Tibby and I met Carole and Ken McCall in Holland in 1989 and have stayed friends. Their son, Ross, married Emily, from New Orleans, on Saturday 3rd September 2022, on Nantucket. There were three wedding related events over three days which were all wonderful.
There was enough time to explore the town and the island. Nantucket is an island about 30 miles south of Cape Cod in the state of Massachusetts. It is 14 miles long and 3.5 miles wide. For about 150 years Nantucket was one of the major whaling ports in the USA. Whale sperm oil was used to lubricate machines and for lighting. The wealth generated by the whaling industry resulted in beautiful houses being built on the island. The community and the houses were largely abandoned in a short time after oil deposits were discovered in Pennsylvania in 1859. A hundred years later developers renovated houses and, over time, created the holiday island that is today. The 15,000 resident population swells to 100,000 for the summer and the harbour fills with luxurious yachts. Strict rules limit the height of buildings and require all house to have pitched slate roofs and be clad in unpainted shingles.
We rented a jeep and explored the island and particularly enjoyed driving seven miles on the beach to the Great Point Lighthouse.
A seventy-minute ferry ride brought us from Nantucket to Martha’s Vineyard. We rented a convertible Mini on the dockside and set out to explore the ‘Vineyard’ (which has no vineyards). The island is more than twice the size of Nantucket, and is 23 miles long and 9 miles wide, with 6 towns. Compared to Nantucket it is less organised, less manicured, less buttoned up, less elite, less flat, more varied and more normal. Planning rules are more relaxed than on Nantucket and thus there is a wide variety of housing. It is still a holiday island with twenty beaches and a population that swells from 17,000 in the winter to 200,000 in the summer. We rolled back the roof in the sunshine and headed for Larsen’s Fish Market in Menemsha, where our dilemma was whether we ordered hot buttered lobster rolls or lobster salad rolls. Our solution was to order both.
We then explored much of the island, seeing beautiful cliffs, long beaches, light houses and magnificent seaside houses on the West Chop and East Chop peninsulas in the north. In Edgartown we saw more beautiful houses and buildings.
As the weather deteriorated, we boarded the three car ferry and crossed 527 feet to Chappaquiddick Island.
The five mile tar road took us across the island to the wildness of Wasque Point. We challenged the Mini to take us on interesting gravel roads to East Beach and the Royal and Ancient Chappaquiddick Links.This is a wild piece of heaven with houses hidden down wooded tracks. The Chappy Store is the only general store on the island and has only been there since 2009. A lovely experience.
We caught the fast ferry to Hyannis Port and were then transferred by car fifty miles to Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod. On the way we saw signs to Yarmouth, Harwich and Chatham.
Our first stop was at the Pilgrim Monument. Wikipedia: ‘The Pilgrims, also known as the Pilgrim Fathers, were the English settlers who travelled to North America on the Mayflower and established the Plymouth Colony in what is today Plymouth, Massachusetts, named after the final departure port of Plymouth, Devon. Their leadership came from the religious congregations of Brownists, or Separatist Puritans, who had fled religious persecution in England for the tolerance of 17th-century Holland in the Netherlands.
They held many of the same Puritan Calvinist religious beliefs but, unlike most other Puritans, they maintained that their congregations should separate from the English state church, which led to them being labelled Separatists (the word “Pilgrims” was not used to refer to them until several centuries later). After several years living in exile in Holland, they eventually determined to establish a new settlement in the New World and arranged with investors to fund them. They established Plymouth Colony in 1620, where they erected Congregationalist churches. The Pilgrims’ story became a central theme in the history and culture of the United States.’
Before the Pilgrims settled in Plymouth they made landfall on 11th November 1620, in the area that is today Provincetown. Five weeks later they moved on to the port that they called Plymouth.
The Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown, was completed in 1910 to commemorate the first landfall of the Pilgrims in 1620 and the signing of the Mayflower Compact in Provincetown Harbor. The small museum inside explains the Pilgrim story.
Commercial Street is principally a pedestrian walkway, about a mile long running parallel to and a block from the sea. Most of the town’s shops and restaurants are based on or close to this street. We enjoyed the vibrance of the street and the community.
The next morning, we caught the ninety minute fast ferry across the bay to Boston having thoroughly enjoyed our week in the Cape Cod areaBack to the Travels index