Waking up, we hit the road, looking for all those things that Warwick, RI had to offer. Step one? Head on down to Conemicut Point beach, where there was said to be a light house out in the water.
Now, I'm not one of those people who travel around to see every light house they can find, but they still make a nice little photo. I suggested to Katherine that we try that lifestyle, and plan all of our future vacations around seeing these towering structures, with revolving lamps. We could learn their histories, and what makes each special, the names of all the models and bulbs, “Ah yeah, that's your C-37 Arizona house, with the L854 mega bulb. She's a beaut.” Her look put a quick end to all such thoughts. She was, shall we say, not impressed with the idea. It was probably for the best – I choose this time to tell her about our trip to Japan next August. Seeing as how she had no idea about it prior to this point, she took it well. After three months of reinforcement, I'm sure she'll see the light.
At the beach there were people wading around in the water, in their full set of clothes. At first I thought there must be a sand bar party, where people were swimming around, but the closer I got, the more it looked as if the people were bending down and grabbing something from beneath the water's surface.
When the lady with a pool cleaning net, attached to two plungers walked by, I knew I was missing something. But what could it be? Sure there was the lighthouse – I expected that, but everything else was a confusing mess. All the benches were really tombstones with faces, and dates of birth / death, the signs all pointed arrows to where the people were, warning about the pollution, and everyone here at the beach was in the water in full clothes – not a bathing suit to be seen.
What had we come across?
“Excuse me sir, but what's going on here?”
“Diggin' for Steamers.”
Ahh yes – steamers. Of course. Right. I assumed they were some sort of delicious from the sea thing. But more than that? It didn't look like I'd be getting any answers. Pictures taken, we headed back the way we had come, towards beach number two: Oakland beach.
This one was more to my expectations. There were board shorts, and bikinis, and frisbees, and kids running amuck. This was a beach. Before the surf and sand could be explored, hunger would have to be answered. Luckily for us, Iggy's was near by. What is Iggy's? Just the best Clam chowder is the state (or so I was led to believe by the line down the street – forming just behind us, as we stepped in right in the nick of time). Chowder, burgers, fries, and coleslaw ordered by the pint, were devoured in a wonderful salacious feast.
When eating at Iggy's it is best to go in pairs – one orders, while the other goes inside, and hawks the tables and booths, waiting for someone to get up, so you can swoop in before any of the others doing the exact same thing can make a move.
Once the feasting was over and done with we moved our New England party down to the water's edge. I threw down my towel, dropped my bag, and took out some Scott Pilgrim to – finally – read. Katherine ran straight for the surf.
I should note that at one point I could no longer see her, an worried she might have been dead. I wondered how long I'd give her, before finally deciding I had to leave. It was noon. Would four be long enough to assume she wasn't coming back? What about two? At discovering that I believed her swept out to sea, an that I didn't act – so much as walking to the edge and looking out – she was not enthralled. But, you know, I figured she was probably alright. It's like when I need to check my pack every twenty minutes to make sure my camera's in it – even though it couldn't possibly have been anywhere else.
Just after two we finally said goodbye to the sun and made our way back to our borrowed paradise. We had to get directions to the beach house our host was staying at. She invited us over to see it, and hang out. What should have taken five or ten minutes stretched out to over an hour, as the town she described did not exist (turns out a few letters were wrong, which would have pointed us to the right main street, but the township itself had a different name. Random googling an hoping for the best, finally paid off.) But never mind, we were on the road once more.
When we finally made it to – Manutuck (and I only have the pretend spelling here, the real one being forever lost once more) – I was once again greeted with what I felt this state should look like. The town appeared from nowhere off the high way, going from no traffic, to trailer parks, and roads overflowing with people.
Shan greeted us both with big hugs – we greeted her with a case of Bud Lime (All I knew was that it sold out back in the day – I'd yet to learn this was not a beer anyone in their right mind should ever drink... fruit beers, I should have known.)
This place was on a small lake – well, actually an inlet from the ocean, but as that twisted and turned out of sight, it appeared we were on a secluded property accessible only by those who owned in the area.
The patio, that's where we sat and chatted. Two of her friends from work, and her boyfriend, showed up. Then vegetables started to be chopped. Then grills were lit. Then it dawned on me that there was to be food. Real, delicious, local food. We were at an honest to god New England clam bake.
The clams were dug up only a day before (we were told that Steamers were soft shells, and these Quahog's were hard shelled.) and the veggies were out of her garden where we were staying. Everything we were about to eat was made from scratch, without anything being purchased from a super market. This was real eating.
The chowder was Rhode Island style (different than both Manhattan, an New England, in that it has more of a clear brother. I'd never heard of this. If their can be a third type of chowder – how many more, unknown to me, can exist?
This was followed up by shrimp skewers (let it be known that I, apparently, like shrimp – so long as it's not cold and covered in sea food sauce). Then there was the corn. Then there was the clams, covered in the most delicious sauce (which strangely smelled exactly like McDonald's Cheeseburgers) put right on the bar-be-que. By the time the food finally stopped, or rather turned from that which is more hearty, to succulent little cherries, we had been eating for three hours.
But we'd not just been eating. We'd watched a full double rainbow appear over the lake, seen girls canoe around the pond – impressed with the girl sterning from behind, as her two friends did very little, not even quite sure how to hold the paddle. We were curious about why three people took their boats twenty feet from shore to dump them and then swim, when they could just as easily have walked out that far. We were – distressed – as one tried to climb back into said boat, losing his trunks in the process.
We had chatted, and laughed, and run inside five minutes at a time to escape the brief rain, only to return once more.
This was relaxing with good friends, and having a great time. And it struck me – Three of these people I'd only met hours ago – another I'd known for a week, nearly a year ago, and the last was one who I'd seen far too infrequently over the past ten months. But this – this is what travel was all about, what it should be about.
Or maybe it goes beyond that. This is what life, and living should be about. Relaxing outside with good people, good food, and good conversation. Being in a small house on the ocean in Rhode Island? Well that's just the the proverbial fruit, stem tied with tongue, isn't it?