We arose very early one Saturday morning, drove down to the Woods Hole departure point, got pointed back the direction we came to the parking lot and its shuttle (10 miles back down the road!), caught the shuttle at the time we should've been catching the ferry, arrived back at Woods Hole in time to miss the next freight ship, and finally purchased our tickets on a ferry going to a different destination point than our intended one. Not exactly a smooth start to the day, but we boarded the ferry and were off on our adventure!
Past weather-beaten, shingled homes, a lighthouse, and numerous other sailing vessels, we slipped out into the sea.
The 45-minute long ferry crossing took us to the island town of Vineyard Haven (where Susan Branch lives, if you're familiar with that charming cookbook author). From there, we boarded a very crowded bus to our first point of exploration, the town of Edgartown. After a 20 minute bus ride, we had arrived, and I was quite ready to cease with cars, buses, and ferries and just take to my own two feet! So, off we went to eat a quieting lunch and discover why everyone loves Edgartown!
We popped into a few shops along the brick-lined streets, admired the flags and buntings everywhere, ooh-ed and ahh-ed at all the planters overflowing with red, white, and blue flowers and the breathtaking profusion of blooming hydrangeas everywhere, petted every Golden Retriever we encountered, and then walked the length of a quieter residential street to get to a lighthouse. It's the quiet streets of these islands that always capture my heart, for it's there that real living happens...in homes. I never tire of looking at homes. Do you? They are such fascinating clues to the people who live within, such statements of their character, life-style, and family life. So, come along, and I'll show you with pictures the sights we found most charming in Edgartown...
We found the small lighthouse and ascended the spiraling stairs and a steep ladder to enjoy the view from the top.
While I enjoyed sitting in the shade of the lighthouse and snapping photos, the girls went down to the shore and gathered seashells.
Then we walked back into town, indulged in some ice cream (really, it's your patriotic duty to eat ice cream when on the islands!), and then boarded the bus to take us to our next destination (and also where we'd catch the ferry back to the mainland), Oak Bluffs.
The first "must see" in Oak Bluffs are the "gingerbread cottages". These are a total of 300+ cottages built in the mid-1800's that grew out of the campmeeting religious movement of the time. To read more about their history, click here. The buildings are remarkably well-preserved, privately owned, and rented out as vacation rentals now.
And on our way back to the ferry, we stopped in to see the nation's oldest carousel. It is also one of only 20 carousels remaining in the nation that has retained its brass ring feature. From the sideline, an attendant drops rings down a little chute. Riders, as they go whirling past, lean out and try to snag a ring. Now many rings come down, but only one in the course of the ride will be a brass one. As rings are collected, each rider deposits them on a spike affixed to the top of their horse's head. And the fortunate person who grabs the one brass ring gets a free ride!
And here comes to ferry to take us back to the mainland. A very memorable day exploring Martha's Vineyard!