Monday, December 23, 2013

"Sound of Lights" Part 2

It had been a full weekend in New England. A river on fire, on purpose, in Providence. Soul Asylum and Fountains of Wayne at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston. I day away from the Northeast corridor fury on Block Island. But now it was time to head home.

The system of interstates connecting me to the western frontier of the Keystone State can be nerve-racking, boring, and never ending--all at once. The trick is to break up the trip. The question is how to do so. For me the "how" is easy, especially when traveling along a large body of water like Long Island Sound. I had already mapped out about a dozen Lighthouses to stop and see. I whittled that list down by half, to those that seemed the most interesting and spent the least of my budgeted travel time.

I re-gathered my travel gear and thanked my host for a great time, made my way out of the living history book that is Providence, and headed toward my first destination on Rhode Island’s southern coast.

Watch Hill neighborhood
I got all the way to the Connecticut border before exiting I-95, backtracking to 1-A and winding my way south to the little town of Watch Hill.

Following the virtual directions given, I dutifully parked outside of a very exclusive neighborhood and follow the path through it, beyond it, and to the end of Lighthouse Road.

As I looked back from the flashing light, I felt I had found the place where rich people go to.. Huge, beautiful homes overlooked gently breaking waves and the classic lighthouse. For my money the setting is one of the most impressive on the East Coast, although my money could only afford a short visit to this provincial paradise. Even an overnight stay at the stately Ocean House Resort is beyond most of our means.
Ocean House Resort

I lingered a while longer than planned, taking pictures of both the lighthouse and the estates it guarded. I finally left, collecting my bearings for my second stop.

Watch Hill Lighthouse
Stonington Harbor is only about a few miles from Watch Hill, as the seagull flies. Not being a seagull, I had to ramble in the mini on a 12-mile series of back roads and byways.

Latimer Reef Light
The little town is quite pedestrian, compared to the haven I left 30 minutes before. The town of under 20,000 is quaint and comprised of two main streets—one in and one out. All one needs to do is follow to the end of the main artery to find the town’s lighthouse. It was a bonus to also discover a nice view of the Latimer Reef Light, lying just inside the water’s imaginary boarder of New York. I had seen this light from afar while in Watch Hill and was hoping for a closer view.

Stonington Harbor Lighthouse
The Stonington Harbor Lighthouse is a solid stone structure that serves as a dual purpose museum, also highlighting both local primitive objects. The view from the empty beacon is nice, but the thought of another out of service lighthouse is a bit sad.

Even though there are no lighthouses to speak of in Mystic Harbor, I felt I should stop. The town is the definition of charming, and my roadside stop crab cakes were a treat. The New England Aquarium is also located just of the Mystic exit of I-95, and I enjoyed a brief visit with the attraction’s playful beluga whales.
"Bubbles" sneaks up on a visitor
As the day was beginning to wear thin, I condensed my visit in Mystic in order to get to my last stop before heading out of New England.

Five Mile Point Light is a classic structure that marks the mouth of the harbor fed by the Mills and Quinnipiac Rivers. When viewed from the outcrop of Lighthouse Point Park, New Haven shines brightly beyond. Turning around, I enjoyed my last trophy of the day—a “sparkplug” type edifice named the Southwest Ledge Light. 
Five Mile Point Lighthouse

Southwest Ledge Light
As the day began to fade into dusk, I knew I had to move on. I was staying with friends in Matamoras, so I only had a few hours to go. That was until I was led by my otherwise faultless GPS through rush hour New Haven. Still, the aggravation of that last leg was well worth the day!

Next Week: Holidays mean staying home! See you after New Year's with an "Rock Music Pioneer" you may never have heard of--but should know...

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