vacation

Martha’s Vineyard 2012

In August amidst my blog silence, we spent a week on Martha’s Vineyard. It was a comfortable repeat of last year’s vacation — the same rental house, same restaurants, same stores (seen here).

But this year was not without some modifications.

This summer we hijacked our friend Mike (of trunk troll fame… though on this journey, no one rode in the trunk).

Not only was Mike great company, he proved undaunted by drippy, drooling sloppy kids.

Another newcomer on our excursion: Maisie. We stuffed the dog into the car (she was an insatiable passenger). She trailed us down the beach and Martin lured her into the ocean… once she overcame her fear of lapping waves.

Here are a few other lessons learned and travel tips to sum up our trip.

The mosquitoes showed no mercy.

Hadley revealed herself to be part-bat.

In the absence of the cry room at home, a cry tree will do just fine.

Taverns serve food but not necessarily beer.

A little rain shouldn’t dampen your spirit to shop.

Strong cocktails make for spontaneous silliness. And a sunset on the beach beats barn chores any day.

The Jalopy

Occasionally Martin embarks on random hikes in the woods, exploring the forested girth encircling Sugarloaf Mountain. He laces up his hiking boots, calls the dog to his side, and slips through the cornfield across the road.

I get it. These bush-hacking larks offer the only chance for solitude. A temporary respite from work, kids and me.

Invariably though, my cell phone rings. “Hey, can you come pick me up?”

“Yea, sure,” I’ll say. “Where are you?”

“I don’t know. Somewhere in the woods.”

On his last outing, Martin stumbled on an abandoned truck mired in a wooded creek bed. “It reminded me a little of that jalopy we saw in Sonoma,” he said. “Do you want to see it?”

So last week — on a random kid-free afternoon — we struck out in search of Martin’s junker truck.

I didn’t expect his discovery to resemble the old jalopy in sunny California.

Last fall, somewhere in Sonoma

Around here, antique cars don’t fare well in the East coast elements. And Martin’s find had been rotting in the woods.

But I like all things old. And I was game to see anything that might spark memories of wine tasting and our fancy B&B from vacation.

As Martin and I abandoned the sun-baked corn field and waded into a vast stretch of woods and poison ivy, I expressed mild reservations: “You’re never going to find that truck in this mess!”

“Trust me, I’ll find it.”

We cut through the high grass and followed a narrow deer trail until it dissolved into nothing but waist-high thistle, twisted greenery and wince-worthy thorns. In the thick overgrowth we adopted a goose step to clear the prickers and poison ivy. Even so we were itchy and sweaty.

Just when all seemed lost — who should we call and how will they find us? I thought — Martin announced: “Here it is!”

Camouflaged in a sea of green was the old truck, a rusty victim of weather and neglect.

I’m no gear head but I’d guess that the truck dated back to the early ’50s. And at some point in its life, the once road-worthy ride was downgraded to farm vehicle. A large tank rested on the wood runners — probably used to dispense insecticides over fields. Then someone had driven it too far and mired it in the forest lowland. Maybe the owners planned to retrieve it but never got around to it. Maybe they abandoned it on purpose.

Clearly we were not the first to stumble on it. Hunters had used the rusted body for target practice. Not a glimmer of glass remained and it was stripped of any scrap worth stealing. The door yawned open, as if the driver had stepped out for a second.

We crept through the prickers and peered inside. But we didn’t linger. Nearby, buzzed the distinctive hum of ground bees.

I don’t know if we’ll see our jalopy again but if we do stumble on it, I’ll know that we’re not lost. Yet.

Out of the loop

Cutting back on technology is a bit like dieting: you start with the best intentions, but eventually the potato chips lure you back.

I’ve tried to wean us off the TV but it was too tempting. The only solution was to go cold turkey.

Capon Springs

Which is why we booked a vacation at Capon Springs — a family retreat in West Virginia. I hadn’t been there in 30 years but little has changed. The grounds are green and landscaped, the pool is positively frigid (fed by spring water) and the rooms are basic. No TV, no air conditioning. Just the fundamental amenities.

Sitting room, in the main building

And when you’re subsisting on fundamental amenities, losing electricity doesn’t seem that catastrophic. At least that’s what we thought after Friday night’s storm. Martin had packed his entire flash light collection and the resort ran its kitchen and water supply on a backup generator. Living low-tech wasn’t a great stretch.

We paddled in the pool and hiked the woods, blissfully unaware that the outage was anything but local. A symptom of our mountainous setting, we assumed, until a blip of technology wriggled through: a text message from the farm sitter. Everyone’s ok but obviously no power.

That’s how we learned about the storm’s wide swath and the magnitude of the outage.

The resort talked about shutting down but remained open for those who wished to stay.

We wished to stay. A sweet setting with meals, functioning plumbing and a pool beat a simpering farm with a bunch of needy animals.

Sunday afternoon we returned to reality, just as the power company restored electricity. The farm escaped the worst of the storm.

And what did those kids do back at home? They went straight for the TV and reached for the ipad. I cracked open the computer.

Despite the convenience of ice cubes and overhead lights, I’d rather be back at Capon Springs — bobbing in the pool or tucked in our woodsy cottage, listening to a rumbly generator.