Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Midwesterner in Massachusetts, Part 1

First of all, that's how you spell Massachusetts.

Secondly, I promise I'll finish this story. But you know I can't sit down and type up the whole story at one sitting.... that's something a brilliant writer would do, not me.

Once upon a Friday, at work, they asked me how I felt about travelling. Duh... Would I like to take a business trip? Heck yes! However, I did try to talk them out of it. I didn't feel the trip was necessary. But no such success. There you go, Sharon , off to Raynham Massachusetts with you!

So, one week later, I went home on a Friday, to pack on a Saturday, and leave early Sunday morning. With business planned for Monday through Wednesday, I figured I could sightsee on Sunday without adding an extra hotel night.

Sunday morning, out the door at 5 a.m. I was scared stiff my car would break down on the way. Not because there was much chance, just because I couldn't help thinking about that slim chance. You know, for my brother's first flight, I drove him to the airport (4 hours into my 8-hour drive), except we developed a flat tire on the way and he barely walked into O'Hare as they were boarding his flight. Needless to say, it was a slight nightmare, one that sticks with you for future travels. But no such excitement this time. I reached the airport, only turned around twice before getting into the right parking lot, locked and left my car without even kissing it goodbye.

I ask you, is there anything more fun for a little blond girl, than hopping on a flight with your black coat and laptop bag, just like the businessmen. Which reminds me that I didn't see many businesswomen travelling. Actually, come to think of it -- none at all! What's up with that?

Fort Wayne to Detroit is barely a half-hour flight. No sooner are you settled in a horizontal flight pattern, than they're beeping at you to prepare for landing.

When we flew into Providence, Rhode Island, I was exhausted, awfully hungry and quite thirsty. But the first thing to do was pick up that rental car. I had told them I drive a Honda Civic and they said they had a comparable car, a mid-size. The rental guy points it out to me with some difficulty - it's that white one 4 cars down. WHAT??! What is this huge white space shuttle? So that's a Toyota Matrix, huh? So maybe it wasn't so huge, but felt like it after my no-frills Civic. Everything became all right when I turned the key in the ignition and felt it glide smoothly and silently under me, out of the lot... I suddenly thrilled and realized it was going to be an incredibly fun business trip.

Right out of the Providence airport, you jump onto Interstate 95 and head out of Providence. North takes you to Massachusetts and Boston. South takes you to New York... eventually... and Newport. I headed south because my Raynham colleagues had recommended Newport for a day's visit. All I knew about Newport was that it was supposed to be a scenic city out by the ocean, and home to some of those fantastically rich mansions.

Unfortunately, 95 got me out of town so fast that there was no place to get a drink or some food. These small trials are nothing to a dedicated traveler. Make the most of every moment, get on your road, and trust that you'll find something on the way, hopefully before you pass out. Also, it's easy to forget about food and drink when you're driving down a beautiful curvy highway on a sunny day and start seeing signs for all those towns you only read about in your early American history textbooks.

Beautiful huge bridges! I crossed one and started seeing signs for Jamestown. Then I saw there was a toll bridge on the road to Newport. Recalling that I had no cash on me (dumb), I delayed that problem and headed down the road to historic Jamestown. Very delightful to drive into town, past the harbor, along the quaint roads! Very delightful, but I finally realized that there was no back road to Newport, given that it was across the bay... the road to my planned Sunday sightseeing lay over that huge toll bridge.

Well, I thought, let's give it a try. Maybe it's not one of those ridiculously expensive Eastern tolls, and my $1.something will somehow be enough to get me across, and then I'm not sure how I'll get back but we'll figure that out later.

Well it was not cheap, it was $5, which I most certainly did not have, not even in quarters, and no, the lady said they didn't take credit cards. But she did tell me that since I had a rental, there was an automatic EZ-pass option which I could use, might just cost me a couple extra bucks when I returned the car. This was a timely surprise! I zipped on over the huge bridge over the bay to Newport.

First gas station I saw, stopped, got two bottles, water and Cappucino to stay alive.

After some twisty driving which left me a little perplexed regarding how the city planner had done his job... I finally ended up at the Visiting Center and found free parking and decided I'd be a regular tourist and ask what to see. There were lots of lovely streets and shops to stroll around and see, but let's face it, that's more fun with company than by oneself.

Never feel bad about asking questions, especially in a new town. I hit the jackpot - got a map, was told that having a car was perfect, was instructed how I could drive all around the edge of town jutting into the bay to see the scenic parts, and there would be places to get out and go down by the shore! Yippee!! For a Midwestern girl, one of the highest joys of a trip East is to see Water.

So I had a plan, water, caffeine, and now it was time to stroll around on a hunt for food. First I felt impelled to visit a tourist shop: Only in Rhode Island. I looked through a book with pictures of the Newport mansions. Yikes. First you feel awe, then you feel a sudden brief intense bent toward communism, then you wonder what kinds of people live in mansions like that, and does it change their personality or character or morals or worldview at all?

And that's all for today's storytelling.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Ooo.. Just like one of those amazing writers, you have left me wanting more...