In a lot of these posts, I have encouraged people to take the road less travelled, to get off of the Circuit Avenue, Main Street, Beach Road, Water Street, continuum, and reach out into the other parts of this incredible island. I know that most people don’t get there very often, so walking up and down the same streets once or twice a year, is really not such a big deal, but the island is one hundred square miles. You will not be disappointed. I’ve been making a point of it for years now. I do it to learn more about my favourite place and I do it in the hopes of finding new locales for horrifying murders in my mystery novels. One of the places I would strongly recommend discovering is the tour of the Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge.
The JAWS FINatics
Cape Poge is the northern most point of Chappaquiddick marking the entrance to Edgartown Harbor. In fact there was a lighthouse there long before there was a lighthouse in Edgartown proper. The houses on the northern end of Chappaquiddick are, like the rest of the island, few and far between. I had told my friends on several occasions that I really wanted to get out there and they were all for it. Especially, on this particular trip.
This was one of the trips where some friends and I had rented a house in Oak Bluffs, and on this particular trip, we had on-line friends visiting whom we had never met. They were in from Wales and they, like the rest of us, were huge JAWS fans. The Welsh boys, whom I talk about in another post, were two brothers—Simon and Ali. Ali had been to the Vineyard once before, but the trip hadn’t been the greatest and Simon, his older brother, had never been at all! Simon was a Vineyard Virgin! They were a great addition to our crew as they were both full of positive energy. My Scottish grandfather would have said they were full of “piss and vinegar”.
We all decided that this was the perfect trip to get out there because it was the one JAWS locale that none of us had visited yet. You see, the beach out at Cape Poge on the west side is where Brody and Hooper swim to shore after Brody blows up the shark! That would be it! All locales checked off our JAWS to-do list! The end of the tail…so to speak.
First off, how can a trip be bad if, in order to start the trip, you have to get on The Chappy Ferry? I still think that’s one of the coolest things to do ever! I’ve been doing it for over forty years and I don’t think I will ever tire of it. I still jump out of the car and get in trouble for walking around or trying to walk in front of a car. I like to think of this as me being charming like the little boy I once was. I’m sure the ferry captain just thinks I’m a pain-in-the-arse tourist, but they’re always very nice about it. Once we dock on the Chappaquiddick side, and all of us tourists are packed safely back in our seats, we head up to Mytoi Gardens. This is where our real journey begins!
My friend Donna booked the trip for us through the Trustees. I’m not sure if Donna is a trustee, has friends who are trustees, or a trustee just owes her a favour. What I do know is everyone on Martha’s Vineyard knows Donna and I’m not sure why. Are you an islander? Guaranteed, you know Donna. You’re not an islander? Give it time. Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration. Honestly, it’s truly amazing, and frankly, not too surprising. Donna has a heart of gold—she’s a sweetheart. Anyway, Donna called ahead and when our motley crew drove up to Mytoi, there was a lorry waiting for us with a wooden bench fixed to each side of the flatbed. I liked it already. I wish I could remember the name of the driver. I’d give him kudos. He was great.
Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge
I didn’t really know what to expect from this trip. I knew that the group was expecting to see the final JAWS locale, but I really didn’t know what anyone else was anticipating or hoping for. We were told that it would take the entire afternoon. While we would not be covering huge distances, we would be driving over dunes and at a snail’s pace. In fact, why might have to stop, as they say, dead in our tracks.
It was mating season for the Piping Plovers out on Chappaquiddick and this meant that if one came out onto the road and plopped down, we had to stop and wait for it to move. We couldn’t scare it, shoo it, or beep our horn. There was a certain amount of time that the trustees had allotted, I believe, before you could call it in and game and wildlife would come and handle the situation. This was (literally) the wildest thing that I had ever heard, but I also thought it was one of the coolest. I mean, really, that’s respect!
Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge is over five hundred acres and includes the Cape Poge Lighthouse, a gorgeous seven mile beach, salt marshes, and is a safe haven for piping plovers, least terns, and oyster catchers. On the west side of the northern arm—the dunes we drove to get to the lighthouse—lies Cape Poge Bay which is full of bonitos, bluefish, albacore, and striped bass! But my friends and I weren’t there for the game. The only shark we were interested in blew up forty-four years ago.
Cape Poge Lighthouse
The drive to the lighthouse was brilliant. Honestly, I don’t know how I do it but more often than not, weather seems to be on my side! Maybe that’s just how I choose to remember everything. It was cool to go up inside the lighthouse. I’ve been in Cape Poge, Edgartown, and Gay Head now. I hope eventually, I’ll be able to get up inside all of them. I have faith.
Lastly, on our way back, we got to take in the JAWS Beach—our final frontier, as it were. This was the last filming spot on our list. We spent some time lining up our cameras and iPhones trying to mimic the perfect shot from the end of the film. I don’t think any of us succeeded, but we didn’t do badly and we had a lot of fun doing it. When we figured we had stalled our tour guide enough, we all got back on the truck and headed in.
I suppose it’s geeky or nerdy to be obsessed with a movie about a rubber shark from over forty years ago. Something a little odd about an obsession with a film that you will never, ever tire of. A film that you will watch at the drop of a hat at any given time—I will probably watch it as soon as I finish writing this. But I believe that it is this kind of passion that keeps us young. The ability to look upon something with the novelty and wonder of a child is what keeps us happy and healthy. I’ve got JAWS—I’m good. In the immortal words of Groucho Marx, “I’m going to live forever or die trying!”