This morning I left out fairly early, and was across the state line into Rhode Island almost immediately. I’ve wanted to go to the town of Newport for a very long time. As it turns out, it’s a major production to get through the town to the part I really wanted to see, but I did make it eventually. It didn’t help that I had to arrive the weekend of the Newport Jazz Festival, but oh, well.
First I drove out and around the scenic ocean drive, which reminded me of nothing so much as Seventeen-Mile Drive in Monterey, California. Big fancy expensive houses right on the waterfront, interspersed with parks where us normal people can get out and enjoy the views, too.
Then I went in search of a mansion I could visit, so I picked the biggest one I could find. Cornelius Vanderbilt had The Breakers built in the early 1890s as a summer “cottage” (and then only got to live in it for one summer before he died). It’s almost 140,000 square feet (no, that’s not too many zeroes) of Italian inspired architecture and more gilding and carving and fancy furbelows than you can shake a stick at. See for yourself:
It came with an audio tour so I didn’t have to follow a guide with a group of fellow lemmings, which was nice.
But once the tour was over, I realized I really didn’t have much else I actually wanted to do in Newport, and it was still way early in the afternoon, so I called and cancelled my hostel reservation and headed east (yes, east, not north) to Massachusetts, and the city of New Bedford, with its National Historic Site devoted to the ships that sailed around the world in pursuit of whales.
It was interesting, although I could have done without the re-created cobblestone streets (I like my teeth, and I’m sure Merlin didn’t much care for being bounced around like that, either), but by then I was ready to find a motel (the rule is still two nights camping, third night in a motel, and I’m so glad I can do the former now!).
I had to drive up into Massachusetts a ways to find one that wasn’t way overpriced, but I did, and now I need to decide what I want to do in Massachusetts, whether I want to go into Cambridge to see the maps exhibit, or go to Cape Cod, or Emily Dickinson’s house in Amherst, or Old Sturbridge Village, or any combination of the above. It doesn’t help that I’d be pulling a Kentucky (zigzagging across the entire state, not that it’s all that big to begin with) to do them all. I guess I’ll see how I feel in the morning.