After a bowl of blended fruit, peanut butter, and whatever an Açaí berry is, we walked to the local bike rental outfit. Within the next 30 minutes, we were set up with our day’s transportation. I was given an electric bike that had a long bench on the back to house two small children, Tara’s electric bike pulled a child in a Burley trailer, and Avery rented an electric bike, sans children. If I was her, I would have taken off for Canada. Thank goodness she enjoys her mittful of smaller sisters.
During the rental process, we met Greg, a man in his early thirties, wearing a leather apron. He clearly loved his role as bike shop proprietor. Greg helped us plan a route to see Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, and the best beach on Martha’s Vineyard, known as Joseph Sylvia State Beach, all before closing time at 5pm. With a solid plan in place, we were off on our newest adventure that involved physical activity, sightseeing, and shopping, of course. I was instantly in love with the electric bike. It had 5 gears on the right handlebar like a normal mountain bike but had a push button on the left handle that I could toggle away from the lame off setting, granting access to the Eco, Tour, Sport, and Turbo modes. After a couple days of moving at a snail’s pace, and to help with towing the 80 pounds of dead, yet very loud weight on the back, I chose the Turbo option.
We rode through the island’s countryside for 30 minutes, passing the local high school advertising a baseball game at 7:30 PM. As we trekked on, we rolled by an Alpaca farm, a family campground hidden in the woods, multiple cottages, and an ice rink! I was leading the pack, contemplating on cooling down in the hockey arena, but not wanting to cross the busy country road we were riding along. There was a wide paved bike path we were following and changing course with 5 people in tow was too lofty an effort.
The congestion of cars and gray shingled houses indicated our arrival in Edgartown. We weaved through a handful of houses along shaded lanes before seeing the water front ahead. Already, we could sense the difference between this community and Vineyard Haven. I had assumed that we chose to harbor in the largest town on Martha’s, but soon discovered that Edgartown had more shops, more lodging, a larger harbor, and more people. Not surprisingly, it was just as hot on this southern side of Martha’s Vineyard. Upon our stop, we were immediately engulfed in the hot and humid day. We locked up our bikes at the yacht club and quickly walked into an ice cream shop to cool down.
Where Vineyard Haven had one main strip of shops and a couple cafes or ice cream parlors, Edgartown had multiple streets branching off a Main Street filled with larger, well-kept stores, more restaurants, and larger crowds of people. It was 11:30, and though a little early for lunch, we needed a restroom and an extended period of air conditioning. We chose a tavern off the Main Street that promised more seafood for dad, mac n cheese, and cheeseburgers for the kids - I don’t remember eating the same two things as a child, but these girls of mine seem perfectly content their two favorites, red meat and starch products. After receiving a look from the waitress that said, “sorry, our restrooms are for customers only”, I requested a table for six and we were quickly seated in front of gallons of ice-cold water.
Full and refreshed from the cool restaurant, we headed back out to Edgartown, exploring all that caught our attention. After grabbing a colorful map earlier on, I noticed a shop named The Boneyard. Here you could find all types of surf and skating equipment, and sure enough, their inventory did not disappoint! The girls all picked up new sunglasses, while I found a hacky sack sized ball. It was soft and could bounce off water, reminding me of a past trip to Catalina Island with my brother in-law. He brought along a similar ball, providing hours of entertainment for the guys on the trip. With that in mind, I bought it for the rest of the trip, hoping the girls would be just as entertained as we were on that past trip. As I kept looking through their vast selection, I spotted a ring toss mount for my tiki bar. The game was another favorite for our girls on the last trip to the British Virgin Islands. Satisfied with our purchases, we left the shop and headed out of Edgartown to continue our adventure along the coast.
Our next stop and the most anticipated part of the day was the beach. Greg, the friendly bike shop proprietor hit the nail on the head in steering us to State Beach. It was a stretch of two miles along a causeway, facing east toward the Nantucket Sound and Atlantic. Some boats were at anchor off the beach, people were using stand up paddle boards, and kayaks were following the water’s edge. On the other side of our bike path and the beach was a large lagoon where fewer people bathed in the sun, but where multiple jet skis and speed boats played in the water. As we rode along the adjacent bike path, we realized that we needed a place to change into our bathing suits. It was clear that other than half naked bathers and umbrellas, there was nothing along the waterfront offering shelter. Rather than continuing into the next town and doubling back, we all hid between cars while changing into our bathing suits. We parked our bikes and headed straight for the enticing beach.
There was a bridge that went over a small inlet of water connecting the ocean to the lagoon, and we watched as kids and adults jumped off the fifteen foot-high “diving board” into the inlet below. Charley and I didn’t hesitate at making the leap. Of course, it wasn’t that way with everyone. After some convincing, Avery and Nora soon joined us in the fun. We spent twenty minutes diving. Climbing back up the rocks on the river bank was the only way to get back to the diving spot back to the bridge and doing it again. We then made our way into the ocean, played with the new ball purchased in Edgartown and attempted, unsuccessfully, throwing the frisbee in the breeze. The waves were almost nonexistent, but still provided an hour of entertainment for the girls. Tara and Ruby climbed down the rocks into the river inlet to collect sea shells before we all decided to continue on our tour.
After remounting our bikes, I quickly discovered that with five miles of riding to go, I had overused my turbo setting. The range remaining on my electric bike put me at one mile if I switched to the eco setting. Two unfortunate minutes later, I was out of juice, making me realized how inefficient the bike really was. Especially with the two anchors I was carrying on the back…
Maybe I should have held the fries on that last lunch order.
After an inefficient and slower beginning to the end of our ride, we crested a hill and before us was a perfect row of houses. As we were overlooking a large grassy park with a gazebo, we noticed a ferry dock and a line of cars making their way into the seaside town of Oak Bluff. This town was a much more established area, alight with activity. I was beginning to feel self-conscious about what I now felt was the red-headed step child of the Island, and our harbor, Vineyard Haven. I would later find that we were staying in the “local’s” town, a friendly way of saying that we were on the other side of the tracks. On our return trip in a few days, we will be sure to make a more informed decision on which area to stay in.
After pulling over to a gas station to refill our newly exhausted water supply, I was able to catch a break from that modern, yet inefficient electric bike. My legs were screaming, but it wasn’t over yet. We rode the final two miles back to our little town and the bike shop. I walked in and immediately harassed Greg over the half-charged battery he sold me, and after offering me my money back, I gladly accepted his offer of a local beer, successfully reestablishing our new friendship. While cooling down in his shop, ice-cold beer in hand, we learned that he’s been in the Vineyard for seasonal work for nearly a decade. Another interesting fact I learned was that his sister lives in Crested Butte, so we connected over that. In the offseason, he travels around the country, meeting up with his dad who is retired and lives in his RV, and bounces around various bike shops to see friends. As the sun set, the weather cooled, and the beer’s wonderful effects began to sink in. I found myself fantasizing about a lifestyle of leisure and travel. After getting lost in my daydream, my lovely, yet screaming children snapped me back to reality, reminding me that it was time to go. We were headed to the 4:30 PM showing of Toy Story 4.
Buy a leather apron and learn to tinker with bikes...in my next life.
We ran up the hill to the one-screen movie theatre, dropping Avery at the health club next door to catch her swimming workout. We purchased five tickets and a couple tubs of popcorn, the only other food our children will eat. With the pre-movie ritual completed, we walked into the movie as Woody was trying to save Bo Peep and her sheep from being hauled away. Never a good scene to walk into…
I cracked the second beer Greg offered me as an olive branch for my suffering, leaned back, and enjoyed the movie.
A couple hours later we walked next door to the Copper Wok, a local Chinese restaurant recommended by Greg, of course. As we plopped down at a table, we realized just how hungry we were. The crab Rangoon was the best I’ve ever tasted, but the troops were quickly falling after such a packed day. On the one-hundred-foot walk to the restaurant, Nora managed to plunge head first into the street off a railing and was now icing her head in between bites of fried rice. Upon not finishing their food, the children were punished by having to share the adult’s ice cream purchase at Mad Martha’s down the street - our favorite little ice cream parlor in town. Tara suggested we make one more visit to the Black Dog store, so everyone could purchase the requisite souvenir from the island. A few tears later, we were back on the dinghy, motoring away from Vineyard Haven for the last time. Showers were done in military type fashion, in and out.
Before we knew it, we were all asleep within the hour. Today was a perfect day, but we are excited for the next adventure in our journey. Tomorrow, we set sail for the beautiful island of Nantucket...
We're the Zimmerman Family!
Home Base | Denver, CO
A family of six that
LOVES to sail !
Follow our crew (Royce, Tara, Avery, Charley, Nora & Ruby)
as we blog our sailing adventures
Set Sail 4.22.23 | Las Palmas - Across the Atlantic - Island of Antigua
Set Sail 9.22.21 | Sweden - Germany -
Set Sail 7.18.19 | Newport, RI -
Martha's Vineyard, MA -
Nantucket, MA -
Thanks for reading !
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