Rhode Island – Days 1-3: Newport, Providence, and a few Misadventures

Day one in Rhode Island ended up being kind of a wash. I was behind on my blog and had to spend some time catching up on that or I’d never catch up. Then I realized I was crazy overdue for an oil change and that ended up taking like an hour. So I spent most of the day driving around running errands.

I did manage to end the day in Newport, RI doing the Cliff Walk, as I had planned. It was amazing! It had been a little rainy that day and it was pretty cloudy and overcast, so there weren’t many people out. It was just before sunset though, so the clouds were these amazing colors. The massive rocks along the shore were constantly slammed by huge waves. The sound was incredible and in certain spots, if I stayed standing for a few minutes, I got a little mist spray from the waves. It was wonderful.

Seriously, how is this real?! Newport, RI.

Seriously, how is this real?! Newport, RI.

Day two did not start according to plan. I drove in to Providence and found what I thought was a Farmer’s Market that I wanted to check out. After I finished packing my bag I dug around for my wallet to make sure I had enough cash for the Farmer’s Market and I couldn’t find it…

I took everything out of my backpack, because that’s usually where I keep it, and it wasn’t there. I opened the trunk and tore it apart thinking maybe I’d set it in there the previous night after one of my errands. Not there either. I tried to keep myself calm and went to look under the front seat in case it fell out of my pocket. Nope. Not there either. I racked my brain trying to remember the last time I had it.

I definitely had it when I got my oil changed, and they would’ve said something if I left it on the counter… Oh, and I had it after that when I stopped by Walmart. I didn’t think I’d left it in the self-check-out lane. Which meant that if I hadn’t left it at my host’s house and it wasn’t in the car somewhere I’d dropped it on the Cliff Walk… I felt like I would’ve noticed dropping it on the Cliff Walk, or seen it when I back-tracked to the car, so I called my host to see if he’d seen it. I knew it wasn’t in the room where I’d stayed because there wasn’t anything left in there when I left. So, if it wasn’t in the chair I’d sat in when I first got there I didn’t know what I was going to do.

Luckily, my gas tank was about 3/4 full and I’d been at least a little smart and had taken out $300 in cash before I left for the trip and I didn’t keep that in my wallet. Though, I was pretty sure I didn’t have any credit or debit cards hiding out anywhere so I was convinced my trip was about to tragically come to a hiatus. I was going to have to use the $300 I had to drive back to Minnesota that day and wait until I got new cards mailed to me and changed my license and registration to Minnesota and all sorts of other non-fun stuff. I was especially bummed that I wouldn’t be able to replace my student ID and it was already like 10 or so in the morning so it was going to be a long night of driving to get all the way back to Minnesota.

I was very close to tears and mildly hysterical when I pulled back into my host’s driveway. I looked at my phone and saw that I had one text message. I really hope that’s Travis telling me he found my wallet. I opened it and sure enough the text from Travis just said “I found it!” Whew. There are no words in the English language more beautiful than those three at that moment. Relief crashed over me and I went in the house, regained possession of my wallet and once again set off on my adventure for the day.

I resolved to move a credit card to my other wallet and was pleasantly surprised to see that it already carried a credit card and the debit card for my online bank. I still would’ve had to go home to replace everything else, but at least it wouldn’t have been quite so stressful.

Turns out what I thought was a Farmer’s Market was actually the Rhode Island School of Design’s (RISD) Annual Alumni Craft Fair. It was packed. They had a lot of cool stuff, but there were so many people that I decided to just walk through and continue on to downtown, or as they call it downcity, Providence and walk around.

Downcity...its a thing apparently....Providence, RI.

Downcity…its a thing apparently….Providence, RI.

Providence reminded me a lot of Little Rock because of its size. It’s a smaller city, but it’s really architecturally pretty. As I walked around at first I thought, ok, yeah, I think I’d like to live in a city about this size, it’s not as crazy packed as NYC but also not as tiny as Crossett. The more I walked around however the more I realized how dead it was. I paused for a minute wondering if there was a reason there were no people around. No, it was a Saturday. There should definitely be people around. Where were all the people? I came across a lot of homeless people, but not many others. Maybe everyone was at the RISD Fair? There were a ton of people there… I decided maybe a city a bit bigger than Providence is where I’d like to be. I needed some people to be wandering around the city on a weekend. An empty city reminded me of Des Moines, which I had loved, but was too small for me.

I really appreciated Providence’s unique architecture, Providence, RI.

I really appreciated Providence’s unique architecture, Providence, RI.

I came across the public library so I went in to scope it out and see if they had any cool places to work because I had a work day planned for the following day. They did indeed have a really cool place where I could work. The Providence Journal Rhode Island Room in the Providence Public Library looks like stereotypical college libraries on tv. It was so cool. I sat down and read some Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, just to hang out in the room for a bit longer. I also used the time to charge my phone, since they had super convenient outlets on all the tables.

Providence Public Library’s Providence Journal Rhode Island Room, Providence, RI.

Providence Public Library’s Providence Journal Rhode Island Room, Providence, RI.

My host the previous night had mentioned that the Arcade was an interesting place to check out. It was the country’s first indoor mall, but they converted the top two floors into micro-loft apartments. I happened to walk by it on my wanderings so I went in to see it for myself. The first floor had boutiques and a restaurant and bakery and the top two levels had closed in glass walls. It was kind of cool. I wish I could have seen the inside of one of the apartments though.

The Arcade, America's first indoor mall, now partial home to micro-lofts, Providence, RI.

The Arcade, America’s first indoor mall, now partial home to micro-lofts, Providence, RI.

Next I headed back toward RISD to go to the RISD Museum (free with my museum pass!). On my way, I crossed back over the river and when I looked out I saw a gondola. Yes, a gondola. Did you know you could ride a gondola in Providence?! Me neither! I wanted to get a good picture, but they were moving away from me, so I literally followed them on foot and as soon as I caught up to them they turned around. Awkward. Don’t mind me taking a picture of your romantic ride…I just want to share it with my blog readers….

Gondolas in Providence, RI...who knew?!

Gondolas in Providence, RI…who knew?!

Turns out the RISD museum was free anyway the day that I went. Normally it’s like $16 though, so I’m going to pretend it was only free because of my museum pass. Even though my host told me it was bigger than I’d expect I was still surprised by how big it was. I meandered slowly through the museum for at least three hours. I hadn’t done any research I just went because I was getting in for free, but I assumed it was a museum of RISD student or alumni work. I was wrong. I walked into one room and was like, hang on, that’s a Jackson Pollock…what?! Cool.

They also had Warhol and some other contemporaries. Later I found some of Monet’s work, a Picasso, and some Renoir and Degas pieces. Quite the spread. I sat and pondered a giant Buddha statue for like 15 minutes. Something about the expression on it’s face and the fact that it was this huge statue carved out of wood and pieced together, was just really fascinating. I enjoyed taking a break for some peaceful contemplation.

Buddha Mahavairocana, Japanese, ca. 1150-1200, Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, RI.

Buddha Mahavairocana, Japanese, ca. 1150-1200, Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, RI.

I had a little trepidation when wandering through the Ancient World sections because I wondered how we acquired the pieces. The pottery and small artifacts I could kind of understand, but the slabs of walls and tombs? I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s interesting to look at but it made me really uncomfortable, like who are we to remove these artifacts from their homelands and bring them to a museum in the U.S. and charge people to look at them? It just doesn’t seem right. I mean, look at this:

Mummy of Nesmin, ca. 250 BCE, Akhmim, Egypt, Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, RI.

Mummy of Nesmin, ca. 250 BCE, Akhmim, Egypt, Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, RI.

Is there an actual person in there? (Yes, there is.) How disrespectful can we be? Not only did we remove the sarcophagus from it’s resting place, but we opened it up and were like, hey, check out this mummy?! Really?! Yeah, no. That is so not cool. I felt the same way about the ancient Roman sarcophagus. Just, no. Though I’m pretty sure that one was at least empty. Still, curiosity should have it’s limits.

Roman Sarcophagus, 2nd Century CE, Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, RI.

Roman Sarcophagus, 2nd Century CE, Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, RI.

On the way back to the car I cut through Brown University. Wow. Such a pretty campus. No wonder Emma Watson went there. There were lots of people hanging out on the lawn and I really didn’t want to be THAT kid, so my picture doesn’t do it justice at all. If you get a chance, totally go tour Brown, it’s beautiful!

Brown University, Providence, RI.

Brown University, Providence, RI.

When I got to my host’s house that evening she said she was going to a pumpkin carving party at her bosses house and asked if I wanted to join. Uh, of course I did! Earlier this week I told the universe I’d really like to carve a pumpkin at some point before Halloween, so I was beyond elated when the opportunity presented itself. I had such a great time hanging out with my host and her co-workers and my pumpkin turned out pretty alright too.

My slightly creepy pumpkin, styled after the cute one Megz carved last year in Crossett.

My slightly creepy pumpkin, styled after the cute one Megz carved last year in Crossett.

Day three was supposed to be a planning day, but it also didn’t go as planned and was sort of aggravating. I really wanted to go back to the Providence Public Library and hang out in the Providence Journal room, but they didn’t open until 1:00 p.m. on Sundays, and that was kind of late. I ended up sleeping in (until like 8:30 a.m.) and then spent the morning on Pottermore because I knew I had the rest of the day to be productive.

At around 11:30 a.m. I left my host’s house and set out for a souvenir shop since I hadn’t come across one yet. Two non-existent stores later, I finally found a shop that actually existed and enjoyed a nice long chat with the older man who ran it. By then it was almost 1:00 p.m. so I figured I might as well go back to the library since I knew they had both internet and outlets (a duo that is much harder to come by than I thought it’d be).

I decided to park in the same spot as the previous day, even though it was a bit of a walk because it was free and the walk was pretty. When I got to the library it was around 1:30 p.m. and it WASN’T OPEN! Seriously?! I’d wasted at least an hour driving back to the library, parking, walking, and walking back. I was super frustrated. I just needed to send some Couchsurfing requests and get a draft of this blog post written. Was that really so much to ask?! Having learned my lesson the hard way the other day in Massachusetts, I called the Barnes and Noble I planned on driving to instead to make sure they had a Café and held out hope they also had available outlets. Fortunately they had both and I managed to get a bit of work done before heading to Connecticut.

Overall, I had a great time in Rhode Island. I really liked Providence. Newport was gorgeous and all the people I met were super cool and friendly. So, one-tenth of the way through the states and 50 States in 50 Weeks is still pretty awesome.

One thought on “Rhode Island – Days 1-3: Newport, Providence, and a few Misadventures

  1. Kate Christy

    Brittany – You should know that Madison, WI (pop. 240k) is a people watcher’s paradise because there are always people downtown and along State Street (even on weekends). Also, Wikipedia confirmed my long-held belief that Minnesota has the first indoor mall, Southdale in Edina. Don’t let those Rhode Islanders tell you otherwise 😉 The Arcade looks nicer, though.

    Reply

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