Dancing Hearts in Nantucket (Part Five: Nantucket Proper!!!)

I can’t tell you how wonderful it feels to have that last story (part 4) out of my heart and down on paper (and if you need to catch up, here is part 1, part 2, and part 3). I’ve been carrying around these memories for a year now, trying to remember them, trying to hold them close lest they vaporize with all the other important information in my brain that I’ve lost, like WHERE MY OTHER FLIP FLOP IS!!! 

But it has been recorded now. The story has been told. And I feel like a million bucks! Thank you for your sweet encouragement and for letting me know the tale resonated with you – it means the world to me, and all glory to our great God who does great things.

Today’s post will be less touchy-feely than the rest, an introduction to the HEART of Nantucket. If you like action, if you like architecture, if you like homemade ketchup…

you’ll love this post. Thanks for reading!

~

nantucket-5

To begin today’s installment, we first must rewind 24 hours from our current place in the story and go back to that moment when, after enjoying our afternoon snacks at the Union Street Inn and quickly freshening up in our room, Mama and I set out, on foot, to tackle Nantucket.

12046691_10156073083970464_7742486327018080141_n

What fun it is to go back into my brain in this moment. I was mostly just SO happy to be alive. I definitely liked what I had seen of Nantucket so far…

but I had NO idea, really, what was in store for us, just around the corner. 

I had no idea that, a half a block down the street from our one-night residence, the manifestation of all of my village dreams was waiting for me, a real-life Mitford, if you will (albeit bigger and less affordable, ha!). We turned the corner onto Main Street and…

WOW. My pictures in no way do it justice, so do me a favor and do a Google image search of Nantucket Main Street.

12038018_10156073116755464_3357015118468103159_n

12039518_10156073084500464_3784404515834519941_n

12074864_10156073929990464_7634973143405189693_n

It was a sight, for sure, and then some. A treat for the eyes. The ears. The nose. The HEART. I was immediately…home. Not like, home-home, of course. Home-home was waiting for me in Oklahoma, with four little loves and that dashing red head and a wonderful church that makes my world complete. No, this was a sort of heaven-home, a slice of near perfection in a fallen world that continually disappoints me with its consumerism, its billboards, its lack of care and imagination and beauty…

I couldn’t believe this city had been there, all these years, just waiting for us.

My mom most definitely was in agreement. This was it. This was the place she had been trying to find for decades, the fulfillment of a thousand dreams and wishes.

And what we still did not yet realize, as much as we adored this first street we’d found, was that the beauty was never going to end!

You know those special rooms you have in your house where all the junk quickly goes when company is coming? Those last-minute things that you just don’t know what to do with? So you just wad it all up in a ball and throw it in there and shut the door?

Nantucket, as far as I could tell in our short time there, did not have one of those rooms.

Every residence, every yard, every street, every block, ON EVERY CORNER OF THE ISLAND, was beautiful.

I’ve been to many pretty towns in my life and many pretty Main Streets, but the quaintness usually comes to a screeching halt a couple of streets over.

12074541_10156073119970464_6200069085565414966_n

Not so here.

12063493_10156073117055464_4667066542054403556_n

It kept going…and going…and going…and going!!!

As such, when Mom and I decided just to walk for a bit to look at the pretty houses, we didn’t know that we could basically keep walking for miles. And who knows? We might have!

Every structure was gorgeous. Every house was different. Every garden was perfect. And every tiny detail was tended to and taken care of. For instance, the door latches! They were darling. Not a deadbolt in sight!

12047081_10156073118290464_687284499000811799_n

The yards and pathways betwixt them! I’d never seen such thoroughness.

12063389_10156073118205464_3381702131569290455_n

The cobblestone streets! The brick crosswalks!

12032076_10156073084680464_8036796363117282099_n

The flower boxes in every window, each one a different variety of color and _____!

12036867_10156073084710464_740577260285663364_n

The churches!

12019787_10156073121450464_3071824166763031516_n

The movie theater!

12079517_10156073121935464_6802643012511040396_n

Gulp…THE BICYCLES!!!

10524724_10156073084230464_2238279516636706489_n

We walked and we walked and we walked and we ooohed and we aaahed and we dreamed and we reveled. I’ll just share a couple of my favorite houses here, but at the end of this post, I’ll share a gallery of all the pictures for those of you who want to see it all.

12036986_10156073119235464_2179988319614422963_n

12027738_10156073118610464_3102151251239606225_n

12074950_10156073119405464_6837495034389443134_n

After walking to our heart’s content, tummies beginning to rumble, we decided to rustle up some food and, I have to say, this part was tricky for us: there were so many places to eat, but we found that a lot of the restaurants we peeked into were gearing up for their supper crowds and had a reservation-only set-up. It made sense, because the rooms were small and cozy and…well, PERFECT. I could have/would have eaten at all of them.

Finally, though, we stumbled upon a little restaurant that was immediately approachable and easy, that could seat us right away, and that had a menu that felt familiar for us middle-class landlubber gals.

It was called the Starlight Theatre & Cafe and it was the ideal place for our first Nantucket meal.

Yes, it had a tiny movie old-fashioned theatre inside (!!!!!!). Yes, the huge windows were latched wide open, giving us a full view of the street. Yes, Pioneer Woman was on the television, bringing a little Oklahoma to our Nantucket. Yes, the food was DELICIOUS. We shared a simple chicken sandwich (called the D.F.C) and fries, but it was so flavorful and filling and the ketchup…the HOMEMADE ketchup…was so ridiculously good and now all other ketchups are dead to me.

You know, just typical vacation stuff, where you find something you will forever crave that you can never have again. 🙂

12047198_10156073121525464_7894067422847947169_n

I went out onto the sidewalk to get a picture of my mama at our table. Take note of the window boxes, please, and let us all swoon in one accord.

12038284_10156073121460464_5705709134615929681_n

After this wonderful meal – at the early hour, we basically had the place to ourselves! – we set out once more, this time towards the wharf, to see what was on the other side of Nantucket. The sound of the sea was beckoning us and we walked, in a trance, water-ward.

On our way there, though, something came up that quickly interrupted our trance and I’m speaking, naturally, of a little place called “The Juice Bar”.

“We have to stop here!!!” I told Mom, immediately recognizing it as one of THE highest rated eateries on Trip Advisor, “I’ve read about this place…”

And, boy oh BOY, do we now know why it has such high ratings!

Imagine, if you will, a vast variety of homemade ice creams. Then imagine seeing the ice cream of your choice being piled into a waffle cone that is not only homemade on the spot, but that is STILL WARM (!!!!!!!), and wrapped at the bottom in lightweight foil.

I have never in my life seen anything like it. Like the poor woman in this Babylon Bee article, I lost my ability to even once I was standing in this shop, and I don’t know that I’ll ever recover; during our short stint in Nantucket, Mom and I stopped by for an ice cream cone as often as we could — mostly because we’re not dummies — and what I would give to be able to run down the street and have another one.

12039321_10156073122185464_1818365377002811116_n

Funny story, though, when it was my turn to order, I could not for the life of me decide which flavor I wanted — they all sounded delicious — and, panicking under that awful spotlight of being in the front of the line and not knowing what I wanted, my eyes just landed upon the word “cookie” and I blurted out the flavor that was attached to it. Because I do like cookies.

“I’ll have the…uhh…cookie monster!!

“Okay,” the clerk said, “but I have to warn you that it is dyed blue. Are you okay with that?”

“Oh, sure!” I brightly replied. “No problem…”

As she put my ice cream together, though, and I was able to relax into a less-blindingly-anxious state of mind now that I was no longer being put on the spot, I began to process what I had just done. A bright blue ice cream. A bright blue ice cream named “cookie monster”. Ohhhhh…as in…Sesame Street. As in, THE Cookie Monster.

As in…this was an ice cream flavor for children!!!

Me dumb-dumb. Me like cookies.

12072793_10156073122400464_2572148907987801053_n

So there I was, walking next to my mommy down the streets of Nantucket, with my bright blue ice cream cone. I wonder if people thought I had just had my vaccinations and had been “a brave girl” about getting my shots? Or that I had been to the dentist without crying?…

I certainly felt like an overgrown child.

Especially when my mom got tickled at me because my LIPS TURNED BLUE.

And my teeth.

And my tongue.

And, of course, the white undershirt that was peeking out from my v-neck tee. It had been white before The Juice Bar.

Now it had a big blue blob on it.

Because I’m a 33-year old Cookie Monster.

Anyhow, regardless of my momentary shame (that was soon replaced with uncontrollable giggles), I pray that I will never, ever forget what it felt like to walk beside my mama in this city of her dreams, ice cream dripping down our hands, the ocean to our left, the cobblestones under our feet, the cold, invigorating wind whipping our hair all over the place.

It was the stuff of dreams.

The wharf wasn’t so bad, either…

11049495_10156073929635464_5637643436177698543_n

12042641_10156073929860464_6641090124644480040_n

~

The next morning, after eating our breakfast at the Union Street Inn, with a free morning and afternoon to spare before heading to the next leg of our adventure, we walked again to Main Street, this time as Nantucket was waking up for the day. Mom was, obviously, excited.

12072584_10156073932235464_3684728502729738953_n-1

Now…I don’t want to continually sound like an overly-dramatic gushing exaggerator, but…IT WAS LIKE A MOVIE!!!

12003146_10156073934440464_2770763022030105957_n

People greeting each other in the streets, sellers turning over signs in their windows and opening doors to customers, dogs out for morning trots with their owners, bicyclists getting in an early round of exercise, and…brace yourselves…a Farmer’s Market TRUCK setting up produce.

I stopped right there on the sidewalk and rubbed my eyes.

“This can’t be real…” I murmured to my mom.

12036921_10156073934775464_2677543647650832978_n

12019857_10156073933890464_6710108633141712211_n

12065561_10156073933470464_1008274012191249745_n

12038081_10156073932725464_1176866798803499143_n

But it WAS real. And, in Nantucket, it was just daily life.

I wanted to sit on the sidewalk all of a sudden and cry my eyes out.

In fact, I want to cry right now, all over again.

I collected myself, however, and Mama and I managed to squeeze a lot of sightseeing and shopping into the rest of that day.

We visited the library. (sniffle sniffle).

12038134_10156073934980464_4406233673714119149_n

We shopped and shopped some more.

12032938_10156073935265464_3016289509332584566_n

12074933_10156073116670464_4071149330728448060_n

12046994_10156073938965464_3711710757335478205_n

More house swooning.

12039593_10156073936685464_4786381244637631505_n

12046569_10156073937180464_8805201644030296276_n

Aunt Leah’s Fudge Shop. (Don’t even get me started. Best fudge I’ve ever had, and we’ve even ordered it online since! Get the Sea Turtle flavor and thank me later).

12047009_10156073937675464_4828856371941557235_n-1

12088284_10156073937835464_1055739850947877604_n

Boat watching.

12074997_10156073938075464_1777749744714657487_n

12065553_10156073939075464_5214736664761615754_n

(here’s Mom when she realized I was taking ANOTHER picture of her as she watched boats – I told ya I photographed her like she was my baby! And you haven’t seen nothin’ yet!).

12047139_10156073938125464_1477077290310612471_n

Fish n’ chip eating.

12047167_10156073940135464_1691483109729036008_n

Dock walking.

12038190_10156073938160464_4758853106311128402_n

12019857_10156073939490464_6662358476060756070_n

12063792_10156073939670464_2616587755212485944_n

12065581_10156073940040464_1625020986325066490_n

Sigh. It was a fabulous, wonderful day, the birthday celebration of the CENTURY.

I think we should go back, maybe tomorrow.

Want to come with us??

~

Oh, boy, you guys, stay TUNED for the next installment, when Mama and I find ourselves smack dab in the middle of the playground of the rich and luxuriating. So, so, SO out of our normal mode of living…but SO FUN!!! Until then, here are some more pictures for you to enjoy! Thanks for reading!

Selah Springs: The Conclusion

Wow. I had a lot to say about our little vacation to the Hill Country, and I’ve got to thank all of you for hanging in there with me as I recorded some important moments, not only for your hopeful enjoyment, but for posterity and memories, and…for my Mom. What can I say? She loves Mrs. Gore’s Diary.

I could go on and on about Selah Springs Ranch, and especially about the proprietors, Phil and Andrea, but even Mrs. Blogs-a-lot knows when it is probably time to move on to other subjects. That said, I would be remiss if I mentioned all of these wonderful things about our vacation in the heart of Texas without providing the Ranch’s contact information…for surely, you’ll be planning your next vacation to Selah Springs Ranch, yes? (Let me be quick to add, however, that I am not being paid or pressured into this promotion. This is legit, no kick-backs, no nothing…except for a share in all Ranch profits for the next 20 years. Just kidding). At the bottom of this post, you’ll find all the important details that will enable you to further team up with and explore this truly special family-friendly getaway.

But now let’s see if I can wrap this puppy up…

As I mentioned before, our little family stayed in the Ranch’s bunkhouse:

This guest house is smaller and less swankier than the Main Lodge, but it was P-E-R-F-E-C-T for our young family. No stairs, no elevated porch, and our kids (including our little stinker, Betsie) had such fun exploring every inch of this house and yard. And there were awesome bunk beds in each of the two bedrooms:

But the back porch was our favorite place, providing a gorgeous view that we just couldn’t get enough of. We took most of our meals onto the huge table outside and I especially enjoyed having my morning(and afternoon!) coffee from this perch.

The kids, too, loved the back porch and yard and spent most of their time there, exploring, looking for critters, and lazing the day away…

But as much as we loved the cozy Bunkhouse and as fitting as it was for our current situation, I look forward to staying someday at the Main Lodge. This structure is truly magnificent, a testimony to the creativity and ingenuity of Phil’s late father, as well as an obvious display of his love for the family – and the land – he had been blessed with. Elevated on a hill, it overlooks the San Saba River, and would be the perfect location for a large family vacation, or a reunion, or a church staff retreat…or a wedding! Phil and Andrea have just plunged into the wedding business and you can read more about that on their website or facebook page. But if you are looking to visit the Hill Country, or need a place to stay near Fredericksburg, PLEASE…look no further! I can’t imagine how much fun it would be for all of the cousins to get to stay here someday and discover the maze of upstairs rooms that they would get to sleep in.

Obviously, I love everything about Selah Springs Ranch. The lodging, the location…even (for a week) the landscape!

There was so much to see and to do…

But nothing beats uninterrupted time with the ones you love. I will always cherish the days of free time I had at Selah Springs to love on my little ones, to spend time with my husband, to enjoy my parents and to reconnect with Phil and Andrea. I know every day is a gift from God, but on our days at the Ranch, I was fully aware of the blessing and drank it in like a parched and weary traveler. And I come home, resolved, that we should live every day like we did at Selah Springs Ranch.

It was one of those places that I was wishing to get back to the minute we left the driveway…

~

And then, God help us, there was our 8-hour drive home…

~

Want to visit Selah Springs’s facebook page? Click here. To receive special updates and promotions from the Ranch, be sure and “like” their page once you get there (and let them know Mrs. Gore’s Diary sent you! Phil and I are kind of obsessed with tracking the networking…)

And to visit their website, click here. I think the Survivor Weekend sounds especially fun for youth-aged groups, and of course, if I was a bride-to-be in the Hill Country, I would be reserving my wedding date straightaway!

Again, cherished readers, thank you for joining me on this feast of a vacation to Selah Springs Ranch!

Selah Springs: The Cave

Since our arrival at Selah Springs, we had heard adventurous and intriguing stories about a recently discovered cave chamber on the Ranch’s property.

Phil had promised to schedule a time to take us to this underground lair of fascination, and on the 3rd and last day of our stay, he followed through and picked up the willing participants – Mr. Gore, Gideon and my Daddy (and me, with my camera) – and drove us to a location on the map that I could never get to by myself if I tried. A lodger at the Ranch had come across this hidden hole in the ground while exploring the property, and Phil had become obsessed with digging deeper and deeper into the chamber. His exuberance was catching and I was actually quite excited to see this marvel with my own eyes.

Pulling the pick-up to a stop in the middle of the road, Phil instructed us to unload and then challenged us to point in the direction of the cave’s whereabouts. Each of us squinted into the distance, looking for clues, and not surprisingly, the 4 of us pointed in 4 different directions.

None of us were right.

“Follow me!” said Phil, and off we tromped through the wild Texas wilderness, dodging cacti, ducking under mesquite trees, eyes roaming about looking for the hidden cave.

When we least expected it, Phil came to a sudden halt, and pointed at the ground. “Here it is.” he said.

There, right in front of us, was a rock, and in that rock was a triangular hole about the size of my generous hips.

Well…maybe my hips aren’t that big. Still yet, any thoughts I had entertained of following the boys into the cave morphed instantly into a rock-solid resolution that I wasn’t budging from my place safe above ground. I later told Phil “the cave might be fun for you, but for me, it is a collection of too many things I have problems with: claustrophobia, bats, worms, ladders, heights…to me your cave is nothing more than a hole of horrors”.

The men, however, were intrigued. It was a study to watch them, iffy at first, curiously peering into the hole, then unable to quelch their curiosity with what I would call good common sense (just kidding, guys). One by one, they would disappear beneath the ground, first Phil, then Mr. Gore, and then even my Dad, who had retreated to this Texas getaway to rest his ailing back. He had been sitting like a good boy next to me while Mr. Gore and Phil explored the cave, but finally said “I’ve got to go down there,” and soon, he, too, was in the cavernous hole underneath my feet, throwing rest and recovery to the wind.

But as nervous as I was about the ones I loved being trapped underground, I relished hearing their voices and laughter float up to my safe perch on a rock nearby – this was to them what a day of shopping at Fredericksburg was to me, and it was great fun observing their boyish delight at their adventure in uncharted territory under the earth. I even sent my beloved camera down the hole with Mr. Gore, who took a pretty cool photograph from inside the heart of the earth:

But Gideon was holding out.

“I’m not going in there.” he had been saying since first laying eyes on the cave, and had been sitting resolutely on a bucket near my rock.

But he was acting kind of weird, talking a bit like a baby, repeating his mantra of refusal, even though no one was pressuring him…or even talking to him.

“I not going in dere.” he kept saying to me.

“Okay, Gid…” I kept replying, “you don’t have to.”

“I NOT going in dere.” he repeated.

“Okay…” I said once more.

And I soon came to the conclusion that he was waging an inner war with himself. As much as he didn’t want to go in there, he wanted to go in there; therefore, he wasn’t really talking to me as much as he was talking to himself.

Thankfully, I have learned, after 5 years of playing mindgames with this most complex of children, that sometimes it is best to just leave Gideon be and let him work out the conflict that is coursing through his brain and causing him to use bad grammar and vocabulary.

I sat quietly on my rock, knowing that if I pressured him to give it a try, he would step up his refusal, and that if I babied him about it, he would eventually become just that…a baby. And not just about caves, but about life, in general.

Finally, after saying “I not going in dere” one more time, he meekly and quietly asked one question: “Mama…will you ask Papa if he will help me get down there?”

I hopped up, before he changed his mind.

“Chris!” I beckoned through the hip-sized hole, “Gid wants to come!”

We all sprang into action, lest we lose our window of opportunity. It takes a village to raise a Gideon, and the entire family has learned to work fluidly with his quirks and foibles.

Mr. Gore and Granddaddy came to the bottom of the ladder.

“Come on down, Gid!” Mr. Gore exclaimed with what I assume was a huge smile on his face.

But the nearer Gideon got to the hole, the more afraid he became of it. His hands were clinging to my legs.

“I can’t do it!” he cried.

“You can do it, Gid! I won’t let you fall. I’ll hold on to you the whole way,” his Papa continued to encourage him.

“Come on down, Gid!” my Daddy said.

Gideon began to cry. “I don’t want to go!”

“You don’t have to!” Papa assured him.

“But I want to go!!!” he wailed.

“Then come on down!” Papa laughed.

After what seemed like 15 minutes of encouragement and discussion, I’m so happy to report that…he did it.

My baby boy played the man and entered into a secret cave chamber. Now, menfolk are a bit of a mystery to me, but as a sympathetic observer of all people and an avid reader of Christian fiction books, I happen to know that this (cave-mongering) is the stuff of dreams for little and big boys alike. And if I didn’t know that already, I knew it when I saw Gideon beaming up at me from the ladder that took him to his adventure.

With his Papa, his Granddaddy, and a really great guy named Phil, my son spent the afternoon digging in previously untouched dirt and even unearthed a rock that had never been held by anyone else in the history of the world. As far as vacation attractions go, this was pretty stinkin’ awesome.

It is a beautiful thing to watch a little boy – step by step – become a man, and I think this day will go down in Gideon’s history as a very big step indeed.

The last to go down, Gid the Kid was also the first to come back up for air, but he emerged energized and confident. Rather than returning to his bucket of shame, he began to work, pulling up buckets of dirt from the cave and dumping them in the nearby pile. I can’t imagine how it felt to his little heart to contribute to the tunneling process of the Selah Springs Cave. This was important work!

Before too long, the big boys said goodbye to the cave and joined us aboveground. It was really quite strange to see a human head poking up from inside the earth, and was rather reminiscent of a dream I had when I was a child. (Except those heads belonged to aliens. And they were cartoon characters. And there wasn’t any cactus or mesquite trees and we weren’t in Texas..but everything else was exactly the same).

Our cave adventure was over, but I am fairly certain this will be a memory we will cherish for years and years to come, a highlight of our stay at Selah Springs Ranch.

On our drive home, I looked down and noticed that Gideon and his Papa were holding hands, and my heart melted a little at the bonds they are growing as father and son, bonds that I pray remain strong and Christ-centered for the rest of their lives. May the adventures they share be varied and happy and frequent, and may they always love each other as they do now.

Oh, and thank you, God, for not making me go down into that cave.