Connecticut, Rhode Island

Day 36 – Rhode Island’s South County Coast and Hartford Connecticut

Rhode Island/Connecticut – yesterday’s post

What an action packed day!  I started out at Misquamicut State Beach, Rhode Island’s largest.  The seas were as calm as I’ve seen for days. With barely any surf, if it weren’t for the blue horizon of water and sky, it could have been mistaken for a tranquil pond!  As I walked along the beach with the dogs; however, I spotted evidence of recent rough seas as I passed countless starfish washed ashore every five feet.  I found two caches of a series of Misquamicut caches nearby…one hidden in the brush across the street and another magnetically attached to a “No Parking” sign.  The Oceanside community of Weekapaug across the way reminded me of Rockport, Texas; quiet streets, lined with gingerbread-style beach houses.

After our walk at Misquamicut State Beach, I traveled a few miles down the road to Watch Hill, a lovely seaside resort.  Most of the stores appeared to be closed for the season, but the sandy path along a peninsula jutting over a mile into the ocean to Napatree Point was magnificent.  Reader’s Digest describes this location as one of the best beach walks in Rhode Island, and I have to agree.  I walked/jogged the beach to wear out the dogs as I knew they would be spending the afternoon in the car.  My view to the left was a red roofed lighthouse on the rocky shore, while the view to my right was grassland dunes.  To make the walk even better, a cache was hidden on the other side of the dune where a salty marshland laid nearby.

After a morning on beaches, I headed to New Haven to spend an afternoon with my stepdad’s college roommate to tour Yale and the surrounding area.  We had a busy afternoon!  An ex-student and current fellow, Bill took me through several areas of the campus that I would not have known I could enter or that required an access card.  Our first stop was McClellan Hall, part of the freshman quad, where my stepdad, Bart, and Bill spent their first year away from home.

Thereafter, we walked past Harkness Tower, through the Branford College courtyards, the Saybrook College courtyards, the Trumbull College courtyards (Bart ‘s and Bill’s home as upperclassmen), and the Berkeley College courtyards.  Each College contains a dining hall, a library, and living quarters.  The upper classman are assigned a college and remain in that college through graduation.  At the time Bart and Bill attended Yale, the dorms simply consisted of stairwells with a suite off each side including a living area with a fireplace and two bedrooms sleeping four men.  The residence halls didn’t have any corridors like most other college dorms.

Other points of interest on the campus that we visited included the Women’s Table (a granite fountain inscribed with the chronology of years and how many women attended Yale in graduate school until the campus became co-ed in 1970), the Yale Center for British Art which housed some outstanding oil paintings, the Sterling Memorial Library, the Law School, and the Beineke Rare Book Library.

The stone carved figurines in the library corridors and along the windows of the Law School were especially funny to me.  Yale, built in the 1930’s, has a gothic appearance, and I would have passed by the figurines like they were any other gargoyle…not so.  One of the stone carvings in the library was of a college student holding a book open to pages with the inscription U. R. A. JOKE. (Text started a long time ago)!  Each side of the law school window sill was cornered with a policeman figurine with criminals and justice in between.  The campus was chock full with clever and beautifully handcrafted architecture.  I can’t imagine how anything similar could be built today.

The Beineke Rare Book Library, an addition in the 1960’s, was built with translucent marble walls and is home to a rare copy of the Gutenberg Bible encased in glass.  Next to the glass case, is a phone number that may be called to hear a translation of the open pages displayed in the Bible.

After our tour of Yale and tasty lunch of bean soup and a portabella sandwich, we drove to the top of East Rock, one of the two rocks between which New Haven is settled.  The rock offered a view of New Haven, the town’s harbor, Long Island, and Long Island Sound.  After enjoying the view atop the rock, we ventured back to Bill and Julie’s house, picked up the dogs, walked across the street to East Rock Park and College Woods and enjoyed a view of the rocky cliff.

We walked along the trail and across a footbridge, stopping a few times to photograph the fall colors.  The College Woods, once used by Yale to harvest firewood, was home to a cache.  Bill found my description of geocaching interesting, so we set off on a hunt for an ammo can.  The area, canopied with trees, wreaked havoc on my GPS reading, so that I could only narrow down the search area to about 60 feet!  It took a little while to find, but we were successful, so he knows this activity does actually exist.

After only a short time at home visiting with Julie, Bill’s wife, we decided to dine at Frank Pepe, a pizza restaurant established in 1925 and an old Yale hangout.  At 6:40 pm, with over 30 tables in service, a line of 10 people was out the door!  We ran into some of Bill and Julie’s neighbors, Barbara and John, and combined to one table for only a 15 minute wait.  We had a busy day and lovely evening…by the time I sat down to the computer, it was ten o’clock. ETB


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fall colors website copy

Rhode Island

Day 35 – Rhode Island’s South County Coast

Rhode Island

I was blessed with another lovely day.  After another neighborhood walk to the pond, we left Cape Cod and headed for Newport, RI.  I missed getting a picture of the Rhode Island sign at the state line, and I think I completely failed to get a picture of the Massachusetts sign both times I came to the state, so if anyone has one or will be there, send one my way!

Reader’s Digest didn’t include Newport in the main scenic drive through Rhode Island.  It was listed as an optional side trip.  For the day, I believe it may have been the highlight, and I would definitely come back for a weekend.  I completed the 10 mile Ocean Drive loop past multi-million dollar mansions, beaches, and state parks.

Along Ocean Drive, I had cell service so I went caching before I entered and left the state in less than 50 miles.  I stopped in at Fort Adams State Park.  The cache coordinates took me to the other side of the harbor which presented a breathtaking view of the bridge across Narragansett Bay.  I climbed down the rocks, found the cache, signed the log, and dropped the Texas coin I found in Maine.

Another stop on the Ocean Drive is  Cliff Walk, a 3 ½ mile trail that runs along the bluffs behind the Bellevue Avenue Mansions.  The dogs and I walked about 1.5 miles of it, stopping at a viewing area with benches to pick up a nano cache.  A nano cache is a magnet about the size of a marble.  I sat looking at the view and fumbled around the metal slats of the bench until I found it.

Leaving Newport, we crossed the bridge and drove to Narragansett Pier and visited the Towers.  The Towers are the only remains of a lavish casino and hotel constructed from 1883-1886.  The resort was an extremely popular vacation spot for the wealthy until it burned to the ground in 1900.  Today the Towers house the visitors center, and they are also used for several events.  One of the benches nearby is also home to a nano cache.  After a salad at PJ’s, I pressed forward to Point Judith to see the lighthouse.

We stayed long enough to take a picture at the lighthouse as it is fenced off and used as an active Coast Guard station for national security.  A side trip took me to Galilee.  It was a tiny town with a harbor full of fishing vessels and a seafood restaurant on every corner.  The coastal town had a quaint, yet colorful feel to it.  It would be an ideal destination for an afternoon lunch on a summer day.

My final stop before pulling into Walmart for the night was Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge for a slight change of scenery.  Trails cut through brush alongside a large saltwater pond home to shrimp, flounder, ducks, and egrets.  The refuge used to be the site of Charlestown Naval Auxiliary Landing Field or “Charlietown” to the young pilots who trained here during World War II.  The pilots primarily practiced landing Hellcats without lights and with little radar.   After four months of landing on simulated carrier decks known as “bounce drills” the pilots headed to the South Pacific for duty.  Additionally, former President George H. W. Bush learned to navigate the TBM-1 Avenger while stationed at Charlietown.  The base closed in the 1970s, and the land was transferred to the US Fish and Wildlife Department to become a wildlife refuge.  I’m headed to Connecticut tomorrow.  ETB


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