First stop: Blue Heron Farm, where the Obamas are due to stay. On the short drive on South Road past meadows, farms, hand-stacked stone walls and weathered houses flanked by hydrangeas, Ross enthuses: "Look at this … it's like living in a Norman Rockwell painting. Everything leaves my body here: doubts, anxiety, the (outside) world."
He turns onto a dirt driveway indistinguishable from others. The car creeps down it, passing a tennis court and large barn. Suddenly, Blue Heron's sprawling white frame house with wraparound porch and American flag flying come into view. So do a state trooper, local policeman and a black SUV of the sort used by the Secret Service. Ross tells them he's looking for Larsen's Fish Market — miles away. They don't bite. Time to leave.
Sample the seafood, savor the sun
The next tour stop indeed is Larsen's, in the village of Menemsha, where fishing boats pull up to the pier at the back door. Inside, Betsy Larsen efficiently filets striped bass and sole, which are snapped up by customers in line at the counter. Sit out back with a steamed lobster and glimpse the yacht of Maurice Tempelsman, Onassis' former companion, which is moored at the far dock. Locals also flock to Menemsha with beer or a bottle of wine to watch the sun go down.
After a swirly soft ice cream cone at The Galley, where summer resident Ted Danson waits in line like everyone else, the energetic Ross points his car back toward Chilmark, where piglets suckle a giant sow at Allen Farm Sheep & Wool Company, and shoppers finger woollen blankets.
The day is fading, so Ross' tour of Vineyard insider haunts continues the next morning.
At Morning Glory Farm, a local institution and subject of a new Vineyard Stories book, tanned visitors politely battle for fresh-picked corn (85 cents each). Down the road at Wednesday's West Tisbury Farmers Market, the longest line is for Thi Khen Tran's $5 Vietnamese spring rolls. When word gets out that she's out of the island favorite, Ross reluctantly settles for an egg roll. At a communal picnic table, New Jersey visitor Tabby Block, 11, clings to one of the last spring rolls and smilingly refuses to sell it. "So good," she says teasingly. Her granddad offers the disappointed Ross a stock tip.
But there's really no need to fret.
Whether it's the succulent lobster rolls sold by some island churches to raise funds, Mad Martha's madly popular ice cream cones, Morning Glory Farm's beet soup or the majestic lighthouse guarding the cliffs in Aquinnah, a treat of some sort is sure to be around the Vineyard's next tree-shaded, hedge-shrouded or wind-blown corner.