Another long entry, but I’m not going to apologize. Brother Day deserves proper respect.
He’s my best friend he’s my champion
And he will rock you rock you rock you
‘Cause he’s the saviour of the universe
He can make you keep yourself alive
Ooh brother cause he’s somebody somebody
You can love
He’s my soul brother
When I decided to truncate the last entry, the three of us younger brothers had just told our sister and her husband goodbye while on the campus of the University of Rhode Island. And we boys had no real set plans for the rest of the day other than spending time together. So Glenn, from behind the wheel as usual, just started driving towards Jamestown.
The goal was to find a spot to get better photos of the Newport bridge. Glenn had looked at some maps the night before, and we headed toward an area that he thought looked promising. And it turned out to be a nice area – so nice, in fact, that there were signs all over the place on the roads nearest to the water stating that there were to be no shenanigans (stopping, staring, parking) and that “police take notice”, or something to that effect.
Naturally, we stopped a couple of times and took some photos. But the views we were getting through the lens were still lacking a bit. So I started doing some mapping on my phone and then gave directions to Glenn from my comfortable perch in the backseat.
We ended up in an area that looked like a prime dumping ground for dead bodies, or at the very least, a nice spot for a hobo encampment. There was an easy path to the water’s edge, but the angle still was lacking. So I returned back up the main trail until I found a lesser, but still well traveled path, that approached the water closer to the bridge.
At first I thought it was a game trail (but only if Rhode Island has woodchucks the size of tiny houses), though it turned out to be a people trail (the trash along the way was not only a giveaway, but also disheartening) that led right to the water much, much closer to the bridge.
The three of us spent some time taking photos, Glenn and I with our phones and Bob with all his fancy equipment that required him to lay all over the place, and when we finally got tired of walking all over rocks that were “slicker than owl shit” (as George Carlin would say) we got together for the most bro of selfies. The bro jokes kept coming as we took that photo several times. I think we finally decided that it was the Bro-cephus photo.
Anyway, here are pics from this stop.
Now we were hungry. And thirsty. So we drove the Rhode Island 10 minutes (probably about 5 minutes) back to Jamestown proper to look for somewhere to eat.
We settled on a pizza place (House of Pizza, which I thought fitting because Bob and Glenn’s band used to play at the Hop, which stood for House of Pizza, near TCU back in the day). Alas, the House of Pizza was out of pastrami and we had all kind of decided through some sort of telepathy thing that we needed pastrami available wherever we ended up.
Actually we decided that because Glenn and I had yet to have a good ol’ New England pastrami sandwich on the trip yet. (Bob had one on the very first day.)
Next door was a place called the Narragansett Cafe (or the Ganny, as the locals know it) and, like the pizza place, they had a menu posted outside as most places do when they are located in walkable areas or tourist meccas. Unfortunately, there was no pastrami on the menu. But Glenn decided to go in and ask while Bob and I perused the band fliers for upcoming shows. This one was the consensus favorite, I think. Notice the spelling on the first word of the band name.
Amazingly, Glenn returned outside to tell Bob and I that pastrami was indeed available.
The waitress sat the three of us at a table and asked for our drink orders. We ordered two Stellas and one Narragansett Lager (the Yeungling keg was tapped) and we also each ordered the pastrami sandwich lunch special. As we chatted to pass the time, the band fliers on the walls were an amusing diversion. Especially when I found our sister Lois among them.
The sandwiches were excellent, and they might not have even been pastrami. Could have been corned beef that the eatery was able to re-brand to some hick Texans. But they were still a nice, sunny surprise on this gloomy, rainy, chilly day that was somehow still pretty kick ass.
Again in the car, this time heading to Newport for the second day in a row. Again, nothing specific planned, just kind of looking for places to get some cool photos. We asked the waitress at lunch for any good tips, but it turns out she was from California and lived near Exeter (where we started the day), so all she had to offer were places with live music and beer. Pass.
Our next stop ended up being at Fort Adams State Park in Newport. The fort itself was first established in 1799 but now seemed mainly to cater to the high brow crowd of yacht racers. The rain had picked up, too, thus making the prospect of any good photos a long shot. Sure, it was only a heavy drizzle, but a heavy drizzle on the seaside of a New England state feels a lot different than a heavy drizzle in central Texas during late September.
We didn’t stay at the park long, but we did stay long enough for me to take this picture of Bob. All his camera equipment is underneath his jacket, making him appear rather portly. In other words, making him look how I felt after all the food I’d had so far on this trip.
Ten minutes later, we were in another state park (Brenton Point) on Ocean Avenue. It would have been really pretty if it were not for the weather. And by now I was realizing that there are only so many photos of a choppy ocean under turned-off-tv-grey skies that one can take and also make interesting. So I kind of gave up for the day on the whole photo thing. I did like these two, though. One is from Newport shortly after leaving the last park and the other is of the Jamestown bridge. You know, the bridge that is much maligned because it is a non-poetic sounding post-tensioned, double-cell concrete box girder structure.
(My commitment to “bits” knows no bounds.)
We had some time to kill before our final plan of the evening: taking aunt Donna and uncle Rick out to dinner for all the hospitality that was shown to us during the week. And that window of opportunity is how we ended up at a tavern.
Oak Hill Tavern promotes their BBQ, but much like a Rhode Islander doesn’t come to Texas for the seafood, Texans don’t go to Rhode Island for the BBQ. So the three of us just ordered a beer each. While I was in the bathroom, Bob and Glenn managed to strike up a conversation with the guy nearest to us at the bar because he was wearing a Luckenbach shirt. I caught the tail end of that conversation but later learned that he currently lives in Willis, TX (Houston area) and is in Rhode Island for a reunion. Family or school, I didn’t ask. Didn’t really seem relevant, other than revealing that he was from this area originally.
So I asked him if he tried the BBQ at the tavern after all his years in Texas. He just laughed and laughed. “I’ll stick with the peanuts and the drinks”, he finally said. That’s when I saw the large self-serve peanut bin in the corner. Right next to the large self-serve popcorn bin. The salsa bars of New England.
After we Leemings finished our drinks, we made our exit. All three of us said goodbye to the fellow Texan, and in true southern style, I introduced myself to him and got his name in return. And in true Texas style, I’d forgotten his name within 5 minutes. Texas is a big state, y’all. I can’t be expected to remember everyone’s name, especially a Houston area guy. And especially if that guy looked at my brother Bob and said he had him “pegged as a (Harley) rider”. (Yes, that happened.)
Back at Donna and Rick’s house we all contemplated where to go eat. We decided on Gregg’s, which seemed to be a favorite of our aunt and uncle. And the menu looked fine to me – a little of everything, though I was thinking my last meal in Rhode Island should definitely be seafood of some kind.
And that is exactly what it was – a sirloin steak with lobster topping. These are the before and after pics.
After dinner, it was decided that it was ice cream time. Though I have to admit that after one week, I’d pretty much determined that every hour and every minute of every day was ice cream time in Rhode Island. The only thing more populous than creameries in this area of the country are Dunkin Donuts (seriously – more of those in RI than there are Starbucks in TX, or so it seemed). We had ice cream after every meal. And when we didn’t, it wasn’t because it wasn’t offered.
At The Inside Scoop, it was finally my turn to treat everyone. Nothing too crazy happened here, except for when one of the girls behind the counter asked “Who had the shakes?” and I replied with “I didn’t, but I had the jimmy legs”. Yeah, never a dull moment. Especially after these four all got brain freeze.
Upon our return to Donna and Rick’s, I said goodbye to my aunt and uncle. Twice in one year, I’ve gotten to see them (once in TX, once in RI). That’s a pretty good little year, I’d say. And no tears this time, at least that I know of. Just promises to not make it such a rare occurrence in the future.
And then Glenn drove me back to my hotel.
By now I’d gotten kind of used to not being greeted by my dog Bodie when I walked in the room, so why did it take me four days to remember that the toilet flusher in my room needed to be held down for a full second before releasing in order for the mechanism to work? And why am I still holding down the flusher at my house for a full second even now – more than a week later – when it isn’t necessary?
Typical of this trip, more questions than answers.
But before I could pull the drawstring to close the curtains on this final night of my Rhode Island trip, I had one more thing to do.
When mom passed, my oldest brother’s wife made a memory book for all of us kids. It seemed remarkably put together, but I had yet to leaf through it, let alone even glance at any of the pages contained within.
I brought it on this trip, however, with the intention of finally looking at all the photos it contained. My original plan was to do this on Tuesday night, after her service. But for some reason that didn’t feel right. So I didn’t do it.
Friday night, however, seemed perfect.
It was the last night of my trip. It was Brother Day. And it was also the one year anniversary of mom’s passing.
A few tears were shed, but nothing crazy. Because I actually smiled a lot.
Cindy did a phenomenal job on the book. And a lot of the older photos were more poignant (no that’s not the right word – let’s go with “meaningful”) to me after walking around the cemetery. After hearing family stories. After forming more questions, even.
We haven’t always (or ever) been the perfect family. We haven’t always been the closest of siblings. But we’ve also never been that far away from each other, both geographically and emotionally.
Yeah, this was a pretty good little trip. For all of us, I think.
And while September 30 will always be a day of sadness for me, I can now balance it out with that same date in 2016. Brother Day. A day of wonderful memories, love, and laughs – as corny as that sounds. Equally as corny is knowing that mom would love it, as well.
We love you, too, mom.
He’s my soul brother
Soul brother he can do anything
He can do anything
‘Cause he’s my soul brother
– Queen, “Soul Brother”