Martha's Vineyard and Cape Cod...
The last week has been jam-packed with activity. After driving with the group from Camp Hughes to Woods Hole, MA, we took the ferry to Martha's Vineyard where we rented a house for four days. We spent our time riding around the island checking out sights, spending some time on the beaches, and shopping. The more industrious in the group also went running and a few even braved the Atlantic waters for a swim. Several of us took the ferry across the few hundred yard stretch of water to Chappaquiddick Island. There's little there but few well hidden luxury homes, some isolated private beaches and the infamous bridge where Mary Jo Kopechne was killed and Ted Kennedy forever changed his political future.
Considerable focus was also put on eating! One night we had an old-fashioned New England lobster bake with clam chowder, mussels, clams and, of course, lobster! Many in the group took their turn in the kitchen to whip up a great breakfast, lunch or dinner. And, not to be forgotten was yet another rendition of 'The Name Game' and an evening of music by song-master Tim Hughes.
Martha's Vineyard was first settled by Europeans over 400 years ago and is one of the oldest place names in North America. It was named by English explorer Bartholomew Gosnold and is thought to have been named for his daughter. In the 19th century, the Vineyard was home port to whaling ships that traveled the world in search of whales that were killed for their blubber that could be turned into oil for industrial lubrication and for burning in lamps. The discovery of petroleum in the late 19th-century began the decline of the whaling industry and Martha's Vineyard began its conversion to a tourism and vacation destination.
While the weather was surprisingly good for our stay on the island, returning to Cape Cod gave me a strong dose of coastal diversity. On Saturday I said goodbye to my friends who began to scatter back across the country while I continued my ride, now heading toward the tip of Cape Cod. Leaving the Woods Hole ferry, the first mile or two were pleasant enough. Then a slow drizzle started that was still comfortable as the temperatures stayed warm. But as I rode east on the Cape, the rain continued to fall in heavier and heavier amounts. While I was only riding about 30 miles that day, it turned into the wettest ride I've ever done. By the time I reached my destination in Hyannis, the water was several inches deep at the side of the road. In many places, the bottom of each pedal stroke had my feet completely submerged. The weather report I heard later said the Cape got more than 3 inches of rain in a couple hours. This was a true test of the water resistance of my gear and I have to say that the water won. Everything I had that wasn't packed in plastic got wet. Luckily, nothing important got ruined.
On Sunday, the day started gray and misty, but by mid-afternoon turned into a beautiful, sunny, warm day with clear blue skies. I rode to the 'elbow' of the Cape and then continued north to Provincetown at the very tip of the Cape. P-town as it's known, hugs the inner shore of the Cape and is only a few blocks across, but is several miles long. The skyline is dominated by a 250-ft tower modeled after the tower in Siena Italy. But P-town is more notable for being a gay-friendly destination with a large gay population. There are rainbow flags throughout the downtown district and many same-sex couples strolling the streets hand-in-hand. I knew I was definitely someplace a bit different when I saw a 6' 4" man with long blond hair get out of a car wearing stiletto heels and a mini skirt! From what I've been told, my experience there was tame compared to a mid-summer holiday weekend. For a straight midwestern boy, it's probably just as well I wasn't there then. :-)
I'm now in Boston staying with friends Christine and David before making my last push northeast to Bar Harbor. The ferry ride from P-town to Boston was spectacular with the highlight being the view of the Boston skyline coming into Boston Harbor. Last night David took me to the New England Patriots season opener. What started as a slow, uneventful game for the home team, turned exciting at the end. New England scored two touchdowns in the final 3 minutes to come from behind for the win!