Rhode Trip: A Day on Block Island
Like many New Englanders this weekend, I couldn’t take the heat. So I got out of the kitchen. I threw my bike in the back of my station wagon, zipped down to Point Judith and spent the day on Block Island. An old friend, who also happens to be a Rhody native and summer waiter at the National Hotel on the island, met me at the ferry with his bike. He had a day off from work, so we resolved to spend the day riding around the island, swimming when we were hot and eating when we were hungry. Early in the day, I asked what time the ferries returning to Point Judith left, and Charley half-joked, “that’s a later problem.” How refreshing!
Our first stop was the farmers’ market on Ocean Avenue. It’s a small market, filled mostly with crafts and artisans. I paid a visit to our friends at Blazing Star Farm and then perused the rest of the market. Littlefield Bee Farm’s cinnamon honey (which apparently has amazing health benefits…and how good would that taste in chamomile tea?) tempted me, but I resisted. The highlight of my market experience was the freshly squeezed blackberry lemonade, made by two adorable girls, who come to the market every week to sell the fruity lemonades that they make from scratch.
Next, we cruised down Spring Road to The Spring House. I was eager to see this beautiful hotel for myself, and it did not disappoint. With its long line of white Adirondack chairs, rolling green hill down to the Atlantic Ocean and lovely outdoor porch seating area, it’s obvious why it’s such a popular spot. We continued down the road, taking a shortcut down a gravelly lane lined with lush green shrubs, and arrived a few minutes later at Mohegan Bluffs Beach.
One of the things that appeals to me about Block Island is that it feels a little wild. It’s not too manicured, the roads are just good enough, and there is little concern for safety. Peering over the edge of the sandy, craggy bluffs, I was just the right amount of scared. We walked down what felt like 1000 stairs through the cliffs and arrived at the ocean. Charley knew of a clay pit that he wanted to check out (perks of having a friend on-island), so we scrambled up into the cliffs and covered ourselves with the sticky, gooey stuff. It seems that we also started a trend!
Relatively speaking, Block Island is tiny. Just under 10 square miles, it is easy to bike the whole island in a single day. Charley and I looped around the bottom half, stopping off at another beach for a quick dip, and then continued on to Old Harbor. A little under half of the island is conserved land, so every roll in the road reveals a new beautiful, green view.
In the mid-afternoon, sunburned and thirsty, Charley and I stopped at Payne’s Doughnuts. To be totally frank, I’m not really a doughnut person; but these sugary, moist pastries are a different story. It’s a good thing I don’t frequent Block Island, because I’d fear them becoming a staple. We tried one each of the plain, cinnamon and sugar doughnuts along with Del’s Lemonade and an iced coffee. I felt like a legitimate Rhode Islander.
Our loop continued back into Old Harbor, where Charley and I decided we would sample some of the local ice cream offerings. Aldo’s Bakery and The Ice Cream Place are directly across from each other on Water Street so we figured we’d hold an informal competition. Charley got Aldo’s honey vanilla flavor (made with local Littlefield Bee farm honey), and I went with my usual moose tracks from The Ice Cream Place. It reminded me of my experience at the Ice Cream Throwdown: how is it possible to choose a favorite when they’re all so good? I think that Aldo’s homemade, local philosophy earned them the winning spot, though. And their baked goods looked tempting, too…
After a bike ride up to the North Lighthouse and another dip in the ocean, it was time for me to catch the ferry back to the mainland. I stretched out on the top deck of the ferry, got even more sunburned than I already was, and fell fast asleep until we arrived at Point Judith. If I have anything to say about it, Block Island is a great place to beat the heat, and to eat.