Road Trip: Halloween in Brooklyn and Newport, Rhode Island's Mansions
Part 2: From Philadelphia, to Brooklyn, then on to Newport
>> On October 29th, we spent our last morning in Philadelphia, returning to Philadelphia's Magic Gardens and its floor-to-roof mosaics. We then ambled over to the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts just in time for a comprehensive tour. At 1:30 PM, we left for Brooklyn where we spent the weekend with our family to enjoy Halloween. Drive time between cities? About two hours.
In Brooklyn, the average home is in a multi-family building and is not a place where you'd think trick-or-treating would be popular. And yet, various neighborhoods get together to enact spectacular Halloween experiences. Children from the area converge on these blocks, where they solicit treats from witches, ghosts, mad scientists, guido's, and guidette's (yes, Jersey Shore characters were popular) who sit on brownstone steps and hand out goodies.
On Monday, we drove to Newport, Rhode Island. Even though it was now early November, highways were still thickly lined with crispy red and yellow trees instead of bare branches. As we arrived in Newport, however, its expansive bodies of water and a bright sky seemed to turn everything blue. The area was so surprisingly beautiful, in fact, we decided to spend a week there, rather than just two days.
As luck would have it, I picked up a Northeast Room Saver catalog at a McDonald's that was about an hour outside of our destination. Normally, I don't pay attention to this publication, but because we were so unfamiliar with the Newport area, I thumbed through it and found two motels with indoor pools and hot tubs, promotionally priced at $60 and $70 per night.
We chose the Holiday Inn Express - Middletown / Newport and received the catalog rate of $60 a night.
Wow! This motel is wonderful! It is far, far, (really "far") better than inns or hotels costing $300 to $400 a night. Its pool is big. Its spa is hot. Its Internet fast. It provides a DVD player where you can play your own, or play one from the its library. Its exercise room is well equipped. And if that is not enough (I'll stop anywhere for a spa), it serves a full breakfast which, although not restaurant quality, is complete with eggs, bacon, various types of muffins, cereal, juices, milk, and coffee.
But what really makes this motel outstanding (if the above wasn't enough to convince you)? It has a coin-op laundry facility on the premises where you can dry your bathing suit. (Why do even the best hotels forget about this need?)
Cliff Walk's disappearing walkway in Newport, Rhode Island
NOVEMBER 2, 2010: To understand Newport a bit better and enjoy a crisp, blue day, we decided to talk a stroll. Conveniently, the city offers two paths around its edge. The west side path, which is the longest, overlooks the Narragansett Bay. The east side path (around 4 miles) borders the mansion area and overlooks the Atlantic Ocean.
What the city forgot to tell us was that a portion of the east side path was either washed away, or was never there at all. Early on in our Cliff Walk travels, we experienced short stretches of rocks between paved path segments, but that did not prepare us for what followed the "Rough Point" portion of Cliff Walk. (www.CliffWalk.com)
Unfortunately, we were victim of not believing our own eyes. In Europe, a "rough" walkway indicates that a path is not swept. In the US, or at least in Newport, "rough" apparently indicates that a path does not exist. One does not stroll south on the "Cliff Walk" from the Rough Point area, but instead, one clamors over rocks, many of which are sharp, steep, and definitely not flat.
The picture above does not do justice to the 1.5 miles stretch that designates the Rough Point area. The only reason I walked it (yes, that's me in the picture) was because, like earlier in our stroll, I assumed that a sidewalk was just around the next corner (in fact, there were short pieces of "path" along this way; just enough to give the impression that the rocks were temporary).
There is not a hint in town that no groomed path exists in this area, even though a path clearly shows up on every tourist map. In my opinion, long stretches of breakwater rocks do not a path make, at least not my definition of a path. Information in the link I've provided above reveals much more about the area than I found in any tourist literature. Unfortunately, we didn't have access to the Internet while walking.
At two different points, we saw a few people walking toward us, so we foolishly assumed that conditions were better ahead. After continuing over the rocks for a considerable distance, we hoped that we were closer to the trail's end, then to the last known sidewalk. Unfortunately, a couple in front of us, who were heading in the same direction as we were, turned back, not knowing that they were within a half-mile of the end. Because they went back, they walked a total of about 2.5 miles over rugged, dangerous-without-climbing-shoes rocks.
Nevertheless, Phil and I made it all the way around the edge to the tip of the city. Thankfully, that tip included access to the apply named "Ledge Road."
Elms mansion in Newport, Rhode Island
NOVEMBER 3, 2010: I became aware of the Newport mansions through Wealth TV, a station that specializes in travel destinations and am certainly happy that I decided to visit them in person!
In the 1960s, the increasingly-shabby Newport was about to be "developed," when a local philanthropist, Doris Duke (who also owned the Rough Point mansion), spearheaded a move to save the city's historic homes, its business district, and the mansions themselves. Today, because of this effort, the city, coupled with its ocean-atmosphere, is intelligently beautiful and a worthy tourist destination.
We spent this afternoon at the Elms and enjoyed a very clear, self-guided presentation.
To me, the most memorable aspect of the Elms was its service door. It was completely disguised so that guests would not see the servants and horse-drawn, delivery wagons coming and going. I felt that it was the most beautiful entrance on the entire property!
Last day in Newport - our remodeled bathroom awaits us at home
NOVEMBER 6, 2010: We received confirmation today that our bathroom remodeling project was finished, which means that we end daylight savings time by returning home on Sunday. I will, however, definitely miss our temporary dwelling at the Holiday Inn Express, with its spa, pool, exercise room, breakfast, and housekeeping service.
Newport mansions were all about people with a passion for creating stunning living spaces. These Victorian-age mansion builders were globe trotters, whose souvenirs shaped their surroundings. They hired master decorators and inspected every detail of their building projects. The main difference between their mansion building practices and our remodeling efforts is that we just handed our current contractor a few tile samples, then told him to do whatever is needed to make our bathroom look good. Our souvenirs, of course, tend to be fudge, which, unfortunately, don't fit the decor. (Sal's Painting & Carpentry)
We will have wonderful memories of Newport. It's an easy place to spend a week without running out of places to see, topics to think about, and areas for peaceful strolls, plus in early November, we had the area to ourselves. During the regular season, of course, boating and bathing also provide stimulating recreation.
Over the last two days, sun only appeared in the late afternoon, so we didn't take our usual godzillion daily shots. Also,The Preservation Society of Newport County does not allow pictures to be taken in its mansions. This eliminates the problem of obstructive view-hoggers and flash-sparkles during tours, and increases the sale of lovely picture books.
Our only regret during the last week of our three-week road trip was that we didn't see the tile work in The Elms, The Breakers, Marble House, Rosecliff, and Chateau-sur-Mer before giving our contractor his instructions. We certainly are leaving the area with good ideas, however, but have been spared the expense of carrying them out.
While a long way from the Philippian tropics, Newport is home to Copure, a home-based manufacturer of coconut oil that's so pure, you can eat it. I bought two small jars of it for skin use and only later found out that Copure and its founder, Paul Sorse, were the subject of Coconut Cures: Preventing and Treating Common Health Problems with Coconut.
Apparently, coconut oil cures everything from Athlete's foot to bad breath. It is even proported to heal wounds in a flash! The only thing that I can attest to, however, is that it's great for skin and does not feel greasy.
Today, Copure is manufactured by Deborah and LeRoy White, who acquired the process originally developed by Paul Sorse. This very low-key couple sell Copure over the Internet as well as from their home, making the purchase of this local product much more authentic than considering souveniers of traditional Newport baskets that are now made in China.
Questions? Ask Karen at Karen@littleviews.com
Article and photos by Karen Little. First published as a blog beginning on 11/18/2010. All rights reserved by www.Littleviews.com.