Team name: Trash Fly
Team Trash Fly will travel from New York State to the heart of Boston and board a ferry to Martha's Vineyard to fish for striped bass amongst the wealthiest people in the country.
Gear that got them through
Blog post #1: re-create the trip
A road trip is a wonderful way to see the landscape, but is also a great way to visit the islands All it takes is a little thinking out of the box to turn a regular car into a Land Yacht. In thebeautiful month of June, my friend Oliver and I, along with my dog, Fish, piled into a greasy old Cadillac, and drove it out to go see some Islands in coastal New England.
We chose our destination because we knew that we wanted to incorporate some fly fishing into our trip, and we learned that June is a splendid time to fish for Bluefish and Striped Bass in the Northeast. Since we would be camping on top of the Cadillac, we would need to find public land where this would be acceptable. Unfortunately, we chose a destination which is largely private, and what little public land there is usually prohibits camping.
Fortunately, I have a friend who lives on Block Island, Rhode Island; Oliver has one who lives on Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts. They were both elated for us to visit, and to camp on their land. This was crucial in our decision; had we not known people on these islands, our trip may have been entirely different.
We began our journey in the Hudson Valley of New York. Parked outside a red barn, we mounted our Tepui Low-Pro tent to our car and packed the trunks and backseat with all the necessary camping gear: cooler, grill, fishing rods, matching yellow fisherman’s outfits. Using the supplied hardware, the tent easily mounted to the impromptu roof rack we were using (Cadillac sedans are NOT meant to carry things on the roof. But where there’s a will there’s a way.) We also had to slaughter three chickens, one of which went into the Yeti, two of which, into my Ex-girlfriends freezer. (Long Story.)
Once packed, and confident that our Cadillac wasn’t going to blow up, we set off for Woods Hole, MA. We had booked a spot on the 6:00 am Ferry the following morning and were planning to sleep in a nearby Wal-Mart parking lot that night. However, we found out that there was a chance we could make the boat that very night on standby; it was not yet the busy season, so the boat might have a few spots. Had it been busy season (July-September, roughly) the would be no chance of making standby. We arrived in time for the last ferry of the day and lo and behold: there was one empty spot on the boat, just big enough for a 1994 Cadillac Deville.
Fortune was with us, and we made the ferry’s terminal with time to spare. The dock master waved us through, and we took our place in line. Several gaunt foxes were prowling among the parked vehicles, trotting from car to car and standing up on their hind legs to peer into the windows. Oliver and I were fascinated, but none of the other drivers seemed to pay heed to these creatures.One came to our window and stood on its hind legs, begging like a stray dog.
We were ushered onto the boat, both relieved that our last-minute plan worked out. The waves were big and even the massive ferry pitched and yawned with the chop. We docked in Oak Bluffs and drove off the boat onto Marthas Vineyard. We still had one more boat to go-the Chappaquiddick Island Ferry. For a place so geographically close to the massive population that makes up New England, Chappaquiddick Island is as remote as anywhere. Two ferry boats to reach it; no wonder the Kennedy’s made it one of their families retreats. You think the west is wild? You wouldn’t believe the shit that goes down on Chappy.
After an hour-long ferry ride, we arrived on Martha’s Vineyard in the town of Oak Bluffs. From there it was a ten-minute drive to Edgartown, where we would board the tiny Chappaquiddick Island Ferry for a 30 second ride across the channel. It was probably close to midnight, but when we arrived at our friends house, excitement overcame fatigue, and we all stayed up into the wee hours of the morning.
The following day whew went to Edgartown to get fishing supplies. At Coop’s Bait and Tackle, (an institution on MV) we learned that there was a fly fishing derby happening during our trip. Not just any derby: it was the 28th Annual Catch and Release Striped Bass Fly Fishing Tournament. We obviously signed up. We knew we were going to win. We did not win.
During the tournament, all fish were released. But when we went out ourselves, we caught some Bluefish, a predatory schooling fish. I was told that bluefish were not that great to eat. This is false. We filleted and cooked them fresh on the beach, with minimal seasoning, using a little Primus pack grill. Whoever says bluefish don’t tase good is a weenie.
After a few days of care-free living on Chappaquiddick, we had to continue on. Two ferry boats latter, we were back on mainland Massachusetts. We had a three-hour drive to Point Judith, Rhode Island, where we would be loading the Block Island ferry later that evening.
The ferry ride was about an hour, and as we drove off the boat, we saw island residents picking up their packages and goods from the boat; this ferry transports not just cars and people, but mail, trash, goods, etc. It is an all-around courier service.
This fits the vibe of Block island: resourceful, neighborly. Everyone knows everyone. It has a little more working-class feel than Marthas Vineyard, which I think the residents pride themselves on. We locked the keys inside the truck of the Cadillac at one point. A local dude came by and liberated them for $40 and a six pack of Coors Banquet. Had that happened oN Marthas Vineyard, I dare say we would have likely abandoned the vehicle there. On MV, our crusty-but-trusty Cadillac stood out among the immaculate, brand new Porsche’s and Mercedes-Benz’s. On Block Island, we felt a little more like we belonged.
We pulled in to my friends driveway. She was born and raised on the island and now runs a small scale organic farm, called Green Gully Gardens, on her families land. Her Mom and Dad are island legends; their first date was an evening a the Block Island landfill, shooting rats with a pellet gun. We all went straight to Club Soda, a local watering hole which feels like a cave, except they have cold beer and pool tables. Excellent!
Between my friends beautiful vegetable farm, as well a a bounty of fresh caught bluefish and clams, we ate very well on Block Island. Clamming is about at meditative as it gets; Olivier and I were VERY enthusiastic about it. A shellfish license was easy to obtain and only costs about $20.
One unique aspect of Block Island (and Rhode Island in general) is the ‘privilege of the shore,’ which grants Rhode Islanders access to the ocean-regardless of property status. While I’m sure this causes some strife between residents and private land owners, it is still a cool idea, and also means that there is a plethora of amazing and unique beaches on Block Island. Baby Beach is a massive, sheltered, shallow public beach. My personal favorite was called Mohegan Bluffs.
Just as on Chappaquiddick, the fishing was good, the food was great, and the company was even better. After two weeks since we left New York, our trip was coming to a close. We traveled to two very exclusive places; the playgrounds of the rich and famous, which are knownn for their extravagance and over-the-top display of material wealth. We managed to very comfortably and easily navigate these places through the goodwill of our friends, as well as our excellent camping gear, which kept us dry, fed, and mobile!