Monday, November 9, 2015

Block Island 2015

We had a glorious 3-day weekend on Block Island, taking the kiddos back to where Mama and I vacationed a year ago.  And it was fantastic!

Friday
The weekend celebrations actually started Thursday evening, with our attending the Indigo Girls concert at the Beacon in NYC.  But that is a whole separate post.

Needless to say, we didn't get much sleep Thursday night and had intended to sleep in and skip school, but the kids had class pictures at school and wanted to go.  So we were up as usual and the kids had their group photo first thing.  We picked them up at 10 a.m. and raced to the ferry, knowing it was going to be tight timing.  Full of adrenaline, we played license plate games ("Noshing Jackal Hordes" anyone?) and find the ABCs for two hours, working the alphabet backwards and forwards.

But we made it, even with the dense fog that was rolling into the southern New England shore.  By the time we boarded the ferry from Port Judith to Block Island, we couldn't see a hundred yards in any direction, if that.  And yet we still rode up top, in the blowing, wet fog; we were all wet-haired almost immediately.  It wasn't super cold, though, and we laughed the whole way (luckily, we'd eaten our lunches waiting in the ferry line instead of saving them for the ride as we had planned.)  Bud jumped every time the fog horn blew, approximately every two minutes.

We stayed at the 1661 Inn, where we stayed last time, in a gorgeous big room, in its own separate house on the property.  It had an airy, bright sea-colored room with a gas fireplace (and an Anton Otto Fischers maritime painting c 1919  over the mantel) and a huge porch, plus a giant bathroom with a jacuzzi bath and two "rainforest" showers.  Luxurious.  We voted it second-best hotel room ever, after the Lainston in Winchester.   The whole inn is lovely--and the hydrangeas were even still in bloom!

We didn't stay long but headed out to see what we could see, with our first visit to the nearby Southeast Light.  The kids ran around the yard, marveling at the fog while Mama and I took photos.  Perfect weather for a supposedly haunted light.  The fog horn was blaring the whole time.

We then headed to the other end of the island, to see the labyrinth and other lighthouse.  Well, we saw the beach where the light was but couldn't see as far as the light.  We could, however, enjoy the labyrinth and walked the whole path.  I wasn't quite as philosophical as last time, though I did notice that walking it as a family, however separated, gave the experience new meaning--we high-fived as we passed one another and occasionally waited along the way for a hug.  At the end, Bud lead me on to the end.  You could run with the symbolism of all of that.  Still, they took the whole path more joyfully that the grown ups, reveling in the full physical experience of a maze on a hill in the fog.

We made a stop at the local grocery store for snacks and then went back to the room.  Bud wanted to have a tub in the jacuzzi and we all enjoyed relaxing in the room, even with no view.  The fog really was a singular experience and lent wonderful atmosphere to our first day; I'm just glad it cleared overnight.

We had an amazing early dinner at Eli's:  artichoke veloute with a crabcake, warm goat cheese and arugula salad, breads with olive oil, tuna nachos, a short rib burger, a roasted chicken breast, filet mignon with roasted vegetables and gnocchi, chocolate bread pudding, lemon mousse cake, and an incredible butterscotch pudding.

And it was still early, so we enjoyed the fireplace and sat doing some of the activities we brought along--coloring books, crochet, yo-yo.  Eventually, we went to bed, with the increasing winds rattling the whole little building in which we slept.

Saturday
The wind died down by dawn, having cleared away all the fog.  Sis was up first and out on the porch to watch the sunrise.  She's been waking early since the time change made 7 am into 6 am.  We all joined her.  At any given point in the trip, I was taking photos with my cellphone while Mama and Sis took photos on two of the cameras she brought.  Sis is just like Mama and they take many of the same views.  It was a beautiful sunrise and then we all sat on the porch, drinking tea and hot chocolate, coloring and doodling in the morning light, waiting for breakfast.

Mmmm, breakfast!  Omelets to order, tasty morning glory and lemon poppyseed and pistachio muffins, pancakes (French toast the next day), potatoes, ham, bagels, toast, juices, coffee, tea--what a way to start the day!!

Right after breakfast, one of the owners of the Inn took us on a tour of their farm, complete with exotic animals.  The kids enjoyed feeding, petting, interacting with, and even just seeing the two Bactrian camels, lemurs, kangaroo, Flemish Giant bunny, a giant tortoise, an African crane that danced for Sis, llamas, yak, and other creatures.

Then we went to the Northern Light fiber arts shop--yep, yarn!!!!  The kids enjoyed both the multi-colored yarn and the big yellow lab-mix dogs.  And I picked up some lovely yarn, for a hat, mittens, and a blanket.  Bud learned to weave on a lucet and got one to use at home.  Sis picked up a felting kit and worked on it over the weekend to create a picture of the Southeast Light.


Kite-flying was next.  The warmth of the weather was unbelievable.  We needed jackets but not much else.  And so we headed to the beach to fly two kites Mama had brought, a synapse self-inflating kite and a parafoil or something-or-other.  They had such a good time flying the kites in the not-too-strong breeze.  I searched the beach for seaglass, finding just a few pieces, but enjoying the search.



By then we had worked up an appetite and headed to Bethany's Airport Diner, where Mama and I had eaten on our last trip.  What a huge disappointment!  We waited by a dirty table and were roundly ignored for upwards of 10 minutes, when finally one server said to another, nodding at us, "Do you want to clean that table?"  "No," she replied.  And kept ignoring us.  We left, of course,  Were they rude because they're rude?  Tired?  Or because we're not locals? a lesbian family? bi-racial?  A painful experience but a good teachable moment for the kids.  Shame on them.  It was the only negative event in three days.  But we had a fabulous, friendly, tasty meal at Kimberly's.  Bud licked the bouillabaisse bowl clean, while Mama inhaled the fried oysters.  Sis and I enjoyed more usual fare, a burger and a meatball grinder.

We did a little shopping and, in chatting, learned from the store owner the best beach to find seaglass. I promised I wouldn't publicize it, though.  We made plans to go the next day, at low tide, as recommended.

We spent some quiet time waiting for sunset, enjoying the room and our activities--felting, reading, coloring, crocheting, jacuzzi, sitting on the porch.  We shared some nibbles with the other guests and then headed out to see sunset at the lighthouses.  There wasn't much color at the Southeast Light, so we headed to North, on the rocky beach, and stayed there until well after sundown, building rock cairns, rock mandalas, throwing stones, watching the waves, reflecting.  I bet we were out there an hour or more, a testament to the mild weather.  I even walked in the dark halfway down the rocky beach, though we didn't get as far as the light.

Dinner was takeout from the Old Island Pub, and more sitting around the room.

Sunday
Another pretty sunset, cooler temperatures and a perfectly clear and cloudless day, our first there.  We  watched from inside and did our thing, then ate another delicious breakfast before heading out for the day.  We were going to the seaglass beach, that is after taking a family photo at the North Light, hopefully for use as our Christmas picture.  We got the picture, perhaps, and drove to the other secluded beach.

It was rocky and immediately rewarded our search efforts with various pieces of glass.  We threw back all the glass that was still shiny, in hopes that it would one day become seaglass (though, it occurred to us later that maybe that wasn't the most green of choices; and we'd already discussed that the very existence of seaglass was a testament to the fouling of the environment.)  We found lots of green and brown and white, a few blue, a couple of yellow; some was more frosted or had more softened edges that others, we weren't super picky.  More than anything, it was a wonderful morning on the beach.  Walking, thinking, searching, throwing rocks into the waves.  We spent our whole morning here, returning to town with just enough time to check out, grab supplies for a ferry-ride lunch, and get in line at the dock.

The ride back across to the mainland was gorgeous; you could see clear across.  It was cold and bright, but we were some of the only people on the top deck.  We never like to ride downstairs.  Who knows what you might miss?  No seals this time, just a trawler with hundreds of birds and more flying to it.

We all loved the weekend and couldn't choose our favorite parts.  We all agreed that next year we should stay three nights so we could do some hiking and have extra down time.  And we all liked November--no other people around, "atmospheric" weather that encouraged hibernation, a nice break from school.  We'll definitely do it again.

Until then, I inadvertently collected a few pictures about Block Island itself, and finish with them here.  Together, they served as inspiration for my own doodles during our down time.  I'll post my doodle later, if I finish it.


From the window of a closed souvenir shop


From a tire cover on the truck in front of us on the ferry going over



An old map with notations about things not on newer maps, like the "third" lighthouse in the north


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