I have been toying with writing this post for quite some time now, ever since I wrote ‘Amity As You Know Means Friendship‘, because this is a sequel, of sorts, to that piece. I have already written a piece about The Beaches Of Martha’s Vineyard, and I was thinking that maybe I could write a follow up to that article. Lord knows there are enough beaches on our beautiful island to fill several articles, but that wasn’t really doing it for me, at least not yet. The day I spent at the beach was an amazing day, and this story covers several beaches, some really big deal beaches, none of which have I talked about to-date. So, here it is. Without further ado…
The Day I Spent At The Beach
If you haven’t read ‘Amity As You Know Means Friendship’ yet, click on the link above and enjoy. It’s a great read. I know this because it was a great day. It had all of the ingredients required for the perfect summer treat. The day ended with a group of friends sitting around a bonfire on Quansoo Beach, listening to Bob Marley, drinking beer, and baking scallops on the fire. I’m not even kidding—it was that good. It’s no surprise that Quansoo Beach ended up playing a significant role in my fourth Martha’s Vineyard Mystery.
The next morning, I got up early and went for my usual pre-dawn hike. I’m pretty sure that I walked up Barnes Road to Circuit Avenue, got a coffee at Mocha Mott’s, and then made my way down to Edgartown. I love that walk on a sunny morning. In fact, when I’m walking along the busy city street, it is not uncommon for my mind to wander and that’s where it puts me—on Beach Road. The skyscrapers fade away, as do the streetcars, the traffic, and my mind replaces them all with Sengekontacket Pond and Vineyard Sound.
Once I hit The JAWS Bridge, my friend Dave texted me and said he would meet me there. Once Dave collected me, we met the rest of our gang at The Black Dog Tavern for breakfast. I remember we were eating on the outside deck when I received a text from my buddy Geoff. ‘Where are you?’ he asked. ‘Black Dog,’ I said. ‘Which one?’ asked Geoff. I told him it was the tavern in Vineyard Haven. Geoff chuckled. ‘You’re such a tourist,” he said. ‘You guys want to go to the beach?’ he asked. ‘Hell yeah!’ I said. And we were off!
On The Road Again
There were a lot of us. Dave, Claire, Simon, Ali, and me drove up-island to meet Geoff at The Chilmark General Store. When we got there, Geoff jumped into the driver’s seat of Dave’s car. We were going to be taking a lot of unmarked roads and it was going to be difficult if you didn’t know exactly where you were going. As much as any driver doesn’t really relish the idea of relinquishing control of his own vehicle, I think Dave was a little bit relieved to have Geoff doing the navigating, at least for a while.
I can totally see why he did too. We drove down a lot of unmarked, one lane roads with rules all their own. We were headed to a place called Windy Gates. Windy Gates is on the south shore of the island toward the west end of Chilmark but before Squibnocket Beach. If I remember correctly, which is always a crap shoot, we were nestled between Nashaquitsa Cliffs and Wequobsque Cliffs. It was an amazing spot.That was where our day began.
Even once we had arrived at the beach, we had a journey ahead of us. I can’t remember how many steps there were down the cliffs to the beach, but I want to say 120. I suppose I could get out one of the photos I have of the actual staircase we descended, but I don’t think I have any with a clear shot. It was a lot of stairs. This was how everyone gets, what my friend Geoff calls, “Chilmark cheeks”. He wasn’t talking about his face either. Geoff always swims “au naturale” and from what I can tell, the stairs seem to be working. Once we were all down on the beach, we walked a little to the east and found a good spot. How does one distinguish a “good spot” in heaven? I’m not sure. I just followed Geoff and pretended to know what I was doing.
As I said, Geoff swims without the assistance of a suit. He had mentioned this to me on the phone and I didn’t care either way. The best beach in Toronto, my home, is a “clothing optional” beach and I was there with friends a lot. I have also worked in gyms for the last fifteen years. I’ve probably seen just as many naked people as I have clothed. I hadn’t shared this information about Geoff with the rest of the class, and as we spread out our towels, Geoff dropped his kit and ran for the water. Simon and Ali burst out laughing—what do you expect from the Welsh?—and I thought Claire was going to pass a brick. The look on her face was a mixture of disbelief and “Oh yeah! I remember those!” Claire is a mother of four boys. I don’t think she is fazed by much anymore. Maybe she was just impressed…
I stripped off my shirt and kicked off my flip-flops. The surf was active but not high. It was just enough to make body surfing fun. I do remember one really high wave coming in. Geoff, Dave, Simon, Ali, and I were all out in the water like ten-year-olds, and Claire was collecting pretty stones and shells on the beach. The wave came in strong and fast—it was a real rush! As I crested the wave I was high enough to see Claire bend over (she was down to her bra and panties by this point) with her arse facing the water. There was no time to warn her. I watched, helpless, as the wave devoured her. Claire was there one minute and then she was gone. I started swimming to the shore as fast as I could. The water receded and Claire came up sputtering and laughing. I think both boobs were in one cup by that point. She was red faced and choking from her own laughter. Claire has always been nothing if not a good sport. I love Claire. When I think back to the day I spent at the beach, that is one of my fondest memories.
Lucy Vincent Beach
I’m not sure if it was due to the tsunami knocking Claire for a loop or not, but when the boys and I decided to walk from Windy Gates to Lucy Vincent Beach, Claire opted to relax with her book. It might have just been that Claire relished the idea of having the beach to herself and reading in the quiet. I can’t imagine too many things I would enjoy more, myself! After we made sure that she was settled, the men headed east.
I had never been to Lucy Vincent Beach and it was a part of the island that I had always wanted to see. Now, that I have a real camera, I really need to make a point of going back. The day was perfect. It was about eighty degrees and not a cloud in the sky. As I wrote in ‘Amity As You Know Means Friendship’, Ali and I had already spent quite a bit of time together. The day before ‘the day I spent at the beach’ was the day that Ali had joined me for my morning walk; therefore, as we all walked east, like a hybrid of The Beach Boys and the men in Stephen King’s The Stand, I remember pairing off with Ali. I remember Geoff and Simon pairing off for a while, and I remember Dave absorbing the moment, thinking, and looking out over the ocean. I’m sure that we mixed it up, in fact, I know we did, because I remember Dave making everyone laugh. Dave always makes everyone laugh. The four of us had a lot in common, even though I’m Canadian, Dave is from Connecticut, Geoff is from Massachusetts, and the brothers, Simon and Ali, are Welsh. We all laugh a lot and we really like music. We are all still great friends and talk regularly.
The beach seemed to go on for an eternity. It didn’t seem possible that I could be surrounded by such an incredible vista of flawless beach. The farther we went, the more perfect beach we had behind us, but it didn’t seem to shorten the length of beach in front of us. Sand and surf as far as the eye could see—truly—and we had the entire thing to ourselves. Look at the photos and remind yourself, this is north of New York City! Martha’s Vineyard is truly a magical place.
By the time we got to Lucy Vincent Beach, I was ready for another swim. I could have had one at any point along the way, but I was so caught up in the beauty of the experience, that it didn’t even occur to me to go swimming. The beach was so beautiful that it didn’t occur to me to go swimming. Someone please call Alanis Morrisette and tell her someone has actually found an example of irony…don’t ya think?
We marvelled at the sand pillar that is such a fixture of Lucy Vincent Beach. I suppose eventually it will wear away—the elements are harsh. That’s really too bad because it’s really cool. I recommend getting out there to see it before it’s gone. Don’t worry, you still have time. It’s not really going anywhere all that fast. It did mark our turning point though. We headed back. When we got there, we found Claire lying on her towel reading her book, just like she said she would be. I’ve never been too sure if she was happy to see us back or not. She did seem to be enjoying the quiet.
It wasn’t long after that when we began to pack up. We had been on the beach for about six hours by that point. Our food was gone. That’s never a good thing. We headed back to Oak Bluffs, Geoff went to work, and we went to Sand Bar & Grille for a pint and some food. I could see that we were all starting to lose it by that point. I know that I got a little snippy. Some of us had sunburns and some of us were just tired. I fell in the latter group for sure. I slept well that night. I think even Claire slept well and her sleep had been off since she got there.
I’m not sure if this was a post about beaches or about friendship. The photos I have from the day I spent at the beach are largely of beaches, but my memories are of friendships. They are great memories, that’s for sure. I remember scraping my leg on a rock while we were bodysurfing. I remember Ali and Simon making “sand angels” in the hot sand. There was of course Claire’s tremendous face plant and her recovery like a trooper. For the life of me, I cannot remember what Dave swam in. If you know Dave, you know that there’s no way he owns a bathing suit. Did he swim in his boxers? Maybe. Hey—it’s the Vineyard.