Friday, August 29, 2008

Newport, Rhode Island

We spent our last full day of vacation in Newport. During the morning, we drove all the way around Ocean Drive and spent some time at Brenton Point State Park. We watched the seagulls, walked on the rocks, shared a Del's Frozen Lemonade, and watched folks flying kites on the windy point. We skipped touring the famous mansions, as we have visited them previously.

Newport (long-time former home of the America's Cup) is synonyous with boat-building and sailing. We enjoyed strolling the wharves and admiring yachts such as this elegant one.

Bowen's Wharf and Bannister's Wharf are loaded with shops and restaurants. We chose Cooke's Tavern for lunch, as they are dog-friendly. They have a "Dog Bar" outside with fresh water and we were able to sit outside and keep Duncan with us while we ate. Food was delish - I enjoyed a seafood salad sandwich made with shrimp, Maine crab, and scallops.

After lunch, we boarded The Gansett for an hour and a half tour of Newport harbor.

We were delighted to learn that Gansett Cruises is also dog-friendly. They provided a blanket and fresh water for our boy. They even requested that we send them a picture of Duncan on board!

Our tour began as we backed out of Bowen's Wharf into the harbor.

Newport is home to commercial fishing boats...

...and, on the other end of the spectrum, gleaming yachts such as these.

Our tour guide was great, very knowledgable about the history of the homes, building, lighthouses and natural landscape features that we could see from the water.

For example, here is the Ida Lewis Yacht Club, with Lime Rock Light incorporated into the building. It is the only Yacht Club named for a woman. Ida Lewis is credited with saving at least 18 lives during the years she tended the lighthouse.

Here is the summer home of the New York yacht club.

This is the only Chinese junk in all of Newport.

This house has been called "The Parthenon of Newport" for its Greek columns.

Rounding the point, we passed Fort Adams State Park. If you watched my video taken from Fort Weatherwill, you saw me trying to zoom in on Fort Adams from across Narragansett Bay. This view is much better! The good news is, never a shot was fired in battle here.

Next up, we passed Hammersmith Farm, childhood summer home of Jackie Kennedy. This was her playhouse.

Hammersmith Farm hosted Jackie and John Kennedy's wedding reception and was the "Summer White House" during Kennedy's presidency. The boat house was featured in the film "The Great Gatsby."

The Inn at Castle Hill is an elegant hotel and restaurant.

Beyond Castle Hill lies open ocean. For years, the owner of the original home refused to allow a lighthouse to be located here. Finally, a compromise was reached. The lighthouse could be built as long as it was not visible from the main house. So, here it is! I've been to the Inn and never even knew the lighthouse was right here.

At this point, our tour boat turned around and headed across the bay. I was fascinated by this house, aptly nicknamed "Clingstone." A google seach turned up "The Old House and the Sea" an interview with the owner, published in the NY Times a few weeks ago.

As we neared the harbor heading back to Bowen's Wharf, I caught this view of another lighthouse, the Rose Island Light. Who doesn't love a day on the water and lighthouses!!

More photos from Fort Getty; RI

I took Duncan for a walk at sunset and captured a few nice photos right at the campground. To the east, we could see this view of Dutch Harbor and the Newport Bridge right from our site. At night, the bridge was lit up like a diamond necklace.

Facing west, the sun sets over Narrangansett Bay. This photo was taken from the pebbly beach at the campground near the fishing pier and the boat launch.

This is the view from the campground of Dutch Island Lighthouse, where we kayaked out to the day before.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Fort Wetherill State Park; Jamestown, RI

Conanicut Marina and the Newport (Pell) Bridge

Today promised to be as nice as day as one could wish for. Temps in the 80s, low humidity, and a light breeze. I suggested to Ed that we pack a picnic lunch and take it over to Fort Wetherill State Park, on the opposite shore of Conanicut Island from Fort Getty, where we are camped. So we drove to the East Ferry Deli downtown and picked up sandwiches. The ferry takes passengers only (no vehicles) from Jamestown to Newport.

From downtown Jamestown, we headed south to Fort Wetherill Park. We drove to the top of the bluffs where we had a commanding view of Narragansett Bay from atop 100' granite cliffs.

And here's a one-minute 360 degree video taken from the same spot. The Inn at Castle Hill lies across the bay, Ed was behind me peering through binoculars, and I tried to zoom in to see Fort Adams in Newport but it's a bit fuzzy.

After lunch, we returned to our campsite. You can just see the water between the campers behind us.

Whereupon, Ed & Duncan proceeded to do what every man and dog likes to do on vacation!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Fort Getty Park; Jamestown, RI

Ed & I are spending a few days at one of our favorite campgrounds, Fort Getty Municipal Park in Jamestown, RI. It's on Conanicut Island in Narragansett Bay, across from Newport. The campground is on a peninsula with water views and a boat launch. The last time we were here was six years ago, just after Memorial Day in 2002. It was our first stop on our year-long Great Adventure RV tour of the country.

Today dawned cool and sunny, so we decided to take a drive late morning to Beavertail Light, at the southern tip of the island.

With the breeze, it was a perfect day for sailing. We saw this guy fishing almost get knocked off the rock by a high wave. Risky!

After lunch, we decided to investigate Fort Getty Park itself. The Fox Hill Salt marsh seemed like it would be a great place to take our kayaks and see some wildlife.

We were not disappointed. Herons and egrets were feeding, or trying to, as we flushed a few as we got too close. In the upper right you can see one of the towers of the Newport Bridge.

This seagull seemed comfy atop the piling!

Leaving the marsh, we rounded the point and entered the West Passage of Narragansett Bay. We paddled out for a closer look at Dutch Point Lighthouse, visible from our campground. Accessible only by boat, the lighthouse was recently restored and relit in 2007.

The tide and current wanted to take us out to sea. It was more work paddling back to our camp than it was to paddle out.

Altogether, we spent about an hour and a half on the water. A glorious day!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Cha-Wi-Ma Camp Site #31

I took a few photos of our summer camp in CT the other day and this is my favorite. If you look closely, under the overflowing hanging baskets, you'll see a dog. That would be Duncan, who on his own, decided he wanted to get in the picture! He does enjoy laying on the warm grass in the sunshine.