Our Island Oasis (aka how we got really lucky and spent part of our holiday weekend on our own island)
Posted Dec 12 2008 3:51pm
Early last week Alex got an email from a math friend of his informing us that he and yet another mathie had tied the knot. This, in and of itself, was astounding to me personally because the day before Alex got this email I, for some strange reason, having only met these folks ONE time, had a thought in the middle of the day. My thought went something like this: "Alison and Cameron? Hm. I bet they got married." Little did I know they had married just days before in Tennessee and were currently vacationing in Alison's family's island house on the Thimble Islands. Little did I know too, that in a matter of about a week we would be invited to join them for a little R & R ourselves. And what an AWESOME time we had! (And this, from the Queen of the "Been there, done that. I am so bored." mentality.)
I was a little nervous to go--truth be told. I have gotten rather cautious as I near 30. I know it sounds silly, but I might venture to say that I have grown MILDLY agoraphobic. Perhaps it's all this time living in the country. Perhaps it's the introspection of pregnancy. Perhaps it's plain ol' nervous shyness around people I don't know. But lately, my first instinct when offered things to do is "Nah." Boy am I glad I didn't say nah to this!
When we got to Branford we drove a little ways off the highway where Cameron and Alison met us at a rock quarry where we parked our car. Then, we took the boat to our island oasis. I know I sound like the biggest loser in the world. But even the boat trip across (which lasted all of 7 minutes) felt like more real excitement than I had had in AGES. I couldn't believe how much I missed being on the water. My dad had a boat when we were kids (by the name of Raku) and we used to go out on it every weekend. We used to fish, go clamming off the boat, swimming, going to watch the fireworks on the sound on the 4th. I missed the sea air, the salt water, the seagulls. All weekend it left Alex and I questioning why we don't live near the sea.
Our oasis awaits: The front view (from the yard): Front view to the beach: Alsion's family owns the island and this is the only house on it. Built in 1906, (100 years ago for those doing the math) it has been in her family ever since and is currently owned by her mom and uncle. It was amazing looking around inside at all the stuff and then realizing that ALL of that stuff had to be brought over by boat! China, BIG dining room tables, all the rocks for the landing and the fireplaces, everything from beds to bathtubs! The house had no electricity, but did have some (maybe 3) gas lights and several small generators. But not a regular light switch in the place. Hot and cold water were piped in, and there was even a telephone installed about 20 years ago. (Before that people would have to beep their horn from shore in the hopes someone would bring the boat around to pick them up!)
The house slept 16 people in beds in about 6 or 7 bedrooms. 3 bathrooms, several common rooms, a wrap around porch and a kitchen, as well as several random rooms. (i.e. the butler's chambers, the bar, the paint room etc.) Even the bedrooms had names. For instance, Alex and I stayed in the Rose Room. Can you guess why? All the bedrooms, except for one had sinks in them. And all of them had those awesome pilled decorative blankets that remind you of grandma. There was so much cool stuff in the house, come to think of it. Modern conveniences mixed with things from 100 years ago. And can you blame them that the furnishings were mostly antiques? Once you brought it with you, it pretty much stays unless you want to bring it with you home!
I loved these hand towels in the bar. They reminded me of things my grandma had in her house. My guess is they are from the 1930's. Here is I.C. Lewis, the home's first owner: Conveniently, at the foot of the bed in the room we stayed in, there was a portrait of a woman who looks so much like my stepmother it is uncanny! For most of the first day Alex and I had the place (with Alison and Cameron, of course) pretty much to ourselves.
Alex hit the beach: And I spent some time relaxing and chatting with our hosts.
Later that evening, Alison's uncle and his boyfriend came up from Manhattan and Cameron cooked us a scrumptious meal of corn on the cob, shrimp, sausage, potatoes and onions, all served "southen style" (read: no serving platters). (We DID cheat however because we used not only a table cloth, but also plates, forks and knives.) Finally, at about 11pm, two more guests arrived (via kayak) (having been waylaid in the holiday traffic) but it was WAY passed my bedtime and I hightailed it to the Rose Room soon to be joined by Alex. Of course, we didn't get MUCH sleep as the seagulls, did you know, they don't sleep. And once one of them starts squawaking, well, there's pretty much a seagull party. All. Night. Long.
The next morning at 7am, bright-eyed and seagull-wakened, we were treated to more food. (Lord, but is it wonderful to stay with people who love to cook!) This time pancakes and sausage. And I got to the hard work of doing not much of anything. Which took place MOSTLY in these chairs over the water. Oh, sure, I spent a little time reading. Hanging out with this guy... I spent some time taking pictures. Explored the island. Looked for shells and rocks and even found some goose eggs. Heck, I even helped shuck and clean the meat out of about 30 clams that Alex and company dug for in the mud. (Later to be baked and eaten.)
But most of our time was spent like this: And hanging out with Teddy and Egg--the wonder dogs. As our second day progressed we heard more talk of secretive Island Entertainment. And more guests started trickling in--Alison and/or Cameron taking the boat out to greet and transport them.
When all was said and done, we had about 15 people, two dogs, one boat, three kayaks and an untold number of seagulls, geese and crabs on the island with us.
It was starting to feel like a regular beach party. And that's when our island entertainment began. A Treasure Hunt! (Unfortunately, due to the timed nature of fiduring out clues, I do not have pictures of the actual event.) But suffice it to say, it was literally the most fun I have had in ages!
Alison's uncle went through GREAT lengths to make a Treasure Hunt that had us split into two teams (making sure there was a fair number of mathies on each) who competed against each other by completing riddles, math problems, word problems etc...to find the next clue. There were 10 clues per team. Some of them were REALLY hard. One of them had Alex jumping in the motor boat with another player to get to the next island where there was a clue on one of the neighbors' docks.
And while I am sorry to say we got the boobie prize (read: we didn't win) I WILL say, Alex and I work GREAT together. He got all those logical parts of the questions and I got all the intuitive parts, and let's just say neither he nor I were the weakest links on our team!
It was so much fun! I felt like I was on some Road Rules Challenge or something. At one point, I was running around the island while Alex was holding up a clue (that had been located out on one of the rock jetties) and I was screaming "Did you get the clue?" and he was waving it around all while a family in a canoe was watching us like we were crazies. (Oh, and I forgot to mention that there is a tour boat that goes around the islands and Alex and I really got a kick out of thinking that the tourists probably looked at us like some kind of attraction up our own OWN island! Little do they know!)
Anyway...there is so much more I could say. But I am pooped. And really, what I most wanted to get across is, it was dang fun. And if you ever have a chance to go stay on an island. Do it. I never would have guessed I was not 20 minutes from New Haven when I was there. It was truly idyllic.
And now, tomorrow, we are off for a trip to New Hampshire to hang with the fam. And some day trips to swimming holes, Vermont and to see my friend Sunny in her very own idllyic mountainous world! YAY! To be at the sea and in the mountains of Vermont all in the same week!