We just can’t stay away. Nor, it seems, can we turn off our overwhelming desire to introduce everyone we know and love to our little island home. What can I say? My family just has this infectious obsession with Martha’s Vineyard, and we can’t help but feel that everyone’s life would be better with a little infusion of island time. Which is how we ended up with nine people in one Polly Pocket.
Yes, Fourth of July week was going to be a busy one. My mom started the week solo, slowly adding on a loved one or two per day until we’d reached our peak capacity of nine — kind of the max you can manage with one shower — by the big day itself. The more the merrier, just the way we like it.
This was my second year spending this particular week on the island, and I was thrilled to be one of the first to arrive, along with my cousin Kirsten, who flew into Albany to accompany me and Tucker on our drive out to Cape Cod. We had a lot to catch up on since we last saw each other in Belize!
Our first order of business upon arrival was, as always, marveling at the magic that is our town of Oak Bluffs. I always feel a wave of tranquility roll over me as the ferry rolls into the harbor.
That first night, we celebrated our arrival with a dinner at State Road, a Martha’s Vineyard institution I’ve long been longing to check off my list. I’ve got a post coming up this week about my favorite island restaurants, but suffice it to say — State Road made the cut. And I’m not alone. Even on a Monday night, we barely got on the books with a 9pm reservation, made two weeks prior!
With a hectic week ahead, it was great to catch some quiet girl time with two of my favorites.
The next morning, my mom’s boyfriend Miller arrived and the two got down to their usual business — home improvement! Meanwhile, Kirsten and I snuck away to check out an aerial yoga class, a first for both of us. Also headed your way soon? A post about my favorite yoga studios on the Vineyard, a list Yoga on the Vine was quickly added to after this fun hour in the air.
I loved having my yoga buddy on the island to check out a new studio with — and play around with my GoPro with!
That afternoon, a very special delivery arrived — BB, straight from Nicaragua! Except fun fact — BB recently told me that he doesn’t like being BB on this blog. So, henceforth he shall be known by his real name of Ian (I mean really his name is Robert, but like let’s not even go down that road). So anyway. I’d last seen IAN when I dropped him off at the Boston airport five weeks prior after our Memorial Day weekend in Martha’s Vineyard. In between, I’d bopped around the US while he bopped around Central America. So we were pretty smiley while he walked up that pier. And then my mom made him put together a grill. Welcome back!
The next day, we were all hard at work getting ready for the final influx of some of our favorite humans. That evening, the kids — the kids being the three youngest yet still fully functional adults, obviously — unwound with a movie at the newly renovated The Strand followed by dinner and drinks at our newest obsession, 20byNine. It was the perfect Vineyard evening, kicked off with sunset wine on the porch.
The photo below makes me smile, not because it’s particularly flattering, but because it reminds me of everything I love about life in Oak Bluffs — walking everywhere, wine in hand, zero flips given.
Now, I can practically hear you begging through the screen — where are the Tucker pictures?! Yes, Tucker was there too. He was having a grand ‘ol time, as usual. One of my favorite moments of the week came when we were in a cleaning and construction frenzy and my mom noticed a tourist lingering outside the house. When my mom answered her knock on the door, she pointed upward. “Um… there’s a dog on your roof.”
Tucker had slipped through one of the broken banisters and was overseeing his kingdom from a very regal perch. Because we basically live in a dollhouse, he wasn’t much higher than our heads. It still kind of cracks me up just to think about.
Tucker — fan favorite and frequent star of Aunt Olivia’s snapchats
The next morning, we made the grueling three minute commute to the Oak Bluffs pier, where we welcomed my two beloved aunts from Florida. I was so happy to see them! My Aunt Linda had visited the island once decades before (and she had the photo albums to prove it) but my Aunt Karen had never been, so we were excited to give them both a grand tour. As soon as they were settled we hopped in the car towards Vineyard Haven, another one of Martha’s Vineyard’s five official townships.
Vineyard Haven is probably the least charming of all the Martha’s Vineyard towns, which is really saying something about the competition — because really, it’s pretty darn cute.
We tried a new restaurant for all of us — The Copper Wok. It was a hit, and I was excited to add a new spot to my mental rotation, especially now that The Strand’s sister theatre The Capawock has reopened. Gotta find that great spot for pre-movie dinner and drinks! (And Vineyard Haven is a dry town, so it must be dinner and drinks — there are no bars and you can’t order alcohol at a restaurant without the purchase of an entree.)
After working off our lunches with some window shopping, it was back to Oak Bluffs again.
That evening, our wolf pack grew again by one — Ian and I’s dear friend from Koh Tao, Janine, arrived to meet us on another island halfway across the world. We were so excited when we realized we were all going to be on the East Coast at the same time, we knew we had to make a meetup happen.
At this point we were getting a little cramped for cars, so luckily we had reserved the small private patio at the Oak Bluffs outpost of Sharky’s Cantina, one of our favorite island eateries. (Can you tell how excited I am about this upcoming Where To Eat on Martha’s Vineyard post?)
Gang’s all (almost!) here!
We were just one blonde short of a full deck. And my baby sister arrived just as we finished up dinner, prompting a big ‘ol hug-fest back at the house, followed by the younger generation taking a spontaneous tour around some of the island’s lively bars.
The next morning, we found ourselves in a familiar formation…
Ian, Janine and I concocted a beautiful meal — and by that I mean Ian and Janine cooked everything, and I stood in the corner wringing my hands and shouting various culinary vocabulary words while trying not to burn anything with my eyes.
They outdid themselves.
After such a delicious homemade brunch, we needed a few hours to roll around like beached whales in the sand. Thankfully, the sun was out in full force for the first time in days. And we were going to take full advantage.
After a morning filled with towel flopping and jumping off the famous Jaws Bridge, we resumed our town-hopping itinerary. Next stop, Edgartown, with Janine helpfully volunteering to ride in the trunk (aren’t we amazing hosts?). I think of Edgartown as Oak Bluff’s older, slightly uptight and extremely polished older cousin. You know, the one who went to boarding school and participated in equestrian sports.
While I wouldn’t want to live anywhere but Oak Bluffs, I do love Edgartown as a destination for bike riding, house-peeping, and general touristing. So, y’all know I’m obsessed with Jaws, right? Our mission was to take the Amity Tour of Jaws in order to celebrate the iconic movie’s fortieth anniversary. Jaws and Martha’s Vineyard are forever fused together in history and film, and my passion for each feeds the other. I was bummed that Jawsfest didn’t come back for such a big moment, but this highly recommended tour helped me get my shark fix for the summer.
And it’s not a bad looking town for a wander, is it? No trip to the island is complete without one.
I swear I’m not giving Janine the finger. I swear!
On our way back to Oak Bluffs, we made one final stop at one of my new favorite finds on the island — Bad Martha Beer. The place was packed but we managed to find a table from which to enjoy live music, our gorgeous cheese plate and brews, Martha branded board games, and each other’s company.
Olivia, not taking a backgammon loss quite so well
One of my favorite things about Bad Martha? Dogs are welcome, too!
Things may have gotten hectic at times, but being surrounded by a crew like this is the best kind of chaos. Before this trip a friend was asking who all was coming along, and I laughed a little as I realized how funny my answer might sound to some. My mom and her boyfriend, my mom’s niece, my dad’s two sisters (they and my mom still consider each other to all be sisters and travel to see each other, years after my parents have separated), my sister, the guy I’m dating and our friend from Thailand. You know, the usual.
And we managed to survive a week with just one bathroom.
Stay tuned for Part II, plus posts about where to eat and where to do yoga in Martha’s Vineyard! Do you ever take huge family-and-friend trips? Does your family have a more is merrier policy like mine? Can’t wait to hear all about it in the comments…