Sunday, May 1, 2016

Martha's Vineyard

Martha's Vineyard

Remember me? I used to blog here once in a while. Man, It's been a long time! Life has been busy.

My employer is the leading maker of drugs for Multiple Sclerosis, so it's a big sponsor of the Bike MS rides. I'm doing three this year, with the first being the 60-mile "Ride the Vineyard" on Martha's Vineyard yesterday.

We've been living in New England for seven years now but we had never made it to Martha's Vineyard or Nantucket. We were excited for our first visit.

A year ago at the school auction, Carol went with other moms. It was Casino Night. For some reason, as other people left they gave her their remaining chips and she ended up with a large number. She was able to choose any silent auction item she wanted and she chose a two night stay at the Bayside Resort on Cape Cod. We decided to use that stay for this weekend, and Carol and the girls came over to Martha's Vineyard to meet me after my ride and see the island.

Unfortunately I misunderstood the ferry routes and schedules and our hotel was actually 30 miles from the proper ferry landing in Woods Hole. Oh well, Carol was generous enough to get up with me at 5:35 AM and drive me to the 7:00 ferry, then go back and have breakfast with the girls and take a noon ferry.

My ride was great. The first half, "up island" (the western end) was hilly and tiring early in the season, but the second half, though windy, was flat and pleasant. I had a great tour of the island. A highlight was visiting Gay Head. The current incarnation of the lighthouse was built in 1874, quite far back from the bluff. But 140 years of storms have eroded the bluff such that the lighthouse was threatened. They are just completing the project of moving it farther from the bluff. The project happens to be the subject of NOVA this week.

We met up easily after the ride and I changed into normal clothes and we were off to sightsee.

The first order of business was lunch. We went to the Offshore Ale Company in Oak Bluffs, one of the two main tourist towns on the island. It also has the oldest continuously operating carousel in the country (which wasn't open yet - we were visiting well ahead of peak season), and "the campground" - a collection of 300 very cute gingerbread cottages that were the origin of the town.

Then we shopped a little. Carol and the girls all wanted MV sweatshirts. Coincidentally, they all chose purple!

We thought we wanted to rent scooters so I could show them some of the island highlights I had seen on my ride. The guys at the scooter place reminded us that it was kind of chilly out. They offered to rent us a jeep for the rest of the day for a very reasonable rate, and it had a big sunroof flap that would simulate a scooter ride if we wanted. We took it.

I had been reading about the geography of the island and learned that Chappaquiddick is reachable by a 100-yard ride on a 3-car ferry. There is also a conservation property there called "Mytoi" that I had read about years ago but thought I'd never visit. We headed to the ferry!

Finding it was an adventure. The streets in Edgartown are very narrow. The ferry dock is down at the end of one of them.

Mytoi was pretty. It reminded us very much of Kubota Gardens in Seattle.

The parking lot at Mytoi had a map that showed that there were multiple related conservation lands quite nearby. One of them was Cape Poge, a large barrier island that is only navigable by 4WD vehicle over deep sand.

Guess what? We had a Jeep!

We were all over that.

We had a blast navigating the sand up the ocean beach, then slightly more inland, until we reached Cape Pogue Lighthouse - our goal. The girls really enjoyed the ride, especially since it was at 15 mph and they could stand up out of the sunroof the whole way.

Cape Pogue, by the way, is reached via the tiny Dike Bridge, which happens to be the bridge Edward Kennedy's car drove off of in 1969 (although it's not entirely clear he was driving it).

We eventually made our way back to the tiny ferry and back to Oak Bluffs where we found ice cream. Then we headed back to the big ferry and returned to our Cape Cod hotel very late.

Sunday we slept in, then enjoyed the hotel breakfast and a swim in the pool.

As were leaving, we encountered another family from Melrose who noticed a Melrose sticker on our car. They were headed to the Edward Gorey House. That sounded like fun, so we headed there, too!

We ended up taking a charming tour given by his cousin. Then we spent a bunch of money in the gift shop, including a piece of art for our newly finished basement.

One more stop for a late lunch. Carol had a Monte Cristo sandwich that was delicious and we decided we need to make them at home.

Finally we made the two-hour trek back to Melrose. We all enjoyed that weekend very much.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Charlotte Turns Ten

Charlotte Turns Ten

Charlotte's tenth birthday was yesterday. Since it was a holiday, she had the whole day planned out. It was very fun.

A few weeks ago we replaced our decrepit old waffle iron and we've been a waffle craze since. So we started the day with waffles, but this time some of us topped them with chocolate syrup and whipped cream.

Yum!

Mom and Dad did some chores, but then we went to Bonkers, a party/play place nearby. It's in a large former grocery store and has a huge Habitrail-like "maze" with cool slides. Like a McDonald's playland but four or five times as big. Plus it has lots of arcade games, and pizza.

We were there for three hours and the girls had a wonderful time with each other.

Since we spent Thanksgiving at our friends' house, we didn't have leftovers. So Carol cooked our own Thanksgiving dinner on Charlotte's birthday. Then we put candles in the pumpkin pie since it is one of Charlotte's favorite desserts.

We can't believe our little girl is 10 years old!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Cape Cod 2015

Cape Cod 2015

In mid-September we joined the Latta-Giulianas at their family cottage in Dennis Port on Cape Cod. It's becoming an annual event. It's great to be there after the crowds of summer have departed.

This year the weather and the ocean were still warm enough for swimming and we spent a fair bit of time at the beach a block from the cottage.

The cottage is in a "cottage park" that has a pond and wooded areas. This year, for the first time for our kids at least, the kids disappeared for long periods of time and explored the woods. After they had them mapped out, they took the adults on a tour.

One of the highlights was a dead heron.

We also had our traditional meal at the Dog House.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Crane Beach with Mia

Crane Beach with Mia

Crane Beach is not only awesome in the summer - from October through March it's open to dogs so we also love to go there in the off season. On October 11 it was quite warm and we decided to go. We brought Audrey's best friend Mia with us.

I thought it would be nice for Audrey and Mia to have some good photos of them together, so I focused on capturing them. I managed to get a few candid ones.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Strandbeests

Strandbeests

At the beginning of October we went to see the Strandbeests exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum.

The strandbeests ("beach creatures") are fascinating machines made by a Dutch artist named Theo Jansen. They are powered by the wind and walk along the beach.

I first read about the strandbeests several years ago. This is the first time they have travelled for an exhibit. I'm so glad we went because I learned so much more about them.

I didn't realize they are almost entirely made out of PVC, including many small parts that make up the joints and mechanisms - not just the "bones".

It also hadn't occurred to me that to make the larger beests required many copies of the same part so he had to devise "mass production" techniques. There were some great videos in the exhibit that showed that.

The best part was getting to push one and examine up close how it works.

The PEM always has an activity for kids. This time it involved building ecosystems out of colored foam and other bits. Each of us built one.

Outside the museum there was another exhibit called Stickwork by Patrick Doherty. Back when it was installed the artist invited the public to help build the "houses". We missed that, but we sure enjoyed the result.

Also, Salem has become quite the tourist attraction during the month of October, leading up to Halloween. As many as 100,000 people show up on actual Halloween! Outside the museum the streets and alleys were filled with witch and Halloween-themed stuff.