11 Massachusetts Avenue

It’s been a long time since these fingers typed a blog post.  Here we go:

On the bridge at Smith's Point.

Massachusetts Avenue dead-ends on the left into the Jackson Pier.  It intersects with (appropriately) New Jersey Avenue, and you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s way out there, the end of the world:  It sits over the bridge into Smith’s Point, in the tiny hamlet of Madaket, on the not-so-large island of Nantucket, some 21 miles (or seven leagues) out to sea in the Atlantic Ocean.  From the bridge you can see the sun glimmering off the water in the Madaket Marina, or, to the right, the oddly shaped house which sits in the middle of the ocean and the bay, and whose owners have a dog named Charlie.

The oddly shaped house, between the bay and ocean.

It’s about a 10 to 15 minute walk, via either that bridge or Madaket beach, to the West End Market, which keeps hours of 8 am to 8 pm, and you can procure items like the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, coffee, donuts from the Downy Flake, and plenty of Cisco Brewery ale.  (You can also have a proper chat with the three friendly proprietors.  There’s even a lovely picnic table outside.)  From there it’s another 10 minutes or so to the Walter Barrett Public Pier, and a seven mile, 20 minute drive into Nantucket proper, or, as we call it (its original name), Sherburne.

Yours truly at the Walter S. Barrett Public Pier.

The town signs oh Sherburne.

Some people may find Smith’s Point just too far off the path (though it’s not as far as Eel Point, which is across the bay and visible from Massachusetts Avenue).  But for about three weeks, it was my home.  It was where we took early morning walks from, where we listened to Troy Olsen’s “Summer Thing,” where we participated in the rearing of the communal child.  It’s where we hosted friends from Connecticut, where kayaked around the bay, where we waited Hurricane Tropical Storm Earl out, weathering the weather with oysters and lobsters (from Glidden’s Island Seafood, of course– house account), champagne, chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc, and fresh corn and tomatoes from Bartlett’s Farm (“Who’s your farmer?”), and pints of ice cream from The Juice Bar (oh, peanut butter cup–  okay, I may have gained some weight this summer).

While still in Madaket you can chase one of your oldest friend’s two kids up and down Middle Beach, or entertain ’em with your three Sesame Street voices (Elmo, Cookie Monster, and, of course, Grover).  You can take a vigorous ocean swim after enjoying the Turkey Terrific sandwich from Provisions, or delicious cookies from Something Natural.  You can watch the sunset with old friends you’ve been watching the sun set with for years.

A typical Madaket sunset.

Once you hit the big town of Sherburne, there’s a seemingly endless amount to do:  Strolling the cobblestoned streets; sitting on your friend’s bench and reading those papers you bought at the West End; browsing for good reads at the local indie bookstore, Bookworks; or even indulging in the decadent lobster bloody mary (you read that right) at the Brant Point Grill.  You can trudge all the way to the top of the Congregational Church tower for the best view of the Island (on a clear day you can see all the way to Great Point in Wauwinet, where you used to cook swordfish as a kid) or browse the art galleries on the South Wharf.  Heck, you can while away an entire afternoon drinking Whale’s Tale Pale Ale with a new friend at the Ropewalk.

Should you want to leave Sherburne (say, when the 1:00 pm Hy-Line comes in), you can walking along Cliff Road, looking at the beautiful people’s beautiful houses.  You can find a set of stairs that’ll take you down a steep walk to the beach, off the beaten path.  You can roam Tuppancy’s Links, and end up with both a spectacular view of town and the ocean.  You can drive the familiar road in Surfside (one of your favorite roads in the world), and end up at the misnamed Fisherman’s Beach for the 10th annual dog reunion.

The annual doggie reunion.

If you want to get even further out of Sherburne, you can pile into the SUV that night and head to Siasconset, that even smaller hamlet, for a lovely post-Labor Day dinner at the ‘Sconset Cafe (always post-Labor Day, when the crowds have headed back to America and the Island just feels smaller).  Or, for a different scene (a once-a-year-scene), you can motor out to The Summer House, where you’ll sip a pre-dinner cocktail at the Moby Dick Bar (Damn that book!), and then enjoy dinner with 11 friends at your customary round table, sipping the various wines Tracey the sommelier has brought you.  You’ll be summoned to the piano to sing Thunder Road or Scenes from an Italian Restaurant along with Jamie as he tickles the ivories.  As the wine flows more and more folks will you join in this summertime karaoke.

Or, if ‘Sconset is still too close, you can make your way, one afternoon, with the same friends, to the launch at the White Elephant Hotel, where you’ll enjoy a scenic (and wet!) boat ride through the harbor and Nantucket Sound, out to The Wauwinet Hotel, and a decadent lunch at Topper’s (named for the family dog).  But if you do (and it’s a must), factor in time for a nap afterwards.

And there’s more and more–  the Bartlett Farm truck in Sherburne!  The beautiful sun at Madaket Beach as you read your book!  The day you watched two friends take the makeshift red sailboat out into the bay!

Two gentlemen, out for a sail.

The night you ate pizza, drank chianti and played charades at your friend’s house!–, but at the end of the day you’d return to 11 Massachussetts Avenue, over the bridge out on Smith’s Point in Madaket.  You’ll watch the sunset from the deck, and drink a little wine as you shuck corn for dinner, or clean up and get ready to go out.  You’ll think about the next morning’s walk, or play with the communal child, or just, you know, hang out.

The Bartlett Farm Truck in Sherburne.

And while it’s better for my back to have slept in my own bed last night, and it’s comforting to return to the rituals of life (and while they’ll be more travel oh, tomorrow night), I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss that little house with the view of the water at 11 Massachusetts Avenue.  For three weeks, it was my home.

The view from 11 Massachusetts Avenue.


5 Responses to “11 Massachusetts Avenue”

  1. Francesca Says:

    We miss 11 Massachussets Ave too! Great post. What a great vacation. The communal child misses you!

  2. Travel: Part One « Wally's Blog Says:

    […] Wally's Blog Just another WordPress.com weblog « 11 Massachusetts Avenue […]

  3. Mom Says:

    Wally, Whether 11 Mass Ave, or the Holdgate House, or 117 Main, it is home. Thanks for bringing me back today. Love, Mom

  4. Travel: Part Two « Wally's Blog Says:

    […] Part Two By thiswaytotheegress Previous installments on recent travels can be read here and […]

  5. 2010 Yesterday’s Island Photo Contest « Wally's Blog Says:

    […] Did I win?  Alas, no.  But I did place.  (And I think you’ll agree the winning photo is pretty darn good–  if you like mailboxes.)  And here are my two photos that placed, from the “on the water” section (both taken from the back deck of 11 Massachusetts Avenue): […]

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