I’ve been meaning to write a piece for Cape Cod Pulse for a while now. After tense financial negotiations, we reached an agreement…I would write the article for free. I will, however, compensate myself by plugging an event I have coming up. I’m getting ahead of myself though.
I decided to write a “list” article because people love lists and I love people. I also love the Vineyard and over the last few years I’ve made some great friends on the island and played a ton of shows both with my band Crooked Coast and solo acoustic. I could go on and on, but in the spirit of internet attention span brevity, I will keep my loves to five. He we go!
1. Being a Tourist
I have come to accept that the stretch of Woods Hole Road I live on has pretty much crossed Bronx Expressway levels of traffic this summer, but what the hell, I wasn’t going much faster when we had two feet of snow falling every other day. I’m embracing the old adage, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” From Woods Hole it’s a forty-five minute ferry boat ride and I feel like I’m in another country. I love wandering the crowded streets, ice cream cone in hand, weaving through traffic in sweet oblivion. One of my favorite tourist destinations is the Gingerbread Houses of Oak Bluffs. These are beautiful little cottages painted in wild colors. The craftsmanship on them is mind-boggling. I say this as someone who has done some construction and scratched my head a fair amount trying to figure out how to shingle around a window. The details are enough to drive you insane if you stare too long. Take a gander and keep it moving.
2. People Watching
As a writer, I am a student of the human condition. By that I mean I stare at strangers until it becomes awkward or a confrontation occurs. I can’t help myself. I’m fascinated by families and groups of people who come from all over the world for a little slice of life on the Island. Since they blow right through Woods Hole, stopping only long enough to throw a jumbo Coffee Coolatta cup into my driveway, I have to get on the boat to observe.
One thing you notice right off the bat is that there is a uniform one must don when vacationing on the Vineyard. It’s similar to the stereotype most people have of Cape Cod attire: Vineyard Vines khakis, boat shoes, lots of blue and pink. It’s a little weird because the people from the Vineyard pretty much just wear Carhartt all the time. Donovan’s Reef is prime people watching. It’s an outdoor tiki bar (located in Nancy’s Restaurant) nestled on the Oak Bluffs marina. The proprietor, Donovan, spends winters in his native Caribbean and summer slinging thousands of frozen drinks like his famous “Dirty Banana.” He makes lots of other great, less embarrassing sounding drinks as well. The place is an institution. I know people who will literally take the boat over, drink for an hour at Donovan’s, and then take the boat back.
While in line at Donovan’s you may see a tourist strike up a conversation with the legendary bartender asking, “Hey Donovan, how ya been? Remember me? I came here last year.” Yeah I’m sure he remembers you. You were the really sunburned, middle management bro from a software company based out of Dallas. The guy who said, “Hi. Can I have a Dirty Banana,” last year. By all means hold up the line for a minute and catch up.
3. Getting into the Great Wide Open
If you have a car at your disposal, or in the case of those with vague suicidal tendencies decide to rent a scooter, the island is great for exploring. I forgot how big it is until recently when I took a late night ride in the back of a pickup truck that took forever. Once out of town, you might as well be in Maine. There are beautiful rolling hills, woods, and farms. There are even country folk there who talk of going “down island” as rarely as possible as though it were a big city where life moved a little too fast. Aquinnah is an up island gem. The view from the top is astounding. The green hills give way to clay cliffs which drop into the deep blue ocean. The beaches in this area are world class. Just don’t let the charm and tranquility ruin “down island’ life for you…You still have to return that scooter.
Crooked Coast will perform with special guest Build a Machine at the Lampost, 6 Circuit Avenue, Oak Bluffs, this Thursday, July 23 at 10 PM. Transportation is available at 7:30 PM from Falmouth Harbor through Patriot Party Boats, 227 Clinton Avenue, with a return boat departing Oak Bluffs at 1:15 AM. Tickets for the boat and show are $25. To reserve your spot, visit http://crookedcruise.brownpapertickets.com.
4. Famous People
For me, no trip to the Vineyard is complete without visiting my old friend JT, or as you may know him “James Taylor.” No big deal, we usually just kick it on the lawn and drink Arnold Palmers. He often plays me tunes he is working on and asks for constructive criticism. Things really get interesting when B Money (Bill Murray) swings by with some top notch West Tisbury grass. I should stop there…I’ve already said too much.
*Editors Note: Number four is a figment of Mr. Vose’s imagination
5. Boat Rides
There are a few ways to get to the island. Unless you are a millionaire with a jet or a maniac with a swimsuit, you are most likely taking a boat. The boat ride itself is worth the trip. Coming out of Woods Hole, the architectural wonder known as the “Airplane House” is on your left and the mystical Elizabeth Islands are on your right. You may also catch a glimpse of cute seals lounging on the channel markers avoiding giant sharks. Local secret: The ferry is BYOB. I think it is but don’t take my word for it. Up until recently I thought jury duty was BYOB. It isn’t.
The last boat leaves the island at like 9 PM though and everyone knows a lot of cool stuff happens after 9. What if there was a way to cruise to the Vineyard with a bunch of awesome people on a party boat as the sun set? Once on the island you would have time to grab a Dirty Banana from Donovan and stroll by the Gingerbread Houses before heading to the Lampost nightclub in Oak Bluffs and see a killer live show by someone like Crooked Coast with special guests California reggae-rockers Build A Machine. After all this fun you could hop on that same party boat and cruise across the sound under the stars making it back to Falmouth before 2 AM. If you haven’t noticed I just subtly worked in my tasteful self-promotion.