~~ Thursday, July 17 ~~
Tennis camp ended around 1 pm on Thursday, and I had to high-tail it out of Amherst in
order to make it to my next destination on time. I had reserved a room on Block Island,
a small island about 14 miles offshore of mainland Rhode Island. Everything in New England
is fairly close together, but it was still a good 3 to 4 hour drive from Amherst to Point Judith, RI,
where the ferry to Block Island left from.
Of course the route I had mapped out for myself did not include any major highways, but instead
a bunch of confusing (and time-consuming) backroads. I stopped here for ice cream - it was pretty good too! This place was absolutely in the middle
of nowhere, near the border between Massachusetts and Connecticut. It appeared to be the local
The wooden ramp to the right in the picture above led to a nice deck behind the building that allowed you
to look out upon this field, which bordered a tree farm in the distance. The weather was soooo
nice, and just sitting there with an ice cream cone was so ridiculously peaceful... man it was
By the time I got to Point Judith, it was around 6 pm, and the last ferry to Block Island
left around 7. I had prepared myself by downloading the ferry schedule before I got there,
but I had hoped I might have been able to catch the previous ferry, just to give myself some
extra time on the island. I parked my car in an overnight lot, had some dinner at a restaurant
near the pier, and waited for the ferry to pull in to the dock.
|The plan for Block Island was to get over there without my car.
The island is small enough so that it can be easily travelled by bicycle, so my hope was to
find a bike rental shop near the pier upon reaching the island, and bike myself to my
hotel - and I really only had a vague idea of where that was. The plan was sort of foggy,
but it had a rough outline. I was pretty much leaving the
details to God. I had made it to the ferry so far, so I had faith that something would work out.
|Leaving the mainland behind...|
The ferry ride was an uneventful hour marked by cool sea breezes and a gorgeous sunset.
The gulls would fly alongside the ferry, piggy-backing on the wind currents created by the ship.
Some stupid kids would try to lure the birds in with food scraps, and then try to grab the
birds when they got close. The birds proved smarter though - go figure - and started
just ignoring people.
|SO... When we finally reach Block Island, it's a little after 8 pm. (That is
the ferry I rode in the picture above. Clearly light was at a premium.)
I walk up to the closest bike shop, see some people outside who look like they know what they're
doing, and ask them about getting a bike. They're like, "we're just getting a car, we don't
work here". So, OK, I move up closer to the building, and ask a girl there. She tells me they
are closed. Heart sinking! My whole plan was to get up with the sunrise and bike the island.
I said, "are you sure? I really need a bike." And she says, "yep,
sorry, they're all locked up, but we open at 8 am." Yeah, that would pretty much trash my plans.
But the guy who's helping the couple with the car hears us and says, "what does he
need." The girl looks all frustrated and I tell him I NEED a bike. He tells me to hang on a sec.
He finished up with the couple, and gets the keys to unlock the bike racks. Clearly, it is
way past closing time for these folks, but he hooks me up with a bike and points me toward my
hotel. WHEW. I thank them profusely and get on my way...
Light is fading fast, and I HAVE to get to my hotel otherwise I will be bad off. As I come to
an intersection, the pair who helped me at the rental shop pull up beside me in a convertible
and point me in the right direction again since I was already getting lost. I head down a
little ways, and was going good until I dropped my brain. It had been a while since I had
ridden a multi-speed bike, so I thought nothing about it when I tried changing gears without
pedaling. OOOPS. Chain falls off, and I have no forward power. Worse, I took a wrong turn and
don't know where the hell I'm going. (If it's such a small island, why the heck am I getting
lost, right??) So I get off the road, flip the bike over, and start
trying to get the chain back on the gears. WHAT A MESS. Oil all over my hands, and the damn
thing isn't catching. Now it's almost totally dark, and I'm seriously freaking out, praying aloud, asking God to help
me out. And of course, HE DID! I was absolutely at my wit's end, and finally the chain locked
into place. I wiped my hands off on the grass as much as possible, and headed back a different
direction. Finally when I was less than a block from my place I asked a cab driver where I
was going and she pointed me across the street. Finally, at about 9 pm, I locked up my bike
and got cleaned up. I wanted to stay downstairs and have a beer, but I was so whipped from
the experience of getting there that I just collapsed and fell asleep. What a day!