Exposed to the Elements…and then some.

Bike Ride to Bristol

Boardwalk through the Sanctuary

 The East Bay Bike Path in Rhode Island allows the two-wheeled traveler a chance to experience the beauty of this enchanted coastline and all 14 miles plus will not disappoint.

 Julie and I ventured there on Saturday, April 14, 2012, and it proved to be a wise choice. (I give total credit to my Beloved, as it is usually she who comes up with some wonderful weekend plans, treks far removed from the ‘fishbowl’ residence we presently reside in. More on that in a future blog.)

 So, on a rather uncommonly warm April morning, after packing sundry bags and comestibles, we set off to the smallest state in the nation. And who knew such countless treasures could be had within such littoral lands? Every time I go there I am amazed by the sheer beauty inherent in such a tiny commonwealth.

 We traveled south along 146 to 195 south, and from there we took Exit 4 toward Riverside. (Our first sojourn there last year we settled on India Point Park, but we certainly do not recommend that; the small park is pleasant enough, but to begin the bike path, one must risk life and limb on an extremely narrow path on a bridge over water. Should a fellow bicyclist come in the opposite direction, there are very few recesses where one can stop to allow them to pass. Instead, do the following.)

 Take Exit 4 and continue along Veterans Memorial Parkway. Bypass the first parking lot as they are currently renovating a swath of the trail, and this will eliminate biking along the busy road. Continue on the parkway until 103, or Pawtucket Avenue. Follow to Bullocks Point Avenue and park anywhere along the street. We parked near the Dairy Bee, and began our journey there.

Now that directions are out of the way, from this point you can travel the almost 10 miles to Independence Park in Bristol. Along this stretch some magnificent sites are to be witnessed. And some that are, well, not so entirely welcome.

As to the latter, within a mile into our journey we saw a woman walking in the opposite direction and, upon closer inspection, we realized that she had one voluminous boob exposed. It was entirely freed from her t-shirt! She appeared to be in her fifties, with lank, greasy hair and a shuffling gait. As we approached, we were thus horrified to witness an enormous breast visible for all to see. It wasn’t exactly a sight we wished to view on our trip. Her ‘appendage’ was the size of a dinner plate, and looked like the rheumy eye of a diseased octopus. But after that disturbing visual, we continued on without incident.

Further along, one comes to the Audubon Society of Rhode Island Environmental Education Center, located on the 28-acre McIntosh Wildlife Refuge. Here, you can park your bike and walk along a ¼ mile boardwalk that juts out into the saltwater marshes, a meandering path that allows you to immerse yourself in the wetlands, concluding with a magnificent sweeping view of Narragansett Bay. Quite ethereal, and a good way to regain your walking legs. We saw a few osprey nesting, guarding their nests, and we heard many wild birds that populate the swaying grasses that rustled in the gentle ocean breeze.

The bike path itself is easily navigable, with nary a hill to speak of, and is good for biking, walking, and running. There are a few parks along the trail that are good for picnicking, especially Colt State Park, where we ventured upon our return from Bristol.

I’m getting ahead of myself, but this is a magnificent place to rest your soul, and to view the ‘sparklies’ that ride on every crest of wave. The park is huge! There are many places to park, spaces strewn about the immense grounds, and you can easily make a day of it. Just pull up a chair and enjoy the abundant scenery. What better way to partake in a summer day, replete with food, drink, and a good read.

Approaching Independence Park, Bristol

Getting back to the path, though, after Colt State Park you are near the destination of Independence Park in Bristol. You made it! Here, you can access a much needed bathroom break, and lunch along the water among the many benches that face the glistening bay. It is an absolutely perfect way to end your journey.

Did I say end?

Oh no, for now you must return to your destination, a mere 10.7 miles away. But wasn’t it easy? And worth it? C’mon, it wasn’t that bad, was it? Go ahead, swing a leg over your bike  and remember, you don’t have to pedal at breakneck speed. No, far better to take your time, and view the wonderful vistas to be had.

Perhaps like the rather obese man we saw, in a pair of shorts too tiny for his girth, someone who passed us and a pair of college girls. Unfortunately, given his tremendous weight, the crack of his ass was most visible. So much so that upon us passing the young ladies, I heard one of them utter, “That’s just gross!” And it was.

I must admit, there was a plethora of overweight folk along the trail, many pound-challenged people who need to lose a stone or two. Or three. But, I give them credit. They are out there. Strolling, or biking, or wheezing as they jog along the path. Kudos to them. Now if they can only resist the urge to purchase a package or two of Ring-Dings or Doritos upon their return.

Superb Ice Cream...and more!

You have now journeyed long on your return trip. You are almost there, to the beginning of your trip. But wait! Before you venture further, along the trail in Barrington, there is a most welcome shop that I urge you to stop by and partake in the delicacies within. It is called ‘The Daily Scoop’. Need I say more?

Once inside, peruse the ice cream offerings on the wall, and any flavor will do. They are that good and most welcome after a day of pedaling. Do try the chocolate coconut almond, much like a supreme Almond Joy bar but in dairy form.  (Mind you, those folk previously mentioned, those who consume Devil Dogs or bags of Smart Food, opt instead for the fat-free yogurt offerings. Your belly and stamina will certainly appreciate it.)

After dining on such an exquisite delight, you are close to the finish line. Hop on your bike, continue along at a leisurely pace, past the banks of budding foliage, and soon you are there.

Pack up your bikes and, with time and weather permitting, backtrack to Colt State Park for a late afternoon respite. But if time is of the essence, travel along the byways to wherever home may be.

Memories of such a splendid sojourn will most assuredly linger fondly for many years to come.

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2012, All Rights Reserved.

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