When I was a senior in high school I took a class in nonfiction writing. I had never studied nonfiction before. We read Wolfe and Dillard and Lamott and Junger; our assignments ranged from interviews to movie reviews. One week the assignment was travel writing.

I wrote about Beach Road, the ribbon of road that runs along a barrier beach between Edgartown and Oak Bluffs, with Sengekontacket Pond on one side and Nantucket Sound on the other.

This was before it became my commute for the first time, when I was in college and biking up and down the sandy bike path every day on my way to a summer job at Morning Glory Farm. It was before it became my commute the second time, when I freelanced for the Gazette, and before the third and final time, when I became a staff reporter and photographer.

I wrote about the Beach Road that I knew only from summer visits to the Vineyard, the road where teenagers did backflips off the wobbly railing of the Big Bridge into the fast-moving tide below, where hundreds of cars belonging to beachgoers were parked alongside sandy dunes flecked with rosa rugosa, the road so iconic that it appears in the movie Jaws.

Then on a dreary day in March 2011, I moved to the Island to live year round, commuting from an apartment in Oak Bluffs to Edgartown for my work at the Gazette. At the time, the Big Bridge was under construction and there was a set of traffic lights at the head of the road. It was a good sign for the day if I managed to get through when both were green. I drove to work beneath thickly clouded morning skies that eventually gave way to clear blue as the day went on — before they changed color again.

One April day after I left work, a blazing orange late-spring sunset silhouetted bare-branched trees at the far side of Sengekontacket and lit up the pools of water in the marsh. I pulled over at Bend in the Road Beach and bolted from the car with my camera, running back to the Cow Bay culvert to try to capture the color.

Time passed. In October one night when the moon was full, I stopped at the seawall on my way home and sat on the wall to look at the moonbeam and listen to the water lapping against the rocks. In late fall when I stepped out of the office into a blue-black night, I started my ritual of putting Jackson Browne’s Running on Empty in my CD player and switching to the ninth track as I started around Bend in the Road (there are no better night driving songs than the one-two punch of The Load-Out/Stay.) Once I turned my headlights off and drove in the blackness for a few yards, just to see what that was like.

In winter one time I stopped at the bridge and leapt through snow drifts like a kindergartner to get to the jetty, which was almost submerged because the tide was so high and the current so strong. The wind chill was below zero and my hands — without gloves because I was taking photos — went numb. My car was the only one parked along the road.

In February, when the pond froze and looked like an Arctic vista with radiant sunlight bouncing off the ice, I pulled over to try to get that sunset, and then turned around to look at the ocean side. The sky was a rosy lavender color, and the ocean so still that it reflected the sky as well as any mirror. There was barely a horizon line.

Beach Road is the only place on the Island where both the sky and the road open wide, where you can see the world unfold in front of you for miles as you drive.

Last weekend I drove from Edgartown to Oak Bluffs and pulled over when I was halfway home. It wasn’t the sky this time; it was the ocean, which was a rich jade green I had never seen before. It looked tropical.

I’m moving to another Island next week to take a job at another newspaper on the Big Island in Hawaii. There are no seasons there, not like here anyway, and the island is more than 40 times the size of the Vineyard. There are roads that are breathtaking, or so my Lonely Planet book tells me.

Still, if there is one thing I will take away from being here, it’s that you don’t find magic in the obvious moments.

Beach Road in summer demands attention, and it’s what got my attention all those years ago. But the most wonderful thing about that road, the best commute I’ll ever have, is how well it wears each of the four seasons. That’s not something you can learn in a summer.