Friday, May 20, 2011

Escape from Alcatraz: The 3 Rules

Calgon, take me away!
Island Home

Yes, even paradise has its Issues.
I'm not going to bore you with the details.
But you know what I'm talking about.
Daily pressures, even on an island, can really get you down, you know?

Don't get me wrong.
I like the disconnect from Mainland Life.
Reason I moved here, really.
Most times.
But sometimes you just gotta get away.

When I lived on the mainland - easy peasy - just make the "rounds".  Coffee spot, bookstore, craft center, yarn shop, mall. An hour or three later, I'm refreshed, ready to face the world again.
Good. To. Go.

Not so on the Vineyard.
The ability to "escape" even if for a bit, is a trifle harder when you live on an isolated island.
No down to the mall and back.

And the Establishment, as it were here, doesn't make it exactly easy, either.
Take for instance, the Steamship Authority.
The only way off-island with a car.
First, they raise rates seasonally.
But second, they offer Preferred Status/Rates to islanders.
So you have a choice.
Plan seasonally, buck up and pay per trip.
Or permanently put a car over on the other side, in the Palmer Ave. Parking Lot.

Once off, you can get an "islander rate" at a few of the local hotels.
And for the more enterprising set, you can throw a quick trip to and from Logan Airport to pick up guests into the mix.

But most of us prefer the One-Day Only, 12-hour Dash.
Out on the 8:15am boat back on the 8:30pm boat.
When you finally do go off, you like to pack in as much as possible into your trip. To do that, there are just 3 rules.

So here we go.

Rule Number 1
Full Disclosure

Decide if you are telling people you are going.

If you do, expect lists.
I'm not talking your lists. I'm talking everybody else's lists once they find you are getting off the Rock and They are not.
As a result, people here don't easily disclose when they are going off, because they are regularly keyholed into doing stops for anyone not lucky enough to be going.

Exhibit A

I give you Exhibit A: Pictures from Uncle John's recent trip off-island, sent to the Left Behind according to their list:
Were these items on Uncle John's list? No. But did that stop him? No sir. He forged ahead to help others in need of one of the Top 10 Overpriced Items on the island - storage bins. We go far and long to find the best prices for these babies - take no prisoners and all that.

Rule Number 2
Respect the Routine.
Do not falter from the regular run - it will throw you off kilter, make you even miss a boat. The key here is rhythm and routine.

Depending on who you are these might be:

The usual stops
1)McDonalds for breakfast
3)Christmas Tree Shop
5) Home Improvement Box Store, if time
6)Gas station
7)Dinner somewhere everyone agrees on, not an easy task
6)Starbucks again
7) Race for the ferry

If you are lucky enough to get to Hyannis, you can add on Big Chain Book Store, and possibly Olive Garden. And if there's time, there's always a Target run.

For the preplanner in you, there's also the possibility of a wholesale club stop - out here on the Cape it's called BJ's Wholesale Club. This involves a requisitioned/repurposed but sterilized fish or dedicated beach cooler, packed to the gills with bulk items.

Rule Number 3
Arm yourself with Sustenance
Do NOT, I repeat, Do NOT give in to the Fast Food Chains (except for breakfast)
Your stomach will regret it exactly 15 minutes later, making Rhythm and Routine obsolete.
Good, expedient spots to eat, while on the Cape are:

In Falmouth
Besty's Diner
McNememy's Fish Restaurant
The Ninety Nine
Friendly's Restaurant (because they can take your order and serve you when you have a boat to catch within the hour!)

Daniel Webster Inn
In Hyannis and Surrounds
Olive Garden or Panera's (yes sometimes you just crave normalcy)
A little fancier, Daniel Webster Inn

 While Waiting for the Boat, you can try The Lee-Side, Woods Hole. It's across from the Steamship docks, convenient for a happy hour that doesn't like to quit. Get a beer and play the juke box.

The Lee-Side
If you happen to get stuck in Standby Line or try for an earlier boat and they tell you to drive around till your reservation, check out:
Captain Kidd, Woods Hole - good chowder, on the harbor

Consider it a job well done if you get even half of the stuff on your list, and everyone is still speaking in the car while waiting for the boat.

Here's the point. All this effort does one thing - makes you appreciate what you do have back on the island, even more. There's nothing like dragging a sack of double cheeseburgers for Gma and a backpack full of cheaper priced booze for happy hours clinking up the walk-on ramp to keep you humble.

I think when I lived on the mainland, I took a lot for granted sometimes.
So to all you landlubbers out there, take note.
Even when you come to visit, there still might be an off-island trip in the mix.

To Commuter coupon books and no Standby Lines.
Don't say I didn't warn you.

Have a Good One. :)

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