There are some Rhode Island towns that you hear a lot about -- for example, Bristol on 4th of July, Pawtucket with its mills, etc... I have to say that West Greenwich and Exeter were two places I, Brian, never heard a lot about and prior to visiting thought there were just farms or woods in those towns. I was pleasantly surprised on our trip to West Greenwich and Exteter to learn that there is so much more.
We started with a visit to the Quarry in the Big River Management Area in West Greenwich -- an old quarry, now filled with water to create a stunning pond. Tarynn immediately began finding the tiniest frogs everywhere along the shore, and in the water we spotted schools of fish swimming about. We saw several people walking their dogs, and had a very nice chat with a gentleman who was impressed by our young “naturalist”, Tarynn.
We then went just down the road to the Rhode Island Desert (not to be mistaken with Rhode Island Dessert - not sure if Rhode Island has an official dessert? 😉). Sand dunes stretched out to the distance and were unusual and lovely to behold. Tarynn caught a grasshopper along the way.
The site I was most looking forward to, learning about it in our research, was next in Exeter. It was the grave of Mercy Brown in the Chestnut Hill Baptist Church cemetery. The story of Mercy Brown is pretty crazy (read more detail here). Apparently, in the late 1800’s outbreaks of tuberculosis were occurring. People hadn’t figured out yet that it was a bacterial disease and could be treated medicinally. In New England, especially Rhode Island and Connecticut, there was a trend of interpreting this “consumption disease” as the result of your dead relatives turning into vampires and sucking out your life. Yes, vampires!!! (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_England_vampire_panic). So, if you wanted to cure someone of tuberculosis, what did you have to do? Dig up their recently deceased family members, make a beverage of the ashes of their organs, and get the sick person to drink it. Yuck! For some reason, this treatment didn’t seem to actually work. I must say that it is somewhat reminiscent of other questionable treatments for current diseases, like drinking bleach to cure COVID-19. Maybe it’s just that the vampires have come back? Aoife and Tarynn did not want to see the grave of Mercy Brown, and stayed in the car while Heidi and I walked the tranquil cemetery and left a “peace” stone on the grave of Mercy Brown.
Next on our drive was the RI Veterans Cemetery in Exeter, a site Heidi was looking forward to. Prior to the cemetery, however, we saw an unusual building which looked like the head of an alien. I’m still not sure what it really is. We also saw an 1878 Town Hall and an old 1800’s schoolhouse.
The RI Veterans Cemetery was a truly great stop. It has expansive views, is beautifully landscaped, and the well-constructed monuments to our fallen soldiers are truly awe inspiring. It was a meditative place and I found myself being thankful for the benefits I have received from their sacrifices.
Along our walk to the World War II monument at the cemetery, Tarynn picked up a grasshopper hitch-hiker who landed on her and traveled along on her hat for a while.
Our final stop was back in West Greenwich, a place called Stepstone Falls. Given that it is now late in the summer the falls themselves were not that active, but it was a pleasant place to stop, walk on rocks over small streams, and hike in the woods for a while.
We ended the day in Griswold, Connecticut, visiting Buttonwood Farms for the sunflower display and ice cream. It was late in the season for sunflowers, but it’s always the season for ice cream!
Other Places we've enjoyed in Exeter and West Greenwich:
We are a family who loves to travel and explore. Covid-19 has changed our plans for summer 2020, but we are making the best out of the situation by exploring our beautiful home state of Rhode Island. During the summer of 2020, we are hoping to visit every town in Rhode Island. Thank you for joining us on our journey!