This morning I got cleaned up at McDonald's and headed into Newport, Rhode Island. I toured The Breakers, the grandest of Newport's summer "cottages," it's a 70 room Italian Renaissance- style palazzo, and a symbol of the Vanderbilt family's social and financial preeminence in turn of the century America. As I toured the 65,000 square feet of lavish living space, I couldn't help but grow a bit disgusted. I mean who deserves a "summer cottage" like this? I know it's not the point and I am supposed to just enjoy the tour, but it erks me when I hear about people talk about doing things way over the top "for their family." Be honest. If you want to do something for your family, spend some time with them. They would be quite satisfied with that. You did it for you. For status. For your legacy. To throw parties. To show off. No more mansion tours for me; I'd rather give my money to someone who needs it than throw it away on a foundation meant to preserve the "dignity" of the super wealthy.
Next I went to the Visitor Center to make sure I don't miss out on anything here in Newport. I got a map and went down to Bannister's Wharf to try the award-winning clam chowder at The Black Pearl Restaurant, a chowder that makes the locals go nuts for it. I ordered a cup, stirred my spoon around in it and couldn't help but notice how watery the consistency was. I was expecting something more thick and hearty. I took a sip - after getting past the saltiness of the soup I thought it was alright. Maybe I was expecting too much? It wasn't bad, and I'm not hard to please. Just wouldn't win any awards from me is all, except for maybe saltiest clam chowder, lol.
Then I went for one of the most beautiful hikes I've ever been on. The 3.5 mile Cliff Walk along the eastern shore of Newport, RI is world famous as a public access walk that combines the natural beauty of the Newport shoreline with the architectural history of Newport's gilded age. One side with backyard views of the stunning mansions, the other side displaying the ocean, wildflowers, birds, geology. Parts of the southern half of the walk are a rough trail over the natural and rugged New England rocky shore line. What makes Cliff Walk unique is that it is a National Recreation Trail in a National Historic District. I ended up at Easton's Beach (aka First Beach), where I rewarded myself with a swim. When I came ashore and allowed the sun to dry me off a local fellow struck up a conversation with me, he knew I was a tourist for some reason, lol, and we had a nice conversation about his travels and mine. I've noticed the locals on the East Coast have been notably friendly, and it perhaps has something to do with where I am at the time - vacation spots that inspire rest and relaxation, and people are happy when their kicking back :)
After the Cliff Walk I took a drive to East Greenwich, where I would meet Daniel, a guy who would let me surf his couch for the night. I oohed and ahhed at the houses I drove past as I entered the neighborhood estate as I approached his family's house I made sure I had the right number, lol, and sure enough I was at the right place. Daniel was a cool young guy who along with his parents were happy to host me for the night, and after grabbing a shower, Daniel took me into a trendy college part of Providence, the capital of RI, where we had a great meal with his friends at a favorite Indian restaurant of theirs. His friends were hilarious and we all had a great time chumming it up. We all went back to his place where we goofed around with his fun Irish parents and when they went to bed we took it outside for some more stories and laughter, and later we entertained ourselves with a video games and a funny Scientology outreach video, that kept us laughing and wheezing into the night, lol.
Friday, August 20, 2010
The next morning I said my thank you and goodbye to Daniel as he left for an appointment, and his cool dad Matthew (his name was easy to remember, lol) offered me breakfast, and sent me off with soda and potato chips (mmm munchies!).