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July 6, 2005

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WHERE'S JOHNNY JET ?                                                           Nantucket (pt 2)


HOUSE KEEPING: Remember when you click on the pictures in "Where's Johnny Jet," they will open up in another window. Just click the "x"(close) in each picture to get back to the newsletter. This should alleviate complaints about closing Johnny Jet. Thanks again for your support, and remember: If you book trips on the web, please go through JohnnyJet.com. (It will save you money).




Greetings! Last week we left off just after arriving on the beautiful island of Nantucket. I was there to check out my brother’s new vacation house, which he rents to visitors for most of the summer. It was my first time on Nantucket, and hopefully not my last. As you will see, this place is awesome! We even have a quick video at the end.

Nantucket has about 1,200 hotel rooms, in bed-and-breakfasts, inns and guesthouses. You shouldn’t have a problem finding a place – as long as you book in advance. But my advice – because hotel rooms and restaurants aren’t cheap -- is to rent a house for your stay. There are all kinds of houses available (not just my brother’s!), and you can rent by the weekend, week, month or season. Nantucket real estate agents who offer rentals include: Denby Real Estate (tel.: 508-228-2522), Nantucket Real Estate (tel.: 800-228-4070) and Edith Delker Real Estate (tel.: 508-257-9698).

Frank’s house is only a seven-minute walk (or a two-minute bike ride) from the center of town. His place is really nice. It’s on Cliff Road, arguably the most prestigious street in Nantucket, and is surrounded by multimillion-dollar estates. His isn’t one of those, but it is freshly painted, recently remodeled and perfect for visitors without a car. Anyway, who wants to drive into town in the summer? The traffic is ridiculous, and once you get there, there’s no parking.

Frank’s house is four stories -- if you count the basement and widow’s walk. Don’t worry, the basement is not dark and damp. His is bright and clean, with a pullout couch and TV. Practically every house in the area has a "widow’s walk" (the correct name is "roofwalk"), which in the old days was used to spot incoming whale ships (or for pouring a bucket of sand down a burning chimney). Unfortunately, legal issues prevent renters from using Frank’s widow’s walk, because getting to the top is dangerous. That’s okay though, because the rest of the house is cozy. It has wood floors, a huge kitchen, a living room and three bedrooms. It sleeps eight to ten comfortably. To top it off, Frank has a backyard (with a barbecue) and high speed internet. Yeah, baby! I could’ve stayed there all summer – at least, until I found out he charges $2000 to $4500 a week. That’s too rich for my blood.

The best part about renting a house is that you can pretend you’re a local by going to the grocery store and buying food to cook at "home." The island has a Grand Union and Stop & Shop, with prices not much higher than the mainland. We did cook a few times at Frank’s, but as you will read we also went out a lot. For people planning to stay in a place without a kitchen, I wanted to see what the options are.

After dropping off our (I was with Frank and his fiancée Cricket) bags, we walked into town to grab a quick bite. At 10 p.m. not a lot of restaurants were still serving, so we went to Stubby’s for a sandwich. Stubby’s, open late, serves American and Jamaican food. I know, I was surprised too at the Jamaican food, but I found out there are over 1,000 Jamaicans on the island. Most come just for the summer work. The other imported work forces are primarily Brazilians and Eastern Europeans. Stubby’s, 8 Broad St.; tel.: 508-228-0028.

In the morning we passed by a couple of old houses being lifted off the ground and gutted. I was surprised they didn’t just knock them down, but Frank told me about Nantucket’s strict laws. Homeowners in Nantucket can paint their houses in only 12 approved colors, and the variety is not wide: white, Main Street yellow, cottage red, Hamilton blue, Nantucket red, Newport blue, Nantucket blue, cobblestone, Quaker gray, Nantucket gray, chrome green and Essex green. The only house on the island not one of those 12 colors is located in town. It’s a Victorian, painted deep blue. The owners had to prove to the city (through scientific testing and a lengthy court battle) that their house was this color back in the old days.

Exterior colors aren’t the only things needing approval. Don’t even think about building a modern house on Nantucket. It ain’t happening – in fact, not even skylights are allowed. Just hanging a sign on your door has to meet certain standards. Houses on Nantucket are either Colonial style (with clapboard shingles) or Federal Style (with brick). There are only a few Victorian houses, and some Greek revival buildings. An interesting fact is that most houses near town have turned stairwells. Instead of stairwells going straight out the door, they are turned to the side. This allowed houses to be built closer to the road, giving those homeowners bigger backyards for gardens. I like the stringent regulations (of course, I don’t live there), because they preserve the 19th-century character of Nantucket, and there aren’t many places in the U.S. where you can find this.

Nantucket is also strict about recycling. Frank learned this law the hard way. One of his first renters didn’t recycle, and the trash collector refused to take his refuse until Frank sorted every bit of it. Frank dumped all the garbage in his yard, and sorted out metal, plastic, paper, cardboard and glass. He said it was the most disgusting thing he ever did.

We ate breakfast at The Fog Island Café. It was totally appropriate, because it was foggy out. After our meal we walked in and out of the many independent shops, selling everything from antiques to souvenirs. I really like downtown Nantucket. The cobblestone streets and historic buildings give it an old-school New England feel. Fog Island Café, 7 South Water St.; tel.: 508-228-1818.

One of the best ways around the island is by bicycle. Nantucket is relatively flat, and there are plenty of bike paths. You won’t find a problem getting bikes; most likely the place you stay will have them. If not, you can rent them. Some companies even deliver bikes to you. Every day we rode our bikes, and Frank was the tour guide. Tip: If you ride the wrong way on a one-way street, you’ll get a ticket.

The first day we rode along Cliff Road, past the monster houses and down a couple of streets until we arrived at Jetties and Children’s Beach. Children’s Beach is located right on the harbor, while Jetties is next door. They are both on the north shore of the island, with calm waters. I was surprised at both the cleanliness and fineness of the Nantucket sand. It’s nicer than Southern California’s, and there are tons of pretty seashells. I was happy just taking a slow stroll down the beach, admiring all the different shapes and sizes of shells. BTW: Jetties Beach has lifeguards, bathhouses, a restaurant, tennis courts, and towels and chairs for rent.

The next stop on the Frank and Cricket bike tour was Brandt Point Lighthouse. The second oldest lighthouse in America (behind Boston's Beacon Light), Brandt Point was built in 1746. It has been rebuilt eight times after storms. It’s now owned and maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard, but it’s not open to the public. For more information, log on to the LighthouseHub.com.

Two popular places on the island that we did not ride our bikes to were Siasconset (pronounced Sconset) and Madaket Beach. They are at opposite ends of the islands, so we drove to both of them. (We could have ridden, because it’s not far – we were just lazy). Siasconset, 6 miles from Nantucket Town, is a charming little village. The beaches there are quiet, although the surf is rough. It’s a good thing they have lifeguards (though they don’t have food or restrooms). Driving there, I thought I was in "The Wizard of Oz." The cottages are tiny -- like dollhouses.

Madaket is 5 miles the other side of town. We went there to visit our Connecticut friend "G" and his family. We had a barbecue at his house, after fishing for bluefish and stripers (bass) on his boat. We didn’t catch anything of legal size but, we saw lots of harbor seals. We also watched one of the nicest sunsets (which Madaket is famous for). As at Siasconset, the Madaket surf is rough – but there are lifeguards.

In Nantucket there are beaches where four-wheel drive vehicles are permitted. However, drivers must first buy a permit from the Police Department, where they are given rules, regulations, and a map of beaches where vehicles are allowed. We drove out to one of the beaches to fish offshore, but instead Frank ended up being a hero. As we got out of the car some kids asked for a knife. They needed to cut their fishing line, because a seagull was caught in it. Frank knew that if the line was cut, the seagull would probably die. Frank handed me the fishing pole and told me to slowly reel the gull in. Meanwhile, he walked gingerly towards the scared bird. It only took a minute for Frank to untangle the fishing line and remove the hook from the seagull’s beak. This wasn’t the first time I saw Frank save a bird from a fishhook. When I was a kid, I accidentally caught a swan, and Frank did the same thing. The guy is amazing. I’m not surprised he’s marrying a veterinarian.

One night we went to dinner at The Brotherhood Of Thieves restaurant, located in town. We ate downstairs, in a dark 1840’s whaling bar featuring low ceilings with rustic bricks, wooden beams and darkly stained furniture. The food wasn’t particularly good the night we went, but the atmosphere and service are worthy of giving it a second shot. Besides, it’s right near a cozy independent bookstore selling all kinds of books on Nantucket -- a perfect place to pass time. The Brotherhood Of Thieves, 23 Broad St.; tel.: 508-228-2551.

The following morning we had a relaxing breakfast on the outdoor patio of the Even Keel Café. I ordered huevos rancheros -- really good! Even Keel Café, 40 Main St.; tel.: 508-228-1979.

I was told by several locals that the best place on the island to eat is a deli a quarter mile from Frank’s house. After going there, I agree. It’s called Something Natural, and they serve the tastiest breads, sandwiches and cookies! When you pull into the driveway It doesn’t look like a deli -- just someone’s house. But this is the perfect place to grab food for the beach, or a picnic in the backyard. You can stay, too -- picnic tables are spread all around, with beautiful rolling green hills and flowers to stare out upon. Sandwiches cost between $5-$8. Something Natural, 50 Cliff Rd.; tel.: 508-228-0504.

If you’ve got a sweet tooth like mine, check out The Juice Bar in town. Not only do they serve fresh-squeezed juices, but they scoop up fantastic homemade ice cream in fresh-baked waffle cones. The Juice Bar, 12 Broad St.; tel.: 508-228-5799.

Obviously, we didn’t want to leave Nantucket (who does?). We stalled as long as we could, taking the last ferry back to Hyannis. We could have stayed another week, but we had obligations so it didn’t happen. Hopefully, I will return. Maybe one day people will call me "the man from Nantucket." (I had to get that line in there!)

Here’s a 1-minute video I made of our long weekend. With high-speed it takes about a minute to load; with dial-up, about three weeks.

Next week we fly back to L.A. to pack our bags and head to one of the most famous cities in the world. Here’s a hint: It’s 5,650 miles from LAX. Au revoir!

Happy Travels,

Johnny Jet

*Please tell us what you think of this week's newsletter!

Pictures From

The Trip


Frank's House





My Room


Frank and Cricket


Blue Victorian



Coffin's House



Fog Cafe






5 Minute Ride To Town


Jetties Beach




Fishing off the Beach




Something Natural For Lunch


The Juice Bar


Time To Go Home


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  • Wow! That pic of the Nantucket car ferry sure brought back memories! About ten years ago I went to Nantucket with my parents for a weekend, we took their car on that ferry. On our way back to cape cod the ferry broke down. We drifted in circles for hours before the crew got everything fixed and we got going. I got so seasick!!! But that was the only bad point of the whole trip. Can't wait for the next installment! Michael - Seattle
  • Just read your last two newsletters, have stopped getting them for the last two or three weeks. Looking forward to seeing next weeks newsletter with more about Nantucket. Would love to rent Franks house but it is a little out of my price range. Maybe we can just sleep on the beach! LaVerne -- Wickliffe, Oh
  • "It’s an island, a town and a county -- the only place in the U.S. with the same name for all three." How about City of New York, County of New York, State of New York? R. Whitney Mitchell - Corning, NY. REPLY: The difference is that in Nantucket, there are no other towns, counties and New York is not an island.
  • Looking forward to reading about your trip to Nantucket and the video :-) Nantucket has long been on my list of places I'd like to go. Thanks for your great newsletter! Sandy Howell Great story! My wife and I love Cape Cod and have considered traveling to Nantucket – thanks for showing us your trip. I can’t wait until next weeks newsletter. Geof O’Connor- San Francisco & San Diego
  • Why don't you go to Martha's Vineyard next, and compare the two islands? Peter REPLY: My brother doesn’t have a house there and I don’t think my girlfriend from High School’s parents want to host me. Just kidding. That’s a great idea. Only one problem – time and money. Besides I am in another part of the world right now.
  • I was reading your article on the Icelandair inaugural flight. I think it is wonderful that your bags made it to Iceland after all you went through. I always used carry-on because I'd go to Iceland using the nonstop Northwest flights from here to Minneapolis and catch a separately booked Icelandair flight from there. I'd never be late but I imagine the delay out of LA is going to be increasingly a problem for those flying out of SFO. I suggest arriving in SFO 4 hours before the departing flight on Icelandair, which will let travelers relax in the International terminal before having to be crammed onboard a 7-8 hour flight. Isn't it amazing to gain time on the flight over, but to get to a wonderful city like Reykjavik in less than 8 hours? I've been saying that it is the new London for over 8 years now. Regarding food, Reykjavik always impresses me on the quality of food served in their restaurants. It is very easy for a vegetarian to go out to eat there. They also know how to brew amazing coffee. The only disappointing thing is the cost of everything. I can't wait to read part 2. Sandra - San Francisco, CA

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    Because we are on the island of Nantucket, this week we have linked the island’s only webcam. Click here to see live pictures of this incredibly beautiful place.
  • Nantucket Cam
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  • TheAviaryMovie.com

  • This is not a travel website. However, this movie is great for people who are either connected to the airline industry or want to know what it’s like to be a flight attendant. Although I have never been a flight attendant, I did date one for 4 years. This movie does a great job portraying the life of a single flight attendant.

  • Hope You Had a Happy 4th!

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