A Damsel in Distress

Star of the Sea Youth Hostel

Star of the Sea youth hostel was formerly a life saving station.


It’s kind of ironic that I stayed at the Star of the Sea Youth Hostel in Nantucket. I really needed a reprieve from a chaotic visit to Martha’s Vineyard. The hostel was once a life saving station for distressed vessels. Now I was looking for shelter from a distressed encounter. 

Brant Point Lighthouse

Brant Point Lighthouse can be seen from the ferry.


Although the ferry ride was about a hour from Martha’s Vineyard, it felt a world away from the turmoil I had witnessed. I was happy to retreat to Nantucket for a few days of painting and quiet.

Old Brant Point Lighthouse

Most people don’t realize this a lighthouse because the lens is missing.


I had reluctantly booked a stay at the hostel. I thought the military style sleeping arrangements would not offer the peace and quiet that I needed. To my surprise there was a curfew with a time of quiet at night. 

Sankaty Lighthouse

Sankaty Lighthouse took a little maneuvering to get to.


After three days of quiet and completing 4 paintings, I felt renewed. The hostel was beautiful and I memorialized my visit by painting it. Of course the weather was windy and the water turbulent on the ferry ride back to Martha’s Vineyard. I was afraid it was an indicator of things to come. 

Surfside Life Saving Station in Nantucket, MA was established in 1874. The Life Saving Service is the precursor to today’s United States Coast Guard. It is a National Landmark.

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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.” 

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. 

Escape to Nantucket 

After spending a few hectic days on Martha’s Vineyard, I took a two day retreat to Nantucket Island. Last year while in New York, I read about the island and its four lighthouses. So I hoped perhaps one day, I would visit Nantucket. I filed the article away on a shelf with the thought in the back of mind. 

When my cousin invited recently me to visit Boston and Martha’s Vineyard, I immediately thought of Nantucket and the lighthouses. I wondered how far it was from Martha’s Vineyard. To my delight, I discovered that there was a ferry from Martha’s Vineyard to Nantucket for a little over an hour. The round trip ticket for Nantucket was less than $70. As I researched hotels, I found them to be out of my budget. I discovered a hostel for $38 a night! The hostel, Star of the Sea, was once called Surfside Life Saving Station. 

Surfside Life Saving Station was established in 1874. It is a National Landmark. The lookout where keepers would search for distressed vessels was located in the hostel’s female dormitory. The idea of staying at a Life Saving Station intrigued me. The Life Saving Service is the precursor to the United States Coast Guard. After learning about the hostel’s connection to the Coast Guard, I decided to investigate further. After all, the Coast Guard oversees many lighthouses. The reviews I read were stellar, so I booked two nights at the hostel. I began looking forward to my stay at Nantucket a few weeks later. 

Experience the Real Florida at Wakulla Lodge 

Instead of counting sheep, I counted seven manatees and my blessings before bedding down at Wakulla Lodge. Located at Edward Ball State Park, the Historic Lodge offers a panoramic view of Wakulla Springs.

Everything is convenient. A swimming area and the Wakulla Springs Boat Cruise are a few steps away. A hiking trail is also across the street and bar-b-que grilling areas outside. There’s plenty of outdoor recreation to be had.


Inside the Wakulla Lodge, there is a pleasant dining room and an ice cream parlor with a gift shop. The rooms are clean and spacious. My room had a single bed, a double bed and a rollaway bed in a huge walk-in closet. Despite a few specks of chipped paint, the property which opened in 1937 wears its age quite well. 


The prices are affordable and it’s a nice quiet getaway for the family. You won’t have the distractions of tv or the Internet. While there is Wifi, it never connected in my room. The front desk explained there was no internet due to a storm a few weeks ago. 


It is also “hit and miss” making phone calls from a mobile device. Wakulla Lodge is a great retreat from the noise of modern living. While the Internet may or may not connect, families will have a chance to connect and experience the Real Florida. 

TGIF: Down to earth prices at Cape Canaveral 


I stayed at the Fairfield Marriott in Titusville during an overnight stay for the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse 150 year festival. I checked in one hour early and was promptly given a wonderful room. The staff is friendly and very helpful. 

While the hotel is 30 minutes away from Cape Kennedy and the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse, it is perfect for a leisurely visit. The Fairfield is located near the highway and the first street after exiting I-95. There is a Cracker Barrel Restaurant next door. Fast food restaurants and a shopping area is about 5 minutes away. 

Despite being near the freeway, the hotel is relatively quiet. My room was very clean although there was a strand of hair in the bathtub. Small oversight but worth mentioning. The queen-sized room is equipped with two beds, a mini fridge and microwave. There is a flat screen TV with cable, local channels and more. I loved the charging station for my electronic devices. 

The hotel offers a free buffet with modest but varied food options. There are a several cold drinks and limited hot beverages. You won’t find an abundance of fruit but the breakfast buffet offers waffles, cereal and more. 

There is a small business center for those who want to combine business with pleasure on the Space Coast. The hotel overall is modern, well furnished and well kept.