(Me on South Beach, Martha’s Vineyard)
I had the distinct pleasure of visiting Martha’s
Vineyard (MV), Massachusetts, this summer in July. With preconceived notions, I
expected to see fancy cars and rude, rich people everywhere. However, I
experienced the exact opposite. The blue-collar workers and business owners presented
pleasant encounters with normal people (not rich vagabonds) – kind folks trying
to succeed in a place of paradise. I will elaborate on these cordial meetings
throughout this blog entry.
Politicians have given MV a stench where even the
original residents have grown tired of their visits by reputation. The notoriety
of the island’s name created a pop culture trend for celebrity tourists that
caused prices and living costs to rise. Locals are irritated by the fame and
attention of a select few individuals who broadcast that they live at MV. On
the other hand, the generational residents and seasonal workers warmly welcome sincere
personalities and unpretentious visitors.
I often wondered why Martha’s Vineyard is called
Martha’s Vineyard. MV is historically associated with the English explorer,
Bartholomew Gosnold. Gosnold named the island in honor of his daughter, whose
name was either Martha or Mary. The term “Vineyard" is thought to have
been used because of the abundant wild grapes on the island. Gosnold was an
early English explorer who visited the island in 1602. He established one of
the first English settlements in North America on MV, although this dwelling
Before European settlers arrived, MV was inhabited by
the Wampanoag people, a Native American tribe. The Wampanoag relied on fishing,
hunting, farming, and gathering as their primary sustenance. During the 18th
and 19th centuries, MV became a prominent center for the whaling industry. The
island's location was an ideal base for whaling vessels. The profits from
whaling contributed to the island's growth, reputation, and prosperity.
On the day of my adventure, I drove from Boston to
Falmouth, where the ferry then took me to MV. We landed in the small town of
Oaks Bluff. It is a beautiful coastal town with the whispers of ocean air,
tasteful cuisine, local coffee shops, several green spaces, and New England
colonial homes. I arrived on the island at about 10:00 a.m. ET. The original
ferry ride from Falmouth to Oaks Bluff lasted about 35-40 minutes. This ferry
ride only included people and bikes, no motorized vehicles. I met an older couple
named Barry and Bernice who also planned to visit the island for the day. They
were from New Hampshire. They brought a two-person bike to ride together. For
the long boat trip, they were wonderful company! They provided valuable
information about the Vineyard and tips on what sites to see. We mostly talked
about our families. They showed me pictures of the grandkids on their cell
phones. I showed them pictures of Lisa, Annabelle, and Jace on my phone. I
actually saw them throughout the day on different parts of the island,
sometimes passing each other on our bikes.
I rented an electric bike from All-Star Martha’s
Vineyard Bike Rentals. Robert, the owner and manager of this business, outlined
my entire day of where to go and what to see with the local island sites. Before
my self-tour began, I walked across the street from All-Star Bike Rentals to
discover Vineyard's Best Ice Cream and Coffee Company. While not advertised,
this business served freshly made bagels. For five dollars (a reasonable price
for MV vendors), I bought three bagels to fuel my day. Those bagels sustained
me throughout the day under a brutal July summer sun. I had not originally
planned to bike the 37 miles I covered in this one day.
I started riding down Seaview Avenue alongside
Alley-Waban Park and Inkwell Beach. Alley-Waban Park was a large open field
park with several sidewalks with people walking dogs and enjoying the
sunshine-filled day. The previously described colonial homes surrounded the
park. Many of these residences had balconies with ocean views on the second or
From Oaks Bluff, Robert directed me toward Edgartown.
This road hugged the seashore with breathtaking coastal vistas. The ride along
these beaches and waves felt refreshing. I am about to begin my fourth and
final year of a Ph.D. program in Communication. While very enjoyable, the
workload in a doctoral program can sometimes be intensive and all-consuming.
The gust of ocean air melted these workload worries away. There was an
enchanting essence to this island. It became evident within my first few miles
of riding why so many people from all over the world ventured to visit this
paradise. The bike ride on this coastal road from Oak Bluffs to Edgartown was
six miles to begin a long day’s journey.
MV is extremely accessible by bike. In fact, by mid-afternoon,
the traffic is bad enough that bikes move faster than cars sitting in traffic,
depending on where you are on the island. About halfway to Edgartown on Seaview
Avenue, I rode across a short bridge titled the American Legion Memorial Bridge.
Locally, this bridge is also known as the Jaws Bridge. Many scenes in the first
movie of this series were filmed at MV.
Many young adults and even parents with kids were
jumping off this bridge into a canal that linked marsh and open ocean waters.
The jump into the water below was probably about 12-13 feet high, and several
individuals leaped without hesitation, sometimes several times. I admired the
youthful energy of these daredevils. However, I decided ultimately to stay dry.
I prefer to avoid testing the strong ocean currents. In local newspapers, concerning
Jaws Bridge, I read that one person died in 2023 after jumping off the bridge.
Two others experienced the same fate in 2022. I doubt these eager divers
researched these facts before their stunts. On the bridge, a warning sign
cautions people not to jump off the bridge since the activity is considered illegal.
I heeded this advice closely. I took some photos of these valiant jumpers and
continued my bike journey.
After the six-mile stretch on Seaview Avenue, I
arrived in Edgartown. First, I visited the Edgartown Harbor Lighthouse. As
mentioned in previous blog entries, I am fascinated by lighthouses. Lighthouses
offer photogenic portraits amidst beautiful beaches and landscapes. The
lighthouse was shorter than some of the other lighthouses I visited in the past.
The building includes a museum and the opportunity to climb the stairs to the
top of the lighthouse. The views at the top were lovely. It was a nice place to
reflect on life, with a small beach on a peninsula surrounded by water. After appreciating
the moment and reciting some short prayers, I descended the lighthouse and
admired the marvelous features of the Harbor View Hotel. The hotel had a
wraparound porch with scenic views in all directions, including the lighthouse
across the street. The building resembles a house that might be considered a
mansion. The hotel reminds me of a place you might read about in a romance
novel. Like an interesting person, the hotel knows viewers admire its beauty,
almost like the hotel possesses a personality within itself.
Compared to my first ferry ride, I encountered a
second ferry that connected Edgartown and Chappaquiddick Island (CI). This
ferry was much smaller than my previous ride as a passenger from Falmouth. The
boat could hold three cars and ten people with two to three bicycles. The small
ferry ride intrigued me. So, I paid a small fee and walked my bike onto the
ferry. I was unfamiliar with MV, CI, or any of the surrounding islands in the
Cape Cod area. For the day in MV, I was on vacation to enjoy the scenery
without a defined schedule. I was exploring for the sole sake of exploring.
After reaching CI, I rode my bike from the ferry
another four miles to East Beach. Then, I had to ride another four miles to
ride the ferry back into Edgartown. It was evident that CI was the quieter side
of this paradise. One small convenience store and deli existed on CI with some
souvenirs and light groceries. I stopped at this local business to buy some
cold refreshments. I also encountered a Japanese Garden that was small but
After getting off the ferry, I stepped into Old
Sculpin Gallery, an upscale store of splendid artwork. Many pieces of art were
available for purchase, including paintings, sculptures, and photography.
Honestly, I sought relief from the sun in an air-conditioned building. I was
soaked in sweat like I had just worked out at the gym. Of course, I had just
biked another eight miles across CI. However, two nicely dressed women greeted
me cordially, asking me where I was from and if I was enjoying the Vineyard. I
commented on the fantastic works of photography in the gallery. One of the two
girls inquired about my poetry and photography books. She asked me to write
down the titles of my books and published photos. This demeanor is generally
what I encountered in the Vineyard throughout the day. People were
exceptionally polite and genuinely wanted island visitors to enjoy their
In addition to discussing my poetry books, I conversed
with the art gallery sales clerk about local bookstores with regional authors,
including some that might have lived at MV during the entire annual year or at
least during the warm season. For weather reasons, many local residents live at
the Vineyard during the warmer months of the year. Then they retreat to
southern regions of the United States during the harshest months of the winter.
The winter conditions at MV can be quite severe.
The sales clerk recommended Edgartown Books, a locally
owned business and independent bookstore. A coffee shop restaurant named Behind
the Bookstore literally sat in the back of Edgartown Books. You could walk
through the bookstore into a courtyard garden between the two businesses.
Several people sat at tables in the courtyard, eating food and drinking their
lattes from the coffee shop. It was a charming setup! I bought two books by
authors from MV who wrote about experiences at the Vineyard. I still felt somewhat
overheated from the sun and the long-distance bike ride. I sat inside the coffee
shop for a good hour, drinking several glasses of water, a cold brew coffee, and
eating a peach muffin. I glimpsed through my two purchased local reads. Again,
like the art gallery, the coffee shop was air-conditioned! I really enjoyed the
local beach town feel of the bookstore and coffee shop. I quickly observed that
both tourists and permanent residents of the island enjoyed these two
From Edgartown, I rode my bike to Katama and South
Beaches. Barry and Bernice advised that these beaches were the most scenic on
the island. I took their advice to heart and walked on South Beach to soak in
the splendid views. I rode past the Katama Farm, which encompassed many acres
of crops and other greenery. Again, I was surprised to observe these fields in
the middle of the island….a working farm with barns, silos, animals, and machinery.
It was getting later in the day, and I knew I had
about 12-13 miles to return to Oaks Bluff. Rather than taking Seaview Avenue
along the ocean beaches, I took roads on the interior of the island through the
Manuel F. Correllus State Forest. This route permitted me to see other parts of
the Vineyard that I had not witnessed earlier in the day. The interior marshes
and woods possessed their own natural wonders. While I knew I needed to head
back to Boston eventually, I would have enjoyed camping on the beach at MV to
truly soak in the moment and spiritual essence of this gorgeous place.
Perhaps I was more tired after baking in the sun and
riding several miles across the island to visit all the mentioned landmarks.
The last leg of my biking journey was very challenging! I was hungry and ready
to rest with a beer in my hand. I eventually returned to All-Star Bikes, where
Robert kept calling me "The Professor." Robert inquired about my
higher education teaching and research interests. I informed him that I was
close to finishing my Ph.D. in Communication. One of his summer seasonal
employees majored in Communication and asked me some questions about the discipline.
Robert and his staff provided an excellent example of positive customer service
experiences. Beyond the day’s adventure, they tried to know more about my life
beyond the surface-level small talk. All-Star Bikes employed workers with great
attitudes who genuinely wanted to serve visitors of the Vineyard.
I asked for Robert’s recommendation for a restaurant
where I could eat some of the best local cuisine. Robert directed me to Lookout
Tavern, just around the corner from his shop. He further recommended that I
order the lobster tacos. His insights proved to be delicious! This restaurant
has ocean views, located next to the water. I also ordered a couple of local
beers made by microbreweries on the island. After dinner, I quickly visited
some souvenir shops for last-minute purchases and gifts. On the return trip
with the ferry, I was blessed to enjoy the company of Barry and Bernice once
again. I had hoped to see them again. We conversed more about each other’s
families and sat on the upper deck of the ferry. Together we savored the sunset
over the island silhouette of the Vineyard in the background.
I arrived back at the docks in Falmouth at about 6:30
p.m. ET. I took the remainder of the day to drive around downtown Falmouth and
observe the early evening nightlife. I drove by Aquatic Brewing Company. I
decided to turn around and check out the inside of the microbrewery. Rather
than drinking full-size pints of beer, I tried a sampler order. These servings
allow a patron to try four to five beers with about six ounces in each glass.
You take time to enjoy the taste of each beer rather than only drinking beverages
for consumption reasons. I was impressed with the tastings. While enjoying the
atmosphere, I sat next to a group of young men who appeared to have just gotten
off work from a construction site. They wore construction clothes and told me
about their many carpentry projects on both residential and commercial
properties. It sounded like Falmouth and the surrounding Cape Cod towns were
growing faster than residences could be built. I appreciated the friendliness
of local conversations. I soon got back into my car and made my way back to
Boston, where I was staying at a close friend’s residence.
For several days to come, I knew I would feel the
positive vibes of the Vineyard long after my ferry returned to Falmouth. MV was
much larger in square mileage than I initially speculated. I am still
reminiscing how magnificent the Vineyard’s natural wonders were. While maybe a
pop culture fad to visit, Martha's Vineyard greatly exceeded my expectations!
It was clear why so many people visited the island every year and paid the
absorbent prices to stay there overnight. Like a Taylor Swift Eras concert, the
experience of island adventures might be worth the abhorrent prices to marvel
at the Vineyard’s vastness and majestic grandeur.
(Despite the warnings, people still jump off Jaw’s