Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Block Island Day 2 - Tuesday, August 18

I woke up at dawn on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings to take photos of the sunrise over the harbor. I have fond memories of waking up early as a kid on beach vacations to see the sun rise over the ocean, and I didn't want to miss the show at Block Island. I think the rewards were worth the effort.

Both mornings I was able to go back to sleep for a while after waking up early. After all, I was on vacation.

On Tuesday morning we rode up to the northernmost point of the island to check out the lighthouse there. We'd hoped to swim at the beach as well, but signs and the rocks indicated that swimming was against the rules. Instead, we walked along the beach up to the lighthouse and beyond. The northern beach was bleak and foreboding. It bordered on a wildlife preserve and, except for the tourists wandering along the seaweed-strewn sands, the area was deserted.

A couple of hardy people defied the rules and went for a swim, but we decided to ride south and choose another beach. On the way back Kate led us off the main road to a beach she had visited last summer. This beach was much more crowded than the one we'd visited on Monday but after a hot ride and a long walk we didn't care about all the people and we just went into the water. The water was just as cold as it had been on Monday. Kate didn't seem to mind the temperature and made fun of me shrieking like a little girl every time a wave hit me. I kept shouting "I'm having a great time!" despite shivering and tucking my hands into my armpits.

We rode back toward the harbor for lunch, looking for a sandwich shop or a deli for a quick bite. We couldn't find anything like that and with hunger quickly taking control of our senses, we stopped at the first restaurant we found. It was the Albion Pub, a sports-bar-type place with HDTVs in the corners. We talked with the bartender (and owner?) who said that business on the island had been slow all summer long. Many residents had put off scheduled renovations or improvements to their homes, and the usual tourist crowd was down from previous years. The bar was nearly empty when we were there, but it was nearly mid-afternoon so we'd missed the lunchtime rush.

After lunch, we rode back to a nearby beach and spent the rest of the afternoon soaking up the sun, literally. We had been applying sunscreen religiously, but the SPF 30 Banana Boat lotion didn't prevent us both from getting our backs sunburned. I read and Kate dozed, and when I looked over at her she had turned a bright shade of crimson where the sun had hit her back. We went shopping before dinner for better sunblock and aloe lotion, fully aware of the pain that awaited us on Wednesday. Despite our pain we were able to enjoy dinner that night at Ballard's. Kate ordered the New England clambake (a combination platter of steamed clams, lobster, corn, and potatoes) and I had the surf & turf. I'm not sure what cut of meat my steak was, as it was perfectly square.

But it was a steak, and it was seasoned and cooked to my satisfaction. The lobster wasn't bad either. We had dessert at Aldo's, one of the two main ice cream parlors on the island. It was definitely some of the best chocolate/peanut butter cup ice cream I've ever had.

One thing I didn't realize about going on a beach vacation in New England is that the weather cooled off considerably at night. The humidity fell and the temperature dropped into the 70s, and with the constant ocean breeze it became downright chilly. We hadn't thought to bring jackets or sweaters with us, so we had to buy some Block Island sweatshirts from a local tourist shop. On the positive side, I'd wanted a hooded sweatshirt for a long time and I wanted something with "Block Island" on it as a souvenir. Thanks to the weather, I came home with both.

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