We woke up extra early for our flight 6 am flight to Minneapolis. (Huge shout out to our friend, Larry, for bringing us to the airport!) After a brief stop in Chicago, we reached our destination, picked up our rental car and were on our way.
First stop: Target Field to see the Twins play the White Sox. We've been fortunate to attend a few Red Sox games at Fenway this year, and it was super fun to get to visit a stadium in another city. Target Field is new and absolutely gorgeous. Every seat in the multi-decker park is great, and the walkways are wide with numerous concessions. After exploring the family games area, visiting with the dinosaurs, and checking out the field from different viewing points, we treated ourselves to the $1 hotdogs and made our way to our seats to enjoy the game.
After we had our fill of baseball, we set out to see the sights in Minneapolis and we found our way to the skyway, a system of enclosed bridges that connects 80 blocks of the city. Aemilia (the girl who prefers the great indoors) really liked the skyway, and I have to admit it was great being able to walk around without having to worry about stop lights or traffic. We walked through the Nicolet Mall food and shopping area, and then headed to the Basilica of Saint Mary, which turned out to be closed (due to covid) except during mass times.
From there, we walked over to the Minneapolis Sculpture garden at the Walker Art Center, where we were able to see the famous Spoonbridge and Cherry, as well as several other sculptures. I also completed a Geocaching Adventure Lab in the sculpture garden, and I also found a few traditional geocaches in the area as well.
We used Google Maps to find a dinner recommendation, and we ended up at a great restaurant called "Hell's Kitchen". In addition to tasty BBQ, sandwiches, and lemon ricotta pancakes, they also had creepy photos which changed depending on the angle from which you were viewing them.
After dinner we once again used the Skyway system to navigate back to our car, and then drove to the Mall of America to see the indoor amusement park at Nickelodeon Universe. We are still not used to being indoors and unmasked in public places, or touching shared surfaces, so a walk through was enough and no one felt comfortable enough to go on any rides. Still, it was pretty fun to walk through the mall, and it is definitely a great place to see in Minneapolis.
Lastly, we drove through George Floyd Square to pay our respects to those who have lost their lives due to racism and brutality, and to honor those who are fighting against these atrocities. This was a chilling and sobering end to the day, yet a valuable and powerful experience that we will not soon forget.
School is out and we're all vaccinated, so we were ready to go somewhere! Sadly, Aoife & Tarynn's camps were cancelled again this summer due to covid, but the silver lining is that we had a nice window of opportunity in July to travel. I love to visit new places, so although we had a lot of fun exploring RI throughout the summer of 2020, I could not wait to go explore someplace new.
After discussing travel options, Brian and I decided that we felt comfortable enough to fly somewhere, but that wherever we decided upon, we wanted to spend lots of time outdoors and not feel crowded or too close to other people.
We have been saving credit card points for awhile, and we found that we had enough points for free round trip airline tickets for the whole family to Minneapolis. From there, we rented a car and traveled across North Dakota and South Dakota, with a slight detour into Montana and Wyoming to see Devil's Tower. It turned out to be an awesome trip!
Today is the last day of summer, and looking back on our RI towns adventures, I have to say that the summer of 2020 really was great! So many beautiful, fun, and interesting places in our little state! We'll be keeping this blog going and will hopefully be able to travel a little further soon. Thanks for following our journeys - we've enjoyed sharing them with you!
Welcome back, everyone! Time for our last town! SMITHFIELD!!!! This is our hometown and we love it here. There were so many places that we wanted to visit in Smithfield that we decided to spend a whole weekend exploring our town. We went to many different and exciting places in Smithfield. My favorite places were probably the A&W and the Kountry Kitchen Clam Shack because, well, you will know why when I tell you all about the places we went to.
First, before we started exploring Smithfield with the whole family, my mom visited a store that you should all know about. It's called Wood Items & More and it is a store that sells every type of craft item that you can imagine. They also sell picture frames, which is why my mom went there today. As you can see in the photos, the aisles are packed with so many interesting things, and the prices are lower than other craft stores. You can even take sewing or painting lessons there. The owner of Wood Items & More is Maureen, and she is very supportive of soldiers and veterans. Every year she coordinates "Operation Rhody" to make holiday gift bags for veteran soldiers and she helps people paint ornaments and write letters to the veterans. I went and helped out along with my Girl Scout troop. We wrote letters, decorated bags, and painted ornaments.
We started our family tour of Smithfield with a walk at Georgiaville Pond in the evening before it got dark. Georgiaville Pond beach is a really nice place to swim in the summertime, and it is also very pretty there along the trail that you can walk on to see the dam and gorge. I noticed that there were a lot of wole acorns and acorns with no caps on the ground. I started playing catch with my dad using the acorns. On our way back to the car I picked some flowers that were on the side of the trail, and we saw a little poem on a rock. Poems have been placed on rocks all around Smithfield by the Woodland Whispers group.
We got back in our car and went to look at some mills. We stopped at what used to be the Georgiaville Mill and then we drove along Farnum Pike to see what used to be the Esmond Mill and later was the warehouse for Benny's. After that we headed to Esmond Park. When we got to Esmond Park we got out and started our walk. It was a really nice walk and when we got to the end of the trail there was a bench facing a river. We had to go over a bridge to get to it. We saw some more little poems on the rocks.
Then we walked back to the car and went to the A&W Drive-Up Restaurant. At A&W we got root beer floats and they were delicious! I really love A&W root beer floats.
On Sunday we went to Revive the Roots and met my 5th grade teacher there. My teacher is really nice and it was great to see her. Revive the Roots has a community garden, and it was really fun and interesting to see how people are using all of the garden spaces there. We picked some tomatoes and kale from my teacher's garden, saw the sheep and the chickens, and saw my teacher's bee hives. We left one of our painted Rocks at Revive the Roots.
and then we went for a little hike at Mowry Commons and Mowry Conservation Area. At Mowry we saw another poem on a rock. This poem was by Ms. Babs, a beloved children's librarian at the Greenville Library.
Next we went to the Stump Pond dam. We walked around and looked in the water for fish. There is a really nice view at the Stump Pond dam, and there were lots of people fishing.
We had made a reservation at Jaswell's Farm for apple picking, so that was our next stop. Jaswell's grows the best corn, and they also make really good pies, apple cider donuts, and lots of other things. We picked Gala apples and it was fun. There were so many apples on the trees! We also ordered some baked treats from the farm store. Once we were done picking apples, the treats were ready to pick up and we went on our way.
Next we went to the Smith-Appleby House, which was built by one of the founders of Smithfield in 1696. We had been here before in the wintertime to meet Santa, but we had never explored the yard at the Smith-Appleby House. There was a cute little train station there, and there were also gardens and a path that led down to the end of Georgiaville Pond. We also visited a historic cemetery that we could walk to from the Smith-Appleby house, and before we left we put one of our painted rocks on a post in the yard.
We went home and ate our treats from Jaswell's on our deck, and then my sisters relaxed at home for a little while, and I went to do my favorite thing: visit the neighbor's chickens.
While we were relaxing and visiting chickens, my parents went for a walk to Deerfield Park. Deerfield Park is really nice and I like to ride my bike there. There are playgrounds, tennis & basketball courts, baseball & soccer fields, and even some hiking trails. Deerfield also is home to the Smithfield Senior Center, and there are also some beautiful memorials at Deerfield Park.
Once dinnertime came, we went to try out the new clam shack at Kountry Kitchen. We had Fish and Chips, clam cakes, a stuffie, and chicken tenders. It was all delicious! (Note from Heidi - Kountry Kitchen also serves delicious cocktails and beer - this is a great addition to Smithfield!) On some nights, they have music at Kountry Clam Shack, but there wasn't any music while we were there. On the way home, we stopped at one of our favorite places, the Greenville Library. Even though we knew it would be closed, we wanted to leave a painted rock under the tall redwood tree.
We finished our tour of Smithfield with ice cream. There are several places that we like for ice cream in Smithfield, including Scoops, Blackbird Farm, Smithfield Soft Serve/Del's, and Newport Creamery. Tonight, however, we went to one of our favorites: Powder Mill Creamery. I got maple walnut ice cream with caramel sauce. We sat at a picnic table by the water to eat our ice cream.
Thank you for exploring Smithfield with us. I hope you enjoyed it!
Other places we've enjoyed in Smithfield:
We are so close to finishing our goal of visiting every town in Rhode Island. Just one town to go - our own home town of Smithfield!
Thanks for following our RI journey....
ARE YOU READYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY?! WE’RE GOING TO WESTERLYYYYYYYYYYYY (& Hopkinton) :)
In case you couldn’t tell by the intro, this is Aemilia
We started the day in North Scituate (No this is not a typo) to pick up our friend, (and favorite youth choir director), Larry. He also happens to be the expert on Westerly while the rest of us are Northern Rhode Islanders.
For our first stop, we visited Festival Farm in Hopkinton, a lovely farm with animals you can pet and feed. We especially loved feeding the goats, donkeys, and alpacas. The bunnies were also extremely cute. Our personal favorite was a goat named Boris who had escaped from his enclosure and followed us around the farm. He also visited other animals, like the donkeys, and ate their food.
I do have to admit, there is one slightly scary animal at Festival Farm, which is the emu. Looking at the emu, he is a little scary, but mostly very cute. So I decided it would be a good idea to pick some long grasses and try to feed them to him (I felt bad that he was being left out while all the cute fluffy animals got fed). I held out the grasses and he surveyed me with his beady, yet wild, eyes. It was at this moment I realized that it didn’t have any real ears, just weird holes, which to be honest, was not a very comforting realization. Maybe the emu thought I was judging him, but he took the opportunity to snatch the grasses out of my hand with his violent beak, pecking me as he did so. I realized at that point, that the farm probably didn’t sell emu food for a reason.
From there we drove down a confusing road to a very weird and hard to get to hiking area. The good thing about this hiking area was that there were alot of Native American rock piles if you like that sort of thing. The bad thing about this hiking area, which in my mind is more important was that the trail disappeared randomly and we were left stranded in the middle of Hopkinton on (possibly CURSED) sacred Native American land. Not my personal cup of tea, but maybe it sounds fun to some of you crazy people. (Note from Heidi - I absolutely LOVED this area, which is called Manitou Hassannash Preserve and is located on Lawton Foster Road North in Hopkinton. There are a multitude of rock structures, and many of them are large and very well preserved. I found it fascinating, and could have spent another hour or two taking a closer look at the structures, so I guess I am a crazy person according to my dear daughter, Aemilia…..hahaha 😂)
When we got to Westerly, we took a nice walk around Wilcox Park. For those of you who might want to know the background on the park, there was a lady named Harriet Wilcox who owned a ton of land in Westerly and she said “The people shall have their park” and gave them the land. Very dramatic. Kind of like when my mom started this blog and said “The people shall have their blog and the children shall be forced to write blog posts they don’t want to write on top of their other work”. We especially liked the fountain with a ton of little fish and some turtles in it. Someone had thrown some (very high-quality looking) bread into the fountain and all the animals were enjoying it, which was very cute. We got to see the Westerly Library from the outside, which my mom appreciated. She said that next summer she might try to visit all the libraries in Rhode Island, so stay tuned for that! (Note from Heidi - I can't wait visit all of the public libraries in RI and have my darling daughters, especially my witty first-born, write about them!!! 🤣)
Then we got to my favorite part of the day. FOOD! We had lunch at The Bridge Restaurant, which is set on the Pawcatuck River, right at the border of Westerly and Pawcatuck, Connecticut. As you might have already guessed, there is a bridge very close by. Aoife and I enjoyed sharing fish and chips, while Tarynn was a PAIN finishing her burger at a snail’s pace. It was a very nice restaurant and we appreciated the titles of the entrees on the kids menu.
After lunch we walked around Watch Hill and went to go visit Taylor Swift. I’m not going to tell you her address because then this post will get deleted, but if you know generally where she lives, her house is blurred out on google maps so you can tell which one it is. Yes, I looked up Taylor Swift's house on Google maps (it’s not stalking it’s research). If you want to learn about the history of Taylor Swift’s house, it is available in song form on her newest album “Folklore”. The song is called The Last Great American Dynasty.
My mom also made us walk to the Watch Hill Lighthouse that wasn't really notable other than that we left Tarynn a little ways back because she didn't want to walk anymore, and there were nice views of Taylor Swift’s house. And that we should have driven because if you have a senior citizen with you, you can drive on the otherwise private road. But despite having a senior citizen with us, we walked. Taylor Swift didn’t appear to be home, or she just had all the curtains closed and lights off. I don’t blame her.
We also did some walking on the beach on the little path that leads to Napatree Point, but I’m trying to block it out of my memory because I don’t like sand. Thank you for your cooperation. (Note from Heidi - We were on this trail for all of about 5 minutes, which put Aemilia WAY over her sand tolerance limit. Making a mental note that next time we should sit her down in a comfortable chair so she can tune out and not spread bad vibes while we go off and explore beautiful places.)
Then it was time for more food! After walking around Watch Hill a little bit, we ended the day by getting gelato at Pompelmo Gelateria. I LOVE gelato. So much. I got part berry and part passionfruit gelato and it was AMAZING. I also tried Aoife’s and it was delicious as well.
On the way home we drove through Misquamicut but didn’t get out because I had already had WAY TOO MUCH SAND for one day. (I stand by this assertion even though my mother has decided to be mean to me and say rude things to me about not liking the beach). And we looked at the houses, considered which oceanfront mansions we should buy, and then sang along with the radio all the way home.
Other places we've enjoyed in Westerly:
Today was the day, everyone! The day that my mom, Tarynn and I hopped on the ferry and sailed off to Block Island! This was my first time visiting Block Island, but my mom has been there a few times. We left on the 8 o’clock ferry in Narragansett, and after a beautiful (and cold) ride we were finally at Block Island. This was especially exciting because we didn’t know if we would be able to make it to Block Island this summer and still be able to safely social distance, but my mom read and watched what was going on for several weeks and decided that it would be ok for us to go.
First we sat at a little park called Estes Park overlooking the water near the ferry landing and ate the breakfasts we had brought with us. Then we went and walked around the old harbor area, went into a few shops, and just explored the island. The shops were very cute and everyone we saw was wearing masks and social distancing.
After exploring the old harbor we walked for a really long time to Southeast Lighthouse. The Southeast Lighthouse wasn’t originally built where it is standing now on Block Island, it was built in 1875 and was moved back from the eroding cliffs in 1993.
After we enjoyed the glorious views of the bluffs from afar we walked down the road for a couple minutes and went to see The Mohegan Bluffs up close. We had to walk down a total of 141 stairs to get down to the beach, but the view of the bluffs was worth it! We sat on a couple rocks and watched the waves crash on the sand as we ate our snacks. After finishing our snacks, my mom and younger sister, Tarynn went and collected rocks to make cairns (rock towers). After making the rock towers we walked back up the 141 stairs and went to our next destination on Block Island.
The next thing we did was walk across the island on an unpaved inland road to go and get lunch in the old harbor. On our walk across the island we saw a cute little sandpiper at a little pond, and we passed the Block Island School.
We went to Rebecca’s Take Out for lunch. I got a pastrami and cheese sandwich, Mom and my sister both got cheeseburgers & root beer floats, and we all shared some clam cakes. The food at Rebecca’s was really tasty.
After eating lunch we walked a little more around the old harbor to get to The Fred Benson Town Beach. So, normally I like the beach, but I don’t love the beach. Well, this Block Island beach is my favorite beach ever! I LOVED THIS BEACH!! The sand was so soft, and not gross. The water was so clear, you could see the bottom of the ocean even if you went out deep. Even though the water wasn’t as warm as the beaches on the mainland of Rhode Island I got used to it and stayed in for a long time. This was the longest time I had seen my mom ever be in the ocean.
After staying at the beach, watching the crystal clear turquoise water crash upon the sand for a while, we changed out of our bathing suits and walked back into town. We still had a little time before our ferry would leave so we decided to get drinks at The Block Island Beach House restaurant and enjoy the view of the ocean and cliffs.
Our ferry ride home was a lot more crowded than the morning ferry. We got there early and put our bags on the seats next to us so we could maintain social distancing, and there were several people not wearing their masks. Fortunately, we were in the open air on the top deck so there was enough of a breeze to keep us safe from germs.
Our day on Block Island was amazing and I would love to go back soon.
Other places we've enjoyed on Block Island:
Hi Everyone, it's Heidi. Time to visit another town that is close to home: North Smithfield. When I woke up this morning, one of the first things I thought was “I want to go for a hike”. Brian was already up, and Aemilia was getting ready to go to work. Aoife and Tarynn were happier staying home, so Brian and I headed off to North Smithfield to check out the trails at Rocky Hill Road Conservation Area. This turned out to be the perfect spot for today. Rocky Hill consists of 23 acres, and there is a loop trail that goes through some wetland areas.. However, we’ve had a lack of rainfall in Rhode Island this summer, so all of those wet areas were completely dry today. Brian and I enjoyed the opportunity to explore an area that was new to us today, and we left a painted rock at a bench along the trail.
On our way home we stopped at Goodwin Brothers Farm Stand. Although we’ve passed by several times, and we’ve admired the houses they build out of pumpkins in the fall, this was our first time stopping at Goodwin’s, and it is a really nice farm stand! Nearly all of the produce was local, and much of it was grown right on their farm. Also, the prices were very reasonable for fresh, local fruits and veggies. We bought some donut peaches, and are looking forward to trying them once they ripen for a few days on our windowsill. (update - the donut peaches were super sweet, juicy, and delicious.)
After Aemilia arrived home from work, we headed back to North Smithfield for lunch at The Beef Barn. We checked out the menu online and called our order in to shorten the wait time. The Beef Barn is a North Smithfield staple, and we had visited once a few years ago for a geocaching meet and greet. Today we tried the pastrami sandwich, cheeseburgers, a steak sandwich, and a roast beef sandwich and they were all delicious. We upgraded our sandwiches to “specials”, which meant they included fries and salads, which were all awesome as well. Aemilia and I also got shakes which were nice and thick and hit the spot. We enjoyed our food on a shaded picnic table and then crossed over the street to take a photo at the street sign that marks the line between Woonsocket and North Smithfield. On Smithfield Road, one side of the street is Woonsocket while the other side is North Smithfield.
We followed up our Beef Barn lunch with dessert from Wright’s Dairy Farm. We had made a stop at Wright’s on our Woonsocket day, and Wright’s is so amazing that it warranted a second stop. During the summer, Wright’s has an ice cream trailer called “The Wright Scoop”, and Brian, Tarynn, and I opted for ice cream, while Aemilia and Aoife decided to order bakery treats. You really can’t go wrong with anything at Wright’s. All of their pastries are made fresh and the cream for the pastries and the ice cream comes from their own cows. Our ice cream was outstanding, and it was a great surprise to see that a graduate from my school is scooping in the ice cream trailer for the summer, and we got to say hello.
We headed home again for a few hours before heading out for our final North Smithfield destination: The Rustic Tri-View Drive-In movie theatre. The Rustic opened in 1951 and is the only remaining drive-in movie theatre in Rhode Island. We had never been here before, and we will most definitely be back!!!! It was so fun to see “The Iron Giant” outdoors, and the cars were nicely spaced so we felt very safe there. We haven’t been seeing many friends this summer, but hopefully next summer life will be more normal, and we will be able to go back to this Rhode Island gem for a super fun night with a carloads of friends.
Our North Smithfield day and evening was so fun! So happy to have had a chance to explore this awesome town!
Johnston and Smithfield are neighboring towns, so we often find ourselves driving through Johnston on our way to other places or to run errands. However, it isn’t often that we spend time actually exploring Johnston, and today’s visit reminded us to stop and notice how interesting Johnston really is.
We started our Johnston visit at the Johnston Historical Society Museum on Putnam Pike. It is located between Emmily’s Restaurant (one of the best breakfast places around) and the Johnston Fire Station, and although we pass this way often, I never knew that there was a museum here. After seeing our segment on Channel 10 back in July, the president of the Johnston Historical Society reached out to us and offered to give us a tour of the museum. Unfortunately she was unable to meet us there today, but she arranged for Mr. Carl Johnson to give us a tour. Mr. Johnson was enthusiastic, engaging, very knowledgeable and an all around awesome tour guide . The museum houses Johnston artifacts ranging from arrowheads and rock specimens, to matchbooks from former restaurants, antique firefighter helmets, high school sports memorabilia , and glass milk bottles from bygone eras. We found it all so interesting, especially with Mr. Johnson’s detailed explanations of the various items on display. He also brought us into the 1825 Elijah Angell House, which is on the same property as the museum and is set up with period furnishings. We would like to thank the Johnston Historical Society for inviting us to see their museum and helping us to learn about the history of their town.
After leaving the historical society museum, we drove over to beautiful Dame Farm to visit their sunflower field. We are nearing the end of sunflower season, but we were still able to pick many gorgeous flowers, and we loved seeing all of the different varieties that were growing there. A jar of sunflowers that you cut yourself costs $21.40, and if you just want to go browse in the sunflower field and take pictures, the fee is about $7.00 per person.
In a stark contrast to the beautiful sunflower farm, our next stop was the Central Landfill. Aoife had previously been on a field trip to the landfill, but for the rest of us, it was our first visit there. We did not go on a tour today (you can go on a virtual tour here) as we are avoiding busses during Covid, but we did drive around the perimeter of the landfill and were astonished to see how big it is.
Following the landfill, we made a visit to Johnston Memorial Park. We explored the walking path that goes around the pond, and also crossed the bridge to visit the island. Johnston Memorial Park has memorials to soldiers, and also has fields and courts, as well as a really nice playground. We enjoyed stopping and visiting this park, which we so frequently drive by.
The next stop on our Johnston tour was the Clemence-Irons House, which is one of the oldest houses in Rhode Island. Built in 1691, its most notable feature is that it is a stone-ender, which is rare to see as few of these houses have survived into 2020.
Finally we arrived at the stop that the girls were waiting for: Friskie Fries!!!!! If you haven’t been to Friskie Fries, you really need to get there (or find their food truck) very soon. Their fries are amazing on their own, and when you add toppings, they are incredible! We ordered three types of fries: Disco Dottie (poutine - Vermont cheddar curds & brown gravy), Dirty Daug (NY system weiner bites, meat sauce, onion bits, mustard, and celery salt), and Cat’l Call (Philly cheesesteak - shaved steak & cheddar cheese sauce). Yum!!!!!
A visit to Johnston wouldn’t be complete without a stop at something Italian, so our last stop on our Johnston tour was The Original Italian Bakery. I had heard great things about this bakery, but today was our first visit there, and it definitely lived up to everything I had heard. We bought split rolls for Tarynn since she doesn’t like pastry, a spinach/olive/ricotta calzone (which was to die for), and pizza chips to take to the beach tomorrow. Then it was time to pick out some pastries, and I have a confession to make. I should NEVER be allowed in a bakery alone as I cannot make decisions and end up choosing everything. At the Original Italian Bakery, there were so many scrumptious pastries on display and we may have ended up with two boxes of pastry. I have no regrets, however, as they were all fabulous and we will definitely add this bakery into our lives as a frequent stop.
Our Johnston experience was fun and delicious!
Other places we’ve enjoyed in Johnston:
Portsmouth was a town we were especially looking forward to visiting, and we got up bright and early to be out of our house by 7:30 so that we would arrive in Portsmouth by 8:15am. Why, did we need to leave our cozy beds so early on a summer day? We had a reservation for the very popular Rail Explorers that we had booked over a month ago, and we couldn’t miss it. We had been looking forward to this day for quite awhile, and although the weather forecast threatened rain, we were thankfully presented with only cloudy skies and cool temperatures. It was perfect weather for our 1.5 hour “bike” ride on the railroad tracks. We took the southern route, which gave us plenty of beautiful views. Along the way we saw scenic views of Narragansett Bay, and glimpses of occasional osprey nests. On the ride out, Emy, Aoife and I shared the four-seater railroad bike, and from time to time we got it going pretty fast. Heidi and Tarynn came behind us in a two-seater railroad bike. At the end of our route, we were able to spend some time relaxing in a lovely area filled with Adirondack chairs and there was a gorgeous view of the Newport Bridge. There were also several fire pits throughout the area, so maybe on the evening rail explorer tours, there is time built in for relaxing by the fire. On the way back we had the bikes hitched together and we all worked at pedaling during the return trip. We were grateful for the cloudy skies, because if the weather had been hot and sunny, the pedaling would have seemed like a lot more work. The ride was really fun, and we would highly recommend Rail Explorers as a summer family activity.
We followed the Rail Explorers ride with a quick trip to see the wind turbine at Portsmouth Abbey School. Heidi worked in the library at Portsmouth Abbey while she was earning her MLIS degree, so she especially enjoyed stopping here for a trip down memory lane. She told us about the monk who used to escape to the top of the turbine to sit in solitude, and the drone video of him that went viral -- amazing!
We continued on to explore Portsmouth’s beachfront neighborhood of Island Park, complete with a model of Elvis on one of the porches. Walking around Island Park got us hungry, so we went to Flo’s Drive-In for clam cakes. These were some of the best clam cakes I’d ever had! We left a rock on the sea wall at Island Park.
Now to continue our journey of Aquidneck Island, we go to Middletown with Aemilia.
FREE THE WINDMILLS! FREE THE WINDMILLS!
Hello, now that I have your attention, I’ll introduce myself. My name is Aemilia, and I have found an important cause, that I believe we should all fight for. Windmill Liberation. But before we get to that, let me tell you a little bit about our Aquidneck Island day, specifically our trip to Middletown.
After doing our Portsmouth rail explorer trip and visiting other sites in Portsmouth, we visited Middletown, that is to say, the town in the middle of Aquidneck Island. Rhode Island has some really confusing areas, like Wyoming that is NOT real Wyoming, and Moscow that is NOT anything even close to the real Moscow, but you will be pleased to know that Middletown is not one of them. It’s right in the middle, like it tells you in the title. Not some weird little area PRETENDING that it’s a state or a foreign city. Looking at you, Carolina and Wyoming. But Middletown? Middletown is trustworthy. Look at that. Right in the middle. :)
What I’m about to say next might alarm you.
Middletown and Portsmouth have been holding windmills captive, all tied up so they can’t even move. I know, it’s hard to believe. You might need to take a minute to process this. It’s ok. It’s a lot to take in.
Allow me to share how I know this information, which I’m sure many people would consider to be classified and extremely dangerous. We visited, not one, but TWO locations with beautiful plants and flowers, and stunning windmills, only to see the windmills ROPED TO THE GROUND. I could not believe my eyes, as I was struck with anguish at how these poor windmills have one function, to spin around, and they aren’t even allowed to do that. The two places in question are Prescott Farm (this windmill is in Portsmouth) and Boyd’s Windmill (at Paradise Valley Park in Middletown), and while they were very nice to visit, my experience was ruined by the thought of the windmills being tied to the ground and unable to move. It was truly horrifying. So please #freethewindmills.
From there, we went to Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge where we walked along a trail to the point. It was a nice walk in a very beautiful place, and we left a rock there.
Also in the same general area, we visited Little Purgatory Chasm, which was nice, except for the fact that CERTAIN people like to go too close to the edge. I don’t think I even need to tell you who those people are. If you’re familiar with us, you probably already know.
Bye for now and remember to thank a windmill today,
Heidi’s turn - Now we are continuing along to Newport. True Rhode Islanders rarely visit Newport in the summertime as that is when this beautiful town is overrun with tourists. However, this year is the exception to the norm, and since we have a goal of visiting every town in Rhode Island, off to Newport we went, and although it was busy, the crowds were considerably smaller than in previous summers.
Our first stop in Newport was Touro Park to see the Newport Tower. This tower is the remains of a 17th century windmill, however, according to Atlas Obscura and several other website, there are mysteries surrounding this structure.
Next we drove through the shops on the wharves and along Thames Street. Normally, we would park and enjoy walking and browsing through the shops in this area. Due to COVID, however, we decided that there were too many people around for our comfort level, so a drive through tour was enough. Nearly everyone we saw walking was wearing a mask and giving those around them quite a bit of space, which earned Newport a grade of A+ for the social distancing we witnessed during our visit.
We then stopped at Fort Adams, a coastal fortification completed in 1857. Although we did not tour the fort this time, we did enjoy walking around the walls of the fort, and seeing the Oliver Hazard Perry Tall Ship which docks at Fort Adams.
We continued along Ocean Drive (also called 10 Mile Drive), marveling at the luxurious houses and exquisite ocean views. We stopped at Brenton Point to watch the waves crashing on the rocks, and also watch some kite fliers. There is always an ocean breeze at Brenton Point, which makes it the perfect location for the annual Newport Kite Festival. One of the oldest geocaches in Rhode Island is also hidden at Brenton Point, so be sure to search for it when you visit.
After finishing our ride along Ocean Drive, we met one of my lifelong friends, Fr. Scott, to explore the Cliff Walk. Fr. Scott is currently a chaplain at Salve Regina University, and he led us on a walk through the ocean side campus that includes several buildings from the Gilded Age. Further along Cliff Walk, we saw the sweeping lawn of The Breakers as well as Aoife’s dream house, which has a gazebo overlooking the ocean.
Fr. Scott brought us to see his church, St Joseph’s, which is very beautiful and is located in the Broadway section of Newport. In addition to serving as a chaplain at Salve, he has also recently been appointed the administrator of St. Joseph’s. There are several restaurants near St. Joseph’s, and Fr. Scott had made a reservation for an outdoor dinner at Malt. Featuring an assortment of whiskeys and draft beers, this casual restaurant was perfect for us after a long day of exploring on Aquidneck Island. We devoured flavorful burgers, Thai shrimp nachos. calamari, and falafel, and washed them down with some tasty cocktails & brews.
After saying goodbye to Fr. Scott, we had one more necessary stop to make before heading home: the original Newport Creamery. Newport Creamery has been a Rhode Island institution since 1928, and the Middletown shop is the original location. Perhaps most famous for its “Awful Awfuls” (thick milkshakes that are “Awful Big and Awful Good”), a trip to Newport Creamery is the perfect end to any Rhode Island summer day.
Other places we've enjoyed on Aquidneck Island:
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!