29/50: Massachusetts


Cape Cod. Martha’s Vineyard. Nantucket. Names I have always heard from books, TV shows and movies but I had no idea where they were. Massachusetts wouldn’t have been my first guess, but now I have discovered that Massachusetts isn’t just a fun (and difficult) state name to say (well Boston and other parts are pretty great too).


I stayed in Cape Cod for a few days and explored the mainland and took two day trips to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard via ferry. Cape Cod is lovely- long stretches of beach, soft wonderful sand, lighthouses and beautiful landscapes. And it was also the place where my week long lobster and seafood feast began. Provincetown is at the tip and was the first landing place of the pilgrims. Lots of history and great stretches of national beach to explore.


My trip to Martha’s Vineyard was interspersed with downpours, but it was still a great day. Fun fact: Martha’s Vineyard has no vineyard (okay, so it’s more of a disappointing fact, but surprising nonetheless). It was also where Jaws was filmed. They have a neighbourhood of gingerbread style houses. It started as the Methodist camp back in the day and they would all tent it and then they built houses and there’s still a meeting place in the middle of it all. It gives a taste of community and times of being together. I was amazed at the amount of gingerbread houses that were there. I was expecting a couple but there were dozens. Lots of interesting stories about the history of the island and those who have visited and lived there. I ended up getting caught in a downpour and returned back to my room that evening soaking wet. There was a split second before I left my home back in April when I thought “I should bring a rainjacket” and then I thought “nah, I’m going on a trip, obviously it won’t rain.” Sound logic.


The next day I went to Nantucket. At one point in its history, this was the whaling capital. I went to the whaling museum- so many stories and artifacts from that time in history. It made me want to start reading Moby Dick again but then I remembered my previous attempts and decided I would delay any future attempts.

I enjoy riding bike, so I decided the best way to see the island would be to rent a bike. The island on my giant map of the US is really small, so it’s definitely feasible to bike most of the island. (Sound logic again). The guy at the bike shop recommended a few different beaches I could choose between to visit. I thought “why make a choice when I can bike to them all?” The logic continues. (Insert the lesson that just because I can do something doesn’t mean I should…)


Nantucket is beautiful. The beaches are lovely. The bike paths are well laid out and lush with beautiful plants. It was a beautiful, warm sunny day. The old whaling houses are interesting to look at. The lobster in the restaurants is tasty. The lighthouses held history and were fun to look at. There were lakes in the middle of the island with snapping turtles.

However, Nantucket isn’t perfect. Some of the beaches have a lot of erosion and garbage strewn in the sand. There are a lot of hills that the bike paths go through. In town, you have to ride on bumpy cobblestone streets. Some of the beaches were fogged in and it was cold.


As a result of my ambitious bike route that I mapped out in the morning, I ended up riding about 40 kms around the island. In flip flops. The last hour I couldn’t even sit on my bike because my butt hurt so much. My flip flops are thin and I could feel my feet digging into the pedals by the end of the day. Did I mention my butt was really sore? Despite all of these factors, my day was wonderful. I look at it and laugh at all my mishaps of the day and they fit into all the good of the day and it makes it an even better day on so many different levels. My conversation with myself as I biked around the island all day went something like this:

“I love biking. Biking is the best thing ever. I love the breeze as I ride, I love the freedom as I fly down these hills.”

5 seconds later

“I hate biking. Why in the world did I decide to rent a bike today? Why did I rent it for the whole day when I could have just gone out for an hour? My butt is starting to hurt. And this hill will never end.”

5 seconds later

“This bike path is just so beautiful. Oooh, look at those pretty flowers over there. And the rolling hills are so wonderful to look at. And it’s such a nice day today, I should take my sweatshirt off and enjoy the sun.”

5 seconds later

“My butt hurts. The air is getting colder. I should put my sweatshirt back on. Ugh, why did I decide biking was a good idea?”

5 seconds later

“I love biking. This is wonderful. I should do this more often.”

5 seconds later

“I can’t sit on this bike anymore. Maybe I can bike while standing up? Why did I decide to go to multiple beaches? I think I might be stranded here because there’s no way I can make it back up those hills.”

5 seconds later

“This is the best! I can use the different speeds on my bike and conquer this island! Maybe I should bike to a fifth beach?”

5 seconds later

“I can’t pedal anymore. I hate biking. I’m going to get stranded out here forever. My butt hurts.”

5 seconds later

“That was the best day ever! I should rent bikes everywhere!”


You get the picture. Days, moments and lifetimes that are great aren’t picture perfect. We tend to only present the positive side of it, but along the way it’s often messy, painful and miserable. Of course, these things don’t last forever and everything else you experience along the way makes it worth it. And the messy parts are often what enriches it and makes it more meaningful. While the difficult moments suck (and I don’t want to diminish the pain or anguish of those), they are transformative in who we are and how we engage life if we are willing to face it. I remember my day biking on Nantucket with great joy because I really did enjoy it and I now laugh at the dramatic moments of misery I expressed to myself throughout the day. The sore butt was worth it just as entering into the messy and painful parts of life is worth it in the end as well as we persevere and push forward.


Of course, I also had grace with myself by taking time to sit longer at some beaches and walking my bike back to the bike shop for the last leg of my trip because I couldn’t stand to sit on my bike any longer. The “agony” of my day was blended into the rest of it, contributing to my own growth and strength and rounding out the day in a great way. Life is a mix of many things, good and bad, pleasant and unpleasant and yet I’m so thankful to be engaged in all the parts of life (although I likely won’t always feel that way in the thick of it…)


One thought on “29/50: Massachusetts

  1. Haha, amazing Vanessa, love this post. That sounds like me nearly every day trying to find my path and complete this project out here! “Why the heck did I think this was a good idea, worst idea I have ever had”. 5 seconds later “Wow, I am so fortunate to be here and live the dream, how wonderful”, 5 seconds later “I wanna go home! I don’t care anymore, I just wanna go home!” It’s funny cuz it’s true. Gorgeous pictures too – love the trees with the red dirt. Keep blogging, love your posts as always.


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