When you live on an island, going off-island is a big deal. I live in West Tisbury. It’s about nine miles to Edgartown. It’s only seven miles to Woods Hole, but Woods Hole is much, much, much farther away than Edgartown. I can drive to Edgartown, complaining all the way about how far it is. To get to Woods Hole, I have to take a boat. Boats run on schedules. I am chronically late. Not very late, just a little bit late, but the SSA ferries wait for nobody. Deadlines are a big deal even if you’re not an editor.

Boats also cost money, especially if you want to drive: this time of year it costs me $59 to take Malvina Forester off and bring her home; in summer it costs $88. Even when gas costs well over $4 a gallon, it does not cost nearly that much to drive to Edgartown.

Because going off-island is such a big deal, we tend to exaggerate the differences between here and there. At least that’s one of the reasons. Sometimes we talk about off-islanders as if they’re a whole different species. This is peculiar because many of us were in the distant or not-too-distant past off-islanders, at which time we considered ourselves pretty ordinary. If you listen to us talk, you’d think that off-islanders were desperate people who wouldn’t give each other the time of day, never mind the shirt off their back.

Trav and his latest haul

That’s the prologue. In case you hadn’t guessed, I went off-island this weekend. I went off-island to compete with Travvy in a Rally Obedience trial. If you’re reading this blog mainly because you want to see pictures of Travvy, here he is. Yes indeed, we had a good weekend.

My other objective was technological. When started promoting the Kindle Fire, I knew I wanted one. At least I wanted a tablet-like e-reader kind of thing. After doing a dizzying amount of research in a short period of time, I decided that I didn’t want a Kindle Fire at all. What I wanted was a Nook Color. I could have ordered one online, but one side-effect of living on this particular island is that I like to deal face-to-face whenever I can. Staples carries Nooks, there’s a Staples in Falmouth (of which Woods Hole is a part), so Committing Nook became an objective for this trip off-island. So what if Staples is not a mom-and-pop office supplies store. Real people work there, and I wanted to buy my Nook from a real person.

I went, I saw, I bought.

When I got to the Motel 6 in Leominster, I discovered that I’d left my credit card behind. Uh-oh. Being a frugal New England girl, I had enough money in my checking account to cover my motel bill with my debit card. Then I set out to locate my missing credit card. Uh-oh again. I couldn’t call Staples from my motel room because MCI no longer accepts credit cards, and third-party billing didn’t work because neither Travvy nor I was home to accept the charges. I set Hekate O’Dell up for Google’s phone service but it didn’t seem to work. For about the first time this year I wished I had a cell phone.

I left Travvy in his crate and walked over to the motel office. Could I maybe talk the desk clerk into letting me make a phone call? Aha! I didn’t have to talk anyone into anything: she immediately volunteered to make the call for me. She dialed, and handed me the receiver. I talked to someone at Staples. They said they’d call me back in five minutes. I gave them the motel’s phone and my room number, then I went back to my room. It might have been more than five minutes, but it was definitely less than ten before the phone rang. Staples had my credit card. Yes, I could pick it up on my way home. Sundays they were open till six.

So we had a very good weekend. Trialing with an Alaskan malamute is always an adventure. This judge, Sumac Grant-Johnson, likes to tell competitors that they can give her one of two things: a great performance, or great entertainment. When we showed under her before, Trav proved that it was possible to combine good performance with good entertainment. This time, Trav turned in seven solid performances in our eight runs. The eighth run was the entertainment: he made a beeline for the exercise that included food bowls, I made a beeline for him, and we aborted the run there.

In Rally, handlers are encouraged to talk to their dogs during a run; Trav sensibly figures that dogs can likewise talk to their handlers, and he does. Another competitor told me that she loved Susan Conant’s mysteries, which usually feature malamutes, but she’d never known exactly what “woo-woo-woooo” sounded like. Now she does. Thank you, Travvy.

We came home with a sheaf of new ribbons and our first Rally championship title. After dark on Sunday, we rolled into the parking lot outside the Falmouth Staples. I retrieved my credit card from friendly, courteous people. Having decided to splurge on some vodka and Kahlúa for these cold winter nights, I strolled up to Kappy’s discount liquor store. Two high school girls were selling raffle tickets to raise money for their spring trip to Washington. I bought a book, and got into a conversation with the father of one of the girls by saying that I used to live in D.C.

Then it was on to Woods Hole, filling the gas tank on the way. We missed the five o’clock, but my reservation was for 6:15. I had just enough time to buy and eat a turkey roll-up from Pie in the Sky, then the boat was loading.

Off-island really isn’t all that much different from Martha’s Vineyard, except the distances are longer and the gas costs a lot less.



About Susanna J. Sturgis

Susanna edits for a living, writes to survive, and has been preoccupied with electoral politics since 2016. She just started a blog about her vintage T-shirt collection: "The T-Shirt Chronicles." Her other blogs include "From the Seasonally Occupied Territories," about being a year-round resident of Martha's Vineyard, and "Write Through It," about writing, editing, and how to keep going.
This entry was posted in dogs, Martha's Vineyard and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Off-Island

  1. Had a 5 o’clock once, got there ten to five and they told me I was too late and put me on the end of the stand-by line then proceeded to load about 8 more cars from the stand-by line. They are an independent bunch!!! Getting an e-reader for Christmas but don’t know which one. Any insight?


    • I’ve never had that happen. Yuck. I’ve had great luck this year — rolling onto boats 5 minutes after I get to Woods Hole, even though my reservation was for two hours later, that kind of thing. About e-readers — do you want it mostly for reading, or do you want other functions too? I’m very happy so far with my Nook Color: it’s sort of a tablet lite as well as an e-reader, so I can use it for e-mail, web browsing, Facebook, music, etc. The Nooks use an e-book format (ePub) that seems to be more widely used than the Kindle’s .mobi, but there’s a conversion program called Calibre that makes it possible to read Amazon e-books on a Nook or Barnes & Noble e-books on a Kindle. I haven’t downloaded it yet but I’m told it’s easy to use and free. If you want to know more, e-mail or message me.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.