In October of 1995 my daughter Deb and I went to MV and Newport, Rhode Island for an autumn get-away.
Part 1 – Martha’s Vineyard
We were supposed to leave NJ on Saturday. Due to the forecast of heavy rain my husband suggested she and I leave Friday after Deb got home from work and stay over night in Mystic, Ct. Deb got off from work early and we left around 3pm. Things were going smoothly for oh, at least an hour and then 7 or so miles before the dreaded Tappan Zee Bridge things came to a dead stop. We decided to get off at the next exit and wend our way through the smaller back highways and eventually rejoin good old route I-95. Sounded like a good plan. Actually a lot of motorists thought so too and before we knew it we were stuck in a worse traffic jam. And…. that rain that we were trying to avoid…well, it came early and it was heavy and oh, it was also getting dark ! Nine hours later at 11:30pm we arrived in Mystic, Ct… a drive that should have only taken 3 or 4 hours at the most. And so our adventure had begun.
The next morning we arrived in Woods Hole and got an earlier ferry to Martha’s Vineyard… we like when that happens.
We checked into our inn and spent the day walking and relaxing. After supper it began pouring, I half kiddingly said we should take a walk in the rain and before I knew it that’s what we were doing. I never like walking in the rain, especially in the dark, but for some reason it just seemed the right thing to be doing.
The following day after breakfast we rented bikes.
Mind you it had been years since I’d been on a bike and I’d never used hand brakes… but how hard could they be !! Off we trotted to the bike shop by the harbor in Edgartown. After a few instructions … most of which I’d missed we got on our bikes and headed out of the shop. Somehow I wound up not on the road but heading for a hedge of flowers and before I knew it had made contact with them… it was all in slow motion so it seemed like an eternity until I hit the ground. I laughed and so did the rental guy, my daughter though after showing concern for my well being was convinced I’d want to turn in the bikes and forget about our ride. But no, I was determined to carry on after we’d gone back to the inn however so I could bandage my cuts and bruises. So back on the bike I got and we headed to the inn just a block or so away. I was doing pretty well until I turned into their driveway and sort of, well, bumped into one of the cars in their lot. Finally got myself put together and once again started off on our bikes… my daughter still wasn’t convinced we’d make it out of Edgartown. You’ll be happy to know that I was finally getting the hang of the hand brakes even though I automatically was using my feet too… sometimes dragging them on the ground as a back up maneuver.
The road between Edgartown and Oak Bluffs is 6 miles of scenic beauty… for most of the ride the ocean is on one side and Sengekontacket Pond is on the other… it’s one of the prettiest bike paths (or roads) on MV. We stopped several times to take pictures and for me to catch my breath. At one point the bike path changes from one side of the road to the other… there are big signs telling you about this… I missed them. When I saw my daughter move across the road I figured I should follow suit… as I have a problem turning my neck I didn’t see the truck that was coming down the road. I made it to the other side still not aware how close the truck had come… I do however remember the scared and horrified look on my daughter’s face. She claims to this day that I gave her several grey hairs… I say, turn about is fair play.
It was a fun day… the company, the weather, the experience of hand brakes… I’m glad we did it ……. once.
The following day was spent driving around the Vineyard. Not too much walking was done due to the sore leg muscles one of us had… not mentioning names but I’m sure after reading about our bike trip that you can guess who it was ! Tuesday was also the most normal of our four day get away… a ploy perhaps to coax us into a false sense of security! That remained to be seen!
Part 2 – Newport, Rhode Island
Our plan called for us to stay overnight in Newport, RI… a place Deb had never been to and I raved about.
I had made reservations at a bed & breakfast, which is NOT pictured here. We figured we’d check in and then go have lunch by the harbor. The best laid plans often go astray as we were finding out… this part of our trip was no different.
We pulled into the circular driveway of what once had been a gorgeous mansion. Once. The first thing we noticed was the roof being torn off and being tossed onto the driveway. OK, a little renovation is a good thing. There were no other cars in the driveway (an omen perhaps). The spider webs by the front door, not such a good thing, even if Halloween was only days away. The door was locked so we rang the bell. Lurch opened it. All right, it wasn’t Lurch, but this man was big and wore an eye patch and had a low gravely, grumbly voice. Maybe there wasn’t an eye patch but there should have been.
We walked into what at one time had years ago must have been a beautiful mansion but was now drab, threadbare, and frankly creepy. The circular staircase was beautiful wood covered by the most horrible ugly green carpeting imagineable. We signed in and were lead us upstairs to our room (cue ominous music). Walked in… it was large, queen size bed, a cot, bare floors, nothing matched, high drafty ceilings with no lights, everything was worn out looking. I didn’t want to put my suitcase down. Deb looked at me and I at her mumbling things like “I don’t know” “I don’t like it here” “this is spooky”. She asked if I wanted to go home? We made a beeline down the stairs, mumbled a few words to the owner, flung open the seemingly stuck front doors, threw our luggage in the car and high tailed it out of there. Another slightly askew incident in our adventure.
We did however have one of the best lunches ever. We drove to the harbor and ate outside at the Mooring. The whole time we were eating we were laughing and talking about the weird bed and breakfast and the strange owners. At one point our waitress came over to ask the usual “how is everything” question and before I knew it I was telling her about our … um, episode at the b&b. She told us she’d heard some stories about the place that were on the weird side. We agreed we’d definitely made the right decision in leaving.
We left Newport with 3 minutes to spare on the parking meter and headed home to NJ. Since we were coming home a day early it was only fair to give my husband a heads up. We called him from a rest stop, no answer so we left a message on the machine to alert him to our earlier arrival. We called once more to update him and drove happily along. Meanwhile, at home he hadn’t bothered to listen to the messages and was completely surprised when we arrived a day early.
Thus ended a slightly off kilter, lovely and very memorable trip