Thursday, June 26, 2008

Old Stomping Grounds

Anyone who ever talked to Marilyn knows immediately that she is from Massachusetts. That south of "Baston" (and no I didn't misspell Boston accidentally) accent is truly one of the most recognizable in the country- especially if the person speaking is about to "paak the ca." So for the first time in our time together I am getting to meet the extended family, many of whom are still in state and on the Cape (Cod), and visit her old stomping grounds at the same time. There are plenty of beautiful spots to explore and enjoy here, and as oceanfront real estate has always been our preference- storms or no storms- we have been having a great time. Even our campground is right on the ocean, has its own jetty and beaches for swimming and playing. And we are in a spot allowing us to branch out in all directions for day trips to take in as much as we can. Being "at home" is always a good feeling, and places familiar always uplift the heart.

I found this collection of shoes on the deck on one of the campers in our park to be quite interesting. I suppose it was the symbolism of lots of "happy feet" all nice and tidy and lined up at the entrance to the residence. For three days, I noted how the shoes moved around on the deck and around the small yard. I photographed them several times before I noticed that they were actually not shoes at all, but ceramic sculptural pieces. Fool me once.... and I'm not sure why they caught my fancy or why I thought they should be included in the post, but interest is captured by many things and not all of them need to be grandiose. They say the simple pleasures are the best pleasures and when you can enjoy them along with the more splendid aspects life offers- well, that's just got to be special.

"There once was a girl from Nantucket;" the rest is history. Fortunately history is big in these parts so the "Fast Cat" whisked us off to Martha's Vineyard for the day. It was either that or Nantucket, and that poem has already been written!

If there should be any doubt that the fast cat is fast, take a look at the wake. Stay inside or hold your hats and glasses securely- those are the only options you will have on this crossing.

Life slows back down once you pull into the harbor of Oak Bluffs. The island is home to the rich, famous and infamous, to singers and rock stars, movie stars, politicians and a few others who would like to qualify as "someone who IS someone." If that's an overstatement of the facts on my part, you can chalk it up to our tour guide. We made a mistake we seldom have made on our travels and we don't intend to repeat it: we thought with such a short time on the island, we should hop on a bus tour to see and learn as much as possible. Bad decision! Once on the bus, we looped the island at relatively high speed for the next two and a half hours with no photo stops. You might not think so, and I certainly didn't, but the vast majority of the Vineyard is heavily forested. And since those who choose to call the place home have relatively serious money and are no doubt fairly bright- all of them have placed their domiciles out of the sight of the tourists that roll in and out daily like the tide. What that translates to is a tour that affords seeing only "trees and driveways."
"To your right, ladies and gentlemen is the driveway that goes a half mile or so to the home of Carly Simon."
"To the left, ladies and gentlemen, is the access road to the cemetery where John Belushi is buried. IF you could see the site, you might see the beer cans left by his admirers."
Lines like this were repeated the entire trip. It was, in our humble opinion, a lousy tour. And at 26 bucks a head, when we did make our one stop at the lighthouse and the tourist shops, we were a bit miffed to have to pay to use the restrooms, but I guess you gotta make a buck whatever it takes in these times. And getting back on the bus to bounce around the back roads for another hour without taking care of business? Not an option.

At least our one and only stop and photo opportunity was a good one.
The lighthouse on Martha's Vineyard is very photogenic- as are most lighthouses- and the sand cliffs were loaded with the colors that reminded us of some of the rock cliffs in Alaska. The water, while frightfully cold, looked quite tropical and Marilyn was talking about taking a snorkel off the beach. Silly girl!

I try not to leave something so negative as our criticism of the bus tour as a standing matter on the blog. We chose to take it and we got what we chose. But there were, and are, much better options and if you are going to visit this place, you will be much better off if you do one of the following: rent one of the many and affordable jeep wranglers and venture off to see the island on your own....or make like Key West and rent a scooter with the same idea. The island is made up of 6 incredibly different little towns and not seeing them in a personal way and having the time to take some interesting shots was truly disappointing. Bus tours are like cattle drives, they cover the territory that needs to be covered but there is no time for drinking the water and grazing on the grass.

Once the tour ended, mercifully we still had a couple hours to wander around Oak Bluffs. They have the oldest operating carousel in the nation and we enjoyed watching it go round and round for a while and listening to that classic carousel music.

Of the six towns on the Vineyard, this one is known for its gingerbread cottages. They were cute! If you are curious about the cost of owning one- no matter how small, and whether or not it is on a slab or the ground direct- as the old adage goes, "If you have to ask the price, you probably can't afford it." In the photo below....these are some of the "big" ones right overlooking the harbor.

While most harbors are home to large and expensive yachts, and this one is certainly no exception, I usually find the dinghys the be the most pleasing to look at. They are the image my mind's eye carries away from the visit.

Family time found us visiting Cousin Bev and Randy at her beautiful home overlooking the cranberry bog in East Falmouth. If you enlarge the photo below you will see that home tucked nicely into the woods across the bog. This was the first time I have ever really seen a cranberry bog- at least knowing what I was looking at - other than marsh, and it was a truly fascinating experience.
While we were here, we dined with Bev, Randy, another cousin Mike and Paula. "Family Style" dining, literally, overlooking the bog. Way cool!

And a "surprise" visit with Uncle Vin in his new digs was the icing on the carrot cake, which by the way, Bev, is still getting rave reviews!
Back at the bog: a river runs through it. It provides water for irrigation if necessary. It provides water to spray the plants with a coating of water that ices over and protects the fruit from early frost or freeze. Then it provides the water to flood the field at harvest time- we've all seen the ads for Ocean Spray, right? At the time of this visit, the plants are in flower. I surely would love to see the plants just before harvest or when they are iced to protect them from freeze. maybe another time....
Then on towards Provincetown (P-town) on the tip of Cape Cod. Just outside of town is Highland Beach Light House, where I got this "I wish I were a postcard" photo of that structure, which, over time, has actually been moved back from the edge of the cliffs to avoid having it slide down into the ocean - owing to the constant erosion of those cliffs.

And a look from around the other side...

Jimmy Buffet, who has a hand in an awful lot of great "beach" tunes, performed (although it was written by Rupert Holmes) the lyrics to this song that I reckon just about everyone knows...

"If you like Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain.
And the feel of the ocean, and the taste of champagne.
If you like making love at midnight, in the dunes of the cape."
You're the love that I've looked for, come with me and escape."

I've emboldened the line above I would like to comment on. Below is a look at "the dunes on the cape." It's a three mile walk, run or crawl to the ocean from here. The loose sand is a foot deep or better. The dunes are steep, so for every step up the first dune you take, expect to make small to no forward progress. All of us not in the very most fit condition, should plan on making love on the dunes at the cape only a few steps in...because by the time you reach the top of that first dune, there ain't a gonna be much left in the way of energy and/or breath...and one way or another you're gonna need to make it back out to the car. We climbed to the top of that first dune and marveled at the lunar like landscape that goes on for mile after mile. When the bikini clad runner pictured zoomed by us barefoot in the sand, we resigned to the fact that there are those younger and fitter than we- and there is both some joy and some shock in that fact. You can get some perspective of the scale of things here by looking closely for the walkers that are working their way up the farthest out dune pictured....

Before you reach the city limits of P-town, your arrival is acknowledged by the tower monument erected to the Pilgrims who wrote and signed the Mayflower Compact upon this site. It's an OLD town. Narrow streets- not really intended for cars going one way let alone two way traffic, so parking and walking is the preferred mode of transportation. And that's a good thing, because otherwise you would miss way too much of the detailed intricacies of the landscape and architecture and splendor of shop after shop and sight after sight along the waterfront ways. If you are traveling here by camper- DON'T! Unless, of course, you are making camp well outside of town and driving in. Otherwise, you just may be spending a great deal more time "wedged in" somewhere that you hadn't "time budgeted" for in the first place.
I found this nifty owl detail carved into one of the old gates along the waterfront. This town is a photographer's dream, so if you're not shooting digital, bring a whole lot of film. This just may be the post card capitol of the north.
You can stop for lunch or a beverage absolutely everywhere. It has the look and feel of a "temperate" Key West for those of you who have spent time down there at one of our favorite places in the country.

Front porches are inviting everywhere in town- lots of B&Bs and Inns, but this one was, I think, my "most favorite"- looking as though it had been painted by an artist with brush made with the beach grasses in the planter rather than built by some carpenter a long time ago.

And everywhere, the classic beauty of the ocean shrouded in a light fog, set off by the white picket fence, and adorned by roses that could care less about salt in the air...

And last, but by no means least, a look at dinner out with Bev, Randy, Dottie, and a marvelously spry host, Auntie Louise, who I had the distinct pleasure of meeting for the very first time. That's her seated at the head of the table. What a hoot! That girl is full of life, vim, and vigor, and I have every intention of adopting her as my very own auntie just as soon as I can deal with the paperwork! All that spunk and she can cook galumpkies and pirogies? Mercy, mercy!

And while the official family photo of our dinner with Auntie Louise is above, it seems like in the dim light of the restaurant, the laser guide of the camera focus caught Miss Marilyn swiping food off the photographer's plate in his absence. Surely that would make her papa proud! Oh, those Luckrafts! They're a spirited bunch!


Anonymous said...

Rupert Holmes wrote that song, not Buffett. Nice pics, we were down the cape at a place called Grindells two weeks ago. It looks very much like the Jetty picture you posted. I enjoy reading the blog, keep up the good work

Greg said...

Anonymous- thanks for the input. When I put this post up I knew the song but not who wrote it. As you say, there is documentation on line that Rupert Holmes actually wrote the lyrics in 1979. BUT, there is also some online confusion and controversy and the lyrics and music are posted on multiple sites on and by Jimmy Buffet. Since I'm no expert in this area, I'll yield to your input. Just wanted to say that when doing the research I did find it "both ways" and I have no idea why. It should be a pretty clear cut matter, yes?

Ken and Linda said...

Hey Greg and Marilyn,

You made me feel homesick...I didn't think that was possible.