The Cape & Martha’s Vineyard

For Labor Day Weekend, we returned to Cape Cod. Shepard and I visited in June 2018 for the Boy Scouts Troop 25 Trip, but we hadn’t been there as a family since the summer of 2017. I’ve been visiting the Cape ever since I was a kid. My Uncle Steven (and Aunt Susan) has been spending time in Falmouth since the mid-1970’s.


Now they live there most of the time. They are always gracious hosts. On this trip, we also made it to Martha’s Vineyard for the first time in some time. The kids don’t remember the last time we took them to the island because they were so young. Debbie and I have been racing on the Cape and Vineyard for 25 years. I did the Tour of Martha’s Vineyard in 1994. The classic 100 kilometer road cycling race was always held the week after the Killington Stage Race. Sadly, they don’t hold either race anymore, but they were both fun events.


Debbie and I ran the Martha’s Vineyard Half Marathon in 2003. I don’t think they hold that event anymore either. We ran the frigid Martha’s Vineyard 20-Miler in 2007 and 2010. She ran the Cape Cod Marathon in 2013. I did the Falmouth Triathlon in 2015. Amazingly, we have never done the Falmouth Road Race (running), but it is on our bucket list. I also want to do the Vineyard Triathlon. This year’s race is next weekend. We won’t be going back this year, but it’s on the list.


Both the Cape and the Vineyard have natural beauty that make them great venues for endurance sports events. Informally summer is coming to a close and we wanted to have one more weekend of adventure. It was only a week ago that we were in the mountains of New Hamphire and Maine.


I’m still not feeling great after my bike crash (three weeks ago), but have remained active. We figured that a weekend on the Cape, visiting Steven and Susan, would be a fun family adventure and the salt air would do us all some good. After a full work week, we eased into the weekend. We packed the car and trailer on Saturday morning and drove through Providence, Rhode Island, stopping at Plant City.


This hip vegan food court opened in June and we were happy to finally visit. The food and atmosphere were both excellent. There were so many options that we returned today on the trip home, for a second meal. We were “on Cape” by late Saturday afternoon and while the kids went for a swim, I took a spin down to Woods Hole and back.


Sunday was our Vineyard day. Debbie and I arose early and did a short run in Falmouth, Then, the four of us took the Island Queen ferry at 9:00 A.M., arriving in Oak Bluffs before 10:00 A.M. We rode towards Edgartown, stopping at State Beach so that the kids could swim. It was a glorious morning and set the tone for a fine weather day. After drying them off, we continued on the bike path to Edgartown where we met up with our friend Joanne Raia (RAWJO) who has spent the summer working on the Vineyard. It was great to see her. She is a fantastic chef and has collaborated with Debbie on several plant-base cooking and catering events, including some at our house.


We had lunch at a local deli and walked around. Debbie and Dahlia stayed in town while Shepard and I set off on an adventure with the plan of getting more miles on our legs. We ended up getting even more miles than planned. We also planned to find some trails to ride. He had his Islabikes Creig (MTB) and I had my Seven Evergreen XX “do everything” bike. On the way out of town, we stopped at the Edgartown Fire Museum and it was a real treat. There was some cool equipment on display showing off the great history of fire fighting on the island.


We headed west on Edgartown-West Tisbury Road and then picked up the bike path. There are awesome paths all over the island. We took the path past the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest and over towards the airport. Then, we headed due south on the dirt Waldrons Bottom Road. We continued on the even more sandy seasonal Hughes Thumb Road all the way to Long Point Beach. The beach is part of Long Point Wildlife Refuge and one of seven properties that The Trustees of Reservations protects on the island.


I was hoping to get over to the southwest corner of the island so that I could explore Aquinnah and the Menemsha Pond area, but I was more than happy to explore with Shep. Back in June, I read Wall Street Journal story about Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis’ compound in Aquinnah. It looked so beautiful. I knew we wouldn’t get close to the private compound, but I wanted to see the area. Christie’s has the listing for Red Gate Farm. It’s worth checking out. If you do click the link, make sure you watch the video–it’s well done. I’ll visit Aquinnah next time.


I was thrilled to be exploring with Shepard. We left our bikes at The Trustees gate house and walked down to the beach to see the surf. I’ve been on the south shore of the island once before, but it was in the month of January.  He was excited to see the bigger waves. We didn’t have time to test the surf. He said he wanted to come back with a boogie board. We vowed to return.


The problem is that I didn’t realize I would be returning so quickly! We retraced our route to the main road, but then continued west on the bike path paralleling the southern edge of the airport. We then went off-road again, taking an old jeep road across fields as we headed due north through the State Forest. We connected with another section of freshly paved bike path and headed east. That’s when I had an “uh oh” moment. I stopped my bike and told Shep that I left my messenger bag hanging on the bike rack at the Long Point Beach gate house. I knew something was missing. It was packed with all our stuff, including my wallet. I had my iPhone, so I called Debbie to explain the situation.


I helped Shep navigate to the bike path that parallels Edgartwown-Vineyard Haven Road. It was  a few more miles north and east. I tore a page with a map from the guide book and sent him in the southeasterly direction back towards Edgartown with the plan to meet his mother and sister. I told Debbie I was returning to the beach to get my bag and then I would meet them at the bridge that connects Edgartown and Oak Bluffs.


I had to haul back to the Trustees property and figured it would take 30 minutes to get there and then another 45 minutes to get back to the bridge where we would meet up. I was bummed that I had to go backwards, but there was nothing I could do. I hammered the whole way there. At one point, I was behind a pickup truck, choking in his dust cloud, but I was going faster, so he let me pass and I just pushed on. When I got there, The Trustees gate keeper was happy to see me. She figured it was my bag and had no way of contacting me. It was untouched, so I just slung it over my shoulder, said goodbye, and headed north again.


When I got to the bridge, there was a big crowd. Jumping from this bridge is a rite of passage. In the scrum were Debbie, Shep, and Dahlia. Deb and Shep were amongst the jumpers. I soon joined them for a dip in the water beneath the bridge that connects Nantucket Sound with Sengekontacket Pond. The jumping part was fine. It was the balancing on the wet and sandy bridge railing that made me nervous. The good news is that we didn’t get hurt. That bridge is an accident waiting to happen!


We did one final group jump and then changed back into our riding clothes with the intent of making the 5:15 P.M. ferry from Oak Bluffs back to Falmouth Heights. We got there more than 30 minutes in advance, but the line was long. An Island Queen staffer walked back to our spot in line and said that we “should” make it on the ferry. We were worried, but stayed positive. When the ship arrived and we started to board, it looked promising. Then, with about 10 people in front of us, the “counters” closed off the rope gate. That sucked. The next ferry would be at 6:45 P.M. and they were running late. We had to sit there for 90+ minutes with the sun going down. We had to remain to keep our spot in line.


That was a long character-building-wait for the kids (and me). I stayed with the kids and our bikes. Debbie walked into town and returned with a bag of Cape Cod potato chips which the four of us promptly devoured. I had gone most of the day without much to eat. Thankfully we had extra layers as we needed them when the temperature dropped. When the Island Queen returned, we were thrilled. The line was long again but this time we were at the front. Just like before, a handful of folks didn’t make it. They had to wait for the final sailing of the day, at 8:00 P.M. There is only “one” Island Queen and she goes back and forth.


We were back at Steven and Susan’s house just after dark. It’s only a short ride from the ferry. It was a long day and we were all hungry. Steven told me about another island nearby that is uninhabited. It’s not far from the Vineyard, and is called Nomans Land. We looked up a recent story about rabbits being introduced on the island. That was the feel-good-story of the day. Nomans Land sounds like a cool place.


Everyone slept well last night. This morning, Debbie and I did one more short bike ride to Woods Hole and back and then the four of us joined Steven at the Falmouth Heights beach for a final swim of summer. Tomorrow, it is back to school and work and the busy fall season will arrive later this month. Our mini Cape and Vineyard adventure was the perfect way to end August and welcome September.

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