To say that baby boomers might have more “time on their hands” than we used to is a given. Many of us are retired, the kids are long gone, and we are prone to travel. What we like about Erin O’Brien’s story about her “Martha’s Vineyard Misadventure … Turned Adventure” is that she knows just what she wants to do with her time when she leaves her home in Warwick, Rhode Island. And writes about it for BoomerCafé.
Aboard the “Ava Pearl” ferry, the American flag flapped behind me in the sea breeze. The towering Newport Bridge grew smaller and smaller, and the sailboats grew fewer and fewer as I counted the lighthouses along the way. I marveled at the deep green of the Massachusetts hills, the seabirds skimming the waves so far from land. I was finally on my way back to Martha’s Vineyard.
Thinking back upon my first trip to the fabled islands, I wondered if it was the heat, the shellfish, the choppy sea, or a combination of all three that nearly did me in. In retrospect, perhaps ordering a lobster roll with a migraine in progress before boarding a ferry was not a good idea. But on that smoldering August day of that first trip, my sister-in-law and I trailed behind my husband in the scorching sun on what she dubbed the death march, huddled under a shared umbrella to escape the harsh rays, as we made our way across Martha’s Vineyard.
Now, on this pleasant, breezy June day on my return trip to the Vineyard, I visualized the romantic pages from a 1968 National Geographic of sun-bleached shingled beach cottages, and striped umbrellas in the sand.
Oak Bluffs, one of Martha’s Vineyard’s six towns, was the summer escape beginning in 1835, an escape for a Methodist minister’s flock to get fresh air and the wholesomeness of nature. Little gingerbread houses in a row, remnants of that Victorian age, were their beach cottages. I arrived at Oak Bluffs ferry landing where my college roommate and her husband greeted me with a hot cup of tea.
She pointed out a charming old home which belonged to an African-American woman in the late 1800s, when Oak Bluffs was an oasis for the black community during segregation. The early morning crossing would give us plenty of time for exploring.
Our first stop was the Scottish Bakehouse, where naturally I ordered a scone from the tempting glass display case, and another cup of tea. We dined outside in the sunshine on a picnic table on the lawn right outside the door. Speaking of scones, my friend broke the news to me gently that the little red Katama General Store — home of the best blueberry scones — was closed for renovations. Back when I lived on the other coast, she once airmailed me a box of these island delicacies, all the way to California!
Lush, tall green trees hugged either side of the road on our way into town. As we neared Edgartown, picturesque old wooden homes, bedecked in blue and lavender hydrangeas sat behind weathered picket fences.
For lunch, we sauntered in to The Black Sheep, a gourmet deli and small specialty store. From our vantage point on the tiny patio in front, we enjoyed giant sandwiches and watched the other tourists go by.
We poked our heads into a lovely nautical themed antique store, where we browsed a collection of jewelry and furniture in what seemed like a private home long ago. Bakeries, bookstores, and beaches— I was in heaven, as we strolled the sidewalk, where no one seemed to be in a hurry.
Lighthouse lovers (or, “pharophiles”) don’t have very far to travel to see Martha’s Vineyard’s five romantic beacons. I recalled the open-air bus ride was a timesaver, on that muggy August day.
Having made the most of every minute with my dear friend and tour guide, I ended up last in line at the ferry port, carrying my backpack containing my leftover lunch. It was tempting to take a later ferry home to extend our visit and watch the sunset.
But Martha’s Vineyard will be there this summer, with its wide beaches, Victorian architecture, distinctive restaurants and coffee houses, abundant hydrangeas, old churches, American history, and the newly remodeled red general store with those scrumptious blueberry scones.