Saturday, November 5, 2016

ROADTRIP: Roger Williams Park

Soundtrack for this roadtrip: 96.9

Since Roger Williams Park is so close to me, it might not technically qualify as a roadtrip, but if you're not in the Providence area, it's definitely worth the trip.
More photos

On more than 400 acres, you'll find some serious New England beauty -- especially this time of year. Fall color hasn't been the greatest -- the poor trees around here were decimated by gypsy moths (I'm not sure if they tried to do anything this year, but they've been a scourge since last summer) and a series of storms has taken many of the remaining leaves -- but you can see where this park would shine no matter what the season.

One reason this felt like a roadtrip to me was because I'd wanted to visit Roger Williams Park every time I passed the exit. I knew there was a zoo, and Providence friends have told me there are trails, but I didn't realize until getting the meeting location for the New England Carnivorous Plant Society (NECPS), there's also a Botanical Center.

Although I will go back for the many other attractions in the park, the Botanical Center would have been my first stop regardless, and it didn't disappoint. The NECPS has a carnivorous plant bog in the Botanical Center -- the first permanent installation I've seen. The center also has a wonderful collection of "house plants"; I wonder anew every time I see these home store staples in a much more natural setting. I rarely have more pleasure than when I'm reminded that the most commonplace things shine beautifully when they aren't removed from their place in nature.

The park also houses a museum and planetarium, a carousel and swan boats on one of the copious ponds. Be very careful of runners; honestly, the setting is so gorgeous, getting distracted is easy.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

ROADTRIP: Rhode Island Circle

Soundtrack for this roadtrip: America's Test Kitchen

Because my commute in Nevada was as long as the whole state of Rhode Island, I tend to think getting anywhere doesn't take long. But yesterday I had several fun choices, and decided to make a roadtrip out of the day. And because of the way Rhode Island is shaped, I went through two other states.

My original plan was to head to a park in Westerly, and then stop by Newport on my way to a presentation in Bristol. I didn't realize how much longer it takes to go south to north by way of the peninsula, so my route was altered somewhat, but I still ended up making a big circle and hitting everywhere I wanted to go, and seeing most of Rhode Island. The trip ended up being almost exactly 100 miles. My original probably would have been fewer miles, but again, I didn't look at the times before I left. Ignorant.

The first stop was Wilcox Park in Westerly, one of the southernmost towns in Rhode Island. The town is gorgeous, and in the middle is the Westerly Public Library and Wilcox Park. The University of Rhode Island Master Gardeners host tours of the gardens and arboretum pretty regularly, and this particular tour was a look at the Champion Trees. I should have been taking notes, but of course I was too busy taking photos, so I know some of these and none of the flowers (that's later in the month).

So, going up and around the Bay through Providence and back down to Bristol, I attended a meeting of the New England Carnivorous Plant Society, and a presentation by a wonderful young man from Harvard who is researching the coloration of pitcher plants. I have often wondered why pitchers or traps are different colors, often on the same plant -- research is ongoing. I also came home with a new baby -- Drosera spatulata -- whose name cracks me up. Whoever named it is my kind of literal. The meeting was held at the Rhode Island Audubon Society, a beautiful facility that's now on the list for whenever my mom visits. I'll probably be tired of seeing wild turkeys by then, but maybe not. They're pretty funny.

The drive from Bristol to Newport was the most beautiful, leaving me with some notes about where to hit again, including Wyatt Road and the Common Burial Ground -- a network of graveyards in Newport that seem to be segregated by religion (something I hadn't really realized about graveyards until my grandmother's funeral a couple of months ago). There are graveyards everywhere here, and I can't wait to start documenting the ones I see -- and figuring out how to take better photos of them.

Getting home from Newport, another beautiful old town I need to explore more, included crossing the Newport Bridge and lighthouse sightings -- another relic in abundance here, which I can't wait to explore more.


Route map