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Friday, November 18, 2011

Drum Roll... FINALLY... Newport!

There are no pictures of Newport. I had my camera. I had my phone. But I did what I always do. I forgot to take pictures. I’m also not going to recommend a hotel or any restaurants. Not because we didn’t think our hotel was nice—or that the restaurants we discovered weren’t wonderful. They were! (Lots o’ FUN shops, too!) I feel we only scratched the surface and that there are dozens and dozens of great hotels and restaurants recommended by thousands of more knowledgeable peeps than me on Trip Advisor.

Actually, our hotel was a decision made for us—by virtue of my husband’s meetings. One night we attended a “group” dinner at a fun restaurant on the water/pier. The name escapes me now. The rest of our dining experiences were decided, literally, at the last minute. As we walked by a place and read the menu. (On Monday, I actually ate at a Panera! Not very “local,” or adventurous, I realize. However, I heart Panera. Yum.)

My preconceived ideas of Newport, Rhode Island, could be described by these words: wealth, quaint, lots o’ wealth, romantic, historic, more money that most of us could ever comprehend, charming, beautiful, Old Money, relaxing, fabulous ocean air, and different. Tres different—from Texas.

We left Allentown that Saturday morning beyond ready to be in Newport. Traffic wasn’t too horrid and the time and distance seemed to go by fast. (All right. I give. That could be because I might have been asleep.)

When I saw the highway sign for Mystic, Connecticut, I asked Hubby if we could veer off course, a bit, and have an early lunch there. The name alone is uber intriguing. I got the “Please, Dear Lord, you’re not really asking me to do that, are you?” look. I decided we’d surely be able to go back on Sunday—no worries. I sweetly cancelled my request. Promise it was sweet.

Because we’d been driving, virtually non-stop, for four days, we kept forgetting it was a holiday weekend. Columbus Day. In fact, we also kept forgetting what day of the week it was. (We still don’t know. J/K. Today we know it’s Friday. YIPPEE!) As we arrived in Newport and headed to our hotel on Goat Island, we encountered traffic we didn’t expect. We soon agreed we probably weren’t going to want to drive anywhere else, once we parked the car. Not to Mystic. Not to nowhere—no how. The streets in the main area of town are only two lanes and some are very narrow. Not conducive to Clueless Tourists from Texas.

We checked in, unpacked, and made a visit to the Concierge. We confirmed that hanging out in Newport was going to be all we needed to try to do during our four-day visit. Hubby was going to be in meetings for two days, so he really only had a day and half to sightsee. Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard became out of the question. Something about a ferry and much farther away than I thought—requiring almost an entire day for each place. Perhaps I should have done my homework? Sheesh. I’ve never claimed to be good at geography. I rarely get those Trivial Pursuit questions right.

We opted for an afternoon City Tour of Newport on Sunday—with a visit to the Vanderbilt mansion—The Breakers. We were now ready to board the hotel shuttle to “town.” We quickly learned it was only about a quarter of a mile or so from the lobby of the hotel to the other side of the bridge, i.e. “town.” When we were shown where we’d have to be to catch the shuttle back to the hotel, we decided it would usually make more sense to walk. Walking = Always a Good Choice.

I must have journeyed over that Goat Island Bridge—not sure that’s it’s official name—about 16 times in four days. Hubby was with me for 8 of those strolls. I (we) got to oogle some pretty fancy-schmancy yachts each trip. Another World and life from ours. Entirely. Of course, I’d be happy to sit on one of those yachts, sipping some Maker’s 46, while it was docked. I’d have little interest in going out to the ocean. Sharks, you know. Shivers.

The weather was perfection—making our/my explorations that much more enjoyable and memorable. We’d expected to need coats at night. They weren’t ever necessary. Light jackets and sweaters were all that were ever required. Lovely.

The City Tour we took Sunday was conducted on a little red trolley. The Tour Guide, a man about Hubby’s age, had grown up in Newport—so he knew good stuff! I’d forgotten Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy had spent her summers in Newport. Had married Jack Kennedy at St. Mary’s Church. Their reception was held at her step-father’s seaside estate—Hammersmith Farm. The Press called Hammersmith Farm the Summer White House when John F. Kennedy was President. We could really only see the roof of the gigantic home, but the property was gorgeous. They had Oreo cows! Belted Galloways. If you don’t know what these are, Google—STAT! TLC, Lauren and I have seen them on a ranch between Dallas and Waco. They are darling! Someone please tell me how that was genetically engineered.

The Breakers? Unbelievable. Amazing. Incredible. 24-carat gold on the walls. In the bathrooms. Opulence, decadence, luxury beyond imagination. Everywhere. Check it out at It was a little over-the-top for moi. My favorite places in the mansion were the simply decorated bedrooms, the terraces and the humongous “backyard.” Well, the massive “lawn” to the sea. I’d get a book and grab a sweater (if necessary) and sit on an Adirondack chair for hours—reading, snoozing and looking at and listening to the ocean. Awww—contentment and peace. When I see unbelievable homes (that was probably the most unbelievablest—if not a word, should be—I’ve seen to date)—I’m seriously grateful to go back to my humble abode. Cross my heart. Not that I wouldn’t adore having someone gift me a small-ish mansion somewhere—like Maui. If I could have a “Staff”. A Staff that included a housekeeper, or six, a full-time Chef and a chauffeur. Oh, wait. I think that’s Oprah’s life I’ve jumped into for A Few Seconds of Delusion. Oops.

On Monday and Tuesday, while Hubby was in his meetings. I roamed more streets of Newport. I sat in George Washington’s “box pew” at Trinity Church. I took Hubby back there late Tuesday afternoon. While I tried to “channel” George, Hubby sat quietly. Clearly in utter and complete awe. We whispered how incredible it was to think General George Washington had occupied that box pew many times. Inspired isn't a big enough word for our feelings.

ELC—Travel Agent— gives Newport, Rhode Island, TWO THUMBS UP! Visit if you ever have the chance.

Next up in a week or two: A quick run-down on the FAST and FURIOUS trip home and my unsolicited observations about people and places. You’ll read about my Convenience Store Restroom Award of Merit—there were only two given out in 3600 miles—YIKES—and the Don’t Tailgate signs on the New Jersey and New York interstates we need in Texas—especially Dallas and Houston. Tomorrow, please.).

Have a Wonderful Weekend, Everyone Everywhere!

ta-ta for now . . .

p.s. CeeCee will soon be traveling with her Gang to New York City! We wish her a safe and FUN trip! We’ll watch for you at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!!!

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