Hotel (built in 1891) in Edgartown at 4:30. Thank you TravelZoo. Rooms “in season” in the main hotel are $400 to $500 plus – a night. I am enjoying the experience for a quarter of that.
The original part of the hotel is where the entrance is up to the gable end. Additions went to the left, then right, and to the rear. Behind the 1891 hotel and additions are newer units with multiple rooms and suites. Of course, I needed to stay in the original part and enjoy the lobby. Here are some selected images.
On Monday morning I enjoyed the lobby planning to leave to get to the Martha’s
Vineyard Museum when it opened up. I spent about an hour there on the small well-kept grounds. The brief history of the island was good, but too short leaving me wanting more. A temporary exhibit on ladies’ undergarments I found fascinating with lots of information I have never before seen, so I have included much of it if you wish to open up the slide show and read along.
At this point I must interject that Edgartown is about the most pristine town I have seen with fabulous homes and grounds, and all immaculately restored and groomed. However, I would be scared to come here in season as the streets are narrow, there is no parking, and it must be gridlock.
I next headed to the far western end of the island (one main east/west road through the center of the island). I am impressed with the farmland, impressive stonewalls everywhere, and the low trees and vegetation. Even without leaves, it was hard to believe I was in New England.
The Gay Head Lighthouse was my destination at the far western end of the island. But first I swung into Menemsha, a working fishing village. Everywhere food spots are still closed as it is still off-season, but I always find unique places to eat. Where did you eat today?
And, my crab-cake sandwich and clam chowder in a unique setting.
Of course, you know all about Menemsha. It is where Quint’s workshop was — JAWS – remember. In fact, I found a website listing filming locations for JAWS, and I was at most all of them shown today. Compare this link with some of my views.
Arriving at the Gay Head Lighthouse, work has now begun to move it. The first lighthouse was built in 1799, and the current one in 1854-6. Erosion (look at my images) has encroached, and last week the light shut off. Crews were at work today beginning the task of moving the lighthouse 135 feet
You know I can find fantastic roads or paths no matter what vehicle I may be in.
And, I sidetracked to the Town of West Tisbury which is so typical of a small New England village, but also has Alley’s General Store, which opened in 1858. You know old country stores are another weakness of mine (as is the sound of pounding rain on the roof which I hear outside at this moment – 10:15 PM).
And, just a fraction of the colorful and packed interior. Note post office on far wall and some old display cases.
You may recall I have titled this post, “Island Hopping” – well, I would be remiss if I did not take the ferry across to Chappaquiddick Island – a sea voyage of 527 feet! And, you would not be happy with me if I did not seek out the unmarked, un-mentionable scene of the infamous July 18, 1969 crime. Most of you probably are too young to remember the event that killed a presidential run.
Here is Chappy Ferry starting in downtown Edgartown crossing to Chappaquiddick Island. The ferry can accommodate three cars, or equivalent.
I toured the island, but my destination was the bridge on Dike Bridge Road crossing tidal Poucha Pond to the shoreline. It took some on-line research (I am the best) to get the spot identified.
Note above the bridge turns to the left. You can see below that coming down the road, if you do not turn you would be in the water. The guard rails are a recent, albeit too late, addition. Having read the detailed account on WikiPedia, I am amazed that the Senator was not charged with negligence if not murder.
The sign says that only vehicles for use on the sand beaches may cross. I wisely choose to heed the warning that I would get stuck, and below you can see why.
Here is a panorama of Edgartown from Chappaquiddick Island.
Time to head back to the ferry. This time I was the first car in line, and am glad the brakes held. The operator has you pull up to within feet of the end of the deck. It looks as though I am truly driving on water.
But a safe return.
And then time to read and write, and have the best salmon dinner that I have ever had.
I better post this before I go on with more. But heading back to the mainland tomorrow, and more explorations to come on the journey home. Good night, as always, RAY