16 January 2013

2013 SOUTH & EAST COAST to Rhode Island 21 - Visting Teshia the Long Way

The long way is Michigan to Rhode Island via Key West.

Woke up to 37 degrees cold. Yeow, winter is back! 127 miles driven with moving time of 2'23". Highest elevation so far since leaving Kalamazoo--489' just east of New London. Providence is 79'. Price of gas cheaper as we headed south from home, up in the Florida area, back down heading north from FL, and started back up when we hit the Chesapeake Bay area. Today bought gas in Mystic CT. Priciest so far at $3.87 per gallon. Average MPG 49.3. Still not bad mileage.

We had two goals on this trip: 1) spend Deb's 65th in Key West and 2) visit our niece T in Providence RI at her grad school RISD (Rhode Island School of Design). Mission one was accomplished. Mission two starts now.

We left Rock Island at a leisurely 10:40am. Took a last minute side trip to New London, CT, where Mike's dad graduated from the Merchant Marine Academy and where his mom and dad got married in 1942-ish. Mike had viewed a photo of his parents coming out of the chapel with crossed military swords above their heads. How romantic!

But we had no idea where the school or chapel might be. The town visitors center was "closed for the season," so we went to the train station hoping to get some info. The clerk said the academy was now located in Kings Point NY, and that was that.

We decided to walk around downtown anyway even though it was cold and damp. It was old and raggedy with upscale stores mixed in with abandoned buildings. Nice murals painted on buildings to liven it up with color and a cool whale tail sculpture in the city center park. There was a lot of old and interesting architecture, but probably not a place we would want to live even though it is on the water. On one street corner we saw two guys hawking laptops out of a paper bag to cars driving down the street. At that point we decided to hot foot it back to see if the loot was from our car. Thank goodness, no.

Back on the road, we cruised by Groton CT, proclaiming themselves to be the submarine capitol of the world. Mike thinks Scotland may disagree. Stopped at the Rhode Island visitors center. It was "closed for the season," but had some port-a-potties available. Very stinky though, so passed. Even though it had a canine rest area area, gave it a zero rating. I really don't get this "closed for the season" thing. Michigan gets much more snow and everywhere is open all year. 

My sister had recommended the Old Court B&B, as it was handy to T's. We booked the first floor due to we had a lot of stuff and did not want to haul it up a bunch of steps. Randy met us at the door and offered a nicer room (at the same rate) as we were the only guests for both nights of our stay. We said OK, if he would help with our luggage. He was half mountain goat, I guess, as he strapped everything on and took it up the steps to the third floor all by himself. The room was spacious and cozy. Décor, mostly late 1800's with very low-to-the-floor seating (guess those folks had shorter legs) and reinforced bed. Nice bed and nice bath.

T met us here at 2:30pm and began the "T" tour. We started at the living specimen rooms, displaying taxidermied animals (included a beautiful swan), human skeletons, etc. These are mostly used by drawing students, but the area is open to any student who might have a need for flora or fauna inspiration. They even had live fish tanks.

She is one of seven grad students in her class in the furniture design program and I think chairs are her fave. Next she showed us her work desk and then her work shop area in the woodworking building. We also saw the student store, the museum store which we hope to browse tomorrow, and a display of miniature chairs.

Then we went to the Media Collection area. They had a huge room filled with samples of any kind of "media" you could think of from simple paint color chips, granite and marble to foam made from mushrooms, aluminum honeycomb, etc. I can't begin to name even 1% of the items there. It was so fascinating.

Last RISD stop was the library. It is in an old building with high ornate ceilings. All the books are art and design related. Nearby Brown University has other topics and they share resources. There are study cubbies and art related puzzles waiting for folks to fill in the pieces. All very cool and artsy, of course.

We weren't quite ready for dinner so stopped at a place called Harry's Burger Bar to wet our whistles. There is a life-size black and white cow statue at the entrance and the walls were painted a cowhide pattern). T's dad had mentioned we should check this place out and especially try the Old Speckled Hen beer, which is nitrogen infused. Mike and T had that. Not being a beer drinker, I tasted it. It was one of the mildest I've tried, but I ordered some kind of berry cocktail that came in a martini glass. More my style!

Next T came up to our B&B room to check our digs. We grabbed the car and some laundry and went to her place. Great place for a young single. A one bedroom with up-to-date décor. Creek next to her patio. And dressed to the hilt with T's artsy, innovative, personal touches. Suits her well.

We dropped off the 6-pack of Coronas we had been carrying around for 10 days and the two cigars Mike bought for her in Tarpon Springs. Did a load of laundry while we chatted and picked a dinner place, catching up on all things T, Kalamazoo, her parents, Gramma, and us.

Last stop of the evening was dinner. Picked up a bottle of Riojo (Spanish red wine) to BYOB to the cream of the crop tapas bar next door, Flan y Ajo. Standing room only to start with, but it was overlooking the tiny 5x8 kitchen, so we could see all that was happening. Even had a leg of ham to carve dried shavings off for a tapas dish (far right). After one course, got two stools. Mike was the last man standing, but no issue.

We had a cheese plate, Clementine slices with anchovies (Mike had TWO helpings of this), herring on bread, assorted olives, olive oil for bread dipping, and hot potato chunks with cheese and soft fried egg. Mike had a flan dessert. Every bite was scarfed down, critiqued, and given an A+.

Desserts for T and I were at nearby Circe. Very chic black and white décor (not cow-like black and white, more vintage 40's). T had pumpkin crème brulee, while I had polenta apple crisp with home-made vanilla ice cream. Eyes bigger than tummies. Each had only a few bites. Mike had a Portuguese porto. A great way to top off a cherished evening with niece T.

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If you have visited any of these places, we would love to hear your comments. Or send us recommendations of places we should not miss.