Monday, November 4, 2013

In Which We Hit the Road with Angela and Great White*



Day one of our New England tour had us flying into Boston Logan Airport and renting a car to drive to our first night’s lodging in Newport, RI. (A word of advice about driving a rental car in or around Boston: don’t.) The most stressful part of the entire trip was the drive from the airport out of town. We had a GPS we had never used before, so as I was trying to figure out how to read it and orient myself on Boston’s roads, we found ourselves in tunnels and guess what?! You lose satellite service for a GPS in a tunnel. (We’re lucky we’re not still circling Boston underground.) I have no idea where we actually were, but we did eventually get out of there and on the road to Newport.

Admiral Fitzroy Inn 
After escaping from Boston, we drove to our first night’s hotel, the Admiral Fitzroy Inn, a former convent that is now a bed and breakfast. It was overcast and drizzling and we were tired and frazzled, so we dropped our bags in our room and went in search of dinner. We walked to The Mooring, recommended by the desk clerk (who also lent us an umbrella). We loved the food, and one dish, the “bag of doughnuts” (lobster, crab & shrimp fritters with chipotle-maple aioli), was possibly the best single thing I tasted the entire trip.

The Breakers
We made an early night of it (possibly because we were stuffed with good food), and got up the next morning to begin exploring. Newport has an interesting history, and was at one point the summer playground of some of America’s wealthiest families. We went to see The Breakers, the grandest and most famous of the Newport “cottages” (if you can call a 70-room mansion a cottage). I have never seen a more ornate home in my life. Sadly, we were not allowed to take photos of the interior of this house (or any house on the entire trip, actually) but I assure you, it was stunning and worth a visit. 

He'd be fun to sketch...


We walked around the corner from The Breakers to an entrance onto the Cliff Walk, a 3 ½ mile trail along the eastern shore of the island. We wandered only a small section of the path, enjoying the ocean views and a peek into the back yards of some enormous houses. (Part of Cliff Walk is still closed because of damage from Hurricane Sandy in 2012.)

Cliff Walk
From Cliff Walk, we headed to The Elms, another of the Newport mansions. Modeled after a mid-18th century French chateau, it was completed in 1901 for coal magnate Edward J. Berwind. Much less ornate than The Breakers, it was still a grand mansion.

The Elms
After our mansion tours, we hit the road again. We stopped at Stonington’s (CT) Old Lighthouse Museum (thanks, Cheryl, for the suggestion) and stopped briefly at Mystic for a late lunch—and no, we didn’t eat pizza.  We were too tired and it was too late in the day for us to hit Mystic Seaport, so we’ll just have to go there another time. 

Stonington's Old Lighthouse Museum

Climb the ladder to the top

Part of the view from the lighthouse

More views from the top

Climb back down
We wanted to be in position to ride the Essex Steam Train the following day, so we pushed on to the town of Old Lyme, where I’d heard about a bed and breakfast I hoped to stay at, The Bee and Thistle. Built in 1756, The Bee and Thistle was my favorite lodging, and why not? We had a gas fireplace in our room and an extra-long bathtub I could stretch out in. On top of that, they served the best breakfast and coffee we had on the trip. I would have liked to explore Old Lyme a bit more, but we had to move on.

The Bee and Thistle

Our room


Next up: Riding the rails and the river in the Connecticut River Valley, and the “ruined” castle on the hill…

*We named the GPS Angela, because its voice reminded me of Angela on The Office. “Great White” was our nickname for our car, which had a sort of shark fin-like thingy on the roof.

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4 comments:

Cheryl Gebhart said...

Glad you had a good trip, and you're welcome for the recommendation. I really like lighthouses, so any trip near water is going to include a lighthouse or two for me.

Kathy A. Johnson said...

Cheryl--I even looked in to staying at a lighthouse, but it didn't work out. I think that would be really cool!

Claire M said...

Wow your trips sure sounds like a fun get-away. Very interesting places you stayed and got to peek at. I'm another lighthouse lover. Maybe someday we can gather at one. Miss you.

P.S. How is your son enjoying college?

Kathy A. Johnson said...

Claire--It was wonderful, and the first time my husband and I have been on a vacation alone for more than a couple of days in many years.

We should have a sketching trip to a lighthouse! There are even lighthouses that you can stay in--wouldn't that be fun?

Nick is loving college, and seems to be doing OK. He comes home almost every weekend to sleep and do laundry, though--so we haven't quite got an empty nest!