50 States, Day 164, Sterling (?) Mass to Newport, RI, 62 Miles
"If you really want to love, we must first learn how to forgive."
We managed to get the tent dry before bedtime and settled in for a night of cold and light rain showers. Due to the cool and cloudy weather, we ate breakfast inside, Mr. and Mrs. Cheap grousing about the (PP!) KOA prices. Forty eight bucks for a campsite with power; forty three with our discount. Come on! Time to head to state number twenty-five, Rhode Island. Every state carries with it some expectations, and mine for R.I. were...a really small state. The place exceeded my expectations. Well, of course, they weren't very high. But it flew over them.
First stop, Providence and the Capitol. We parked at a meter and took off the cold weather gear, headed to the building and Steve caught up with us. He works across the street from the Big House for the Public Works, road construction. As we walked together, he waxed eloquently (really!) about Rhode Island. For instance, it used to be called Rogue's Island, because rogues would gravitate there when they were disenfranchised from say, Mass, where the Puritans made it law you must attend church on Sundays. Roger Williams (a rogue) said he could pray just fine at home, thank you. Oops. Off to Rogue's Island. In 1636, he got the charter for the colony from the Crown. Roger helped drive the amendment for freedom of religion.
Another tidbit: Rhode Island wanted to be a separate country, but when other states shook their sabers about declaring war on them, they begrudgingly signed up, the thirteenth colony.
Steve informed us that RI has 1 million people; that it contains 400 miles of shoreline, even though only thirty-five miles by twenty-five. Fascinating. What a guy that Steve!
We entered the building (front entry, but strip searched), built of Georgian marble and very stunning. The rotunda is the fourth largest in the world, St. Peter's basilica taking first place.
WE INTERRUPT THIS BLOG FOR A FIRE.
Yes, while we usually read about older Capitols burning to the ground, today the alarms went off and soon we stood outside with dozens of Very Important Decision Makers. Five or six fire trucks arrived, and just like a car alarm, false alarm. While most people texted others who were probably Very Important too, we struck up a conversation with a nice couple from Toronto. Soon we all took huge risks and re-entered the building.
What history! Governor's pictures lined the hallways, but many are from when the state was an English colony in the mid 1600s.
Without a tour guide (besides Steve), we saw enough and headed back to the bike. As we approached it, a cabbie across the street yelled, "Hey, Kevin!"
Once again, I'm from Nevada. I know no one (except Steve) from Rhode Island. The driver held up his phone. "I'm reading your blog." Amazing. He came over and we struck up another conversation. Mike illuminated us with Rhode Island culture, like the hit they've gotten from the recession, RI imposing taxes-already high-on everything they can think of, and travel advice, Newport being the place to visit. That confirmed QG's leanings, so off we went to Newport, and Mike and Steve take Rhode Island to top position for a friendly state.
We rode the back roads to Newport, crawling through Middletown, Portsmouth and Bristol, the houses confirming the age and wealth of the area. Most of the roads again stuck towards the inland, with intermittent peek-a-boo views of the water.
We did our homework for a change and after stopping at the Visitor Center and getting lost only once, we found a (PP!) Motel 6. Forty-five bucks including tax. Unbelievable! Two dollars more than the campground, with a king sized bed, heat and a/c, desk, nightstands, and a bathroom without the hike. Sign us up. And now, dry and warm and on her game, Quilter Girl!
It has been grey and cloudy today, just like many others growing up in Seattle. However, I am now from Las Vegas, oh for a little sunshine! That is my whine for the day. It never rained on us and we knew we were headed for a motel. After we found the motel, we started walking to find dinner. We could see a Ninety-nine from here so we headed for that, but found a local Italian Restaurant called Mama Leona's. I had a great BBQ chicken bacon ranch pizza and Kevin had baked pasta with sausage. Good stuff.
Tomorrow we tour some of the mansions and enjoy Newport. Living large. Oh yeah, at the Motel 6.