This year we are only staying two weeks on Block Island. We’re hoping to spend our other two weeks of vacation time in Hawaii. Some retired people make personal rules for vacations:-) Continue reading Block Island: 2017
I slowed down a bit for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I worked on the blog, toured sites close to Hilo, and took walks near the hotel.
Opi, who visits where she is welcome, helped me with the blog. On one of my walks I found a flower I wanted to photograph but didn’t. An iPhone snap may remind me for another time. Continue reading Hawaii: Final Days
We got pretty bored writing about life on Block Island, even though life on Block Island isn’t boring. Last year this blog was totally silent. This year we’re both using our time here to pursue our interests in art, and Suzy had the idea of using the blog to share what we create.
I will be posting poems and shakuhachi music.
Suzy found this mysterious object on the beach.
I commented, “Where’s the WD-40?” Someone else said, “It looks simultaneously tree-like, geological, and mechanical. Mysteriousness is good.” Suzy had a flash of inspiration. Wouldn’t it be fun if we crowdsourced captions, comments, and reflections to go with her pictures? If we get a good response, we could put it all together in a book. So please, enhance her pictures with comments: profound, petulant, short, long, serious, frivolous, irresponsible, irreverent, irrelevant, or flippant. You may even comment in French!
It's almost time to leave for home and I have finally realized how much more there is to Block Island. You see I feel a great need to revisit the hiking trails each year, and that takes a while. Somewhere in the middle of the second week I start thinking about the beach. This year I started out with a visit to Grace's Cove on the west side.
Without planning to I walked along the beach to Dories Cove before heading back to our home away from home on Center Road. I enjoyed that walk so much that when the sky clouded over the next day I intended to repeat it. But instead, I turned north and walked out to Champlin Road. This was so much fun that I decided it is time to circle the island on the beach (one section at a time). But it's also time to go home! Next year I'll leave myself a note—explore the beaches, and start sooner!
As Tim played the flute (both in the cottage and on the beach) I searched for “hand” pictures to take with Pro HDR on my iPhone. I took many, but will only share a few. I am fascinated by the possibilites.
I also found a road/trail not marked on my map. Another new place to visit next year.
Walking back to the cottage I saw. . .
a landscape that called for a photograph,
more opportunities for hand photos,
reminders of why I love Block Island in June (so many roses in bloom!), and what we miss by coming so early.
I also walked along a Greenway trail I haven't been on for a few years. Treasures to see in the woods for walkers.
But it's time to get ready for the return to the real world. Some of you may remember Tim's complaint in the Four Stages of Starting Out that I hadn't mailed the package of things we didn't want to carry. Now it was time to send back the same package. But it has grown in size so we bought a substitute box at the post office.
I thanked Sheila and Jack (and Kaylee and Victor) for renting us their house on Block Island. They are here for the season, but I'm sorry to say it's time for us to make room for our replacement. We need to be out by Sunday morning. As always we're grateful for the use of their house, the extra bike, the information about what's going on, and simply the opportunity to share a yard with wonderful neighbors.
Two extras before I share this morning’s hike to the beach.
Tim’s post about our visit to the transfer station (aka dump), featured the clouds above the weighing station. This is what you see if you look to the right.
At the Wednesday Farmer’s Market I bought a large container of kale salad and a bag of spinach. I couldn’t get a good picture of the spinach, so I took one of fresh kale instead. Both the kale salad and the spinach are excellent!
This morning I took this year’s first hike to an actual beach. I walked down Beacon Road and then to the beach via Grace’s Cove Road. I walked along the beach to Dories Cove, and then returned to the Schneider house the same way I came. The walk was under five miles.
On Beacon Road I stopped to sit and take a picture of the farm. The bench is available for weary travelers, both on the road and those passing through on the Greenway trail.
The entrance to the beach reminded me of Tuckernuck, except that along with the rocks there were broken pieces of pavement.
Perfect conditions for pictures (using Pro HDR on the iPhone) of my hand. It took me over a half hour to make it to the beach.
It was almost 10am but no one was there. What a treasure!
There are signs that it isn’t always this empty, but there is very little trash.
In spite of the bright sunshine (not my favorite) I found many backgrounds for my hand that worked. I can’t imagine how wonderful this would be if I returned on a cloudy day.
On my way back to Beacon Hill Road I passed this sign. Must be true because I saw a deer just down the road.
Tim is playing the shakuhachi flute on the front porch. It’s time I posted this so we can have our dinner date at the National Hotel.
Hiking isn’t all I do on Block Island. Tim and I take tandem rides, go to the grocery store and the farmers’ market, find Block Island treasures to take home, and sometimes even eat out. I have been reading and napping, but a day doesn’t feel complete without a hike or two.
Before I start the saga of my last two hikes, I will note that I finished The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. The link here is from the publisher. I also read the New York Times book review and found out why I shouldn’t like it so much. But I did. The book had an obvious message and I loved it anyway. I said in an earlier post that to me, chicory means hope. In the flower dictionary at the end of The Language of Flowers it says it means frugality. As I walk on the trails I’ve been thinking about this. I think it means hope because it grows in such impossible places. There is hope that it will live. I agree that frugality also fits. It makes do with very little and survives. I’ve enjoyed putting the two ideas together.
I also solved the problem of having no hat by buying one at the Block Island Health & General Store—just the hat I wanted at a reasonable price. This time I’m going to leave it with Sheila so I don’t have to once again remember that I need a hat to hike in the sun. Also required is the tripod we packed and pulled 360 miles to get here. I have to admit that I never used it on the bicycle journey. Next year I think I’ll send it ahead with my hiking shoes and backpack. Instead, I’ll carry my old SLR Canon camera. I miss the zoom lens for travel shooting.
The last two hikes required no cyclilng to get started. I walked up the street to the greenway entrance just south of the airport. I took the blue walk yesterday and the orange walk this morning.
After leaving the road and walking downhill for a while, there is a steep hill to ascend. There is an incredible set of stairs with nets over the two trails on either side to prevent erosion. I tried climbing the stairs the first day, but sneaked up the trails the second day. They are steeper than they look! My hands were very relieved to make it to the top.
As I traveled along the path, trying to find the Enchanted Forest, I met beside the trail. . .
another hand! My hand made contact and perhaps found a new friend in the forest. I’m not sure how well they got on. We didn’t talk about it.
After leaving the Turnip Farm and the Enchanted Forest I walked out to the ocean via Black Rock Road. Most of the Greenway trails are for hikers only. No bicycles or horses are allowed. Black Rock Road is Block Island’s answer to the freeway. On this road ONLY pedestrians, bicycles, and horses are allowed.
The short hike this morning was up the stairs again and around the Loffredo loop. Here is the description on the back of my map:
Robert Loffredo helped purchase this majestic property adjacent to the Turnip Farm in memory of his wife Elaine, who lost her life in the tragic TWA flight 800 crash. Some of the highest land on the Island, it has commanding views . . . and contains a wonderful mix of shrubs and meadows, which harbors numberous breeding birds.
The walk was well worth the climb.
My contribution is a mix of small adventures and experiments in photography. The pace is definitely slower when one doesn’t need to get from one place to another place—30 to 50 miles away.
Tim’s brother Andy and his wife Anneke arrived for a Block Island visit on Monday, the day after we settled in at the Schneiders’ house. Andy and Anneke rented a condo from a friend, not too far from us. The greenery shows the view from their porch.
I love Block Island because it reminds me of Tuckernuck, a small island off the coast of Nantucket. Unlike Tuckernuck, Block Island has shops (and electricity), but like Tuckernuck, it is surrounded by accessible beaches and crisscrossed by trails. Tim sent scenes from our walk out Clay Head trail on the north end of the island. What he didn’t report was our adventure in “the Maze”. I tried to find a link to describe this part of the island, but didn’t find anything as good as the description by Keith H. Lang and Scott B. Comings in On This Island, The Block Island Trail and Nature Guide.
If you choose to branch out into the maze, you are welcome, but you are also on your own. To preserve the enchantment of the area, these trails are not shown on any map. If you become disoriented, remember that the Clay Head Trail is to the east. It may take a while, but heading in that direction and listening for the sounds of the ocean will bring you to the marked path, and you can continue your walk with the confidence of knowing your location. There are approximately 12 miles of trails in the maze system, running to the west of the main trail and frequently intersecting it.
I’ve never dared to venture into the maze on my own. I have a terrible sense of direction and can only hear in one ear, so finding the direction of the sounds of the ocean isn’t so easy. Since we were in a group, I kept suggesting that we might try a side trail on our return walk to our bikes. The discussion led to no action, until Anneke decided to set out on what we thought would be a small side loop. I followed her. Andy thought about it for a short while and decided to come after us. Tim stayed behind to figure out with his GPS where our loop would lead. By the time he was ready to follow us, it was too late. We were gone. Within three turns I didn’t know which way would lead back to the shore trail. Andy and Anneke had a bit more confidence so we continued on, one turn after another, until I thought I might get out my iPhone GPS and check—where was the water? Andy used the compass on his iPhone to check as well. We were completely turned around. Texts to Tim (who wanted to walk on the beach instead of the trail, but settled for returning to our bikes) helped us know where he was, and in the end, we all returned safely. I now can say that Andy, Anneke, and I (along with our trusty iPhones) have had a small adventure on “the maze.”
The next day, as Tim has also reported, we explored the south end of the island. After the Farmers’ Market we stopped at Abrams Animal Farm and visited North Light Fibers.
Tim sent you a journal of our visit to the South Light. I offer a portrait of Andy and Anneke taking a short rest on the lawn, and a 1988 BMW that was in the driveway.
On our tricycle journey I have been documenting our adventure, but as time passes on Block Island my camera slides back to closeups. It’s what I like to do. Above is the first chicory of the season. For me it’s a flower that never gives up hope. To the left is a maze of stems that Anneke pointed out.
I keep looking for new backgrounds for my hand pictures—always wondering what might happen if I line up my iPhone with ProHDR, put my hand in the picture, and give it a try. I made a book in photography class last year called Hand Prints. I’m still looking for more possibilities.
I’ve tried a few pictures using the same technique without the hand. Something to keep in my notebook and think about.
But today we took a rest from our adventures. It was hot! Andy and Anneke had to go back to the mainland, and Tim and I rested. Here is Tim, perhaps thinking about what we might try next and enjoying a piece or two of leftover pizza.
Margot’s welcoming flower arrangement.
We stayed overnight in Mystic with Tim’s sister Margot,
and her husband Peter (and dog Champ) and daughter Mallory (not pictured).
We caught up on family news and talked about Peter’s business (Smith-McArdle) in Mystic.
Tim produced pictures of our visit to Larkin relatives in Ohio, so many years ago.
After an excellent breakfast, we hit the road again. . .
Only to stop two miles down the road for a pit stop. Tim decided we had let the tires go too long without a refill. More pressure means less pedal-pushing for greater speed. It also means bumps are harder but that’s the price you pay.
He also greased and cleaned the chain—which hadn’t broken in over three days. So far, so good. Take care of that drive train!
Back on the road again we passed through Westerly. On the east side of Westerly we started looking for “Sandy’s”—a recommended stop for good treats. Unfortunately our GPS decided we should take a more scenic route (which had been helpful along the way to keep us out of traffic) and by the time we realized what was happening and got back on Route 1 (forget scenic—we just want to get there) we found that we missed it.
Instead we stopped for Rhode Island style clam chowder (no tomato and no cream) and some fried scallops. It was an OK replacement for ice cream—really it was.
And at last we did what we had set out to do. We reached the ferry at Point Judith, in time for the 3:00 ferry to Block Island.
There is something about having worked so hard before arriving at our place of paradise that makes the whole experience that much better.
We have arrived safe and sound at the Schneider House and have had a pleasant visit with the owners, Sheila and Jack. We’re looking forward to two weeks walking, riding, reading, taking photographs, and visiting with Tim’s brother Andy and his wife Anneke, who are arriving for a short island visit. I’ll combine the days from time to time and keep you posted. I love to share the joys of Block Island.
Thanks for all your encouragement along the way!
Sheila’s roses. There are LOTS of roses in bloom right now on Block Island.
We left the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cromwell at about 10:00 this morning. I like the room, the food, the people, and the streets behind the hotel, but I don’t like the road we used to get there. There was so much traffic that we used the button at the crosswalk to get to the other side of the road. I have to thank the people who run the hotel for thinking about pedestrians. Now that I think of it, we might have worked our way past the back gate and found a quieter route. Another time.
As Tim has reported, it was a lovely day. The wind was behind us and there wasn’t a hint of rain. The pictures above show my impression of Middletown. Wide roads and interesting buildings. It’s fun to ride through town and I always enjoy it. We passed the bike shop this year—no need for repairs—at least that we know about.
Next (after stopping to make the post about the thin men of Haddam) we stopped (as reported) for ice cream. We often stop at the Pilot House, and we weren’t disappointed. Great ice cream!
After Joe invited us to dinner, Tim wanted to stop to buy a shirt. He left his only t-shirt in Norfolk (not on purpose of course) and the bike shirt wasn’t what he wanted to wear for dinner. We stopped in Deep River and I sat on a bench near the trike while Tim went shopping. Remember Tim’s discription of the young man who made an unfriendly gesture earlier today? I want you to know that 99.9% of the people we meet are just the opposite. Friendly and curious, with waves, beeps, and thumbs up. The pictures above show just one small episode in our daily life on the road. In the top picture Tim is returning to the trike with his new shirt. Note the two people walking behind him. In the bottom picture the man has stopped and started a conversation. He was interested in the tandem trike, and after seeing our Cornell flag related that he is in our class—the class of ’69. We didn’t know him, but enjoyed the short conversation. Travel in an unusual way and you get a chance to meet new people.
It’s possible that we could have kept going for a 50 or 60 mile ride today, but we’re glad we didn’t. It seems that the closer we get to the beach, the more we begin to feel like we are on vacation. 34 miles was perfect. We look forward to dinner with Joe and Jane tonight.
After I finished our quarter load of laundry I found a way to walk out of the Crowne Plaza Complex through the back parking lot. I made a collage of my discoveries: another cell tower, a mailbox to use as a hand background, and a wall along the edge of the parking garage for another hand shot.
After more rest and reading, we greeted Tim’s sister Margot, her husband Peter, their daughter Mallory, Tim’s brother Andy, and our friends Joe and Jane for dinner at the hotel. It was a pleasant get-together and a total change from pedaling our way through the countryside.
Tomorrow we plan to be back on the road.