I am from Rhode Island.
The culture I grew up in is very different from place where I live now.
It is not just mountains vs ocean or wide open spaces vs woods….
Every time I go back, it feels a little jarring at first.
Perhaps it is the more aggressive environment , the tight and almost clan-like bond among the generations of family and friends or something as simple as the familiar food and traditions not found out West.
It just feels different.
It takes me a day or two to get back into the Colorado rhythms. Something that does not happen when I travel to places out West even after a longer backpacking trip.
It was where I was born. Where I was raised. And the echoes of the place continues very strongly.
And when I go back, I am reminded of how much the place has shaped me.
Enough random thoughts on place and culture. On to the trip…
It has been almost two years since I’ve seen the ocean. It was time to return.
The chosen place was Sachuest National Wildlife Refuge. A few hundred acres of protected New England coast with an amazing bird habitat. We saw far more birds here than in the changing landscape of the Pawnee National Grassland.
We spent a few hours walking along the coast, smelling the salt air, seeing the native grasses and reveling in a little bit of wildness found in southern New England.
Of course after walking in the warm summer sun, we needed a cold and refreshing drink.
Summertime in Rhode Island means the go-to drink is a Del’s lemonade. A hugely popular drink in Rhode Island, the drink is based on an old family recipe from Naples, Italy. The drink is not too sweet, is refreshing and I have not had one in five years. It is perfect for the summer.
It was as good as I remember.
It is one of the many local favorites I had there. From the inexpensive but delicious calzones found in many family bakeries to the fresh seafood to the humble bakery pizza, I must confess that I perhaps noshed a wee bit on the local food!
The local areas continued to be explored. A little bit of wildness can be found here and there. In upper reaches of Narragansett Bay, a small cove was walked to. The native grasses flourished in a natural salt marsh. It looked almost what may have been seen so long ago.
Appropriately enough, we went outside of Smith Castle “just up the road (bay) for a brief visit. We missed the tour, but still nice to be on the site. This circa late 1600’s site of an old trading post had a similar feel: Tranquil, quiet and somehow lost in time from the rest of the very congested state.
Of course, the highlight of the visit was getting to spend time with my five-year old niece. I do not spend nearly enough time with her as I’d like. I want her to know her uncle in Colorado. It was a joy to spend so much time with her.
I think my brother enjoyed us watching her as well!
The “main event” for the visit happened. My brother Joey’s wedding.
It was definitely an East-Coast style wedding of a certain type and all that in entails. I could tell about the ritual, the traditions and the food…but, well, this photo of my brothers and I says it all!!! 😉
The wedding was a wonderful way to celebrate the new life my brother and his wife were starting for themselves. It was also another chance to see my many cousins, aunts and uncles that I rarely get to see. All the cousins (sixteen of us!) grew up more like siblings in many ways. And, I think, we miss that bond. We do not see each other nearly enough. All too brief of a visit.
One last brief visit was done the following day where I saw my buddy Jim who recently purchased a house a five-minute walk from the Pettaquamscutt River (more commonly known as the Narrow River)
After a lunch (overlooking the ocean…), we checked out the new home.
Another little piece of calm in the state. A salt-water river well-known for its kayaking. It was a beautiful spot.
I said goodbye to Jim. Briefly (a theme!) met my mother and her husband again for a quick goodbye, dropped off the rental car and eventually made it back to Colorado.
Another whirlwind visit.
In an ideal life, I would could spend more time there. Have beers with old friends. See my niece more. Get to explore New England a bit.
Since I am not independently wealthy, I’ll just have to cherish this visits when I can get them.