So while the school helping with the move was truly a blessing, it also kind of put a small kink in my plans to visit two new states! >.< Most of the U.S. states that I live near to I've been to before, so it was going to require some degree of travel for me to get to one, no less two states I have never been to before.
This past week I had two days off in a row from my job. I was thinking about my goal and how I had done absolutely nothing to try and achieve it... so I looked into how long it might take me to travel to Rhode Island. It turned out that the drive to the western most portion of the state would take me about 3 and a quarter hours one way. While I would like to have stayed over night, I knew that I would be stretching my finances a little to do so right now, so I considered whether or not I might have the guts, and more importantly the endurance to do a one day visit. When I decided that I could do it, I looked into what I might do in or near Rhode Island. I had heard from a co-worker that there was a nice beach in Westerly Rhode Island, so I decided that I would visit it. I also checked out how far away it was from the Mystic Aquarium which I knew was in Connecticut, the neighboring state. It turned out that Mystic was only a 15 minute drive away from Westerly. Thus the plan was hatched... I would leave at 2:30 am, drive to Westerly Rhode Island, watch the sun rise over the Atlantic, take a nice stroll along the beach, pick up some sea shells, read a bit of the book I would bring along and then travel over to the Mystic Seaport Aquarium and spend a few hours there before driving home to Albany, New York.
I knew it would be a long day, but I was excited to take the trip and accomplish part of my goal. All of this was done with very little planning, the day before I was to leave, so that night, after having written out my driving directions (I do not own a GPS) I realized that it might be somewhat difficult to drive to a place I did not know in total darkness while having to read the directions I had written down. So I altered my leave time a bit. I knew I could make it through much of Massachusetts without having to read my directions, so I chose to leave at 5:00 am figuring that by the time I was about to get out of Massachusetts I would be able to read my directions the rest of the way.
Leaving at 5 am I began my journey to Rhode Island. It turns out that I might have been able to leave about a half hour earlier and been okay as it took me until nearly 7 am to get out of Massachusetts, when it was plenty light for about an hour. Unfortunately the weather was not cooperating with me too much and there was a steady rain for most of the trip. That rain was steady at least until I reached the southern most portion of Connecticut near my destination, when it began to downpour torrentially. >.< So by the time I reached Westerly, Rhode Island and the Misquamicut State Beach (known locally as the Town Beach) it was raining cats and dogs as we Americans are want to say. The rain was so heavy that several of the roads leading down to the beach were flooded, and on a few occasions I thought it better to drive on the wrong side of the roadway to avoid the flooded out portions.
When I reached Misquamicut Beach I was a little surprised that it was as "touresty" as it was. There were several small hotels and eateries as well as bars and dance/karaoke places for people to visit near the beach. The beach had a number of hotels right on the beach, something else I was not expecting. I grew up on Long Island in New York State, and I'm going to probably come off sounding as a snobish Southern Long Islander here, but I was a bit disapointed with the touresty nature of the beach area and the fact that the beach was no where near as large as the beaches I grew up near on Long Island. >.< I'm sure that the tourist attractions are something that must appeal to many people who do visit, but to me, the beach itself should be the tourist attraction, and not the things around it. The fact that it was something of a smaller beach than what I'm familiar with though may have also been a reason for some of the other attractions.
I was also rather shocked to find that the beach had pretty much no sea shells on it. That might have something to do with the time of year. I know that where I grew up that the beaches would have a varying number of sea shells at different times of the year. I never remember though going to the beach and not being able to find a single sea shell or see a horse shoe crab on the beach. On the long island beaches of my childhood I've even seen jellyfish, crabs and any number of all sorts of crustations and sea animals.
Outside of a few birds and a young couple I saw taking a morning jog along the shore the beach was lifeless. In fairness, I did not expect to see many people there on a weekday in the middle of a pouring rain, but the scarcity of animals was a bit sad.
I did in fact enjoy my walk along the beach though and thankfully I had bought an umbrella along. The weather forecast had been for showers, so I anticipated some rain. The steady down pour was a bit more than I had bargained for, but the waves were lovely as always and it was nice to dip my feet in the ocean waters off of Rhode Island.
While I think that my expectations were a bit higher of Misqamicut beach, I was still happy that I went to visit it. I had done so little this summer, that I already felt good about the trip, having successfully traveled on my own to a new state, with my rather antiquated navigational methods. I should also mention that the community and homes surrounding the beach, and the town of Westerly seemed beautiful and quaint. It was not ostentatious with huge homes or mansions, but was very neat and clean with pleasant looking homes that had a real suburban, community feel to them.
I would definitely love to visit Rhode Island again even though I think I would prefer to stay over night so that I could do more and explore more. This trip was admittedly aimed primarily at getting me to accomplish part of one of my goals. Rhode Island is one of our smallest states in the United States (if not our smallest... Delaware and Rhode Island are probably battling it out for the smallest I think). I think it would be great to be able to attend a concert and dine out in Rhode Island. I'm sure that they likely have some great seafood places and many wonderful attractions that I could have enjoyed thoroughly with a more proper stay.
*The second part of my adventure brought me to Connecticut's Mystic Aquarium, which I will discuss in part two of my Trip to Rhode Island blog post.* =)