Monday, August 22, 2005

Martha's Vineyard - A Place for Us

As a southern girl with an island background, it never occurred to me to go on vacation to a New England island, but after spending a year living in Newport, Rhode Island, I realized it is decidedly more pleasant to summer in the Northeast and avoid the intense heat of the South. My husband and I returned to Newport this year to attend the JVC jazz festival in August and groove to the likes of Wynton Marsalis, Joshua Redmond, and Stanley Clarke. Then, we were off to Martha's Vineyard to see what all the hype was about.

We decided to take our car over with us on the Steamship Authority ferry. It costs anywhere from $90-160 depending on the size of your vehicle. But, frankly, we only used the car once the whole time we were there. The transit system from town to town on the island is reliable and efficient. And walking around the towns themselves is easy due to their size. But parking can be difficult in the more tourist and beach areas. I'm preganant right now and getting around wasn't a problem, even in my condition.

We stayed in The Narragansett House - Iroquois Cottage B&B in Oak Bluffs which is the most family friendly of the towns there. Lots of folks renting scooters and bicycles and zooming around the town. The famous inkwell beach is within walking distance of almost anywhere in town. There are also taxis if you want to go out for late night entertainment and didn't take your vehicle. Be sure to see the Methodist campground to see all the tiny, gingerbread cottages that evolved from the early tent cities that the church used to hold religious services there in the summer more than a century ago. If you can manage it, be there the second Wednesday of August for Grand Illumination Night when all the cottages are draped with elaborate japanese lanterns. Try Linda Jean's or Biscuits for breakfast and lunch, but go to Nancy's Upstairs for finer cuisine while viewing a breathtaking sunset over the harbor.

Vineyard Haven (aka Tisbury), West Tisbury, and Edgartowne are quieter and less touristy with excellent examples of New England victorian architecture and a big whaling history. Herman Melville lived in Edgartowne and did some of his writing there. Menemsha is the place to go for really fresh seafood - it is literally cooked in seafood shops where the fishing boats moor right at the docks behind the shops. I had some of the best lobster bisque ever at the Menemsha Seafood Co., but we had to sit on packing crates on the dock to eat it.

Also, check out the Native Americans representing on the island by visiting the heritage trail and the cliffs at Aquinnah. (formerly Gay Head).

Chilmark is quieter and the home of many celebrities. The Clintons have just purchased four acres where they intend to build a summer home. Former President Clinton is known to be frequently seen on the Farm Neck golf course in Oak Bluffs with his good buddy Vernon Jordon who also lives in Chilmark. Jackie Kennedy Onasiss' estate is still there, and Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg still summers there with her family. Spike Lee and his family have a home there too and Bill Cosby is a frequent visitor to the area, as well.

All in all, a great place for African-American families. We plan to return next summer and rent a house large enough to take all the kids. I would feel safe allowing the teenagers to roam around on their own. Oak Bluffs has movie theaters, arcades, and even a hip-hop club that is just for teens in the early evening. More for adults later at night. There is a strong police presence on most street corners, but the officers are very friendly and seemed to be there more for traffic control than anything else. For additional information on African-Americans on Martha's Vineyard, go to through this site and check out Jill Nelson's book Finding Martha's Vineyard: African-Americans at Home on an Island.

Tamika Huston - Found

Thank you to everyone who took the time to read the articles and watch the television shows about Tamika Huston. The family's worst fears have been confirmed now that Tamika's former boyfriend has led police to what he claims are her remains. God bless the Huston family and please continue to pray for them.

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