I finally made it to Rhode Island! My Aunt Jo will be presenting at a conference this week so a second aunt, Cindy, and I decided to tag along.
(Above: Sunrise as we take off from Memphis)
It meant today involved an early, but quick flight, shopping at the mall attached to our hotel to avoid the heavy rainfall once we arrived, and lunch at P.F. Chang’s.
(Above: My new shoes)
We won’t be here long but Aunt Cindy and I still adecided to take the day easy. The best part was hands down picking up Aunt Jo and heading to dinner.
(Above: Sightseeing while heading to dinner)
We ate at Kabob and Curry, Fine Indian Cuisine. I’ll admit I would never have ate there if my aunts hadn’t been with me. I would have missed out.
We had Nimboo Soda, a tradional Indian lemonade with mint and roasted cumin, and I ordered a sampler plate that allowed me to try a variety of dishes including vegetable samosa – a crispy turnover, seasoned potato and pea filling, a mango and mint chicken curry bowl, dal makhni – black lentils, red beans, ginger and tomato, and rice pudding for dessert.
(Above: starter dish)
We all ended up getting a second helping of the rice pudding to take to the hotel for later.
A lone turkey vulture circled Branson as we conducted some major shopping at Tanger Outlets. The weather was perfect and we stopped at Garfields Restaurant and Pub along the river for lunch/dinner.
Yum and what a view. I watched a heron fly by along with five or six geese. House sparrows perched above the stores lining Garfields.
We ended up stopping by Cakes and Creams Desserts for the Ozark Mountain Sundae or the funnel cake with fresh strawberries with ice cream. It was the perfect ending to the day (well, along with a stop by the hotel’s pool and hot tub)! The only downfall was that the sundae and funnel cake was too good – we were completely full by the time we left. We’re planning a second visit before we leave!
Our sole other stop was to the Festival of Lights. Slightly disappointed by it, but still interesting. My aunt and grandmother loved it.
The rain comes typically in the afternoon giving us plenty of time to do all we want to. So far, we’ve mainly wanted to look around, reacquainting ourselves with the island. We last visited more than 10 years ago.
Jekyll Island was originally an exclusive winter retreat, The Jekyll Island Club, for U.S. elite. It was purchased in 1886 and hosted families such as the Rockefellers, Morgans and Pulitzers.
It became a Georgia state park in 1950 – unique to me since it is a “barrier island” off Georgia’s southeastern coast. It has tons of marshes, hotels and tourist-minded businesses.
We spent part of Saturday and some Sunday just looking around. The views are great, and Dad was fascinated with the huge ships carrying cars (Hoegh Autoliners). My only complaint? As the sole birder, I am unable to get pictures of some of the birds we pass in the marshes bordering the road. One such bird – a Roseate Spoonbill.
Canadian Geese and Mallards were the main birds we saw Sunday and this morning. They basically had the run of our hotel and restaurant parking lots (which surrounded a small pond).
Most of our time was spent with family. My great-aunt lived a full life, and I was surprised to learn that she moved to France with her husband and small son in the late 1940s.
Her husband was stationed near a small village, and her son said the French did not like Americans even at the end of WW2. When his father worked nights, people would come bang on their windows throughout the night to scare them.
My great-aunt would also keep a pistol under her pillow just in case. Still, they weren’t too afraid. Her son said he could remember fetching fresh bread for his mother.
This is the same lady who happened to be in town when I was born. She was my “grandmother” so she could visit my mother and hold me.
We ended up having three hours of free time after the visitation so we visited Fort Harrison State Park.
It was a nice break and the park was fantastic. I could definitely see me using it as often as possible if I lived here.
It also had family history since my great aunt and her family were stationed at Fort Harrison before it became a state park.
On Sunday, the birds and a super fat squirrel greeted us at the cemetery. It was funny to see the geese surround us. I mean literally surround our car while we were leaving. There were even three geese on the roofs watching us.
We’re now heading back to Arkansas. Just counting the hours until I can pick up my dog and be home out of the rain.
My favorite activity in Portland occurred on our last night in town. We attended the Festival of Lights at the Grotto. First of all, we got lost heading to the event so we ended up getting there an hour later than usual. We were still a little lost once we got on the bus, but the driver was super nice and dropped us off right in front of the Grotto.
The Festival of Lights has more than 500,000 lights, nightly choral performances, a petting zoo, carolers, wacky puppet shows and AH-MAZING hot chocolate (this helped since it was rainy and cold).
The Grotto is a Catholic shrine and botanical garden and the lights were woven around the entrance to give you a interesting view as you walked to the sanctuary and Our Lady’s Grotto, which has a life-size marble replica of Michelangelo’s Pieta at the center of a rock cave at the base of a 110-foot cliff.
I previously worked as a news and sports photographer. Recently I have been enjoying wildlife photography. My approach toward bird photos is similar to sports photography. I attempt to capture mostly action and hopefully a unique perspective.