Our last day at the Sweetwater Forrest Campground was quiet, but it enabled us to get ourselves sorted for our move on to Martha’s Vineyard. The evening was a lot cooler and the campfire made a real difference to living outside. The way that the sauce for our burritos cooled down almost before you could get your mouth around them reminded us of last year, camping in Scandinavia.
We are much better prepared for the way the nights are starting to close in this year, as we have fitted an outside light to Camel, put together a mains LED light for the tent (which works just as well on the lower USA voltage as it did in Europe). We had actually invested in a transformer, which we haven’t had to use at all as all of our equipment works or will charge up at the lower voltage, even the electric toothbrushes.
The next morning as we were packing, the nice couple we were chatting to came to say goodbye and to show us the infamous teeshirt and insisted that we saw both sides.
He was ex-military and all I can say is that, if all soldiers were so much fun, the world would feel like a safer place.
When Tim went up to use the washroom, he chanced upon not one but four wild turkeys. I was a bit jealous, but he couldn’t shout for me to come and see or they would have been scared away.
The route down to Woods Hole for the Martha’s Vineyard ferry was very busy but there were some lovely buildings on the way.
We were too soon for our crossing but luckily they were not full and we managed to get across over an hour early. The ferry was a very basic freight boat, so we shared the deck with a couple of lorries, which had to back up the fairly narrow ramp.
The views of the mainland and the island (when I booked the hotel, I hadn’t realised it WAS an island, doh!) were lovely.
I got chatting to BJ and Dick,
who were just popping over for the day, as their big rig wouldn’t fit very easily onto the ferry. They had said that they had sold their 40 footer because they were concerned that their advancing years might stop them being able to cope with it. They had missed it so much, BJ described the feeling as being in mourning, that they bought themselves a new one, this time 44 foot long. They were really having a lovely time in it and Dick was coping very well with the driving and towing a pretty large car behind. BJ said that they used to live in Oregon and kept two sheep dogs. She used to buy a small flock of sheep each spring for them to work and then sell them again when the weather closed in. The two dogs had sadly passed, but they now had a rescue Cavalier King Charles, who had, shockingly been used for breeding at 10 months. She was a lot happier now days.
I also got chatting to another man, who told us that his children had paid for him and his wife to come over to Martha’s Vineyard as a treat. He had hoped that the money would also pay for a meal, but had been told that would be unlikely as the prices there were so high.
It only takes about 40 minutes to cross to the island so we were in Edgartown by lunchtime. Our B and B was pretty expensive at over $250 dollars a night, but it was lovely
(and I thought Tim deserved a treat for his birthday- you don’t hit sixty every day) (oops, that’s told everyone, sorry Tim). Edgartown is full of classic New England clap board houses and there are more restaurants and other eateries than you can shake a stick at. The place was heaving with tourists, despite it being a Monday, and the prices reflected its popularity. We met several Brits there, so we are not alone in falling for the charms of all those romantic American movies. They filmed Jaws here, which I hadn’t realised, and it brought back the memory of a rainy day in Cornwall on a family holiday as a child, when my mother and I wanted to go and see Bambi and my dad insisted on taking us to see Jaws. Ugh! I hate scary movies It took me ages to forgive him!
We ended up having lunch in the Newes, the closest thing to a pub we could find and it wasn’t bad.
We spent the afternoon exploring the town and watching the ferry going over to Chappaquiddick (you know, the one where Ted Kennedy got into all that bother in 1969).
The Chappy ferry, as it is called, consists of two motorised floating platforms that buzz backwards and forwards between the two islands and were most entertaining.
This group of men were great to talk to, the youngest had come over to the States from Brazil to visit his uncles and he can speak about three or four different languages. One of them, Boyd, was a realtor, and he told us just how expensive it was to buy property on Martha’s Vineyard; you won’t get much change out of four million dollars for even a small place. He had been lucky to buy a place in the 60s when it wasn’t so popular. He now lives five months of the year in the Vineyard and like an awful lot of other Canadians, seven months down in Florida. He sent Tim a great birthday photo
We walked down to visit the first of Lighthouses on the island, the Edgartown lighthouse, which was locked up, but still worth the stroll
Edgartown is very pretty
and very much set up for the hoards of tourists coming through
On the Tuesday, which was Tim’s birthday, we took the Bromptons out to catch the Chappy ferry
and then on to Mytoi, a delightful Japanese style garden, that had been renovated over the last couple of years after being very badly banged about by hurricane Oliver. Although many of the plants were very immature, it was truly beautiful and peaceful.
The volunteers who work there must work their socks off, although they have recently hired a professional and the guy at the entrance said it had made a huge difference to the quality of the planting.
We walked on to the infamous bridge and were truly puzzled about what they were doing there in the first place- it leads nowhere apart from a great long swathe of sand.
It must have been quite an effort to miss the actual bridge and the water didn’t look all that deep either.
After lunch back at the Newes,
we cycled north along Beach Road, which, unsurprisingly went along the beach, but the good news was that it included one of the many excellent cycle paths they have on the island.
In the evening we went out to a restaurant called Alchemy. The food was both interesting and delicious and when we got chatting to the highly professional waitress she insisted on bringing the owner, Christine, over so we could tell her what we thought.
She was really pleased with our feedback, as I think she has a vision of what the food should be that not many people understand. We were very touched that, when we went to pay for our bill, she had knocked the price of the rather fine red wine off. Our waitress also told us that waiting staff are paid a pittance in the USA, about a dollar an hour. They really do need a tip of at least 15% just to make ends meet.
Tim managed to persuade them to put one of our favourite tracks on the sound system,
and when I wanted to take the remainder of my white wine out with me (shocking, I know, that we didn’t finish it!) the waitress had to seal it in a plastic bag or we would be breaking the law
The next morning, after a pretty good breakfast and a fond farewell to Ashley Inn, we drove to the most westerly point on the island, where we met our second lighthouse.
Gay Head lighthouse is on a very colourful cliff, hence the name, (trying very hard to avoid crass jokes at this point) but being very unstable, the cliff has been eroding at a rate of knots, so much so that it ended up a mere 45 feet from the edge. This led to a huge fund raising effort and they had moved the whole structure back by about 135 feet by chopping it off at the bottom and then putting it on rails. The volunteers were both highly enthusiastic (the chap at the entrance must have said ‘Hello, welcome to our lighthouse, it only just got moved’ about 20 times while we were there) and knowledgable.
We also found out about the local island called Nomansland that was used so extensively for bombing target practice during the Second World War and after, that it is still totally unsafe to visit. Bombs even are scattered around in the sea, although the volunteer was a little bemused that they could miss an entire island. There are also two sunken U-boats that used to prey on the ships leaving the local area during the year it took the USA to get its act together and start using convoys, a local blackout and stop allowing the locals to light up the area with their car headlamps to watch the ships leave.
We camped for the next three nights at the only campground on the Vineyard, a lovely place with generous sites and an actual communal campfire- Tim and I watched it for the first two nights and seriously had to restrain ourselves from lighting it, but we were good, just enjoying our own little fire pit.
After doing a bit of research online, I had another go at photographing the stars and, although the results are not stunning, they are encouraging.
As I came back Tim pointed out some visitors….skunks. We had seen a notice about them saying they were harmless if you didn’t bother them, but after all their bad press, I was a little concerned. They bumbled through our campsite, making a cute little huffing sound. Not one of them so much as raised a tail to us, but they were too far away to get a good camera shot.
On Thursday we cycled up to Vineyard Haven and then Oaks Bluff to visit another two light houses at East and West Chop.
It’s obviously the thing to do as loads of other tourists passed through when we were there, although the first was closed and the other was in private hands. We grabbed some lunch at the Oaks Bluff marina, where the houses seemed to have been modelled on Swiss clocks, and I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a cuckoo popping out from one of them.
The food was not cheap and my salad suffered from so much green leaf that I could barely be bothered to finish it.
That evening we sat by the camp fire waiting to see the skunks, but they were not to be seen. This little chap went a long way to make us feel better
I didn’t realise that inch worms were real, sad or what?
Our last day was spent sorting everything out, as we are heading back for the UK for a couple of weeks on Wednesday. I dread to think what the customs people will make of our luggage, as we are taking back some of the things that we are not using; I can’t imagine that many people will be carrying a triple burner propane stove and a Cobb barbecue , together with Tim’s collection of hat pins and my Christmas decorations, not to mention the useless European anti mosquito spray and Tim’s bike helmet that does not fold up as much as we hoped and is too small and gives him headaches.
In the evening I met this lovely young couple, Neehar and Jain
they had only been married for a year and were celebrating Neehar’s birthday, with cute matching tee shirts saying ‘it’s my birthday’ and ‘it’s her birthday’. It was a real pleasure to see how much in love they were.
We lit our final campfire and waited and waited and just as we were clearing up a skunk actually walked past me, only six inches away. I managed to get a couple of good pictures of them, even though they are so black that they appear to be just shadows.
We had been camping under some magnificent oak trees, which provided just the right amount of shade
but they were in the process of shedding their huge great acorns. They landed with such a loud bang on our stuff that it sounded almost like gun shots and, being a right wuss when it comes to loud noises, I jumped out of my skin several times a night. What with that, insects chirruping away and the snuffling of skunks looking for any leftovers, I didn’t sleep too well. On our final morning we drank our coffee/tea to the repeated BANGS as acorns hit poor old Camel and I got hit on the head by one and it hurt. We actually checked Camel for dents, but the only ones were those on the roof put in by the lovely customs people that charged us $1600 for the pleasure of hanging around waiting for the car to be let loose. We decided that, despite their poor reputation, skunks are far less dangerous than acorns!