Friday, September 30, 2022

The Bucket List Strike 1

I ticked something off my bucket list on my recent trip to the US.

In my head, a pretty weird place at the best of times, this is how the trip would go.

We would get dressed up in warm clothes, take anti sea sickness meds and get onboard a small ferry and that would leave the civilisation of the east coast and bounce its way to an island. The weather would be dark, grey, stormy, wet, windy. The ferry would give the day trippers  sou'westers and water proofs. The island would be a barren land of rocks, hardy grass and shale. There'd be the odd historical sign of habitation, a whaling museum  and a cafe that specialised in soup to ward off hypothermia. 

This is what the island looked like.

Yes, it was Nantucket. I might have been thinking about Greenland or Kirkwall. 

So here's some facts. It was very warm and sunny. It's 100 square miles, 30 feet above sea level and has a lot of fog! The population of  14,255 quadruples in summer. Health insurance is expensive and the pavements are very dangerous.

It lies 30 miles south from Cape Cod. It's very pretty.

The average sale price for a single-family home was $2.3 million in the first quarter of 2018 according to Wikipeadia. We looked in the windows of the estate agents and the property was eye wateringly expensive.

"The Little Grey Lady of the Sea" is the most common nickname for the island.  Referring to the appearance of the island through the ocean fog.

Today it’s a rather arty, designer place. The local woman seem to weigh about two stone, and have a lot of exquisite, expensive  jewellery.

It’s a wealthy place now but in the past, it has had  hard times. There was a fire in 1846 that burned much of the island, causing a fair amount of the population to leave. Dry tinder and whale oil fed the flames. The whaling industry was in decline, whaling ships now needed deep water ports like New Bedford. The railway was making transport from land ports easier. And then, the Confederates destroyed most of the whaling ships in the American Civil War.

In the 1950s, property developers decided to lay the foundations for an upmarket area for the wealthy and started to buy up land. The rest is history.

Nantucket appears in a lot of books, over thirty different novels or series of novels, most famously Elin Hilderbrand's novels and in Moby Dick, Ishmael starts his journey at Nantucket

Nantucket waters have seen their share of maritime and aeronautical disasters. The ocean liner RMS Olympic ran into the Nantucket Lightship, four out of the eleven crew survived. In 1956, in heavy fog, the Andrea Doria ran into the MS Stockholm. Fifty one souls were lost. Two years later, Northeast Airlines Flight 258 lost height while on the approach to the airport, twenty five of the thirty four aboard were killed. Then in 1976, oil tanker Argo Merchant hit ground thirty miles south of Nantucket and when she broke up six days later she  discharged a massive oil  cargo- one of the largest spillages in history. Then in 1999, an Egypt air flight from New York City, crashed south of Nantucket, killing all two hundred passengers and crew.

As I've said, the fog in the area is legendary and deadly

Maybe mostly I think of Nantucket because of its fabulous poetry.

There was a young man from Nantucket….

Caro ( back on a windy, wet island!)

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