This month, a new shop called Soft As A Grape opened on the ground floor of the Woods Hole Inn, a great expansion of shopping in Woods Hole. This is exciting news for all of Woods Hole, as well as for travelers on the Steamship Authority ferries to Martha’s Vineyard as this stylish new shop offers high quality t-shirts, sweatshirts and much more in a convenient location right on the corner of Water Street and Luscombe Avenue, just steps from the ferry terminal. Stay at the Woods Hole Inn and enjoy this Woods Hole shop!
The new space has been dramatically renovated with new hardwood floors, gorgeous wooden shelving, extensive new lighting and more. Best of all is the antique boat that dominates the entrance, filled to the brim with sparkling new shirts and insignia clothing. Want to head home with a memento of your trip to Cape Cod? Soft As A Grape is the perfect place to find something hip to share the news of your travels at home.
In addition to their line of t-shirts and clothing, the nice folks at Soft As A Grape have dedicated a space for Woods Hole Inn branded merchandise including our famous coffee mugs, handmade starfish soaps, t-shirts and more. Come into the new shop at the corner of Luscombe and Water Streets in Woods Hole and see for yourself the great energy of this new shop.
Our spring Photo Safari exploring Cape Cod kicked off Friday night with a wine and cheese reception at the Woods Hole Inn. Locals Cathy and Prue joined guests Marie and Janice for this weekend of exploring Woods Hole and Martha’s Vineyard through the eye of the camera.
Saturday morning, I led a two hour talk designed to boost confidence and share tricks and tips for iPhoneography. In addition, we covered some key principles of photo composition, including capturing the Cape light, creating the illusive third dimension, and shooting children’s faces for greatest impact. I shared images from my collection “Woods Hole Colors,” daily visual ruminations on life in the most beautiful village on Cape Cod.
In the second half of the talk, I revealed my favorite phone apps that make taking great photos easy and fun. By the end of the session, everyone was swiping and exploring; even the SLR crowd was considering using the iPhone to take photos to promote online sales. In addition, we talked about strategies and tips for creating buzz on social media, and what sites to focus on for small business success.
In the afternoon, we walked the back alleys and waterfront roads of Woods Hole, stopping to capture things that caught our eye — red boat overturned on an empty beach, an osprey reflected on the flooded marsh, long jetties disappearing into the harbor. Saturday night, the group bonded over sunset and dinner at the new Quicks Hole Tavern topped off with an order of the “bag of donuts” with dipping sauces of Creme Anglaise and chocolate. Yum!
Sunday morning, we hopped the ferry to the Vineyard and explored the island with a car and driver. With a cold wind in from the southwest, the sun was glinting off the water and the brown of the marsh grasses stood in stark contrast to the bright blue sky as we crept into Vineyard Haven on the Steamship Authority ferry. Exploring gingerbread cottages (called “The Campgrounds”) of Oak Bluffs, waterviews along State Beach, lighthouses at East Chop and Edgartown, captain’s row of Edgartown Harbor — all with our great driver Chris from Harbor Taxi in Oak Bluffs. A highlight for me was his choice of Middle Road to Menemsha, a winding country lane with open meadows, farms and fields overlooking the distant ocean that leads to the tiny deserted fishing village at the western end of the island. Worth the trip!
Back in Vineyard Haven, we had a nice lunch at the Waterside Market, then ferried back to Woods Hole. Much of this journey was already documented in social media, but please enjoy my photo essay on #PhotoSafari Cape Cod & Martha’s Vineyard, and consider joining us for a true getaway in Woods Hole!
What makes a great photograph? Makes makes a photo “go viral”? Is it more beautiful on Cape Cod than other places? Why are images more powerful than words, especially in social media? Is there something to the saying about the magic of Cape light?
Join the Cape Cod iPhoto Safari Retreat (April 4-6, 2014) at the Woods Hole Inn to answer these questions. We will explore composition, light, editing and graphics all on the smart phone. Take your photography and social media to the next level while exploring the beautiful vistas of the Cape and islands. Learn how to connect online, and how to grow your social media presence with amazingly evocative imagery and overlaid graphics. We will study success stories, share secret apps and illuminate best practices to find the joy in everyday posting.
This retreat is perfect for the lover of beautiful places, or a small business owner looking to grow their business on social media, or a person looking to brand themselves or their blog/book/music/movie/play/coffee shop online, or a grandmother hoping to impress grand kids with snap-chatting. You will leave knowing more about photography, and have put that knowledge into action as we explore the beautiful surroundings of the Woods Hole Inn.
Beth Colt (owner of the Woods Hole Inn) is on a photo safari every day of the year. She jokes that if it pertains to Woods Hole, she will attend the opening of an envelope. Take a look at the Woods Hole Inn Facebook page or the Quicks Hole Facebook page ; the Woods Hole Inn has 500+ Instagram followers, 2,300 Facebook fans and several thousand Twitterati to which Beth largely credits her commitment to shooting with her iPhone everyday.
The schedule of events for the weekend is as follows:
-Friday April 4th, 6 – 7.30: Welcome Wine and Cheese reception
-Saturday April 5th, 10-12 noon: Secret of Great Photos & Social Media. Beth will discuss the composition of great photos, how to edit and improve photos, how to add text and graphics to make your photos pop, what makes a photo go viral, how does an idea catch fire online? In addition, she will explore the best social media outlets for photographers and small businesses/brands, plus how to connect and grow your reach on these important sites. Most of all, how to do this quickly and joyfully so it becomes an integral and easy part of your day.
-Saturday April 5th, 2 pm: Photo Walk Woods Hole. Get out and try what you have learned in one of Cape Cod’s most beautiful destinations. Hedgerows leading to epic summer lawns, lobster traps overgrown with butterfly weed, ferries disappearing into the fog and more await you in this guided photo tour.
-Sunday April 6, 9.30 am: Ferry to Martha’s Vineyard with Beth for a three hour photo safari with vehicular transportation. Cobbled streets, farm life, whaling churches, the gingerbread cottages and much more over a three hour period with a car and driver facilitating transport to picture perfect corners of the famous island. A real insiders view of the Vineyard.
This package includes: three days and two nights at the Woods Hole Inn, breakfast served daily, two-course dinner at the Quicks Hole Tavern (not including dessert, drinks, tax or tip), ferry tickets to Martha’s Vineyard, van fees for transportation on the Vineyard, slide lecture on best practices, guided tours of both Woods Hole and Martha’s Vineyard, a copy of Alison Shaw’s “To the Harbor Light” for inspiration, plus late parking on Sunday all included.
Pricing on rooms and all elements of this package are deeply discounted to encourage you to visit us!
Book online but also call/email the inn for the discount and to register for this package at 508-495-0248.
Oceanside holidays are often glamorized in places like St Barths and Key West. But people forget that the beaches of Cape Cod — especially if we are lucky enough to get a dusting of snow — are perhaps more spectacular than any other time of the year. Consider spending your holiday Cape Cod with us at the Woods Hole Inn!
Empty beaches, wide open vistas, Nobska lighthouse with a wreath, Victorian cottages dressed up with lights and Christmas bows are the touchstone of a Cape Cod Christmas. Snuggling by the fire with a snifter of brandy while the winter wind whistles outside, your Cape Cod holiday is cozy, romantic and lots of fun.
Add the great local restaurants that stay open (Glass Onion, Landfall, Coonamessett, Seacrest and more) with holiday specials, plus our hearty breakfast served daily and you start to get a sense of real Cape Cod holiday cheer.
We encourage you to book early, and stay longer for the full effect that the holidays on Cape Cod can offer — a feeling of total relaxation and fullness that comes when you commit a few precious days to sharing your holiday by the sea. Our special holiday offer is good while supplies last, so call us today to book your winter getaway.
Cycling Cape Cod MA, especially in the crisp fall weather, is the best way to see the hidden vistas and back road treasures of this sandy peninsula. But how to make it all happen seamlessly in one killer weekend? Well, meet our our bike tour package, which answers the question — why cycle Cape Cod starting in Woods Hole?
1) Rail Trails. The Shining Sea Bike Path — eleven miles of cycling fun each way, connecting Woods Hole to North Falmouth with everything in between — gorgeous vistas, Nobska Lighthouse, downtown Falmouth, Sippewisset Marsh and the cranberry bogs of Bourne Farm — voted one of the best bike paths in America. Ride hard, feel safe.
2) Free Breakfast. Enjoy a hearty breakfast, included with the room, to prepare for your Cape Cod cycling adventure. At the Woods Hole Inn, that means all-you-can-eat quiche, bread-pudding, croissant, fresh fruit, Greek yoghurt and home-made sweet granola plus our fair-trade piping-hot coffee to slosh it all down. Work hard, play harder.
3) Chillax. Friday night, the sun sets over the water and you enjoy a wine and cheese reception to warm into your Martha’s Vineyard cycling adventure: rice crackers, Spanish Manchego, Brie, Marconi almonds and a sprig of fresh rosemary artfully arranged on a recovered slate from the recent re-model of the Woods Hole Library rooftop. Add your choice of red or chilled white wine? Great way to start the weekend!
4) Never Get Lost. Guide Rob Miceli of Cotuit Cycling Tours shares his secret routes, back roads and amazing views as you explore cycling Falmouth and Martha’s Vineyard over two days. Rob will tell you all about the area, and pace the bicycle ride to meet where you are. He is great!
5) Escape to an Island. Across the street from the Woods Hole Inn, the ferry takes you to Vineyard Haven and you cycle with Rob on the bike path past Oak Bluffs to Edgartown and beyond if the group is feeling confident. Soak in the incredible views over State Beach, past the Jaws Bridge, over Vineyard Sound. You are on island time now.
6) Lobster Tacos. Don’t forget dinner at Quicks Hole (also included in the package!) our farm-to-table Taqueria with a water-view deck where the sun sets over the water every night. If you’re lucky, the band is set up and locals have gathered for a sangria or draft Cape Cod beer. Close your eyes and you are at one of any of the best end of the road hangouts — Todos Santos, Montauk, Key West, Carpenteria, Laguna, and yes, Woods Hole.
Last weekend, we hosted this special getaway inspired by travel writer Tim Jones, whose blog EasternSlopes.com urges readers that “life isn’t a spectator sport.” Taking the mystery out of enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of the Cape from the seat of your bike, Tim Jones wrote the journey up for the Concord Monitor, and I urge you to read more about his experience here.
So for all you weekend warriors out there, consider joining us next time — we plan to keep the bike tours rolling in the spring and fall so stay posted here or “like” our Facebook page for updates, specials and sales.
“Wind’s from the North,” my friend Phil admonished, as we got in the boat to go fishing Saturday. “Don’t expect much. Fish don’t like that North wind.”
I was expecting nothing — based on years of failed attempts as a kid — but I thought: Who cares? Day like this on the water? Heaven with or without fish for dinner.
Now Phil is a pretty accomplished fisherman, and in certain circles he is downright notorious. Others stalk him with binoculars and generally scratch their heads about how he manages to catch mo’ bigger better than anyone else. He seems to know where the fish live. Call it a hunch, a sixth sense or just the Gladwell-ian 10,000 hours, but it’s fair to say fish should tremble when “Betty’s Boys” heads out past the drawbridge.
First stop was the currents of Woods Hole itself and there were others there already. Phil looked at one group with disdain, casting along shore near Mink Point: “Won’t get anything in there today,” he chuckled as he dropped his lure and started trolling. Now he swore me to secrecy so I can not tell you the direction we trolled, what that incredible lure looked like, or which patch of rocks we skirted but in the first FIVE MINUTES, I had a striped bass on the line which, with guidance, I reeled into the boat. A keeper!
Within a half hour, my son Charlie had hauled in an even bigger one, north of 20 lbs. Then Phil threw his hands up — “We’re outta here” — and whisked us west on Vineyard Sound to another one of his secret spots, “between the grey tote and the stairs to nowhere.” Along the way we passed about 30 other boats casting for false albacore (it’s derby time on Martha’s Vineyard as well); one of them spotted us and followed.
Coming in close to land, Phil cut the engine, his friend Lisa tossed an anchor. Then he broke out the live eels. Yes, I said eels, squirming and wiggling all over the place. Phil deftly hooked several through the head and and started casting. Genius. My son Sam landed another bass within a half hour, too small to keep but the fight was worth it and we got a nice picture.
Back in Woods Hole, we hauled our catch across town to weigh in for the Calcutta Fishing Derby sponsored by the Woods Hole Business Association. We will surely attend the October 14th award ceremony (at the Landfall) to see if we won and claim our free appetizer for entering. But it’s safe to say we are already winners with our fridge full and our deepening friendship with Phil.
Now this might sound like a great fish tale, but here are a few photos to prove it really happened. Thanks to Phil Stanton.
The winter is a wonderful time to visit, because you see real live Islanders, those hardy souls who choose to live year round on this gorgeous 18-mile stretch of sand and beech groves.
In terms of the look of the population, it is not much different than here in Woods Hole — more grey beards than I ever saw in LA, many people in thick work clothes, the creased faces of hardy sea-farers, boat builders, carpenters, artists and chefs — plus the former summer people who own shops or have retired from busy careers to run non-profits or serve the demands of the busy summer trade.
There is a sense of distance, even in casual conversation, and my probings about island life are often met with bemused smiles and arch grins. This cluster of small villages set three miles off the mainland seems to have some sort of secret power, and those who fall under it’s siren song are likely to never leave the place. They refer to it as the Island, and the rest of the world as America. As in, “We went to America last week on a BJ’s run.” It’s like the moat that is Vineyard Sound creates a buffer between the two worlds, a separation that inspires poetry, and peregrinations from urban areas to this secret pocket of urbanity set apart from the rest.
This is one of many reasons why a winter day trip over there is so interesting — it is like visiting a secret world. Not to mention a gorgeous one. It takes only 45 minutes to be transported there, and I highly recommend you check it out, especially in winter when you get a better chance at meeting and talking to the locals. Here are a few other images from my short sojourn.
And arriving in Vineyard Haven at last light. I do hope my next trip allows more time to explore.
Get in the holiday spirit with a visit to Cape Cod this year! The Falmouth “Holidays by the Sea” weekend is right around the corner (November 30 – December 2, 2012) so book your getaway to the Woods Hole Inn today!
What a great time to be on Cape Cod. Wander the quaint boutiques and shops of Falmouth or Martha’s Vineyard (the inn is right across the street from the ferry landing making day trips particularly easy) and find the very best in original gift ideas. Take a tour of a real lighthouse, Nobska Light, one of the most famous in New England. See the lights come on for the decorations on the Falmouth Green, and watch Santa arrive by boat to our harbor.
Best of all, the Falmouth Christmas Parade, attended by thousands as one of the best spectacles of the season, kicks off on Sunday December 2nd this year. Staying at the Woods Hole Inn, you can borrow one of our free bikes and tool up the scenic bike path to enjoy the parade.
For a full schedule of events, please see the Falmouth Chamber’s website.
Looking forward to getting into the holiday spirit with you in Falmouth this year! Ho, ho, ho!!
Blog Post by Megan Jensen
My early trips this summer to Martha’s Vineyard kept me close to the main island towns of Vineyard Haven, Oak Bluffs and Edgartown. Each town is unique and has plenty to offer for the casual journey to an offshore isle. But, for my last sojourn to the island before heading home, I decided I was up for something more adventurous – Up Island, as the locals call Menemsha, Chilmark and Aquinnah.
It was a rainy and cloudy day but I decided to brave the weather and optimistically bought a day pass for the bus hoping to see all of the up-island hotspots, from the Menemsha fish markets to the Gay Head lighthouse.
Taking the bus is my absolute favorite way to get around the Vineyard and I love the helpful and informative bus drivers. They really are the true guides to the island. They’ll drop you off anywhere along their route, and make sure you get picked back up again. They can point out anything from Jackie Onassis’s property to the greatest breakfast stop, and will tell you the best and fastest route to get where you are going.
To head up island you will need to take the number 2 or 3 bus. I would recommend buying an all-day bus pass for $7, otherwise its $1-2 every time you get on and off the bus. When I took the bus I went to Menemsha first because I wanted to have lunch in the historic fishing village, but the bus driver told me it would have been much easier if I had first gone to Aquinnah and then worked my way back to Menemsha.
This tiny, historic fishing village offers visitors a chance to see and experience a different way of life. I was beyond excited to try the fresh seafood and it really was incredible, just-caught fresh and I found myself trying one of everything. The fish markets are little more than one room shacks and you have to eat your meal while sitting outside on lobster traps at makeshift tables. Menemsha Harbor offers a great public beach and beautiful sunsets. For five dollars, you can take the bike ferry across the water to the bike path that leads all the way to the Gay Head cliffs and lighthouse. If the scenery seems vaguely familiar to you, it might be because parts of the movie Jaws were filmed here. Give yourself a few hours here – and keep in mind the bus only comes once an hour.
Chilmark offers a great in-between stop on your way from Menemsha to Aquinnah (or vice-versa). The Chilmark Store is sure to be busy, and here you can stock up on groceries, local produce and grab lunch – the pizzas are delicious and homemade. Down the street is the Chilmark Chocolate Shop known for a constant line out the door. I found it to be a great place to relax and refuel before heading to Aquinnah.
Aquinnah may arguably be the most beautiful place on the Vineyard. The name was changed from Gay Head in 1998 to reflect the year round Native American population that still lives there. This town is known for its stunning clay cliffs, lighthouse and Jungle Beach. Located near the lighthouse there are quaint rows of shops where you can buy beautifully crafted jewelry or have a bite to eat. Be sure to give yourself 2-3 hours here – there is plenty to see and do. Although if it is really rainy I’d come back a different day, as all activities are outdoors.
Exploring this side of the Vineyard gave me a very different look at the island and personally I prefer the up-island area to the bustling towns. I love the remote feeling, the broad vistas and the sense of peace. I hope you get a chance to visit this less-seen part of the Vineyard and find it as beautiful and memorable as I did!
Fourth of July in Woods Hole is like marine biology Halloween — students from all the local laboratories pour into the streets dressed in patriotic costumes with a science theme. This is your chance to see PhD graduate students clad in balloons, clustered like sporozites or bearded like “G-nomes.”
I love this parade with all it’s quirky glory. Where else would you see blow-up Santa’s with “Year Round Jobs Wanted” signs walking next to the buxom “Brazen Belles,” a local burlesque show.
Or the Ward family in an Italian surrey celebrating 55-years in Woods Hole?
Even the sidelines are a visual treat, with freckle-faced little boys sucking bright red lobster barley pops and grandmothers sporting red, white and blue t-shirts and vigorously waving their flags?
Here are the photos that tell the whole tale, from the dancing lobsters to the vintage American flags. All I missed was the water balloon fight at the end, where as I heard it told, a near-riot broke out and a local police officer called for backup after the science students continued peppering him with balloons and laughter.
The winter months pass faster than you might imagine, as you count the days for Cape Cod summer to return. The sunsets are glamorous and this winter has been unusually warm — a mixed blessing for those of us so close to sea level. If global warming is for real, then we are looking into the maw of the beast. The silver lining? The mild weather makes it easier to dash out at sunset and catch this kind of panorama.
Construction continues at the Woods Hole Inn. The second floor, where the new guest rooms are located, is almost done. This week they put the finish paint on, and next week will be consumed with refinishing the amazing original hardwood floors. Radiators went back in, the old school cast iron kind, and french doors were hung on the doors to the decks. Deck railing comes next week as well.
On the third floor, where the staff of the Inn will live soon enough, the drywall and plastering is complete and carpenters are putting the trim on the windows and molding along the floor boards. Sadly, the old wood floors up there were trashed, a cruel fate required for structural reasons by the Falmouth building department. In it’s place, the sustainable cork tiles will look modern and clean. The shapes of the rooms can finally be seen fully, and it’s odd to have such an intimate memory of the bones underneath the skin of the walls.
We are ordering a special wallpaper for the front hall, made from the piles of 1946-era check in cards we found stashed in the attic. I am confident that it will look graphic and interesting, and also delight those who want to reminisce about Mrs Josiah Smith of Vineyard Haven who stayed at the inn in 1946 for $3 per night. In addition, I found two incredible Russian ship lanterns, galvanized metal with red paint and old marine glass. I am having them made into lights for the front porch. You will tell me if you think they make the right “vintage restored” statement when they are finally hung in place.
I took my copy of building plans and wrote a love note to the person who will unearth all our work 50 years from now. I tried to express the joy I found in the doing, but I secretly hope they will know my passions from the lines of the house before they ever find my rushed scribbles.
A few images for you:
View from the top of the stairs looking down. The splattered wood you see in the middle will be removed so that you can experience three stories in the entrance. These are the walls that will be wall-papered with the check in cards from 1946.
Top floor, a lovely living room with private balcony and views to Martha’s Vineyard. Grey from the fresh plaster, this will be painted white and all trimmed out.
Another view of the same room, the light streaming in from the side of the building that faces the Martha’s Vineyard ferry.
New bathrooms with combo shower-tubs and the vintage floors brought back to their pre-paint glory.
Cast iron tubs came from the tub doctor in New Bedford. They look happy to be out of the showroom and back in the action.
Finally, the perfect image of the summer coming, from my friend Denise at the Sippewissett Campgrounds. This is what we are all waiting for. Thank you for sharing this, Denise — Nobska Lighthouse on an incredible summer day.
I can’t wait to be out on my boat looking up at that lighthouse, waiting for the fireflies to come out, basking in the last light of the day as the sun sets over Vineyard Sound. See you all this summer.
The Martha’s Vineyard Chilifest is coming up this weekend, on Saturday January 28th in Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard.
FAQ’s about Chilifest –
How do I get tickets? This is hard but not impossible. You could have mailed a request to WMVY but that is sold out now. Here is what the MVY Radio website has to say about it today:
Tickets are on sale now at Shirley’s True Value Hardware in Vineyard Haven, Trader Fred’s in Edgartown and they go on sale at The Courtyard in Cataumet on Wednesday, January 25th at 6pm. A limited number of tickets will be available at the door on the day of the event.
How much are they? Tickets are $30. Limit of 4 tickets per person.
How do I get there? Steamship Authority from Woods Hole. See the schedule here.
Who is playing this year? This according to the MVYRadio website:
Under the tent
12n-1pm Mexico Lindo
2pm-2:45pm Mexico Lindo
Inside in the New Bar
4-6.30 DJ Alvzie
Will I have fun? Oh yeah.
What about the chili? Lots to pick from, all free once you are inside. Well worth the trip.
Where can I spend the night in Falmouth? Usually I would say the Woods Hole Inn but we are closed for renovations. Try the Palmer House in Falmouth, the Holiday Inn in Falmouth or Inn on the Square in Falmouth if you decide driving post the Chilifest is not a great idea.
Good luck and tell me how it went!
Construction blogging is like high school dating. You flirt, you kiss for the first time, and then all of a sudden you have nothing to say to each other. Yes, hard to imagine but I have run out of clever things to say about wood framing, Marvin windows and drywall.
In truth, quite a bit of drama unfurled at the Woods Hole Inn as we hurdled towards 2012. But I can’t really go into it in any detail without hurting feelings or pissing people off. There was the fight over an 8 foot hole in the roof (abated), the struggles with NStar (we gave up), the drama of the chimney flues (unnecessary) and the saga of crumbling masonry (ongoing). There were highs and lows, and suffice it to say that so far, the highs have it. Could I really ask for more than that?
The sub trades came and went. I met with the contractor and architect weekly. The bills came monthly and I kept a difibrulator in the office in case of heart attack. (Wow, stuff is expensive on Cape Cod! ) The bank visited to be sure we are actually spending the money they lend us for the building. There are cautionary tales told, about borrowers who bough Ferrari’s instead (hmmm) and people over 90 days in default (oooh, that sounds uncomfortable).
But we plowed onward. The wind blew yesterday, too hard for the roofers which was a disappointment as it was otherwise fortuitous : clear, dry and not too cold. We are gunning for the “rough framing, plumbing and electric inspection,” the first big step toward completion. After we pass that, then we can insulate, sprinkler and drywall. It’s all downhill from there with finish carpentry, painting and decorating. Sounds easy, huh. And here is what you came for, the photos of progress and action as of late December 2012:
We struggled with Marvin Windows as their lead time is much longer than other companies, and they are pricey. But they look really nice once installed. If they last a nice long time in the salt spray, I will be happy. Call me in fifteen years.
And the views through those windows. Wow…
Thanks for following along and see you all this summer…
I have been thinking quite a bit about the people who built the Woods Hole Inn back in the 1870’s. They looked out over the same harbor, probably more big ships in it than now, but for sure ferry service plying Vineyard Sound in the same brisk and predictable fashion. Like us, I imagine that they were happy with the way fall seems to never end on Cape Cod, enjoying the brisk wind that whistles up past the inn on sunny days and bemoaning the rain when it slowed them down. Only about 140 years ago, these guys worked entirely with hand-tools — the grandparents of our grandparents.
So the renovation of the top two floors of the Woods Hole Inn moves relentlessly onward. With each passing day, with every dormer rebuilt or ceiling gutted, we find clues about the people who came before us, the hardy souls who also lived here on the edge of the world.
Yesterday, a shingle was discovered. Every chance this would have been tossed without a glance, but Bruce (one of the framing crew) noticed and nabbed it before it went to the dumpster. Since we have no idea the exact year the building was built, this is a pretty huge clue — hard to imagine they would have re-shingled so soon, so I am going to guess August 11, 1887 is the completion date.
I can’t wait to show this to my new friends at the Woods Hole Museum. Other treasures emerged in the last few weeks. One is a large piece of upholstered furniture, maybe the side of a chaise someone planned to repair? I need to share this with Skinner to see if it has any “significance” then decide what the heck to do with it!
I particularly like this letter, part of it devoured by a nineteenth century mouse. From what I can make out it is a super top secret, highly confidential sales pitch from a pencil vendor offering pencils at an excellent price — The Long Pencil Company of Chicago Illinois writing to Mr. Briggs (a former owner), dated September 11, 1894. Long before email and Google Ad Words…
I love that mackerel is a specialty and my clever friend Nick made me laugh by suggesting that “Stillman was easier to deal with than Griffin.” I suspect the third floor of the inn may have been used by a wholesaler of salt-fish and he kept his labels in the attic. He may even have stored or cured fish up there, as the smell was really strong when the beams were cut out.
And so the clues leave us with more questions than answers, but they are fascinating. All of the building crew — from the plumber to the electrician to the framers — have gotten into the hunt. I will let you know if we find more, and you can come next summer to see the highlights on display in the lobby of the Inn. Here is the whole letter, in closing, in case you can make out more of it than I could. Perhaps someone more accustomed to this old style of writing could write a translation into the comments?
Week three of construction started today. Our crew is still demolishing the interiors, literally peeling back the onion-like layers of time to reveal the bones of the house. Our structural engineer Mark comes every so often to make sure the place is still standing. Today he told me that the wood was in excellent condition, first cut hardwood like you can no longer buy. Who ever built this did it the right way, he told me. Seems a bit unseemly, but I will admit that I beamed with pride. Like the mother of a newborn, projects feel like babies and no matter how ugly they may look, we love them.
I like to come stand in the barn-like space, gaping up two stories, ceiling and floor boards stripped away. It looks like a SoHo loft, or the Parisian atelier of a famous designer. Can’t we keep it just like this? I think. And then I remember that there are not too many fashion designers looking for rental space in Woods Hole. OK, I will stick with the plan and transform it into the weekend getaway FOR fashion designers… Yes, yes, that is it.
The guys arrive at 7 am and they work with crowbars, sledgehammers, saws. Masks are a must as the plaster dust swirls in the ocean breeze from open windows and wheelbarrows of debris head toward a revolving dumpster. There is a majesty to the work, a pace respected to the minute. Breaks are observed, meals shared, and “Lady on deck” shouted when I come close. I secretly wonder what they are saying when I am not there, although they may not be able to hear each other much over the blasting radio and the thud of metal on horsehair plaster. Underneath is the lathe, thin boards that were used before drywall to adhere the plaster to. They are so beautiful, my heart aches as they are carted away.
Being in there now — views of the ocean everywhere you peek — feels like flying inside the bones of a huge feather-less bird. There is a lightness — an airy feeling with the windows open, the roof space soaring two stories above you — that creates the sensation of flying. Maybe it’s just me, as the project flies along, feeling suspended in time, searching for my place in the process.
I pace the dusty boards — this will be the bedroom, here is where the new window goes, oh you can see the ocean from here! — scheming and referencing the floorplans when I get confused. I am desperate to make sure that when the dust settles, some of the majesty of the building itself, it’s strong bones and lithe walls, will still be evident. Check back in to see future progress!
This week, construction began on the new rooms at the Woods Hole Inn. With a crew of five demolition experts, the walls came down on the top floor revealing the majesty of a high-ceilinged space with amazing light and great views…when you can see through the construction dust that is.
Franko and the boys arrived Tuesday with crowbars and mallets to pound it out. Electricians stripped back the wires and a plumber came in to unhook the old claw foot tub. We pulled as much moulding as we could so we can re-use it as we put the place back together again.
I snuck in the day before they arrived and took some “before” photos. Inn guests happily ensconced in the lap of luxury two stories below would be shocked by the state of affairs up here. The windows were blown out and boarded up after various storms years ago. There was a rabbit warren of tiny rooms, accessed by a barn-like stairway. One bath for maybe 10 cubby-sized spaces, some only big enough for a bed roll.
I have met a few people who lived up here summers in the 70s and earlier, but I don’t think it has been habitable for maybe thirty years now. One former waitress at the Landfall told me she paid $25 per week. Another former resident bragged that a lot of pot was smoked up here, back in the sixties when Woods Hole was a real hippie hang out.
The Woods Hole Inn was more flophouse than eco-destination at that point. Summer college kids slummed it with the former chauffeurs of Penzance Point estates and other retired alcoholics. One man told me his mother advised he run past the building, as there were often “unsavory characters” on the front stoop.
Here are a few photos of what it looked like just before the demo crew showed up:
It’s was really hard to photograph because the rooms were small and dark. We had already done some minor demo three years ago while renovating other parts of the building. On top of that, it appears that the piles of old air conditioners were mating with the dusty artificial Christmas trees, or something like that. That the debris was replicating in the dark is the only explanation I can come up for why the junk seemed to grow larger each time I ventured up.
But after three days with a sledgehammer, you could see the old lathe and look through walls to the windows beyond, Cape light streaming in and promising a better future. Franko told me they had found some really old work boots (see above) and other debris — fell down from the ceilings he said. A couple of really vintage brandy bottles, a pair of cotton spats with little hooks for covering the calves when riding (?), a tiny wooden sailboat-toy painted a matte blue, a dusty old stuffed kitty long forgotten by it’s childish master.
I am working on an exhibit of artifacts to trace the history of the inn. Any input from people who know more than I do would be greatly appreciated. The final will be on display in the lobby next summer so come take a look. And come back to this blog for more posts about our progress. The expected completion is spring 2012 when the Inn will re-open with 14 new rooms and suites. See you then!
Late September is often cool and crisp, punctuated by the smell of woodsmoke as people start using their fireplaces to take the chill off rather than fire up the gas-burning boiler. Grass mowing ends as the cool air ends the growing season and the tomato crop withers on the vine.
Not this year.
It has been hot, like middle-of-summer hot here for a week now. Research vessels in to prep for peregrinations to southern climes are lingering to enjoy the fine weather. Even the hard-working scientists are off early to go fishing or ride the bikepath. I know the locals are into it because I see people sneeking off from work in their bathing suits, and heads bobbing way out in Buzzards Bay on long-distance swims. In this calm, warm weather, why not?
I got out in my boat over the weekend, trudging across to Great Harbor with my oars, launching my tiny rowboat from the beach on Penzance and rowing out to my slightly bigger boat to go explore the Elizabeth Islands. I brought a sweatshirt because you never know on the water but, wow, was that unnecessary! It was so hot I was yearning to jump in by the time I had the engine fired up.
Woods Hole Great Harbor is filled with the most wonderful and eccentric boats. I love this one, a tiny tug boat all made of well-polished wood from another era. Not too practical, but adorable.
Clearly, I am a little obsessed with this vessel as I look through my photo-files for other shots of the harbor and find only more of the “Amycita.” I don’t see her off the mooring often, but I do look forward to meeting her owners. Imagine a cruise over to Oak Bluffs (a great destination on Martha’s Vineyard) in this stylish vessel!
And this is NOT the only miniature tug in our little harbor. My friend Kimberly is lucky enough to have this wonderful boat, small as the smallest skiff but ooh, what style. She was seen leaving work early yesterday madly texting to friends about a sunset tug cruise. These are the perks of living so close to the water:)
So I guess this is what you would call Indian Summer. Since my visit to Plimouth Plantation, I may need to re-name that Native People’s Summer. Whatever you call it, it is something to be relished — summer weather long after is it expected to be gone is like a gift from the Gods (the Wampanoags called him/her “Moshop”). Something to inspire us and help us prepare for the long winter ahead.
Off to swim!
The sky was glowering when I biked out of Woods Hole on the Shining Sea bike path yesterday, with a blustery wind blowing from the southeast which is where the summer storms blow in from. The breeze was warm enough, it was cool and pleasant, a perfect day to explore.
The bike path, which is one of the biggest draws to Falmouth, is on the reclaimed path of the old railroad tracks (abandoned in the 1960s). This means it is a nice straight line, far from any road except a handful you cross along the way. How rarely do we get to bike on a paved road nowhere near a car? A special experience, it makes me wish that cities and towns across the country would have to foresight to install a unique right of way such as this one.
The bike path was extended last year, and now runs 11 miles from Woods Hole to North Falmouth. I dream that someday it will extend (as the abandoned train tracks still do) all the way to the Cape Cod Canal and hook up with the path that swoops out toward Provincetown making all of the Cape safely bike-able and connecting us in a green way to our neighbors in Chatham, Wellfleet, Truro and beyond.
I am working towards riding the whole thing round trip, and yesterday I made it past the five mile marker. The first mile out of Woods Hole is in the shady beech forest, passing over several old wooden bridges the bike wheels going thump thump thump on the weathered boards. There are glimpses through the trees of the houses on Fay Road that line a private beach looking out at Vineyard Sound. Tiny intriguing foot paths veer off to the right and left with small painted “private please” signs.
About a mile up, you get your first big reveal of the ocean. Surf Drive, one of the most beautiful of Falmouth’s many beaches, stretches two miles before you, surf crashing today over the breakwaters, the shore dotted with little cabins on stilts. I think of the people who used to come here on the train, most headed to the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard, and imagine that this view was an exciting moment as they emerged from the woods and saw Vineyard Sound for the first time, caught a whiff of that distinctive smell of eel grass drying in the sun, and felt the cool breeze off the water. I can only imagine this was the first real taste of summer vacation.
Yesterday, the southeasterly wind buffeted my bike as soon as I emerged from the woods. I passed the Trunk River which is a tidal pond that empties into the ocean. Herring run here in season, and fisherman gather at the breakwaters to catch fish drawn to the current. There is another small wooden bridge, and a sign about the life of the tidal river that is worth a quick stop.
From here, the path veers inland, back into the lee, past several conservation sites with salt-water pond views and walks, toward the main streets of Falmouth. The vista to the left across the Oyster Pond is particularly delightful, even on a gray day, with the Spohr Gardens in the distance. Once in Falmouth, you can take a right off the path at the bus station for a pick-me-up at the locally-run Coffee Obsession on Palmer Ave., or continue onto Main Street for ice cream, homemade fudge, cupcakes and lots of fun local shopping.
I did not stop, as the weather was still threatening. Past the village, from the path you can see the back side of the bus station, the back corners of the Steamship Authority parking lot, and the cooking vents of Seafood Sam’s then you are back in the woods again, the canopy high above you and the light filtered green with the glow of the spring leaves.
I made it up to the Sippewisset Marsh, about mile five, before the rain started coming down in those large droplets that you can almost dodge between but indicate that much more is likely on the way. I paused to look out over the marsh and read a sigh posted there about the Wampanoag. It says, among other things, that “Sippewisset” means “place of the brook” and that this was a sacred site for Native Americans on their annual peregrination towards the fishing holes and summer hunting of what we now call Woods Hole and the islands.
History buffs will enjoy learning that this marsh is also the site of Rachel Carson’s 1950’s era scientific exploration into the devastating effects of DDT (a pesticide) on the environment which inspired her to write “Silent Spring” the book that launched the environmental movement in the US, ultimately inspiring the US Congress to ban the use of DDT. Were she alive today, she would reflect again on the sacred beauty of this marsh, again filled with osprey and many other shore birds that have returned due to her clarion call. Even with the threatening rain, I pause for several minutes to appreciate this achievement, a nice confluence of the scientific with the spiritual. Louis Agassiz would approve.
The ride home, I pick up the pace as the rain starts to come in earnest. It is all subtlety downhill now, I realize as soon as I turn around, and the trip back is faster and easier. I fall into a trance as the rain drips softly from my hat and the view in reverse rushes past.
Rolling back into Woods Hole, almost two hours and ten miles later, I am ready for a snack and a place to put my wet feet up. Lobster taco time! Thank god for Quicks Hole, the restaurant on Luscombe Avenue across from the Landfall, the perfect spot for a dripping wet biker to unwind a bit before heading back to that comfortable suite at the Woods Hole Inn.
In the summer of 2010, we decided to start offering our guests a custom designed t-shirt and announced a photo contest. We asked guests to wear their “Woods Hole Inn, old number 28, Stylish Lodging and Victuals, Upper Cape Cod” shirts in unusual and visually arresting locations. We asked them to take photos and submit them to us via email or Facebook.
Ask, and ye shall receive!
A full year and many submissions later, on April Fools Day 2011 we held a staff meeting and voted on the winner. This is the most subjective of contests, we admit: What is “unusual”? What does “visually arresting” mean? Our winner, pictured above, impressed us with a gorgeous location, one that is stunningly different from Cape Cod and provides a cool contrast to the t-shirt. We liked that she was atop a mountain at a hip American winter resort. And we fell for her big smile. A smile that reminds us of the looks on the faces of our customers as they check out from the Inn, a blissed out, can you believe I’m really here? sort of face that made us all smile in return.
Jordanna wins a free two-day stay at the Woods Hole Inn, subject to availability and to be used by December 31, 2012. We hope she books soon as we are filling up fast for summer 2011 and we want her to get a great room, enjoy our pillow top mattresses, luxury linens, gourmet breakfast, free bikes to explore the Shining Sea Bikepath and easy access to the Martha’s Vineyard ferry. We are looking forward to more of her special smile!
This was a hard decision as there were many good entries. We received photos from far flung spots like Kensington Castle in England and Devil’s Kitchen Sinkhole in Sedona, AZ and as well as close by ones like Hadley Harbor which is a short boat ride across Woods Hole passage. We decided to offer our runners up a free Woods Hole Inn mug, to be hand delivered when they return to the inn (many of our guests are repeat customers so we have every expectation that they will be back and if not, we will ship it).
Thanks to all for participating in our contest. Hold your breath for this year’s contest which will be announced when you check into your vintage restored room at the Woods Hole Inn. And… drum roll please… here are our runners up:
So I keep hearing about this Chilifest thing, like “Ooh, you are living here now? You HAVE to go to Chilifest…” and I am like, what is Chilifest? Well, as I learned last weekend, the Martha’s Vineyard Chilifest is an INSTITUTION. And it’s a whole lot of fun, so let me take you on my little initiation journey.
It all started days before actually, when we began testing chili recipes and trying on costumes. We settled on “Fire in the Hole” – a spicy braised short rib chili with a hint of Mexican chocolate. Steph really knocked herself out on this one and after a few sample batches I agreed, this is the one! We cooked and prepped all Thursday and Friday — smoking fresh peppers and chilis in our outdoor grill, shaving Mexican chocolate, braising an enormous pile of short ribs.
I braved snow and ice to drive to the Costume Company in Arlington (thank you Jeannie!) to rent a huge pile of Revolutionary War costumes — Fire in the Hole, like Woods Hole, get it? I lived at Staples printing banners, menus, handouts. I hired an actress to help hand them out. Yes, I am really committed to making this a big event for Quicks Hole, our groovy casual farm-to-table taco stand on the ground floor of the Woods Hole Inn.
Finally, the actual day dawned and I was up early walking from my house in the village to the Inn. The light in the early morning in Woods Hole was so stunning (I’m not out of my house this early usually!) that I wore my camera around my neck and snapped a few pictures:
Guests of the Woods Hole Inn were happily dining in the front room and I dashed through the office to grab costumes, menus, signs and more. Steph and Jay lugged gallons of cold chili in covered buckets across the street to the ferry. Amy and I followed shortly thereafter. The ferry was so packed with people, they asked 45 people to get off! Volunteers, they said. No one budged. The girl next to me snickered — she had just poured four shots of peppermint schnapps into her Dunkin Donuts extra large. She was NOT getting off and neither were we.
Once we arrived at the vast tent at the Portugese American Club, we warmed up and tried a few of the other chilis — there were 40 contestants there and more than 2000 tasters. The Corona beer was flowing freely, plenty of limes, and a great Jimmy Buffet style band was playing all your island favorites.
The place was packed by noon and we handed out a ton of our Chili to consistently good feedback. The security guy standing next to our table was moonlighting from his day job as a warden in the MV jail. He kept noticing people who had come into the jail drunk and disorderly — not a bad guy, he would say, but let’s just say We Know Him Well.
Well, we lined right up and passed out thousands of little cups of our chili. The Chilifest is a fundraiser for the Red Stocking Fund, a really great island charity. WMVY the local radio station supports it, helps judge and sells all the tickets with their promotions. We met a bunch of the DJs and so many other locals, it was really cool. Here we are as we got ready to serve the crowd:
There were regular people, drunk people, people in outrageous costumes, TV personalities, official tasters from WMVY, lots of our friends and business associates from Woods Hole and so, so much more. A picture is worth 1,000 words so here is the rest of the day in photos:
In the end, all ten gallons of our chili was handed out with a smile. We won nothing more than the joy of spending the day on Martha’s Vineyard listening to good music and laughing with new friends. We were tired, oh so very tired, but it was worth it! A great day. See you all there next year — 364 days and counting.
Fall is in the air, and the leaves are threatening to turn. Walking the beaches near Woods Hole, stunning vistas to Martha’s Vineyard as the light settles down. Maybe the phosphorescence will glimmer mysteriously in the tides. For sure, the harvest moon of the Wampanoags will fill the sky with her iridescent glamor and whisper into the souls of hardened Cape Codders about the summers to come. Winter may be around the corner, but summer will always return.
One of the finest parts of life in Woods Hole is the warm water swimming. And Nobska Beach is the very best beach in my humble opinion. Cape Cod gets the gulf stream, so the water is really lovely in the summer. And the fall.
I walked to Nobska one memorable morning. You head up the hill from the village of Woods Hole, past Little Harbor where the Coast Guard are stationed. You take a right on Church Street which must be named for the adorable stone church on the left. It was cool under the tree canopy, and the early morning light filtered through the trees and danced on the grassy curb. A few cars whizzed by me, and I smiled at the steady stream of runners and bikers (this being the path of the famous Falmouth Road Race its a popular and scenic run/bike).
Down the hill a little and then the beach emerged, the ancient light house standing guard. A small row of bath houses stands guard, for locals who like to change before swimming I guess. A woman was out in a chair early, reading a book but other than that the beach was empty. I saw the ferries headed across the Sound and the air was so clear it felt like you could reach out and touch the Vineyard.
I was particularly taken with the clarity of the water, swirling the rocks and gently lapping the beach sand. I took the picture above; it seemed to call out to me.
Try this walk some morning. You will not be disappointed.
Lobster Tacos are a sublime idea. Cold succulent lobster lightly dressed. Fresh cut red cabbage, a touch of lime on a hot corn taco?? Incredible.
New to Woods Hole this summer, the lobster taco is an inspired fusion of traditional Cape Cod with a dash of innovation from the surf shacks of Baha California.
Don’t miss this treat, and much more at the all new Quicks Hole restaurant. Its on the ground floor of the Woods Hole Inn, right next to the t-shirt shop and facing the Martha’s Vineyard ferry hides the hottest new joint in town. Word is leaking out about this place, and while it opens at 10 for lunch there is often a line of impatient ferry-goers at the door, jonesing for their fix that will be bagged and consumed on the the ferry. What’s better than the upper deck of the “Island Home” with a lobster taco, a 360 degree view of the Sound and the gulls circling jealously overhead?
Also on the menu — amazing local salads served in a fried tortilla bowl, rare yellowfin tuna burritos, sweet potato fries, hot chips with fresh salsas, made-to-order quacamole…see where we are going here?
Woods Hole Inn guests get a discount at Quicks Hole at check in.
See you soon!