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Martha's Vineyard 2007
(Click on the images for a larger version.)
Ilaria and J on bus
Preparing for and attending our Postdoc interviews at WashU was tiring and stressful. So I suggested to Ilaria that we might go to Martha's Vineyard for a weekend, when we finished our interviews. Suggested vacations are never forgotten by Ilaria,
peter pan bus woods hole
so the weekend after we got back from St. Louis, we took the Peter Pan Bus from Boston's South Station to Woods Hole.

Last May when I gave a talk at Woods Hole for the New England Society for Microscopy, I learned that there is a ferry that runs between Woods Hole and Martha's Vineyard. That's what inspired this trip idea. Cool location and no car required.
pie in the sky bakery and cafe Ilaria
One of my favorite things in Woods Hole was the Pie in the Sky Bakery & Cafe,
pie in the sky bakery sandwich
so Ilaria and I had lunch there. Ilaria had a Vermonter sandwich and I had a homemade roast beef sandwich. The Vermonter was good; the roast beef was too dry for my taste. We also picked up a bag of their cheap-and-wonderful day-old baked goods.
marthas vineyard ferry
After a five minute walking tour of Woods Hole, the ferry to Martha's Vineyard
marthas vineyard ferry arrives
was arriving.
Ilaria and J marthas vineyard ferry
Ilaria and I took a quick photo on the back of the ferry before it departed.
woods hole research vessel
Right before the ferry left, we saw a research vessel from one of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institutes returning to port.
Marthas Vineyard ferry drivers
It was scorching hot on the boat on this sunny day,
Ilaria ferry wind in hair
but after we were underway, the wind cooled things off a lot.
Marthas Vineyard ferry birds ride air current
One fun (scary?) part of the journey was that the sea birds loved riding on the air currents generated by the ferry. They were all surfing above our heads, beautiful
Marthas Vineyard ferry bird poop
but dangerous. These folks moved just at the right moment to avoid a multi-bird poop drop.
Vineyard Haven ferry
After 30 minutes or so on the water, we were close to the ferry terminal at Vineyard Haven.
Marthas Vineyard ferry park
One of my favorite parts of our Martha's Vineyard trip was watching them dock this giant boat. A boat like that generates an enormous momentum. They turned the engines off ten minutes or so before we arrived and let our momentum carry us the rest of the way. But even spending ten minutes with the engine off isn't enough, and as you get close, they reverse the engines and use a huge amount of power to slow the ferry down; they time everything perfectly to park this giant boat oh-so-gently.
arriving at Vineyard Haven
Time to get off the boat. The boat arrived in Vineyard Haven. The island of Martha's Vineyard contains six towns. Vineyard Haven is the primary port of Martha's Vineyard and is in the town of Tisbury.

To save money, we decided to camp on the island (though I ended up spending $100 for a sleeping bag). Since we didn't have a car to bring across on the ferry,
Ilaria bike with backpack
we rented bikes.
Ilaria biking uphill with camping gear
We probably had at least 30 pounds of camping gear on our backs.
marthas Vineyard Map Ferry to Campground
The campground was a few miles from Vineyard Haven.
Ilaria biking uphill with camping gear tired
30 pound backpack + bicycle + hilly streets = tired Ilaria

I was drenched in sweat by this point, carrying two backpacks and riding one-handed so I could take these photos. But it was worth it, because this picture shows the most tired I've ever seen Ilaria, ever. Ilaria likes challenges, but not extremely strenuous ones. She was breathing so hard, I could hear her from 30 feet behind. hehehehehe...
Ilaria by tent in Marthas Vineyard
Once she took a short breather, Ilaria's super organizational skills came through, as we neatly put up our tent in only a few minutes.
camping mattress pads
It was the first time I'd camped with a mattress pad (I borrowed mine from Ben and Elissa). When I was a kid, we only had a K-mart sleeping bag laid on the tent floor. Camping with a mattress pad and a nice REI sleeping bag is an altogether different and more pleasant experience.
Ilaria with tent and bikes
I was pretty proud to see how all of that stuff we carried on our bikes had been transformed into a little short-term home.
giant tents Marthas Vineyard campground
But our tent couldn't compare with the luxury condos transported by majority of the campers (they all came by car).
biking Marthas Vineyard
Once we got situated, it was time to bike around and explore the island.
Marthas Vineyard Map Oak Bluffs
Our first trip was to Oak Bluffs. The east side of the island has an excellent set of bike paths. For the most part, the bike path is parallel to the road, but the path has its own set of rules. For example, there are a lot of extra bike stop signs at major intersections. I saw a bike stop sign coming in the distance. Right in front of the stop sign was a cop, so I was trying to discretely tell Ilaria to stop her bike.
Ilaria on bike talks with policeman
But she ran straight through the stop sign and right up to the cop to ask for directions (thankfully he didn't give us a hard time for not following the bike laws).
buddys drive
Buddy is the nickname I grew up with. Now that I'm rarely referred to by that name, I didn't feel a strong inclination to steal this road sign.
Marthas Vineyard taxi
Martha's Vineyard has some odd-looking taxis - they're all vans.
oak bluffs marthas vineyard
After five-mile hilly cycle, we arrived in Oak Bluffs. Oak Bluffs is supposedly the liveliest and the most diverse of the Martha's Vineyard towns. Vineyard Haven in bizarre fashion does not sell alcohol. So I made sure to purchase some beer in Oak Bluffs (can't sleep on the ground without a beer or two).
Oak Bluffs oceanfront
By the ocean is this nice open space.
Ilaria fruit J corn dog
I was pretty hungry after that long ride, so we sat down by the ocean to have a snack. Ilaria had never seen a corn-dog.

The waves were crashing on those rocks down there and making a fantastic noise as they melted back into the sea.
Marthas Vineyard which way to go
After dinner we had a decision to make - which way to go?

Ilaria initially wanted to cycle to Oak Bluffs then to Edgartown and then back to the campground. But it was already starting to get dark and by the time we finished our snack, I had convinced her that we should probably just cycle back to the campground. However, the bike trail from Oak Bluffs to Edgartown is the only trail on Martha's Vineyard that follows the ocean. Ilaria said she didn't want to waste time coming back to Oak Bluffs later so we would never take this oceanside trail.

Once it became now-or-never, I proceeded to reconvince Ilaria that her original plan was the best plan, and that riding home in the dark wouldn't be too bad...
Marthas Vineyard trail to Edgartown
In the short term this reconvincing was very wise, it was a beautiful bike trail, and my favorite part of the trip.
Marthas Vineyard Map Edgar Town trail
Six miles right along the ocean.
Ilaria biking Edgartown Oak Bluffs
We were pretty glad, we'd chosen the trail at this point.
Marthas Vineyard trail nature
Martha's Vineyard really has a lot of natural beauty -
Marthas Vineyard trail nature Ilaria
even when framed by Ilaria's bottom.
Marthas Vineyard trail nature Ilaria eating
We took a snack break half-way through the 6 mile ride to Edgartown.
Ilaria J Marthas Vineyard bike trail
We even pretended we like each other.

After cycling one handed with my camera for most of the trail (I'm not a good bicycler, so this was a challenge for me), I finally got up the courage to
J self portrait bike
take a picture of myself while cycling. I know, I look a little strange, but trying doing this on a bike and you might look a little strange too.
sunset Marthas Vineyard
Before long we arrived in
Ilaria Edgartown sign
Edgartown lighthouse
As we approached the city center, we saw a lighthouse.
Ilaria ice cream Edgartown
We planned on eating a nice dinner together in Edgartown. However, most of the restaurants were extremely expensive and had a long wait time, so Ilaria had an ice cream and I had a really greasy burger.
marthas Vineyard Map Return In Dark
After dinner, we had a tricky decision to make. It was completely dark outside, and somehow we needed to travel the 6 miles back to our campground.
Ilaria J cycle dark
So we got onto the unlighted bike trail and started cycling. About a mile outside Edgartown, the streetlights ended. Then it was only Ilaria, myself, the occasional car, and darkness.

When cars came towards us from the opposite direction, our pupils constricted, and we couldn't even see where we were going (a few times I ran off the trail into the woods a little because of this).
Ilaria cycle dark Marthas Vineyard
Although the darkness was eerie and perhaps slightly dangerous, it did prevent us from complaining that our legs hurt as we cycled our 19th mile of the day. The dark ride also almost guarantees that we won't be forgetting to bring our flash light the next time we think we might cycle in the dark.
Ilaria in tent Marthas Vineyard
We made it back safe, and after carrying my beer for 12 miles, it was finally time to drink it and go to bed.
Marthas Vineyard campsite rain
The next day
IMG  5545
wasn't so beautiful.
Marthas Vineayard airport
So we bought a bus pass and rode to the western part of the island where there are no bike trails. The Martha's Vineyard airport is a cute little New England looking place.
Gay Head cliffs lighthouse
After a long bus ride, we arrived at the Gay Head cliffs and Lighthouse. We had a cool bus driver that informed us that the cliffs and lighthouse were beautiful, but that there was nothing else around - particularly on a rainy day. He suggested everyone go out, have a look, and arrive back after his 5-10 minute break to catch the bus back to Vineyard Haven.
Ilaria J Gay Head
But by the time the bus arrived, the weather had delayed us enough that he didn't have a 5-10 minute break. So it was either ride back and never see the cliffs or wait an hour for the next bus.

Last year on our Rockport trip, Ilaria learned the value waterproof pants, when I was dry and warm while she was soaked and freezing (as soon as we got back from that trip she bought some). Since we were taking a trip where we were sleeping outside in a tent and transporting ourselves with bicycles, it was logical that she had decided to leave her new waterproof pants at home for this particular trip.

So instead of exploring Gay Head during the hour we waited for the bus, Ilaria wet pants Mogno and I stood under an awning outside the town's public restroom for an hour waiting for the bus.
campsite rain night
By the time we got back, the rain had drenched our spirits.It wasn't supposed to stop until the next morning.
Ilaria in tent rain
What the hell can we do for the next 4 hours before we go to sleep? A pack of cards woulda been good, but we only had a couple books to read.

After dying of boredom inside the tent,
fire marthas vineyard campground
we lite a fire in the rain. We bought five dollars worth of wood and a 50 cent newspaper to get this thing going. I was hacking at the wood with my new Leatherman knife to try and splinter off some wood to get the fire started, when a tall European guy came towards me with a giant axe to break some of the logs in pieces with - very nice of him.
ilaria fire marthas vineyard
Ilaria likes fires, so she was pretty happy to be out playing with fire, even if it was raining on us.
J hot dog roasting stick
Meanwhile, I was preparing some mighty-fine hot dog roasting sticks.
Ilaria eats four hotdogs
Ilaria grossed me out by eating four Ballpark hot dogs.
ashes fire Marthas Vineyard
The next morning our fire was just a memory.
drying shoes Marthas Vineyard
And the goal of the moment was to place as many things in the sun as possible to try to dry them off,
Ilaria putting tent away
so we could pack everything
Ilaria J all packed up camping gear
Ilaria Marthas Vineyard State Park
We stored our big bags at the campground and cycled one last time around the island.
marthas Vineyard Map State Forest
With this final bike trip, we focused for the first time on the inside of the island. In particular, we cycled around the airport and the state park.
Ilaria Marthas Vineyard State Park 2
I was really impressed by Ilaria's cycling skills. She was like that pink energizer bunny. She just kept going-and-going.
Marthas Vineyard lunch rest bikes
I was happy to stop for lunch and give the bikes a rest.
Marthas Vineyard state forest
The landscape on the inner island was quite different from the coastal areas.
marthas vineyard state forest bike trail
The best part was that the trail was rarely near the road, so it was just us, trees, and other cyclers.
Ilaria and J on bikes
Here's the only group photo I've taken while on a bicycle.

My bum knees were killing me by this point and I wanted to return the bikes. But Ilaria really wanted to cycle to
Vineyard Haven lighthouse
this lighthouse in Vineyard Haven.
Vineyard Haven lighthouse 2
Turns out, the Coast Guard does not let you visit the lighthouse.
tourists Marthas Vineyard
Who's island is this anyways? How many folks are actually born, grow up, and die on this island? Is it anyone's island? Or is it just a Disney World for folks whose cultural tastes are just slightly stronger than those provided by the Disney World in Orlando?
Oak Bluffs ferry
Ok, we don't have time to ponder this philosophical stuff. We've got to run to Oak Bluffs to catch a ferry back to Woods Hole
Ilaria sleeps on bus
to catch a bus (after witnessing some classic New England fighting over bus seats) back to
Ilaria J Boston
butterfly in Boston
Boston reminded us that there are plenty of beautiful things to see in our own city.
Marthas Vineyard Map Final
But it was nice to spend a few days exploring this little island in Massachusetts.