Nantucket Journal

Monday, July 30

We drove to Hyannis through one of the worst thunderstorms I’ve ever attempted in a car. For the first time in almost five years of driving Bentleys, I had to put on the rear fog lights. Fortunately, we left at 6:45 a.m. and traffic was light. Ninety minutes later we were at the ferry and I had the top down. Driving this immensely powerful car through the torrent was exhilarating.

On the boat, the car was wedged twelve inches from a tractor trailer, but everything was battened down and we had an almost completely fog-bound crossing at times, zero visibility, fog horn reverberating. Sort of chicken soup for the mole.

Driving off the ferry in Nantucket is one of our great delights. We drove the 30 minutes across the island on narrow, isolated roads to The Wauwinet, where we’ve come for 14 years. For the last 8 or so we’ve stayed in their largest suite, facing the lawn and the bay (the ocean is over the dunes on the other side). I often write early in the morning on our private porch, read the Times, and have coffee. Late in the evening I’ll have a cigar and brandy out there, watching the stars. Last year a gentleman coming from dinner along the path saw me in the dark and said, “It’s a rough life, isn’t it?”

Just down the road you can take four-wheel drive SUVs over the otherwise protected beach to the point, about a 40-minute drive, with tires deflated to 12 pounds of pressure to maximize surface traction. The Inn will pack a lunch and wine if you like. Fisherman out there pull blue fish out of the surf.

Nantucket is God’s country. Martha’s Vineyard is very much a populist place, with some pubic beaches like Coney Island. But Nantucket is Gatsbyesque. No beaches are crowded (since most are private); the middle of town retains it famous cobblestones (which played havoc with the Ferraris); strict zoning controls the color of all homes. The coast is lined with seven-figure dwellings. Sail out from our room here for a half-mile and Roger Penske’s $28 million mansion looms.

We have lunch on the lawn: Burgers made of Kobe beef and pulled pork. Everyone here greets us by name.

Tonight is our traditional first-night dinner at Toppers, the very high-end restaurant here with a gargantuan, award-winning wine list and great food. At the bar, where I regularly meet fascinating people and celebrities (Ted Kennedy is not an unusual visitor during cocktails), you can get an 1870 Madeira BY THE GLASS. I have a nightly martini with blue cheese-stuffed olives while I wait for the lovely Maria to primp.

Dinner is wonderful, steak tartar followed by suckling pig. An astounding 1994 Hermitage from Jean-Louis Chave, a family making wine from the 15th Century, so they have learned a thing or two. I’d put this in my top five all-time wines. After dinner, I adjourn to our porch to have a Montecristo #2 with a glass of 1929 Maury, from a freshly opened bottle, no less. I chat with an after-dinner passersby, under the stars. The actress Romy Schneider dined nearby with a particulary obnoxious independent film producer whom I met in the bar and couldn’t get away from fast enough.

But, overall, just an extraordinary day.

© Alan Weiss 2007. All rights reserved.

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