I have been interested in visiting New England for quite some time now, since I haven’t been since a family trip to Boston a long time ago. My cousin, Holden Kilgore, is finishing up highschool in Narragansett Rhode Island and my Aunt Shellie invited me to spend the Easter weekend with them exploring Rhode Island and Connecticut.
I took the Cross Sound Ferry from Orient Point, Long Island to New London, Connecticut, saving a few hours of driving through Manhattan and around the rest of Connecticut. It was a pleasant drive up the north east end of Long Island. Quickly after leaving the area around Stony Brook the island becomes much more rural, with farms and vineyards all over the place. Towards the very end of the island it becomes even more summer-resort like, with nice restaurants and expensive beachfront property everywhere. I got to the end of the island and hopped on the Cross Sound Ferry, which is a pretty good deal for just walking on and leaving your car in the parking lot.
Narraganset, Rhode Island
After about an hour and a half on the ferry I arrived in Connecticut and met up with my cousin and aunt. They took me through Connecticut to Narragansett, Rhode Island, where we drove around and looked at several nice beach towns, as well as Holden’s school and Hazard Rock just down the street. I had the local Narragansett Brewery’s standard Lager, which was pretty nice, and came in a strikingly stylized can. I also had a nice Highland Scotch, the Glenlivet 12 year, and some calamari at the Matunuck Oyster Bar, whose owner has given a very interesting TED talk about sustainability in aquaculture.
Beauty and the Beast (2017)
We stopped by a nice Thai restaurant for dinner and then went to a local theater and saw the new Disney live action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast. Emma Watson really is perfect as Belle, though she suffers from needing too much auto tune while singing (as do several other actors), which I suppose is a pretty strong condemnation, considering that most of the movie is spent singing. The modifications to the basic plot, bringing the enchantress more into the story, and further developing Lefou and the Beast are all very well done and definitely help make the story more compelling and have less Stockholm syndrome than in the animated version. I definitely suggest seeing this, though I still feel that in general doing live-action remakes of old animated movies is not a very well justified artistic endeavor, other than as a means of making guaranteed money off of established properties. Animation is a valid form of art – it does not need to be validated or perfected or whatever by having a live-action edition the moment our CGI technology can replicate whatever the animators originally achieved.
The next day, Easter Sunday, we went to church in Stonington, Connecticut, which is a small, very New England feeling town on the ocean. We went to Calvary Episcopalian Church for the Easter service. It is a beautiful, small, local church that was very welcoming to everyone, whether visitor or regular attendee. The service was pleasant, though unfamiliar to me, with more emphasis really on congregational response in the liturgy than on the sermon. The organist was very good, and closed out with my personal favorite, the Widor Toccata. We then walked around the small town and looked out over the water, taking in the sun and enjoying the first reasonably warm weather that the northeast has seen this year.
We proceeded to a nearby town in Connecticut (the state is very small and takes very little time to get around) called Mystic. I am usually skeptical of touristy kinds of towns – most of the tourist traps on Long Island are full of pizza and ice cream shops, bars, and expensive trinket and clothing stores, but Mystic was surprisingly bearable. The town has not just one, but two local coffee shops, already outdoing many of the towns on Long Island, and it also has a local book store (that was closed due to Easter) and a record shop, Mystic Disc, which has a really great selection of old (and some new) records. I honestly could see myself coming back just to visit the record store, once I finally bite the bullet and dive into record collecting/hoarding as is invariably going to be my fate in the near future.
We ended our day by visiting the Ocean House resort farther east along the coast. The resort is an enormous and imposing building standing out on the top of a hill overlooking the ocean. We sat around and talked about science and faith, and its place in modern discourse, and I had a nice Islay scotch, the Ardbeg 10 year, which was wonderfully peaty and made me want to visit the original England, after driving around the aptly named New England all day. Connecticut and Rhode Island are very pretty places, with rolling green hills and wide open spaces between quaint looking houses, nearly universally adorned with beige color schemes and noticeable white trimming on all features. I noticed a lot of nice porches, which a number of people were already taking advantage of, given the wonderful turn in the weather.
After our time in the hotel lobby, Holden and Shellie took me back to the ferry, where I took the faster, walk-on only ferry back to Orient Point, NY. All in all it was a very nice trip, which I really appreciate my aunt inviting and providing for me. Getting to see such a beautiful part of the country at just this nice moment in the year was a great treat, and I hope I have managed to convey some of the essence of New England to you as well.
Next weekend I will be visiting Manhattan again and participating, for at least the latter half, in the March for Science NYC. If you would like to join me there or support my trip into the city please let me know and we can figure something out (I will be late – ironically because of prior scientific duties). If you can’t make it to NYC, the primary march is actually in Washington, D.C., and there are tons of satellite marches all over the country and world. Science Magazine (to which I am a 6 year subscriber and member) has an interactive world map showing all of the places that are hosting official marches. The march is sponsored by almost all of the major scientific organizations and professional societies, including the Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Physical Society, and the American Astronomical Society (all of which I have supported and have been a member of for several years at least), so don’t feel shy about joining, you are in good company. Even if you cannot make it to a march, please stand up for science and make your voice heard, as our political system grows – more – and – more – antagonistic to the basic principles that have actually made our country great for so long.