A Few Days on the Vineyard

Judy’s and my boys, Josh, 17, and Max, 14, had just finished school with a few days left before having to report for their summer jobs. Judy and I thought that, as a family, it would be a great time to take a break. The boys agreed, so away we went. We are most fortunate in having all of the Cape and Islands so readily accessible for last minute planning.

The day before we departed was actually the first day of summer. It was hot and sunny and the ocean was flat calm. Passengers were numerous, but the ferry ride to Martha’s Vineyard was as smooth as riding on a cloud. It was very quiet and as the mainland of the Cape slipped away behind us, the perfectly still water stretched to the horizon in three directions. The scene was surreal and I could feel myself relaxing. We arrived in Oak Bluffs. I just love the whole setting of the steamship ferry pier across the road from the expansive Ocean Park. The gingerbread houses are like colorful pearls in a necklace around the great green park with the band gazebo.

So much of Martha’s Vineyard just seems to be laid out naturally to welcome visitors. The harbors are indicative of what you find in each area. Vineyard Haven Harbor is very wide with lighthouses on the eastern and western shores as you enter. Year-round, Vineyard Haven sees the most ferry traffic and Main Street is only one block from the harbor. Concentrated for visitors’ convenience is a marvelous selection of unique retail shops, galleries, and eateries.

The next opening in the shoreline is Oak Bluffs Harbor. Although smaller in size, it is easy to enter and well protected in rough weather. Architecturally fascinating, old-style summer homes and hotels abut the harbor, and the pier is sprinkled with visitor-oriented shops and open-air restaurants. Within two blocks of the harbor so many small businesses offer so much fun—what better village could be home to the magical Flying Horses Carousel?

Up island, you find Aquinnah, home to the Gay Head Lighthouse, the authentic fishing village of Menemsha, and the tiny harbor by the same name.

The entrance to Edgartown Harbor is classic with a lighthouse on your right and a private beach club on your left. The stately hotels and summer homes dot the shoreline and create a beautiful skyline along the expansive harbor. The shops, galleries, and eateries are all top-notch. It was Martha’s Vineyard Restaurant Week, and we were lucky to get the last table available at L’Etoile Restaurant, the best of the best.

By way of the On Time ferry, we visited Chappaquiddick to see my brother Mike and his wife, Cathy, at their summer home. Along with their nephew, Keaton Beams, we strolled to the bluff overlooking Katama Bay, all the while the boys tossing their football in a game of keep-away. Mike pointed out how the barrier beach break had widened and was in fact migrating eastward toward Wasque Point. As Mike and I admired the awesome beauty in his little corner of the world, we agreed that, “Where the land ends, LIFE begins.”

To contribute my fair share to the local economy, I did some shopping. I bought four hand-painted wall signs. For my wife, Judy, and Sam, her black Lab, I found, “LIFE’S DRAB WITHOUT A LAB.” Also, I found signs for three Cape Cod Life team members. Marianna Lynch was visiting her first-born grandchildren that week. Her son Ryan and daughter-in-law Eleanor had very recently begun their family with triplets. Marianna’s sign reads, “GRANDCHILDREN ARE GOD’S REWARD FOR NOT KILLING YOUR OWN KIDS.” This year, Liz Flynn was recognized by the MSPCA for her generous volunteer work. Liz’s sign reads, “THIS HOME IS BLESSED WITH LOVE, LAUGHTER, FRIENDSHIP, AND A CAT.” Finally, for the office wall of our ever-so-competent Associate Publisher and Editor, Susan Dewey, I found, “I’D AGREE WITH YOU, BUT THEN WE’D BOTH BE WRONG.”

Our trip to the Vineyard was relaxing, entertaining, and fun. May your summer be as well.

My Best,


Brian Shortsleeve, President and Publisher

P.S. Just as we were about to go to press, Editor Susan Dewey and Creative Director Chrissy Caskey showed me six potential cover photos for this issue. We finally chose the beautiful Rising Stars image that you see here. Susan surprised me by telling me at that point that my son, Josh, shot this photo last summer. What a proud moment for me! As we all know, summer days on Cape Cod have a way of shaping your life for years to come.


Brian Shortsleeve

Brian Shortsleeve is the President and Publisher of Cape Cod Life Publications.

Facebook Comments