17 Jul 2012

GPS on Nantucket

Easy Street on Nantucket
For a tiny island measuring only 14 X 3 miles, Nantucket is replete with numerous little destination spots. It’s difficult to explain our geography and “neighborhood” system to new visitors. The conversation goes something like this:  Yes, there is technically only one “town” and yes, that’s correct the town bears the same name as the island itself. But drive just a mile or two in any direction from downtown and you’ll find yourself in one of the charming cleverly named areas of the island. You can drive out to Quidnet, over to Dionis or down to Brant Point. How about a beach picnic in Madequecham, a kayak ride on Sessachacha Pond or a sunset in Madaket? You can rent a home in Nashaquisset, take your dog for a walk in Tuppancy or spend your summer in ‘Sconset – technically that’s Siasconset, but we affectionately call it “Sconset.” And yes, there are two (2) Main Streets…one in town and one in ‘Sconset. Huh?This conversation leaves most first time visitors bewildered and befuddled…but generally intrigued enough to learn more.The confusion mounts when guests arrive and have to navigate the island for the very first time. If you were born and raised here, the concept of being “lost” or confused on Nantucket is likely foreign to you. But most of us remember well our first visit to the island. Initially, it can be a bit disorienting. Most of the houses are gray and look very similar. Every street is quaint and narrow and leads to….well, more quaint and narrow streets that eventually dead end at one of the many beautiful beaches (it is an island after all)The complex island area system is compounded by the unusual and sometimes hard to pronounce names. A few weeks ago, Jeff Lee (our Principal Broker) and I went on an island wide tour to research potential sales listings. I had the audible GPS system turned on in my car and as Britney (my British accented navigation friend) directed us, Jeff and I burst out laughing. “Turn right on Madaket (Muh-daaaa-cat) Road” she instructed. Later she advised us to bear right onto Wauwinet (Wow-why-net) Road. No wonder, we concluded, are Nantucket visitors initially a bit overwhelmed. Even poor Britney is confused.

There is good news. Within a day or two of their arrival, visitors are quickly acclimated and it soon becomes a right of passage to learn the correct pronunciation of the many island areas. They also quickly learn that it’s virtually impossible to become “lost” on Nantucket. Taking a wrong turn down a narrow sand road is actually how one rapidly becomes acquainted with the island. Secret paths and shortcuts are discovered, along with beautiful hidden walking paths, secluded beaches and scenic conservation areas.

So don’t be apprehensive if you’re planning your first visit to Nantucket this summer or if you’ve been visiting or lived here for awhile and find yourself taking a wrong turn. Follow the road less traveled and see where it leads. You’ll likely discover parts of the island you never knew existed and end up right back out on one of the main roads whose name you’ll soon be proudly dropping at dinner parties (pronounced correctly of course!) Should your pre-programmed GPS on Nantucket lead you astray or botch the pronunciation of one of Nantucket’s streets or neighborhoods, give her a break – it’s happened to the best of us!


Shellie Dunlap

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