Tag Archives: Rhode Island

Respite in Rhode Island…

With the boys and Andi tucked away for the week at their Dad’s, Julie and I decided to take a mid-week break from our labors and engage our spirits by the sea.

This past July 3rd arrived hot and steamy, even at 8am, and by 10 we were on our way. (You have to relax and enjoy a few cups of joe before venturing out, especially when on vacation.)

The itinerary for the day was to park at Colt State Park in Bristol, ride our bikes along the East Bay Bike Path, have a decadent nosh at the Daily Scoop in Barrington, return to the park, and then wend our way to one of our favorite Newport haunts, Brenton Point.

And that is exactly what we did.

There was more to it, of course. There always is.

Parking at the Colt State Park presented no problems, although one does tend to encounter braying herds of families, all crushed and gathered under shade trees, barking and screeching to their crowded offspring, while 20 grams of fat per hot dog link bubbles and blackens on a pathetic charcoal grille.

We hurriedly exited such a scene.

Colt State Park Photo Courtesy of tripadvisor,com

Colt State Park
Photo Courtesy of tripadvisor,com

An explosion of cumulus greeted our egress, the clouds spanning the entire sky, reminiscent of a Constable oil. A few patches of blue poked through, and a lone white heron stood tall and serene in the marsh at low tide.

Since it was a Wednesday, traffic along the trails was light. We actually had the chance to ride side by side for the most part, and it was a pleasant way to travel. At times we remained silent, mesmerized by the shimmering bay, where thousands of pixels of sunlight danced upon slow, undulating seas.

Passing the 47-acre Jacob Point Salt Marsh in Warren, we pedaled and listened to the myriad of birds that flitted and chittered through the sawgrass and cattails. It remains a beautiful sanctuary for many species of birds and animals alike.

The sun sparkled in the distance and a soft warm breeze embraced us. At times, when verdant boughs failed to provide welcome shade, the sun seared our skin. It was smart to have slapped on sunscreen prior to our excursion.

Stopping in Barrington, we parked our bikes and ascended the stairs to the Daily Scoop. This place is, by far, the best establishment for ice cream. They also have a sister store in Bristol. But make sure you bring cash; no credit or debit cards accepted.

Julie opted for the coconut almond joy and I had the double fudge brownie. One scoop is enough to sate your sweet tooth (although for 50 cents more you can get a 2nd scoop. But we are not gluttons.)

After consuming these delectable treats we wound our way back to Colt State. From there, a longer-than-necessary trip to Newport.

Well, I should clarify that; it shouldn’t have taken as long as it did but somehow we can never remember the easiest, and quickest, way to Brenton Point. We got tangled up in impossibly narrow roads and ended up taking a rather circuitous route. What a bother.

But soon we were on Ocean Avenue, heading toward our destination, where we hoped to plop down in beach chairs and soak up the sun.

But it was not to be.

As we navigated the serpentine road, a massive and recalcitrant fog bank swept in and swallowed the sun. The seas picked up, and a cold wind lashed the shoreline. This truculent chunk of dense grayness reduced mansions near Gooseberry Beach to ghostly silhouettes.

Despite the sudden and dreary conditions, we shouldered on and parked. Foolishly, I had failed to pack warmer garments for just such an occurrence. One never knows how the weather will be directly on the coast.

Still, we lugged our chairs and coolers to a bluff, set up and wrapped ourselves in feeble blankets. Buffeted by strong onshore winds and specked with froth from tormented seas, we didn’t last too long.  A lone gull glided by, taken along by the stiff breeze. It briefly glanced our way and was quickly swept away, vanishing into the impenetrable fog.

Who could have imagined such a temperature change? It must have plummeted thirty degrees from our time in Bristol!

We stayed long enough for me to take these few pitiful pictures. This one was of a sign that read, ‘Danger! Stay off the rocks.’ But right next to it there was a sturdily built ladder, beckoning all to scoff at such signage and descend.  But not today.

Warning Sign (somewhere in the mist...)

Warning Sign
(somewhere in the mist…)

Here’s a pic of my Love in the mist.

My Beloved

My Beloved

As you can see, the fog was rather opaque, enveloping everything in swirls of briny dampness. It was that odd stickiness, like after you’ve come out of the ocean and attempt to dry your hands on wet towels laced with stubborn sand.

We did not tarry.

Crossing the Newport Bridge (the Clairborne Pell Bridge to those who are particular) gave hope to sunny skies ahead. Jamestown was lit in brilliant light, and as we crested the bridge a distant bay was set aglow, like a shimmering pool of liquid silver.

The Jamestown Bridge (or the Verrazzano) gave us a slight reprieve from the insistent fog bank. To the left we could see how long the bank extended. It did not look promising for Narragansett.

But still we continued on, past Narragansett Beach, where beach-weary patrons lined up in various stages of undress, all waiting for food offered from a BBQ truck or a pizza truck.

I suppose their caloric intake wasn’t enough for the day; stale-chipped nachos with fake cheese, gargantuan soft pretzels with exorbitant price tags, grilled slabs of gray burgers, and preposterously priced flavored ice did not satiate these rubescent pinguid folk. Sustenance was needed in order to plod their way back to their respective cars.

Turning around, we started our journey home. All in all it was an enjoyable stay in Rhode Island, albeit, one somewhat truncated by the weather. Now, as I write this from the comfort of the back yard, on July 9th, instead of a wall of seawater greeting my gaze, an expanse of greenery encompasses my world, the long stretch of lawn a poor substitute for sand.

Cars traveling along Route 84, directly behind me, almost sound like distant crashing breakers. Almost.

Only the scent of suntan lotion hints of our foray to the coast. But sitting here, with a soft, delicate warm breeze, it remains  a peaceful reminder of our slight yet soothing sojourn.

Coming up: Dog Daze of Summer…

©Paul Grignon, 2013, All Rights Reserved.








Narragansett Dreams…

Last night while my Beloved was getting ready for bed, I sat on the couch and thought about our most recent vacation, a wonderful stay down in Rhode Island. Random thoughts from those days coursed through my mind as I sat and ruminated and took long pulls from my 24oz can of questionable beer. (Natty Daddy, in case you were wondering. I told you it was questionable.) I certainly don’t recommend this cervesa, but being a pauper it’s the best I can do to scrounge up a $1.09 for the can. And it’s the equivalent of two beers! After the initial swallow and subsequent shudder, it’s not that bad. Really. (OK, it is.)

I recalled one day in particular, when our son’s friend came down to stay with us. We stayed at the beach from 8-3pm, and the boys had a grand time, free from the clutches of an iPod and such. After our return home we ate an early supper and returned to the beach, to welcome the sunset. One can never tire of that ancient orb as it slowly disappears below the horizon, like nature’s own free fireworks display.

Darkness descended and we returned, and played Monopoly for a few hours. It was just me and the boys, as Julie was just too tired. I checked on her during the game, and she was fast asleep with a book in her lap. Even in sleep she appeared radiant. She is such a love.

At 10pm, the boys retired to their rooms, but I lingered behind, and kicked back with a nice cold Blue Moon Ale, a beer that is actually a pleasure to drink. All was quiet and peaceful, save for the constant hum of the dryer. And the night sounds outside in the pitch black.

There is quite a contrast to the sounds you here around this house in Saunderstown, a small cottage tucked into a quiet neighborhood near the Narrow River. At night, one hears through the screened window all kinds of strange clicks and screeches, twigs snapping and leaves rustling, invisible things scuttling through the brush, and the cacophony of katydids. It was quite eerie. During the day, though, when we have our first cup of coffee, brilliant birdsong punctuates the still crisp morning air and, later on, the incessant and deafening thrum of cicadas.

I drank my beer and listened, and marveled at the creatures that inhabit the nocturne. Tomorrow, we’d do it all over again, although Julie and I would be up at 5am once again, even though sleep teasingly beckoned. Oh, how splendid that would be! And don’t people usually do that on vacation, sleep a little bit late? But no, we’ll be up, make our joe, don our sneakers and be out the door, to drive to Narragansett Beach and run along its length, always scanning the skies for sunrise.

So that was just one of many fond memories I have of that healing respite near the sea, something to relish as we start yet another work day tomorrow. Well, for Julie. I will sit here and contemplate my next post and get back to my writing. Perhaps more such pleasant thoughts of the sea will fuel my muse.

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2012, All Rights Reserved.


Narragansett Beach Revisited…

This past Labor Day weekend we found ourselves once again ensconced in the healing environs of Narragansett, where an abundance of sand, sea, and sky were to be had. It was a last summer respite, a day and a half spent at the beach, soaking up the simple beauty that exists within this enchanting littoral land.

The boys were at their Dad’s, and our dear friend Beth allowed us to stay at her lovely pink cottage in Saunderstown, a mere five miles from the beach. In order to access Narragansett Beach, one needs to arrive before 8:30am, as they start to charge people just to walk onto the sand! Preposterous, I know, but we managed to arrive prior to the dispensing of funds, and we then enjoyed the next seven hours immersing our souls in the splendor of the sea.

The above picture, however, is not of the beach. It is of Beavertail, located in Jamestown, and it is a fabulous place, replete with a rugged coastline, a constant and welcome breeze, and magnificent views. This photo was taken from our perch upon the rocks and nothing blocked our view save the incoming boisterous sea.

We stayed there for five hours, and then made our way to the house. We unpacked, and then wended our way to the beach. After 5:30pm, they stop charging walk-ons, so we were safe. It was great to run the length and pause at the end, where the confluence of tides meet and where deceiving currents tug and turn, a maelstrom that can pull an unsuspecting beachcomber into its rapid and rapacious swirl.

It would be difficult to top this picture of the beach. The sun’s rays pierce billowed clouds, and distant sparkles are visible in the churning sea.

Such unimaginable beauty awaits those whose souls are so attuned to the allure and essence of the sea, a constant flow of cascading waves, a timeless traverse upon ancient sand. What more could anyone possibly need? Julie and I reveled in this ethereal realm, a healing and comforting stretch of land that speaks to those who welcome such spectacles of grandeur.

This picture to the left was taken on our last day at the beach. Long, languid hours were spent reading, or napping, or simply gazing at the deafening surf as it rolled in along its endless grip upon the shore. It is a siren, rhythmically calling to your soul, yearning for your return to its pulsating and primordial depths.

Hypnotically, we all succumb to such roiling seas. It beckons, and we submit. We sit, transfixed, mesmerized by timeless beauty. But all too soon we pack our bags, and drag our belongings along the shore, to reluctantly leave this haven of heavenly delight.

We leave, content and complete, awash with the sea, sun, and sky upon our skin, and the ride home is met with silence, as each soul seeks to recall individual moments of sheer bliss experienced upon the shore.

Narragansett Beach is indeed a magical and wondrous place, a stretch of sand that will transport you to a world of comfort. Do walk its length. Revel in its welcoming presence. Become one with its eternal and infinite charm.

You will be transported. Your soul will be healed. The beach will, as you travel barefoot upon its cooling sands, be an instant balm.

Make the journey. It awaits you. What are you waiting for?

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2012, All Rights Reserved.

Saunderstown and Beyond…

We stayed at the ‘Pink House’, as we affectionately call our friend Beth’s house. Julie and I, and the boys, stayed overnight with her and her husband, Jos, and in the morning we were gone. But it was very nice of them to allow all four of us to encroach upon their own getaway weekend to this special cottage by the sea.

We arrived on a Saturday afternoon, after taking in a nice bike ride along the East Bay Bike Path, from Colt State Park, to Barrington, where at ride’s conclusion we treated ourselves to a delicious ice cream at the Daily Scoop.

Well, it was only the first leg of our ride as we did have to return to the car at Colt State Park. The boys appeared to enjoy the scenery along the way, and after our morning trip we packed up the bikes and headed to Brenton Point in Newport, a place we are all fond of.

After fighting immense traffic on Bellevue Avenue, we found plenty of parking along the shore, and after securing the bikes we carried our lunches and chairs to a spot below the sea wall. We climbed down a ladder and sought a semblance of shelter from the wind, nestling behind a sea wall that jutted out briefly towards the ocean. It was much cooler here, closer to water’s edge, and we huddled on the rocks, with draped towels and blankets. We ate in silence, marveling at the expanse of ocean before us, with nothing but rugged rocks and waves and sky to see.  No one else was around.

But that was short-lived, as a bevy of folk deigned to descend the ladder; a family all wearing inappropriate footwear for the slippery rocks, a gaggle of teenagers (one with a bike!), and a Chinese couple who carried enormous cameras around their necks.

It was quiet at one point.

It never ceases to amaze me how people seem the need to yell and make noise while clambering along the rocks. What is wrong with just staring silently out into the blue beyond, soaking up the soothing scene in quietude?

After lunch I built a cairn and we tried knocking it over by tossing pebbles at it but I built it solidly and so we left it as it stood. It’s always a pleasure to witness smiles on the boys’ faces as we packed up to go, our next leg of the journey to Beavertail at the southern tip of Jamestown.

We crossed the Clairborne Pell Bridge (better known as the Newport Bridge) and after the tolls, wended our way through Jamestown Center and kept going along Conanicus Avenue until we took a right onto Hamilton Avenue, leading to Beavertail.

If you have never experienced this particular part of Rhode Island, you are in for a treat. Beavertail juts out into Rhode Island Sound, and as you circle around Beavertail Lighthouse, the scenery is expansive and spectacular; rugged coastline, similar to Maine, and tremendous swells and spray. Sailboats come and go and there is always a pleasant onshore breeze. We stayed a bit and then backtracked to Hamilton Ave., banged a right onto Walcott Ave to Fort Wetherill, yet another fabulous destination on Jamestown.

Here, we showed the boys the eerie, long-abandoned fort and after crawling about the grounds and cliffs, set up chairs near West Cove. I braved a swim and the water was incredibly frigid. But the sun was warm, we were sheltered from the breeze, and it made for a pleasant respite before the next leg of our journey.

Crossing the Verrazano Bridge (Jamestown Bridge) we took the Narragansett exit and traveled along Boston Neck Road, stopping for pizza at Kingstown Pizza, and then proceeded to see the sunset at Galilee. It suddenly became very chilly and as we sped along route 1, a dense fog started rolling in with tremendous speed. It reminded me of Stephen King’s horror novella, ‘The Mist’.  The visibility was practically nil.

We were laughing because just a few moments ago there was brilliant sunshine, and now the fog overtook everything in its path. Beth and Jos elected to watch the sunset from Beavertail, and we wondered if they, too, had the same fog bank enveloping them.

We finally arrived at Galilee, managed to find a parking space in the thicket of fog, and stood near the railing to the channel, valiantly searching the heavens for a mere glimpse of sun. It was not to be. We sat at the picnic table, ate our cooled pizza, and huddled against the coastal chill, marveling at how quickly the fog shrouded everything. The world simply disappeared. We took pictures anyway, and you can barely make out the boys in the photo, it was so pervasive.

We piled into the car, headed back home on Route 1, and as we approached 138, we noticed the fog had lifted and shreds of blue sky were visible. Once on the highway, sunglasses were again necessary, as a blinding sun appeared from behind the last vestiges of fog.

All in all a most enjoyable two days, and we managed to pack in quite a bit. These are the kind of summer days well spent, without any form of media to distract your senses. Even the boys didn’t seem to mind the lack of iPods or phones.

While I drove, the other three fell asleep, and I felt quite content, transporting loved ones back home in silence and fading sunlight.

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2012, All Rights Reserved.


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.

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.