East Bay Summer

Summer seems to be zipping by this year. I’m already down to only three weeks left in Rhode Island before heading up to Maine (more to come on that later). While the time is escaping me this summer, the adventures are not.

Adventure I: Rhody Wine

We’ve had a slew of cloudy and rainy days as of late, and pretty much for most of this summer, but my mom and I took advantage of the partly sunny outlook today and drove down the road to Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyard in Little Compton for a tour and tasting. Tours are free and start every hour on the hour until 3 PM. While wine and New England may not seem like an instant match, the Sakonnet River and Atlantic Ocean endow the area with a maritime climate good for growing grapes. Although the year isn’t as hot for as long as it is in California, France, Spain, or Italy, wineries throughout the region do well with producing subtle wines. The tour was enjoyable, and our guide Liz explained wine making from grape to bottle. Afterwards, we topped our visit off with a tasting. For $14, visitors get to sample seven different wines and learn more about each. Our favorites were the Siren, a smooth, bold, and not too sweet Vidal Blanc, and the Rhode Island Red. If you go, you’re welcome to take your time with the tasting, relaxing outside or walking around the property.

Adventure II: Historic Newport

Another recent foray into Newport brought me to the Touro Synagogue, the oldest synagogue still standing in the U.S. I’d first heard about the site as it’s on the National Register of Historic Places, so it had caught my eye as somewhere meriting a visit. Tours are $8 with a student ID and leave every half hour during the summer. I was the only one on my tour, so I got to take pictures inside, though photography is usually prohibited.

My tour guide Lew did an excellent job describing the history of the building and its congregation. Any proud Rhode Islander will tell you that their state was founded on the principles of religious freedom by dissenters like Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson. At the time, Jews under pressure from the Inquisition in Spain and Portugal immigrated to Amsterdam and New York, but soon found Newport to be more welcoming due to the sentiment at the base of the state. Acceptance and religious equality physically manifest themselves in the area as houses of worship are about equidistant from Washington Square, Newport’s main green, and no place of worship sits directly on the commons.

The synagogue’s interior evokes Independence Hall in Philadelphia: though simple, it is filled with treasures like a torah over 500 years old and a presidential booth where multiple U.S. presidents have sat. In fact, every year on August 16th there’s a special service in the synagogue in which they read a letter from George Washington to the Jews of Newport, written after the Ocean State became the last state to ratify the Constitution.

Adventure III: (New)port

A couple weeks ago now, my cousin and aunt visited from New York. My sister Emma and I brought my cousin into Newport to see Rough Point, where there’s currently a ceramics exhibit on display of the house, explore Cliff Walk, and then get dinner at Diego’s. Located on Newport’s restaurant row Bowen’s Wharf, Diego’s caters to the young, fun, and boisterous type. They serve up terrific Mexican food in a laid-back atmosphere: think fresh chips and guac or bulky and savory burritos and enchiladas. Their drinks range from Mexican inspired Mezcal and Tequila libations to the Wharf Mojito, featuring ginger and pineapple.

Adventure IV: Open Air Bristol

First off, congrats on making it this far in this mammoth post! My last recent adventure may be more accurately described if I were to call it a detour. The other day, I went for a run along the Bristol Bike Path, but instead of continuing along through the peaceful wooded areas, I took a left at the sign for Colt State Park. Though I didn’t delve too deeply into the grounds, as I turned around at about the four mile mark, what I saw was splendid: quiet ponds surrounded by grasses tickled by the wind, sumptuous views of the bay, and other walkers, runners, and bikers enjoying it all. This spot has definitely earned a spot as one of my favorite running routes.

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