Saturday, August 16, 2008

Lighthouse Hunting On Martha's Vineyard

I wrote earlier about lighthouse hunting earlier and bragged about some of the trophies I bagged on Cape Cod. But for the really big game, you have to go offshore. Martha’s Vineyard was rumored to have some of the best lighthouses around, but it would take dedication and planning if I were to get as many as I could in just one short day.

IMG_0087West Chop. When taking the ferry from Woods Hole to Vineyard Harbor, the boat goes right past West Chop Lighthouse which sits on the side of the slope aloof but welcoming. Having caught a glancing shot on the way in, we decided to forgo a closer approach in lieu of going for more remote targets. We landed at Vineyard Harbor and grabbed a quick lunch, but quickly boarded a bus to quainter parts of the island.

IMG_0185Edgartown. To call Edgartown quaint is to do it a disservice. It is far more stately and elegant than merely quaint. It is one of the most beautiful towns that wasn’t built by Disney Imagineers. And right at the edge of town is a gorgeous lighthouse. Normally that would make it a sitting duck, but this lighthouse has developed a very clever defensive system. On the road to the lighthouse there sits an entire row of shining beautiful Victorian houses that used to belong to shipping captains. It would be easy to be distracted by the fine detail and excellent preservation of these houses and lose sight of the prize. Once you run this gauntlet, there is a winding pathway to navigate down to the lighthouse itself. Here I ran into some other lighthouse hunters and got them to take my picture in front of my trophy.

IMG_0270Aquinnah. Formerly called Gay Head (the name was changed for at least two levels of political correctness to the local Native American name years ago, but the original twelve-year-old snicker-inducing name lives on in many travel guides), this lighthouse sits on the far western side of the island. To reach it requires an hour bus ride from Edgartown. The bus only runs every hour and it is another hour back to Vineyard Harbor, so stalking this prize is a minimum of a three hour commitment. But it is worth it. Easily the prettiest lighthouse of the entire trip, it sits all alone on a windswept bluff. The closest approach is from a tribal-run overlook. The lighthouse itself is owned by historical preservation society that only allows access to the grounds one evening a week.

IMG_0378East Chop. When we made it back to Vineyard Harbor much of our party was exhausted from a full days worth of lighthouse hunting and they cut the safari short. My wife and I decided to stay behind and check out Oak Bluffs. Here we stumbled upon the Methodist Campgrounds which is the epitome of quaint. These small highly decorated cottages transcend adorable. Small and colorful, they are so numerous they overload the senses. Still, we had to return home. Boarding the ferry at dusk, I braved stiff breezes and falling temperatures to stay out on the deck to try to capture the East Chop Light from the water. It sat there on the shore mocking me. The dying light and distance made a clear in-focus shot nearly impossible, but I managed to get one or two good hits in.

I didn’t make it to all the lighthouses on MV in one day, but that works with one of the unwritten rules of lighthouse hunting: Always leave yourself a reason to come back. And someday I will. Those lighthouses that think they escaped are on notice. You can run, but you can't hide.

BlatantCrossPlugging™: You can see more pictures of the lighthouses as well as other sights on Martha's Vineyard on this Flickr set.


Princess of the Universe said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog!
Those are some awesome photos- I don't get to see many light houses living on the prairies...

theaddict said...

hi Michele sent me! I like the photos of the lighthouses.

Elizabeth said...

What a beautiful area of the country. I
really liked the picture of the West Chop Lighthouse.

Anonymous said...

Your pictures of the lighthouses are great. A friend of mine is the daughter of the last lighthousekeeper of West Chop light, she grew up in the house next to the lighthouse...can you imagine living in that location!
If you care to take a look I did posts on my blog of each of the 5 lighthouses on the Vineyard.

The Mistress of the Dark said...

I love lighthouses. I finally found all three in Erie when I was there the last time :)

Anonymous said...

Great lighthouse photos. I see that you are using a Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XTi. Do you ever use a circular polarizer (CP) or UV filter on your lens? The haze in the West Chop photos are the reason for the question. I would guess those were taken at a fair distance, hence the haze. A CP and UV filter might have cut through that, adding some blue to the sky and making the red roofs and green foliage pop a bit more.

yellojkt said...

I have a UV filter on at all times. I bought a circular polarizing filter after Martha's Vineyard and before I took some of my other Cape Cod lighthouse pictures. I might post some with and without pictures eventually.