There has been a bearded guy appearing on my social network lately. I certainly have avoided it being overly cutesy—because I loathe that. However, that’s my beau. We just went on an official vacation together and I really wanted to blog about it.
Well, not about him (yet, don’t worry I will but it’ll be more about dating in NYC, than him. His name isn’t even mentioned here). The entry will be the race recap and more about Block Island, R. I. (where we went). Our vacations, are sort of “active” that’s the understating description. I LOVE ACTIVE VACATIONS I DON’T KNOW HOW PEOPLE CAN GO TO NEW PLACES AND NOT EXPLORE!
Why there and where is it?
He’s been mentioning Block Island, also known as Manisses, for most of the duration of us seeing each other and it’s because his parents went there over 35 years ago for their honeymoon. The family has vacationed there yearly ever since. He’s absolutely in love with the island. Block Island is located 13 miles south of the coast of Rhode Island or 14 miles east of Montauk Point on Long Island. It is separated from the Rhode Island mainland by the Block Island Sound. Rhode Island is about a 3 hour drive from New York City. It seems to be pretty popular among people from Connecticut, since we ran into so many people who came from there and we learned that there’s a ferry that is 2 hours away (the fast ferry takes an hour) from their location. We boarded at Point Judith’s where the ferry took an hour.
What did we do?
The 40th Annual Run around the Block 15K… He texted me after a month of dating and asked if I wanted to run it. Initially, I didn’t realize it wasn’t in NYC. When I researched I read that there was a 15k that occurs on the island yearly and unfortunately in the middle of the day. It seems pretty popular for the small island and brings in over 200 people, even more to cheer. Many participants seem to take the ferry for the day, run and head back. It’s relatively scenic but isn’t themed. I really wished that the locals would do a better job at logistics because it could be so much more. After spending some more time on the island, I realized we had passed some pretty important historical sites. Nonetheless, you do get to appreciate NYC ran races when venturing out to other small areas to run.
The 40th Annual Run around the Block 15 race recap
The starting line started south some meters past the Fresh Pond location. We followed a couple, Brian and Kristin, who were also running and happened to be staying at the Hygeia Inn where we were. We all biked together to the start. We picked up our bibs there and started warming up 20 minutes before the race (we had actually gotten there obscenely early). There’s no corral so we lined up with some folks who were afraid to be front and center, possibly fearing that they might be in the way of faster runners. I was amused because this is unlike races in NYC. I lined up staggered behind my boyfriend, because he’s faster, and slightly behind the others who were at the front. I also realized where I started would be crucial because there were no tags or chips that would time us accurately.
When the gun went off, I started my Garmin and began running behind the fast guys. I had been warned about the rolling hills earlier and previewed some of them when we warmed up on our bikes so I anticipated many of them. I wasn’t being trailed by many folks but I had no real strategy. His dad told me a week prior to just attack the hills when I encountered them so I did that. However, my run became more of a workout despite reminding myself to enjoy the view.
I had been prepared for just the airport hill, which was actually a challenge (I used this hill for my hill repeats a couple days later), where I really enjoyed speed walking pass runners who completely slowed down—hey, I know my weaknesses.
It wasn’t until mile 6/7 that I felt a little burnt out, literally, from the heat. My handheld bottle was almost empty and my legs heavy. People were actually impressed when I passed by initially (hehe I was the only “Kenyan,” cough sorry racial joke but I really did stand out). I was sweating profusely and I realized if I went into a walk I could actually sprint pass by lots of other runners.
I must’ve been quite annoying—passing folks, then walking… But, as usual, I run my own race.
After passing mile 8 I saw my boyfriend, not surprised that he was already done. He shouted words of encouragement which didn’t sound quite like that when I just wanted to race to end. I gave him the finger as usual (ha don’t worry I apologized when he told me what he was doing—run your own race!). He did encourage me for the downhills (which I’m much, much better at).
I’m actually happy that he mentioned the final hill after mile 9, which I was ready for, and I coasted to the finish after seeing the line in the distance.
I placed 32nd out of ~230, he placed 3rd. I’m so proud of him! I’m pretty happy for haven’t ever running that course and who knows, maybe will do it again.
Where did we stay?
As I mentioned earlier, we stayed at the Hygeia House.
Here it is:
Where do I start? Well, the house is quite themed. The owners are very much into poetry and I can see it’s quite artsy. Actually, the story of how the house got restored is pretty interesting. For the first few days the owner wasn’t around so we were hosted by Jen who was very nice and let us in early enough to get settled. We didn’t meet Lisa, the owner, until the night before our last day. Maybe I’m being a bit picky but the very last day we were woken up by a smell of skunk (there are no skunks on the island)… Someone was most definitely smoking directly under our room. Nonetheless the accommodation was pretty! There are a few recommendations on where to stay here on the Chamber of Commerce website.
The house is located near the firehouse and was conveniently located for us to cycle to the beach or walk to town in both directions. The restaurants that we went to nightly were less than a mile away, and so was the beach.
Where to eat?
Whatever what you do—avoid the Old Island Pub. Before that story, let me talk about Mohegan Cafe & Brewery (213 Water St)—they need a better website! We ate there twice for dinner and loved it. Both times, I had fish meals and even got him to enjoy Mahi Mahi (he’s not a big fan of fish). He did have a bowl of clam chowder everyday (my wanderlust tip: have sea food when you are in an area near the coast. The best bet, you’ll have fresher ingredients). I was told that there seems to be a signature way to make clam chowder on Block Island.
We ate at a sports bar (Ballard’s Inn I believe) on the final night which was decent, I decided to have a burger there. It was delicious! Another wanderlust tip, if you’re unsure about how meat is prepared at a new location, get those burgers medium well to well done. I’m so thankful for the NYC restaurant rating system.
Ernie’s Old Harbor Restaurant—ideal for breakfast if you can make it! The breakfast was delicious.
Now back to Old Island Pub (2 Corn Neck Rd). Are you ready? I’m hoping that is only a once ever incident because the reviews were great on yelp, besides mine. This is where I’m so used to the restaurant grade systems that we have in NYC.
On Block Island, it seems habitual that the people will ignore you when you enter some of the establishments. Customer service simply isn’t their priority. In fact, being on Block Island might cause you to get a chip on your shoulder—you might assume that no one likes you there. However, just don’t give a f*. As soon as we walked in, we were ignored but we had time to observe how dirty the bartender looked despite our hunger. She looked greasy. Not greasy as in sweaty, but like she had just came from her second job as a mechanic. Maybe she had (sorry for sounding mean but this part is repulsive). We finally got her attention and we said we wanted to order food and drinks. She told us that we actually had to order from the kitchen, pay and return for our drinks. We went to the back. Immediately my boyfriend and I stared at each other. There were possibly 20 flies hovering over everything.
“Look at these flies.” I said in amusement.
“Oh the sandwiches don’t come with fries,” says the assumed cook/server/person there. I was puzzled because he probably misheard me in retrospect but it seems like he wasn’t even noticing what we were seeing. I don’t hold expressions well.
“I think we will order drinks first,” says my boyfriend, both of us had actually been thinking of ways to bail out of there, not sure if he noticed my reaction. Great call!
“Yea, let’s do that. We will be back…” Not.
This was actually the second place that we saw on the island where flies didn’t seem to matter. Luckily the restaurants near the ferry were much cleaner. We found a place (across from Ben and Jerry’s) that sold amazing wraps—and I had a root beer float (c’mon I have to when on the menu!).
Bring a Bike
Or, rent one. There’s so many listed that seem reliable, but check their reviews. There’s a place a few meters across from the ferry where mopeds and bikes can be rented. The terrain is perfect for training however if recreationally cycling, be prepare to use some leg power while going up the hills. I got off my bike to walk the first time I encountered a hill but my bike is pretty decent with gears so I was prepared for the others, and when I came back to that one.
Where to go and what to do?
Possibilities seem endless. I love art but didn’t get to see the museum—meh, pricey. However, I was super content about seeing the landmarks around the island like Settler’s Rock and Fresh Pond. I’m also into cemetery landscapes (morbid I know) but only saw from the outskirts from my bike.
We also went to see The Bluffs which the island seemed known for. If you’re into pirates, you would learn that Paulsgrave once walked on that island. There were also two lighthouses that we ventured out to and sadly didn’t enter for a tour (doubt we missed anything).
We also sampled fudge and had ice cream, having it at the infamous Ice Cream Place (232 Water St) seems best (although Ben and Jerry’s is good, why venture to something that you could always access while on vacation?).
It’s also a good idea to watch the sun set.
We went to Dorry’s Cove—a black-sand beach, which isn’t quite a secret but not crowded.
We didn’t get to swim but we saw the sunset while drinking Dark and Stormy’s, Oreos and Doritos. We are so romantic. Hehe. (Don’t worry he actually wanted wine and cheese).
My boyfriend kept acknowledging that the island looked empty. I can imagine how it would be really packed during the summer. However, I loved how few people were around to avoid the lines that probably would have been at the establishments where we were. The unfortunate thing was that many places were closed.
It’s rumored that there are only 900 people live there during the winter. It’s possible because there is one school on the island (maybe with a few students per grade). You can read more about the island on it’s Chamber of Commerce website.
In all, the island is incredible. I thoroughly enjoyed being there and it reminded me so much of the Caribbean that I should plan a trip home.