The Quiet Before the Storm


Perched high on a cliff, East Chop Lighthouse is located in a quiet residential area. Surrounded by a grassy area with a picket fence and benches, the idyllic setting belies its noble purpose. The perils offshore inspired a mariner to raise money to privately build the lighthous in 1869. 

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Make it Easy Street Cantina 

Easy Street Cantina in Nantucket offers a diverse menu. There’s much to choose from: nachos, tacos, quesadillas, sandwiches and wraps. While I settled for a falafel wrap, for those who are looking for a taste of New England there’s seafood and chowder on the menu. 

I enjoyed the easy going atmosphere and quick service at the restaurant. The dining is informal; there’s self seating. Outdoor and indoor seating is available. Easy Street also offers curbside dinning for those in a hurry.

My falafel was so tasty, satisfying and filling, that I dined at Easy Street the two nights I stayed in Nantucket. 

The best deal in Nantucket

Granted Nantucket is known as an upscale resort with pricey hotels. The visitors read like a who’s who list from Fortune 500. Despite of all the pricey obstacles, I was lured by the four lighthouses. I was also intrigued about staying at a historic building. Star of the Sea Hostel in Nantucket was once a Life Saving Station. It had been a part of the United States Life Saving Service.


I admit to being reluctant about staying at this hostel. I mean I didn’t know to expect when I booked two nights for $80. That wasn’t exactly the going rate in Nantucket. Yet, I recalled saving a bundle of cash and being happy when I stayed at the dorms at historic Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland and Suffolk University in Boston. But a dorm with 32 bunk beds didn’t seem very inviting. I wondered about privacy and the bathrooms.


But the excitement of staying where the Keepers would look for shipwrecks was persuasive. There are steps to the lookou in the women’s dorm where I would be sleeping. I finally voted in favor of the lookout, lighthouses and my pocketbook when I read all the positive reviews. 


Once I checked into the hostel all my concerns evaporated. The furnishings were modern and well kept. The bathroom had a private door. 

My bunk was on the bottom in a quiet corner of the dorm. The first night the dorm was packed. But at night the dorm was quiet because everyone observed the quiet hours from 10 pm to 7 am. I watched a movie with the free wifi and put my phone on silent. 


In the morning there was a light complimentary breakfast with cereal, coffee and assorted breads. For those who want to prepare a heavier meal, there’s a fully equipped kitchen with dishes, pots and more. 


My second evening at the hostel was extremely quiet as most of the quests had checked out. During my stay, three ladies were kind enough to befriend me and invite me to sit at their table. I learned from them that there are cabins for rent in addition to the beds in the female dorm. They also taught me the truth of hostel’s motto: “There are no strangers only friends you haven’t met.” 

It takes a village to get to Sankaty

I knew from the start that my journey to Sankaty Lighthouse would be a long one. I stayed in a hostel on the southern coast of Nantucket Island at Surfside Beach and Sankaty Lighthouse was located on the eastern coast. I rode a bus into town then caught a bus to Sconset. 


Upon getting off the bus, I looked for directional signs to the lighthouse and found none. After walking the wrong way, I asked for directions. A couple of acquaintances the day before recommended the scenic route for the two mile trek to the lighthouse but gave no detailed instructions. Thankfully, I met a family who gave me printed instructions and tips for navigating the route. The path to lighthouse was scenic but tricky indeed. It led through a rocky road between some cottages then to a short paved walkway and to a grassy winding unmarked trail. 


As I crossed a couple of lawns during the walk, I became unnerved. I felt like I was trespassing but I had been reassured that the land on the path was public. After walking for a while, I became concerned that I was lost. One couple told me I was indeed lost and directed me toward the pavement. Another couple said they were walking to the lighthouse and invited me follow them along the grassy path I was on. This preposition seemed more reasonable. When the winding path eventually ended, we began the final 15 minute trek on a paved road to Sankaty Lighthouse. 


As I approached the lighthouse, I was delighted to see two lights flashing at the 70 foot red and white lighthouse ahead. Built in 1850, Sankaty lighthouse overlooks the Sankaty Head Golf Club and the Atlantic Ocean. There was marker indicating the previous location of the lighthouse which was moved in 2007. Signage told the story of the lighthouse. As I set down and sketched, I reflected on the long winding path and pondered how to include it in my final art. 


After being warned about the presence of deer ticks in the grassy areas, I decided forego the scenic route and take the paved road back to Sconset. 

Serendipity Experiences at Brant Point 

The cruise to Nantucket from Martha’s Vineyard was smooth and uneventful. The Hy-Line cruise ship passed by Brant Point Lighthouse on the way to the port. After debarking, I stopped by the Visitors Center on the dock, got a map and walked to Brant Point. 


As I walked to the new lighthouse, I saw the old lighthouse. I was surprised that Old Brant Point was part of an active Coast Guard Station and well kept. I had expected it to be abandoned and neglected. Although the Fresnel Lens is removed the lighthouse, the complex was very compelling. A keepers dwelling and pair of tall range lights make this lighthouse unique. 


The original or old Brant Point Lighthouse was established in 1746. It was the second oldest lighthouse in the United States. There have been eight lighthouses called “Brant Point Lighthouse.” Most were destroyed by fire. The eighth lighthouse was made of concrete. Old Brant Point Lighthouse was deactivated in 1901. 

Nantucket: A Sanctuary of Peace

 

The next day, I caught the first bus to Downtown Nantucket and the second one to the village of Sconset. My final destination, Sankaty Lighthouse was 2 miles away at Siasconset Beach. I walked to the lighthouse and sketched it for over an hour. 

After catching the bus back to downtown, I stopped by East Street Cantina and Stop and Shop. I had such a pleasant experience with Clyde the cab driver, I decided to take another one of his cabs driven by his wife for the ride back to the hostel. She answered a few lingering questions I had about the island. 
The nights were peaceful at Star of the Sea hostel. Everyone abided by the quiet curfew from 10 pm-7 am. During my final night, I had only had a few summer campers as my bunk mates.


The serenity of the hostel is reflective of the island. The island was designated a national landmark in the 50s. A commission actively limits construction to ensure that the island is homogeneous and uniform. Almost all the houses have cedar shingles. The cobble stoned streets in the Historic District hail from an earlier era. There are boutique shops, restaurants and museums to explore. Since Nantucket was once the Whaling Capital of the world, there’s a fascinating Whaling Museum. I bought a few souvenirs from the gift shop on my final day. 


When I returned from Nantucket to Martha’s Vineyard, my cousin and his mom greeted me at the dock and asked about my trip. It’s the best one I can remember, I replied. My escape to Nantucket delivered more than I expected. The quaint resort and peaceful island was relaxing and a welcome reprieve.