Monthly Archives: July 2012

Kite Festival, Brenton Point, Newport…

Towards the end of a hectic week, Julie and I look forward to just getting away from our fishbowl existence in Sturbridge, and eagerly anticipate yet another drive to the healing environs of Brenton Point. We rarely look at the various events that transpire in RI, and so this turned out to be a most pleasant surprise. (Two weeks ago we escaped to Beavertail, not knowing that the America’s Cup races were in full swing. And that, too, proved to be a lovely weekend excursion.)

We packed, got out of the house early (I know, so much for quality shut-eye on the weekend…) and arrived at Brenton Point at a decent hour, when parking spots were still plentiful. Eschewing the already crowded expansive lawn area, where people were flying the kites and camping under tents, we found the perfect spot, along the bend in the road of Ocean Drive, and where a nice onshore breeze was a constant comfort. Here’s a picture of where we set up our own base camp. Not a bad view, eh? And what a magnificent vista. All we had to do was turn our heads to witness the eclectic offerings in the sky.

Once settled , we ventured along the grounds of this once grand estate, and walked through the foliage, past the assorted picnic tables and kids running around, and found what was left of the stables, a haunting, crumbling edifice that must have been quite majestic in its day. It reminded me of the ‘Fall of the House of Usher’. Beyond the stables was what appeared to be a ‘folly‘ and, after ascending the stairs we were treated to a panoramic view of the ocean. It must have appeared quite spectacular in bygone days, when the surrounding trees were mere saplings.

We returned to our choice location, and spent the next six hours soaking up the sun and the delicious atmosphere of sky and sea. The ever-present ocean breeze helped deflect the onslaught of a relentlessly hot blinding star.

Just another perfect jaunt to one of our favorite places. Once again it was a surprise to have this festival in full swing, and perhaps come next weekend, we will actually look at the Newport Summer Schedule.

I wonder what adventures await us…

(My favorite kite. This octopus must have been over 100 feet long!)

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2012, All Rights Reserved.

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Kitties in the window…

When the cat days of summer are upon us, and the oppressive heat is too much to bear, our felines seek the coolness of the cellar, where screened windows allow both sights and sounds for our inquisitive kitties.

Here, in the relative gloom and comfort, they can watch the birds as they brave the relentless sun, foraging for seeds and worms in the yard. Boo and Maggie are all ears and eyes, fixated on the flitting winged creatures that hop and fly about.

In the other cellar window, Miles watches with the same utmost attention, and the tails of all three cats are in constant twitch.

One has to wonder what thoughts course through their furred noggins, perhaps dreams of capturing a crow or squirrel, relishing the hunt in their tiny minds.

If…if only that pesky screen wasn’t in the way.

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2012, All Rights Reserved.

Beavertail Addendum…

In my past blog about the wonderful vistas to be had at Beavertail, in Jamestown, RI, I forgot to mention that after we departed there and left for Narragansett and then to Galilee, we did happen to stop by Roger Wheeler Beach, yet another fine place to watch the sun set in all its waning splendor.

How, then, did we end up in Galilee, eschewing the beauty of Roger Wheeler , you might ask? It certainly is a worthy query, so allow me to expound upon our decision.

As you can see by the above photo, when crowds are not teeming upon this pleasant stretch of sand, it is quite magical in its basic offerings; warm sand, perhaps a hint of moon behind diaphanous clouds, and a soft, gentle sea. The picture is, of course, not of the setting sun. Mind you, the brilliance of that star was quite lovely to behold, but unfortunately a photo was not possible.

You see, where we sat, directly in front of us was a picnic table. No one occupied it, and the only object nestled on top was a pair of sunglasses. Julie thought it would be best, from our supreme location, to move the picnic table a few yards to the right, thus enabling me to capture the allure of a sun setting along the shore.

Unfortunately, I did not move quickly enough. For as soon as I made the decision to get up out of my chair, a family swooped in from the parking lot, espied the empty table, and proceeded to unload bags of stuff on its surface.

And here I was thinking, prior to their arrival, that perhaps those errant sunglasses were Oakley’s, and that I could possibly fetch a decent price on eBay for them. But that was not to be.

The sun shed magnificent shafts upon the clouds and sea, but my eyes were fixed on the family that descended on the table. Two girls from the party frolicked in the shallows as the mother and father busily set up chairs and opened a myriad of containers. It was appalling and disgusting to witness the father rip open a Tupperware container and claw at some substance within and, without pause  shove the contents into his jowly maw. I averted my eyes, briefly, to scan the heavens for the golden glow of sunset, but my eyes returned to the offensive brute who continued to cram food into his mouth, chewing and reaching for yet another slab of god knows what high caloric fat-laden substance was within. It was like watching the after effects of a car accident; possibly gruesome, and yet your eyes remain transfixed.

We finally had had enough of this assault on food, and so we packed up and headed to Galilee. Here, we managed to find a more pleasant spot to watch the sun fade, marveling at its empyrean presence as it shed a twilight display of fireworks.

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2012, All rights Reserved.

East Beach, Charlestown, RI…

A friend of Julie’s mentioned a place not far from Point Judith and Galilee, a place called Charlestown, and the friend said how lovely the beaches are. So with the boys firmly ensconced at their Dad’s, we decided to get up early and head on out. (One of these fine free mornings we will sleep in late. That would be wonderful!)

So after getting up at 5am, we made coffee, watched lame news and, while Julie showered, I packed stuff for our trip. We do have a master list for such excursions, but there always seems to be something missing. Usually we remember it en route. But I do believe this time we had everything. I think.

We drove down the Pike to 146, to 295, t0 95 and then route 4, and then found ourselves traveling along Route 1, awaiting instructions from our GPS navigator, Laura, a disembodied voice that definitely possesses an attitude. Especially when you ignore her commands to turn here or there and, if you do this too many times, she gets petulant and remains silent. Usually when you need her the most.

Finally we found East Beach Road and traveled along its length, passing quaint little beach houses, knowing soon the ocean would appear. We stopped at what we thought was East Beach but it was Blue Shutters Town Beach. The young lad directed us on further down the road, along a bumpy, dirt lane that passed for a road. Terrible road, but I suppose it dissuades drivers with heavy feet.

We paid our $20 entrance fee, which is rare for us, as we usually try to find a parking spot far removed from the beach proper. In retrospect, we should have parked at Blue Shutters, as it was five dollars cheaper, and it was joined to East Beach! Who knew?

We parked–perfectly*–and proceeded to check out the beach. It was already packed, with plenty of exposed skin lying about (sometimes too much skin…) and since the tide was too high, we decided to walk/run along a sandy lane, parallel to the beach. It is reserved for SUV’s, campers, or ATV’s but the kind woman who inhabited a claustrophobic shed informed us that it was ok for us to walk there.

It was extremely slow going and tough on the calves, but we managed a half-mile or so, slogging through the shifting hot sand before opting to run the remainder on the beach. We cut through the dunes, and here few people were about so we walked along the water’s edge.

Our only complaint about this lovely stretch of land is that it is not conducive for walking or running, as the slope at water’s edge is just too steep. The walk was quite beautiful, and we walked its length, all three miles of sand that was edged with sea grass and, beyond,  billowy clouds straight out of a Monet painting. Quite ethereal.

Our journey back to the parking lot proved arduous, as the distant colorful umbrellas never seemed to get any closer, much like a mirage in the desert. We did not bring enough water for our jaunt and slightly parched, we marched on. Even after a mile or so, the umbrellas appeared still as mere pinpoints. (I know; tough to complain when surrounded by such beauty.)

We made it, got our belongings, and found a semi-secluded stretch to set up our chairs. And for the next four hours we soaked in the ambiance of East Beach. All in all, despite our trying trek, it was a fine experience. So much so, we will definitely make a return here at some point.

But next time we’ll park at Blue Shutters.

*I mention that my parking effort was perfect because of a note we found on our windshield when we returned. It read, verbatim: “Dear Tourist: Don’t come to our tiny parking lot and take up TWO spaces with your hideous vehicle! -A Local-” Yeah, a local idiot! I can only fathom that this ‘local’ could not possibly entertain the idea that other people do come and go, and other drivers are not as courteous as us.

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2012, All Rights Reserved.

Bliss at Beavertail…

Back to back ventures this past weekend to the southern-most tip of Jamestown proved most healing for Julie and me. A resplendent sun greeted our mornings, and we lingered upon the rugged coast for the better part of both days, soaking up the enchanting vistas of sea and sky, an instant balm to inland souls.

It’s too bad that we could not find a cheap motel room, as we paid about the same in gas. The America’s Cup was in full swing, so no rooms were remotely available. Even in remote areas.

The first day we spent long hours on the rocks at Beavertail, admiring the advancing surf and the plentiful sailboats that plied the seas. Someone nearby told us that the Cup was starting at around 2pm, so we packed our bags and headed to Fort Wetherill, for a choice spot to witness the sport neither of us understood in the least.

It was good that we left when we did as hordes of avid boaters were trudging through the scrub to secure a good seat. A woman was kind enough to tell us to follow her, that she knew of a great place to watch the races. Dutifully, we followed and eventually were led to an open patch of grass, where many people had already set up chairs and tents for the event. The woman did tell us that there was a trail nearby, in case we wanted to watch it from the rocks. Which we preferred. We had no desire to sit amongst a mass of folk, all jabbering loudly, chittering on about who was favored, a lot of them just a different version of the armchair expert. Plus, it was hotter than hell on that patch of turf.

So with our bags and chairs we slipped and slid down a rather precipitous path, and carefully made our way upon the rocks. It proved to be a most wise choice indeed.

Nary a soul was there, and we managed to secure our chairs on the uneven rocks, plopped ourselves down, and popped open a cold Pepsi. Perfect. And then we scanned the channel and wondered what all the fuss was about. We had no idea what the racing boats even looked like!

Eventually though, we saw eight tall and sleek,  corporate icon-clad sailboats appear and surmised that those were the boats in question.  Once the races were in full swing, other folk clambered nearby, to gain a fine perch to witness the proceedings.

The wind shifted, and soon Julie had towels draped on her as well as a sweatshirt. It was amazing how suddenly cool it became. The water was quite choppy in the channel, and it appeared that the Oracle team was winning, under the fine guidance of Mr. Spithill.

Having had enough of racing that we did not comprehend, and since it was getting rather chilly, we departed the scene, making our way back to the car, escaping the crowds that would soon follow.

We then decided to partake in a walk/run along Narragansett Beach, something we are quite fond of, and something that we usually reserve for sunrises. But since it was late afternoon, and fast approaching the hour where one does not have to spend $20 to park nor $5 just to walk on the beach, we took our time getting there. In fact, since it was not quite 5:30, we pulled into Brickley’s, an ice cream emporium that is quite popular with the summer crowd. Navigating through the masses of ponderous people (perhaps they should refrain from the high-octane butterfat offerings) we purchased our ‘single’ cones and fled to the shady comfort of a tent outside. Dripping from the still intense heat, we hurriedly consumed our treats and resumed our venture south to the beach, to work off some of our high-carb dessert.

We parked and immediately had to use the facilities, to lighten ourselves before our jaunt near the waves. Many more obese folk were witnessed here, women who should not be wearing bikinis and some men that should be wearing bikini tops.

A tremendous crowd greeted our eyes as we wended our way upon the beach, more people now at this time of day than what we have seen in late August.  But the tide was agreeable, and there was ample room to maneuver around the colorful cabanas and umbrellas, weaving deftly around tiny kids who were oblivious to all around.

A pewter sea, with long graceful swells followed our footsteps, and it always remains a pleasure to stroll the length at first, and then upon our return to run. It was a perfect evening. Sometimes though, it’s best not to have a bellyful of decadent ice cream, for we had to curtail our run half way through because of a frozen ball of dairy in our tummies. But the remainder of the walk was quite nice, watching the lowering sun and seeing the Towers lit by last rays of sunlight.

Back in our car after switching to sandals, we again headed south, to Galilee, to watch the sunset there. Here then were we able to take some nice photos of the setting sun, replete with harbor scenes and magnificent cloud formations. Just a beautiful way to finish our day. One is reluctant to leave, but we did have to meander back to Sturbridge, for early bed and a return to such splendid vistas in the morn’.

We highly recommend such an outing, to park early at Beavertail, and enjoy the rugged coast and cool ocean breezes. Even if it is for only a few hours, your soul will be renewed.

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2012, All Rights Reserved.