23 Aug 2014
71° Partly Cloudy

Finding the Treasures of a Vineyard Vacation

No matter the weather, no matter how many times you’ve been here, the Island is full of secrets and fun for the whole family

As we all know, Vineyard weather is about as predictable as Island traffic and being prepared for iffy conditions is a must. I have been vacationing here for about 40 years, starting as a teenager and fast forwarding to now as a wife and mother of two teenage girls. This summer was the most challenging in terms of weather.

A vacation on Martha's Vineyard conjures up sun soaked days, frolicking in the waves at , sunsets at enjoying 's fried clams and fried mac and cheese bites with a chilled bottle of crisp white wine, lazy days engrossed in the book of the week. While we had some absolutely gorgeous days of sun and fun, we also had our share of cloudy, drizzly, not so very Vineyard days. But never has a rainy day spoiled our family fun and we were not going to let a few clouds cast a shadow on our vacation.

Leaving Katama one morning, with the as our destination, we found ourselves, instead, wandering through the ancient sections of up island cemeteries. As morbid as this may seem to some, it is an interesting and educational look at Vineyard history.

First and foremost are all the Island names represented on the old, cracked, moss covered headstones - Allen, Cottle, Lambert, Luce, Mayhew, Look, and Tilton. We noticed a fair number of Vineyarders, who died around 1850, actually succumbed in San Francisco - lured there in the hopes of striking it rich in gold, but who found their way back to the Vineyard as their final resting place. Others, around that time, lost their lives at sea. Sadly, many of them were young men, not even 20 years of age.

Each and every gravestone tells a story. The oldest ones, stories of hardship, loss of very young children and families faced with unfathomable grief.

No cemetery tour is complete without visiting the Island's most famous grave in the Chilmark Cemetery on Abel's Hill - that of John Belushi. I remember interviewing the cemetery keeper shortly after Belushi's death. There were fears at the time that his popularity would cause a disturbance at the cemetery. All these years later it is interesting to see his fans have not forgotten him, leaving messages inscribed on rocks and empty alcohol containers at his graveside.

A short detour, leaving the Lambert's Cove Cemetery, brought us to Mayflower Lane where my husband, Bob, enjoyed the hunt for a geocache. Geocaching, a hide and seek game where a GPS is used to find a hidden treasure, boasts of over 1.8 million active caches and over 5 million geocachers worldwide, according to geocaching.com.  Geocachers log their finds into their own geocaching.com account.  What fun it is to see how many you can find in different states!  There are a plethora of geocaches scattered Island wide for the enjoyment of visitors and natives, alike.

Our last stop of the day was our second ' home game of the week. Up front and close we watched players from some of the country's top collegiate baseball programs including Bowdoin, University of Rhode Island, Stonehill and Yale battle it out against Maine's Old Orchard Beach. An added bonus was seeing Bill Murray cheer on his team. In true Vineyard fashion no one bothered him and he blended into the crowd seamlessly.

Our final adventure, before boarding the ferry, was a leisurely walk through the Caroline Tuthill Wildlife Preserve. This bucolic hike, a mere 1/2 mile from the Edgartown Triangle, is a well manicured 1.3 mile loop along the shore of Sengekontacket Pond.  You are far from the hustle and bustle of summer on the Vineyard as you listen to the birds, the wind rustling though the thick foliage and the sound of waves lapping the pond's shore.

This hour long hike was the perfect way to put us all in a relaxed state of mind as we ended our Vineyard vacation with memories of sand, sun, waves, a little rain and a whole lot more.

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