It can’t possibly be the end of summer. It doesn’t feel like summer is over, but we who live here know that the best part of the season is about to begin. The days are dryer, a bit cooler and best of all, less traffic everywhere. Jon and I went down to the Jetties late day on Sunday. We walked down the boardwalk by the Galley Restaurant , dubbed “the Gaza Strip” by locals many, many years ago. Right away we ran into familiar folks enjoying the less crowded beach and a swim in the calm water there, always warmer than the ocean.
Reflecting on the photos I took while away this summer, I came upon several of the Napa Valley Wine Train taken from my car window. Train travel seems like such a civilized way to get from one place to another. When I was a child we often took the train from Connecticut to visit my grandparents in Florida. Back then it was an overnight trip and seemed very exciting sleeping in the pull-down berths, and eating in the dining car.
Many years later, we took a train from Spain to France. We were with our friends Ted and Gretchen and to this day, long after many other vacations abroad, we still reminisce about the meal we had on that train. We can’t remember what we ate, but the experience was memorable.; the elegance of the table setting,, the surroundings, the scenery out the window, and the service. I’m sure the meal was just as wonderful. I remember commenting to Gretchen about how expensive it was and her response, “You’ll forget the cost over time, but you’ll always remember the experience. “ Of course, she was right.
So, once home I looked up the Napa Valley Wine Train to learn something about it. There are only 6 cars. It goes between San Francisco and St. Helena, just 36 miles taking 3 hours with lots of food and wine served along the way. In fact, some of the trips are scheduled to stop at the vineyards along the way. This seems like a positively wonderful way to spend a weekend if you live in that city.
I once took the Acela, owned by Amtrak, rom Boston to New York. One car was reserved as the “quiet car” where no cell phones were allowed. This seemed like a good idea and I remember the trip as quite relaxing. I don’t think I remember too many plane trips as being as enjoyable. It seems that train travel is a nice way to transition from one place to another, not just physically but mentally, if you aren’t in a great hurry. Maybe that’s the operative word. Travel should start with “not being in a hurry.” We, as a collective, are always in a hurry. Now is the time for all Nantuketers to take a “staycation.” I really hate that word that popped into the media a few years ago when the cost of gasoline rose to new heights. But it’s still a good idea. When was the last time you took a bottle of wine, some cheese and crackers and went out to Madaket in time to see the sunset? Last night there was the most incredible sunset of the summer and fortunately we didn’t miss it. When did you go for an after work swim or take a Sunday at the beach? You can actually park at any beach at any time of the day from now until the end of beach days. When did you last go into town for an ice cream cone after dinner? The lines at the Juice Bar and certainly the drugstore will be non-existent after Labor Day. And when was the last time you wandered down to Old South Wharf, Swain’s and Straightwharf to see the fabulous yachts in the harbor before they depart? Soon you won’t need a reservation at any restaurant and a date night of an early supper and movie won’t require strategic planning. Take a bike ride on the new Cisco bike path, or for the more ambitious, ‘Sconset (put your bike on the Wave for the return trip if desired). And one of best destinations before they close for the season is the Shipwreck and Lifesaving Museum in Polpis. What a scenic bike ride, even car ride to get there! These are the simple things that cost nothing that we forget are so accessible. Nantucket may get overrun with tourists all summer long, but then, the island settles down, as it has forever, and the beauty of the island is revealed once again, It’s your home. Take advantage of living here.