June 27th, 2004



This morning we decided to drive out to Sakonnet Point, over near the Rhode Island-Massachusetts state line, in the mistaken belief that there might be something over there worth seeing. The day was bright and clear and coolish. We crossed the Newport Toll Bridge and the Sakonnet Bridge, then turned south, driving through Tiverton and Little Compton. It's mostly farmland out that way, the sort of scenery that grows dull after the fourth horse and the fifth orchard. After a two-hour drive, we discovered that the only thing at Sakonnet Point was a private beach and a gate forbidding us from actually reaching Sakonnet Point.

By this time it was 3 p.m., and the better part of the day was behind us. Discouraged, we headed back the way we'd come. We wound up in Newport, trapped in the swarm of tourists and traffic. It wasn't as bad as Panama City at Spring Break or the French Quarter at Mardi Gras, but it was plenty bad enough. Everyone waddling about, sunburned and wearing the exact same expressions I'd seen on the cows out in Little Compton. I wondered aloud what Newport must have been like once upon a time, before its conversion to a sort of New England Disneyland. It would have been something to see then, when it was Something, instead of the tawdry, over-priced caricature of Something. We drove on, past the waters of the harbour, bristling the masts of sloops and yachts, to Fort Adams State Park, then around to Breton Point State Park on the southern side of the island. There were far fewer tourists here, and a little bit of rocky coastline. But it was nothing to compare with Beavertail, and the air smelled of dead fish and sewage. I took pictures of a small crab in a tidal pool and a couple of ruined lobster pots that had washed up on the rocks (Precambrian-aged metamorphics). We drove on, noting a flock of Canada Geese along the shore off Hazard's Beach before we turned north on Bellevue Avenue. Mansions, very old trees, and more traffic. We passed the Museum of American Illustration, and regretted we'd not known about it earlier in the day.

Before crossing the bridge back to Conanicut Island, we stopped at the Common Burying Ground. It was the only pleasant and productive part of the day. We wandered among the shale, granite and marble gravestones, dating from the 17th-20th century. It'll be a location in Daughter of Hounds. Spooky took photos, a few of which I'll try to post tomorrow. Then a sudden downpour forced us to dash back to the van and curtailed further exploration.

And that was today. Blah.

Here are a few photos from the last couple of days, as promised:

In the sleeper car.

Spooky reading in the sleeper car.

Self-portrait. You can see the top of Spooky's head in there somewhere.

Greater Black-Backed Gulls near Lion's Head, Conanicut Island.

Evidence of the aforementioned 29-lb. lobsters. My arm for scale.

Spooky wading just below the ruins of the old lighthouse.

Beavertail Lighthouse, through the fog.

And, by the way, dial-up frelling sucks.
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