A day on Block Island -- 07/16/05

Yesterday Nancy and I grabbed our bikes and took a ferry ride over to Block Island.
Block Island is about thirteen miles from the mainland -- a 55 minute ferry ride from Point Judith (or half an hour on the high speed ferry -- but what's the rush?). The photograph is of what you might call the urban area of Block Island: the row of shops and hotels along Water Street (all on inland side of the street, all with a view of the harbor). I took the picture from the ferry as we were coming in to dock at Old Harbor. (Old Harbor is protected by two long stone breakwaters. New Harbor is in the shelter of Great Salt Pond, that inlet that almost separates the northern part of the island from the south. Just to give you an idea of scale, that dotted line shows the approximate route we took on our bikes and is about six and a half or seven miles long. Block Island is not very big.

We left town on Spring Street, going up a long hill to the south until we came to Southeast Light. (This is the lighthouse that was jacked up and moved back the length of a football field from the edge of a cliff that was crumbling away.)
The morning fog had mostly burned off by the time we boarded the ferry but it moved back in (or had never left) the south shore of the island. That blob in the photo below is a three story house -- the blob in the middle is a fog horn -- a very large and loud fog horn.

We left the lighthouse and went a bit further along Mohegan Trail until we came to the access area for the stairs that descend down towards the beach. I have been told that there are two hundred fifty stairs taking you down one hundred and sixty-three feet. That still leaves you about thirty feet above the beach, and that last part is a bit of a scramble.
The stairs continue out of sight around the bend. A bit of a scramble...
Looking along the shore to the east. Looking along the shore to the west.
We climbed back up the stairs to the top of the bluffs and continued along Mohegan Trail and then turned onto Lakeside Drive, passing some of the fresh water ponds on the island highlands, and then down Center Road past the airport toward New Harbor on the Great Salt Pond, and then back towards town.
By this time (almost two o'clock) we were hot (the sun was bright once we left the foggy southern coast) and tired and thirsty and hungry. We found a place we had eaten once before, but decided it was too crowded and noisy, so we went a bit further along that road and found a delightful restaurant. Very good food... delicious crab cakes (with roasted red peppers and served with a basil mayonaise) -- I had fish and chips (fresh cooked fresh flounder and hand cut potatoes) and Nancy had a chicken wrap that she pronounced to be delicious. She of course had her traditional Block Island summer drink, a mudslide (equal parts vodka, Kahlua, Bailey's Irish Cream with crushed ice). I discovered that this place had a very good beer menu, lots of small New England breweries. I was very pleased to see they carried Offshore Ale, a brewery I just recently discovered (We hope to visit their brew pub if we make it over to Martha's Vineyard later this month.)... so I had a pint of their Amber Ale... and it tasted so good I just had to have another. The restaurant was just across the street from the beach that begins at the Old Harbor jetty and sweeps northward seemingly forever, so after lunch we wandered up and down the beach for a bit.
Oh my, that is tasty! Looking down the beach towards Old Harbor, with a view of the old Victorian era hotels and a ferry docked in the harbor.
We wandered about Old Harbor, looking in various shops. Took a break in a coffee shop that featured organic coffee. Had a Del's Lemonade (there is nothing like genuine Del's, frozen lemonade and slushies and slurppies are not the same). Finally we said goodbye to Block Island and caught a ferry back home.

We're looking forward to another visit to the island, maybe in the autumn, maybe bike out to the northern tip of the island to see North Light, maybe wander down some of the side roads on the main part of the island.
I had been thinking about the Run Around the Block 15k race (even though it is supposed to be an extremely difficult race due to hills), about trying it if I survive the Blessing of the Fleet... but then I looked at the calendar and realized that this year it comes the day before the CVS Downtown 5k in Providence and I don't want to miss that, so I guess I'll file the Rund Around the Block for consideration in some future year.

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