Thursday, August 19, 2010

Martha's Vineyard

It all started with a post concert talk with Cary Pierce. He convinced us to go to Martha's Vineyard (MV) for the Jackopierce concert in August. I was hesitant as I had an office job and worried bout work and vacation hours, the driving distance, if I would fish too much and leave THW alone, and where to put dr jones.

We got the tickets and started planning. Long of the short, I quit my corporate pawn job, got an oil change, brought chairs, hammock, and umbrellas for THW, and got the parents to watch the hound. We purchased a huge tent. We set up the tent a few weeks early along the golf course. Rather easy to set up and roomy. The thing is huge.  I tied up a pile of flies and got all other camping gear ready.

We took off at 0450 on Friday and set off. We listened to podcasts and further appreciated Grace Potter. Before we knew it and after a brief nap on my end, we could see the NYC skyline. It was hard to drive past that city and not see all of our family and friends and eat the food. Soon enough we were just a few hours away and it was my time to drive. I can appreciate a man taking too long in a mens room at a Dunkin as I got to use the clean ladies room. A half-caf iced coffee was too much. I hate caffeine. I don't like the all torqued up feeling and my skin tingles. I was able to drive straight through. We called ahead and got on an early ferry.

Falmouth was full of Victorian houses which are one of my favorites. I hope one day to have a house with a wrap around porch where we can sit outside and entertain. Long windy roads and no traffic on a Friday. We get on the ferry and they decide to charge us extra for people. Why not just charge us for the car? They wanted an extra $40 per person. WTF.

Off the ferry and on our way. Kind of in vacation shock and not paying attention to our surroundings. Just taking it in. We get to campsite and set up quickly. The weather is cool and no humidity so not a sweat broken. We get in the car and take off for dinner.

We find the Art Cliff Diner. I ordered a falafel and THW got the lamburger. We indulged in a cold beer from our cooler. Most of the island is dry (no booze).

With bellies full of quality food we drive around Main Street in Vineyard Haven. We pass the small town and end up in residential streets. We now start to see the MV we would come to love. Lots of trees (old oaks), big and small houses, gravel driveways, families with big dogs, joggers, and no stress. We pass houses one after another that we love and end up at a cliff. We pull over at the parking lot and hop out. The sun is setting and there are some benches. We sit down and plan out our evening - go find a beach to fish and have a sundowner. As we prepare to pack up a Miata pulls up. As a Miata owner, we start talking. They notice we are from Virginia and see my Fly Fishing Is Not A Crime sticker. We start to talk.
Connie and 'Motown" live most of the year on the island. He is eating a take away from a Brazilian restaurant. They have grown children and a few grandchildren. The sun sets at 3pm in the winter on MV so they spend time with friends and family around the country. Our new friends tell us the must see places on the island, parking secrets, and hidden gems. What a fun and welcoming couple. The kind we hope to be down the road. The sun is nearing the horizon and for the first time in months I am cold. I get a jacket and a sundowner. My beer can lanyard 'round my neck starts conversation about my fly fishing consulting and products. Their son or son in law fishes, Connie was in a past relationship with a famous Keys angler. We exchange information and chilled to the bone, head to camp.

The first thing to greet us at our campsite is a skunk. I was familiar with the skunk situation from a PBS show I stumbled upon over the winter. I had no idea they would be in and around our campsite. They waddle off in the leaf litter and apparently don't spray campers. We drift off to sleep after having been awake since 0430.

Farmers market time. We head off to the farmers market to get food and provisions for a day at the beach.
Buckets, baskets, and boxes full of local produce. I'll let the pictures take you there. It was criminal to be exposed to all this high quality, fresh produce and not have a kitchen. A camera can sometimes last longer than a taste so lets go with that.

In no particular order, the tomatoes were beautiful, looking like the stingless jellyfish in Palau.
The kids selling the cherry tomatoes looked somewhat bored. I think that is due to the fact that they probably eat a lot of tomatoes and nothing else. Like Bubba in Forest Gump, he only ate shrimps. The wildflowers were dazzling and their smell intoxicating. Items were displayed with effort and appreciation of the product. Things were not just dumped in a bin like our local farmer markets. We got scones for breakfast, tomatoes and cibatta for lunch, burrata for dinner.


We settled into Menemsha and I strung up my rod and fished the jetty. The water was flowing in from the ocean and bait was stacked up against the jetty. I cast, and cast, and cast, and cast. Nothing. No fish moving, no fish busting the surface. Maybe a sinking line would have helped. I spent at least an hour and nothing. What is a fishing trip with out an injury? I slipped on a film of sand and my leg went between two boulders. That gave me a nice scrape and I had to watch my vocabulary as there were children around.

We biked around Menemsha for a while and decided to pack up the car and head to Lobsterville. 20 min later we were on a small stretch of land. I can't believe all of the old cars on MV, especially the old land cruisers. The parking lot had a few cars. We got out and I fished the water on the opposite side from where I had been earlier. The bait guys were catching Porgy on cut bait. I got nothing. We made a picnic and took in the surroundings. The beach was a few miles long and there were maybe 7 other people. No garbage. The water was swimming pool calm. It was almost too peaceful.

Time was running out and the concert was in a few hours. We packed up after 3 hours or so at Lobsterville and headed back to camp. We stopped briefly to fill the coolers with ice and I poked around the cafe's garden. I found some caterpillars on the dill.

We changed out of beach clothes and prepped our picnic for the concert. We headed to Edgartown and found a parking spot in the incredibly busy town. By now we have realized there are no commercial stores on the island, no chains, no fast food, no hotels, no McDonaldization. I bumped into Cary before the show and I think he was as stoked for the night as I was. We set up our picnic on the curb.

I have decided to get a digital audio recorder after my ipod touch would not record from the soundboard and the audience recording sucked. We struck up conversation with some locals and a guy who lives here in Alexandria. Everyone is so friendly on MV. Here is the setlist:

  1. Get To Know Me Better
  2. Rain
  3. More Than This 
  4. My Time
  5. Please Come To Boston
  6. Forces
  7. I Gotta Know
  8. Free
  9. Woman As Salvation
  10. Wildflowers
  11. Trials
  12. Advent
  13. Jacob
  14. Three of Us In A Boat
  15. Lateshift
  16. Everything I'm No
  17. Song by Tiger Darrow
  18. March F/ Tiger Darrow on Cello
  19.  Vineyard
 We headed home after the show and went to sleep.


We decided to head 'up island' and found a beach on a map that had no roads to it. We used the GPS function on my phone and found a sand road at the end of a street that was near the beach. We turned down the sand road and were surrounded by gnarled old oak trees that were covered in lichens. The forest floor was clear and we could see for some distance. The road split into two and the right side was full of holes so we took the left. We soon found that traffic would be coming from this way and had to hit reverse when a truck came up. Not sure if we were close or not we kept going. The horizon brightened and soon enough the road emptied us to a salt marsh. We followed the hills and came to a mostly deserted beach.

The water was flowing into Lake Tashmoo and we set up camp. Our day was spent napping, reading, fishing, and enjoying a few cold beers. Long of the short, I again came up empty handed on the fly rod. I spoke to the bait guys who were catching Porgy on cut bait. The guy had a fly rod with sinking line. I was perplexed as to why he had no leader. His fink tip ended with a nail knotted mono loop that had his fly attached. Does this not scare the fish?

Again, this beach was mostly empty. A few families and a life guard. Trash was piled up around an overflowing trash can and that was all the rubbish we saw. There was no restroom so we took off on our bikes up and down the beach access road to an empty lot. Hello mosquitoes! Before we knew it the afternoon had come and gone. It was time to pack up and head back to camp for a bit. We were invited by the opener of tonight's show at the Old Whaling Church.

The drive out was beautiful.
Back to civilization

We cooked up some chili mac with beef on the stove, chilled out, and headed to Edgartown. Stopped at Larry's Tackle Shop on the way in for some solid information. Larry had a map for me and some information on where to go tomorrow. I picked up some tying material that I have been looking for.

We get to Edgartown and start walking around. Small town, no chain restaurants or gimmicky shops you would find up and down the Atlantic coast beach towns. This place probably has not changed that much in decades. We stop in the Vineyard Backwater which was a fly shop with out the fishing gear. All of the clothes and accessories needed to fly fish, with out the rods and reels. I was glad to see Dermatone displayed on the counter.

By now we have seen people walking around town for two nights with pizza boxes. We follow them uphill to the origin. We order a pizza and go watch Julian perform. By the time he is over the coal fired brick oven pizza is ready. We eat the pizza on the back steps of the church and head home with charcoal covered fingertips.


Per Larry's information, we head to Chappaquiddick (Chappy) via ferry. We follow his map to location 27 and pass Meg Ryan on the sand road. We get to the beach and are the only car. Gear out we head up and over the dune to the beach. The view is to die for. No one else around, salty breeze, clear water, and a huge staircase down to a rocky beach.

This island is pretty barren. Only a few hundred people live here and there were no stores. Plum trees dot the landscape and fill in the space between the rod and the extremely gnarled oak trees. You could apply MacArthur and Wilson's theory of Island Biogeography to this island more than MV.  Fewer plant species, mostly birds, mammals introduced by people. The deer brought ticks. Plenty of signs posted about hunting (for deer).

The tide was rising and ripping to the left. I fished and fished and THW read. I took a break during slack tide and cooked up some food on the stove. Still no fish so I played around on the shore. Flipping rocks and finding crabs, shrimps, a baby flounder, lots of mollusks, and seaweed.

Some bait busted the surface and that triggered me to get back out there. The tide was ripping to the right. No fish. We decided to try another spot and enjoy another beach. The climb out of the dunes was awesome. No other people, no litter, just the sound of waves, wind, and gulls droppings welks on the rocks to crack them open.
We headed down to map point 22. Paid a small entrance fee and parked. THW took off on her bike and I set up camp on the beach. There was a large drop off from beach to ocean. Waves broke and birds worked the sand. I cast and cast and nothing again. I just sat and took in the view. Again, beach to the left and right with no garbage, 5-6 people down the beach and one guy up the beach fishing from a 4wd. THW returned and we popped a bottle of semi-seco cava. We relaxed in the breeze and life could not have been better.

I noticed something off the breakers moving to the left. First I thought it was a log, but then it had a head. My next reaction was why was a black lab swimming that far out in the ocean. It hit me that I was watching a seal. It went under and popped up a hundred yards down beach. Some crows enjoyed the view too and the seal was gone before I could photograph it.

Someone else showed up with fishing gear. We spoke briefly and he went up the beach to fish. Stating its better in the fall and at night. I walked down and struck up conversation with Seth. Turns out his family has a place there. He is in grad school in Boston. We ended up having beers since the fishing was off.

Seth has a background from the Pacific Northwest, skiing, and fishing. He is studying landscape architecture. We got into conversations about Chappy, its native and introduced flora and fauna. He invited us back to his place for a cocktail. A short drive back we turned off to the left. A beautiful house full of windows. We poured a Jerry and Mexican Coke and headed to the beach. We went out on a sunfish sailboat. The sun was going down and we had to head back to camp. We were leaving in the morning. I exchanged contact info with Seth and hope to fish with him in the future.

We drove to Vineyard Haven and had a dinner as the sunset turned into dark. We headed back. I finally got a fried dinner (fries, chicken fingers, onjun rings). Camp had skunks walking around. Skunks in camp, skunked on the beach. We packed up the gear, cleaned the car, and went to bed. We were woken by a ground trembling and blinding thunderstorm. I did not sleep much and we got up at 6 and headed out.

We got the early ferry and stopped in Ct for Frank Pepe's pizza.
I'll add more pictures from the phone and point and shoot and add more detail later. So much to write.


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