A trip to an island. There’s nothing like it for infusing a deep breath into your life.
Last weekend I traveled to the island of Nantucket. Located 30 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, its name has been cited to originate from the Native American word “Natockete” which means “faraway land”.
Faraway is a very good place to go for getting away for a few days.
From the moment I stepped onto the ferry boat, I felt my worries slip off as I left them there on the dock and looked forward to a relaxing weekend with my parents.
In years past, we have biked around the island but now that my parents are older and so am I, it was much easier to be picked up by a tour van for a jaunt around the island. Our tour guide, a native of 42 years, picked us up at the front door of our bed and breakfast and we set off on an adventure to all sorts of interesting places, both historical and scenic.
The island’s original inhabitants were the Wamponoag Indians who lived there undisturbed until 1641 when the first English settlers, Thomas Mayhew and his son, received a deed from English authorities in Massachusetts colony. He later “sold” his interest to 9 men “For the sum of thirty Pounds and also two beaver hats, one for myself, and one for my wife.”
As time went on, more settlers came to the island and their presence led to the unfortunate demise of the island’s Native population.
From the mid 1700s to the late 1830s, the island became famous as the whaling capital of the world. During this period, one could find as many as 150 ships making port in Nantucket harbor.
In Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, Nantucket’s whaling dominance is mentioned:
“Two thirds of this terraqueous globe are the Nantucketer’s. For the sea is his; he owns it, as Emperors own empires.”
A great fire in 1846, along with the California gold rush, led many off the island to seek other fortunes and the whaling industry promptly died.
It wasn’t until the late 1800s that tourism became the principle source of income for many on the island. During the summer season, the population booms from around 9,000 to 50,000.
And so here we are, joining the rest of the tourists, moseying from shop to shop along the quaint, cobblestone streets.
A fishing trip with my Dad was the perfect way to end a perfect weekend.