Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Real Vacation, Part One

This April, I spent a week visiting Ben in Providence, including a weekend jaunt up to Indian Lake to visit Mom, who just celebrated her 90th birthday. She says she is very wise now.

I left Des Plaines after an overnight drenching rain, which turned the area into a disaster area, as the already overfull Des Plaines river crested at a new record (over ten feet) and drowned every bit of land near its banks. I was lucky to get out at all, and ended up spending most of the day at the airport, and flying into Boston at 10PM instead of Providence at 5PM. I then caught the last Peter Pan (no lie) bus of the evening into Providence, and arrived about midnight downtown. THEN I took a cab to my hotel. I was so happy to be on vacation that none of this bothered me in the slightest. "Look, the bus has outlets at each seat! Awesome!" 

Providence was in full bloom.
It was 70 degrees on my first day there (it snowed back in Illinois, if only flurries). This is the view heading up the hill toward Brown's campus. At the park by my hotel, I noticed these pretty manhole covers:
The day was so beautiful that we decided to rent a car early and drive down to Newport. There wasn't a car to be had because of the train stoppage to and from Boston (intended to prevent Tsarnaev's escape), so we waited an hour or so and were rewarded with a brand new Ford Escape! This was one of the cars on my shortlist to buy next year, so I was pretty thrilled to have such an extended test drive. More good travel karma.

A very scenic drive south to Newport, and over a bridge that rose 400 feet in the air and disappeared into a fog bank. It was beautiful and eerie and possibly full of leprous ghost sailors. Newport itself is wildly touristy on its main drag, but charming everywhere else. It was getting cooler and mistier so we ran to the Gap to get Ben a pullover, and drove down to the Cliff Walk.

You wander along a rugged shore, on the petticoats of grand mansions, and imagine the lives of their owners. Name a commoditiy, and these people owned it: railroads, coal, steel, whale oil, timber.
The Breakers, built by the Vanderbilts
I was going to Photoshop out the white van, but you know, it gives the picture SCALE.

It eventually got too rainy and cold for us to pretend any longer that we were hardy fisher folk, and we got back in our luxurious cockpit and drove back to Providence, where we had a fiery Korean hotpot stew that I had just seen on Anthony Bourdain the night before. Ben's pot was full of kimchi (I am not a fan) and mine had calamari and clams. After dinner we met Ben's pals at Trinity Brewhouse, where young Ben has his own tankard, and had some excellent Hefeweizen. THEN we moseyed across the street to a Providence Bruins game!

The game was fantastic fun; Skating! Fights! Goals! Sweet Caroline! in between periods they brought out Peewee hockey teams for mini-games. And then, about halfway through the second period, the game stopped abruptly, and the announcer came on to tell us "The Boston Police have captured the second bomber!" The crowd went nuts and I got chills. Providence is like Boston's little sister; the Providence Bruins are the feeder team to the Boston Bruins, and it was a full house of Boston fans. For many reasons, it was a special time to be in this lovely city.

And that was just the first day of my vacation.


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