A Jeep adventure over Martha's Vineyard
7/12/12 - 7/14/12 84 °F
After Newport, we headed to Woods Hole, Mass to catch yet another ferry to Martha's Vineyard. While we had the option of ferrying directly from Newport, the cost was $69 per person, so with 6 people it was a bit costly, and much more reasonable to drive to Woods Hole. Also, since it was high season, we couldn't really bring our car because we couldn't get a reservation to bring it back on the weekend until October! So we decided to do "passenger" only.
Again, luck held out as the crossing was calm and beautiful.
Arriving in Oak Bluffs, we checked into The Wesley Hotel, which was perfectly located right on the bay, although rather disappointing (and even downright retarded) in all other respects.
Walking into town, we came across "Nancy's Restaurant" (Jim and Amy's mom is named Nancy), so of course we had to stop. It was right on the docks of the town and looked promising. Little did we know at the time that Lobster Mac and Cheese would become one of our preferred dishes to order throughout our travels through New England, but it was at Nancy's that we found the most delicious iteration of this dish!
We spent the afternoon getting the lay of the land and scouting out the shops of Oak Bluffs and having a libation dockside, where we once again encountered "Gene Machine" a large yacht that we saw in Newport. Dinner was at a little place called "Sidecar", and while we were a little apprehensive at the somewhat limited menu, we all agreed it was the best meal we had on the trip so far. Everything, without exception, was absolutely delicious, including Jim's burger, which is probably the best burger I have ever tasted! Amazing chargrilled perfection!
After dinner we sought out a place called "Back Door Donuts" for dessert, and we followed the intense aroma of fresh baked donuts to a little bakery shop, where we were promptly told to go around down the street and to the back of the store in keeping with its name. Holy crap! were we suprised at the line waiting at the door! They are only open from 7:30pm to 1:00am, and there must have been 50 people waiting in line at 7:30! They must be awesome donuts, but there was no way we were going to wait. So we went for a little drink for awhile and checked back about 9:30. The line was even longer! Everyone on Martha's Vineyard must go to this place for donuts!
We decided to call it a night, but around midnight I was still awake and couldn't stop thinking about those donuts. How incredible must they be to have that many people lining up? What intriguing gourmet flavors do they have? Why are they only open at night? What secret was I missing? Is there still a line? I had to know. It was only a 5 minute walk.
Arriving at the Back Door, I found that the hordes must have been satisfied, as I was there alone, other than the bakers still busy in the kitchen. The selections were pretty standard: honey-glazed, chocolate glazed, raspberry filled, Boston cream filled, cinnamon cake donuts, etc. No gourmet flavor concoctions, but the fresh smell was still amazing. I guiltily ordered 4 donuts. Sitting on a bench in the waterside park, I tried each one telling myself I would only eat maybe half of each donut. But alas, willpower was no match against the evils of freshly made donuts, and I devoured them all. Surprisingly, they were not some gift of manna from heaven, but were in fact pretty ordinary - delicious nonetheless as any fresh donut is. I guess the never-ending line is due more to a Vineyard tradition than any serious culinary creative force. Wiping the raspberry jelly off my face with my sticky glaze-covered hands, I did the walk-of-shame back to our room.
The next day I eventually confessed my sins to my co-travellers, and for my clandestine midnight raid, I was dubbed "The Midnight Donut Whore!". It was a moniker I accepted with guilty pride, as I had, after-all, tasted the much sought-after donuts, and no one else had. The envy was palpable.
To explore Martha's Vineyard fully, you really need a car, which we of course didn't have. It is larger than I had envisioned, by a factor of 10. So, we rented a 4 door Jeep Wrangler, piled 3 in the backseat, and one more on the floor behind the back seats and went exploring. We travelled the whole island, from Oak Bluffs to Edgartown, thru West Tisbury & Chillmark to the cliffs of Gay Head in Aquinnah. We stopped for a drink in Menemsha at a beautiful and quaint cliffside Inn and discovered that most of the island is, in fact, "dry". Only 2 towns served alcohol: Oak Bluffs and Edgartown. So, back thru Vineyard Haven on a return trip to Edgartown. The towns of Oak Bluffs and Edgartown are distinctly different. Oak Bluffs is much more bohemian and laid back with an interesting collection of small, gaily colored cottages surrounding the Tabernacle, an open air auditorium of sorts, which lends it's history to a "tent village" constructed during religious retreats. The tents later became wooden-sided structures with a tent roof, and then became these tiny cute cottages. Edgartown is where the money is, with large white houses with colonnaded porches, tended gardens, and higher-end shops and restaurants lining the narrow streets.
We also had to check out the "Chappaquiddick Bridge" of Kennedy infamy. We had a bit of a problem finding it, as we thought it was a bridge connecting Edgartown to Chappaquiddick Island a VERY short distance away. But there is no such bridge, only a ferry. So onto another ferry we went, forcing poor Riley to hide low in the back of the Jeep, so we could save the $4 fee per person. It was more of a lark than any real desire to save a few pennies, but we all had a good laugh over it, as the ferry operator and toll collector stood right next to the Jeep during the quick crossing.
We eventually found the bridge, linking a sandy beach peninsula (accessible only to specially sand-permitted vehicles with low tire pressure) to Chappaquiddick Island. It was amazingly small and only a short distance above a shallow creek. It really put things into perspective when thinking about how it was possible to not save someone trapped there. Hmmmm??? What those with immense power and money can get away with?
A return trip on the ferry (with Riley fully upright and engaged in the transit - you only pay one way: on the way on to the island) brought our ferry count to 6, so far. Dinner was at a very nice restaurant in Edgartown, Detente, albeit rather expensive.
The next day we returned via ferry to Woods Hole, bringing our ferry count to 7. The weather fairies were not quite as effective, with a rather overcast day, but at least the waters were calm, and it kept things a bit cooler. My donut escapade was a bit foiled, though, as Ed had stopped at the bakery (via the front door this time) and found the same donuts on sale in the morning, and he brought along enough for everyone. So much for "The Midnight Donut Whore's" exclusive enjoyment!