Trip to Newport, RI

My Uncle Paul and Aunt Pauline had their 50th Anniversary party this past weekend at the same place where they were married all those years ago.  The name of the venue has changed, but the place is still there: OceanCliff.

It was the first time that I had been to Newport since high school, I think.  And Kelly had not been there herself in at least a dozen years.  So we both managed to get the day off in advance so we could go.

I am really glad we had the chance to go.  Kelly and I have not been able to get away for a long time, not even for our usual trip to Brimfield in May.  This year is the first year we didn’t go at all.  So this was a welcome day trip for us both, and we got to see a lot of members of my family, including a few that we don’t see often.

Not a great photo, but a lot of family here.  Uncle Paul and Aunt Pauline make a few remarks before my cousins got up to toast them.
Not a great photo, but a lot of family here. Uncle Paul and Aunt Pauline make a few remarks before my cousins got up to toast them.

My apologies for the poor quality of the photo.  But that view really was spectacular too.  The venue was pretty nice.  The food was not bad (especially once they got Kelly a good vegetarian option) and they even had an ice cream bar/buffet/whatever for dessert.  And coffee ice cream too – my favorite.

The view of Narragansett Bay outside was just gorgeous.

Lot of boats going by, including a few gorgeous cuddy cabins that made me drool.
Lot of boats going by, including a few gorgeous cuddy cabin cruisers that made me drool.

I got to see both of my brothers, whom I had not seen since my own wedding.  I also got to see a lot of other relatives, many of whom I had not seen in a decade or more.  Kelly had a lot of fun being Aunt Kelly to a couple of my nieces (Kate and Ella), and what’s even better, she got them interested in talking about the types of plants nearby.  She helped them identify what the plants were and how they could avoid poison ivy and similar plants.  The younger girl, Ella, lives in Dubai so we think she has never seen poison ivy. But the girls listened carefully and later went back and told their moms (my sisters Liz and Christene) all they learned.  That’s my sweetie, the science teacher/fun aunt.  The girls had a ball.

The weather was practically perfect, aside from a brief period of light rain near the end of the afternoon. And all sorts of memories from childhood came flowing back to me.  All sorts of stuff that had made such an impression on me as a little boy.

Like bridges.

There are spectacular bridges all over southern New England, and there are some huge bridges in Rhode Island.  I got this picture of the Newport Bridge (officially the Claiborne Pell Bridge), which was a good three miles away or so.

The Newport Bridge connects Newport to Jamestown in RI.
The Newport Bridge connects Newport to Jamestown in RI.

That bridge is huge even at that distance.  It’s the longest suspension bridge in New England.  It’s total length is over 11,000 feet and it’s 400 feet high, with a maximum clearance of just over 200 feet.  This bridge is so damn big you can literally see it from Providence at night if you go to the top floors of the biggest buildings there.

But the bridge that I remember from childhood (because I was utterly terrified of crossing it) was this one: the Mount Hope Bridge.  Sadly I did not get a good picture of it, but that was because both of my hands were firmly on the steering wheel in a tight death grip.  I crossed it twice on this trip and both times I was not thrilled.  Because unlike the Newport Bridge, the Mount Hope Bridge is only two lanes.  At least it’s been renovated since my last trip over it.

We were taking the bridge to go to Bristol, which is a town I used to visit quite a bit as a kid.  Whenever my family had a big clam boil on my grandparents’ farm, my grandfather would go to Bristol to get the seafood.  I remember we used to go this place on a pier, where the fishing boats were tied up at the other end unloading.  Inside there were all these huge tanks full of crabs, lobsters, clams, you name it.  And as a kid, I wasn’t thinking “seafood.”  I was thinking “aquarium.”  I was just in awe of it all.  And my grandfather would load up the trunk of his car with all sorts of stuff.  So I have always associated Bristol with the sea, and especially seafood.

So appropriately, while in Bristol we went to a famous local place called Tweets that my dad used to go to all the time when he was in college.  I was thinking about getting some awesome seafood and was not disappointed.  The menu was large, and the portions were shockingly large.  And I do have photographic proof.  I ordered a large seafood pasta (clams, scallops, shrimp) with Tweets’ custom sauce and even after eating for 10 or 15 minutes, it almost looked like I had not made a dent in it.

Holy crap that's a lot of food.
Holy crap that’s a lot of food.

So far, I have gotten 4 meals out of the leftovers, including stuff my family passed on to me since they were staying in a hotel and leaving the next morning.  So I think I got my money’s worth.  And the servers were just awesome.

If only they had Narragansett….

Preferably on tap.


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