We got on the road a few minutes after 11:00. Our hotel breakfast - at least for my parents - consisted of sliced sausages called "pork ham." This is, of course, repetitive, so we thought that it was probably something we could chalk up to some local custom. A brief Google search tells me that it isn't. My faith in the overall intelligence level in human society took another hit.
Before noon, we found ourselves in New London, home of the US Coast Guard Academy. It's a lot different in look and feel to other service academies - its layout and architecture are much more like a small college than the austere gothic structures one associates with service academy. We were warned by the security guard that some of the cadets were about to begin a 21-gun salute for Memorial Day. With that in the back of our heads, we drove around. Mom, in the backseat, rolled down her window for a picture, when
the first three shots of the salute, fired simultaneously, thundered out across the grounds and rebounded six seconds later off of the other side of the Thames River (in keeping with the London theme). My dad knew what to expect with regards to decibel level, but my mom and I got seriously spooked by that first volley.
We picked up a Christmas tree ornament for my mom's collection and then rolled out, our eyes on a restaurant in Narragansett, Rhode Island, called Crazy Burger. We made good time getting out of Connecticut and into Rhode Island.
Rhode Island is, of course, the smallest of the fifty states. It still took about fifty minutes to get from the border to Narragansett, where one of the Atlantic's many inlets takes over. We found Crazy Burger, and getting in was, as they say, crazy.
To say that Crazy Burger is a hole in the wall is to complement its size. The building was what appeared to be a converted house, with four booths arranged in a square in its center, a bar-like area on one side, three more booths on the other side, and four more tables squeezed in wherever they could fit. Even that wasn't enough, even more seating was available on the patio, which we did not see.
It took thirty minutes for us to get in, and then about that long from getting in to actually eating. In the meantime, my mom and I went down the street a little ways to look at a local art gallery, ranging from thought-provoking paintings of native Alaskans and bear trapped in a vacuum-sealed bag to surrealist photography to splashes and splotches reminiscent of Jackson Pollock.
In the end, Crazy Burger delivered, and, as it turns out, their burgers all had some kind of twist to them. My parents got burgers that came in a wrap, with some interesting side dishes such as "Bangkok slaw." My burger was a blue cheese burger ... but the blue cheese (and caramelized onions) were inside the meat. The bun was a homemade English muffin, and even more gorgonzola came alongside.
They were definitely interesting. They were delicious, but I'm not sure they were quite worth the wait. In my list of Top Burgers, I'd rate it the fourth-best.
It was filling - at the time. It didn't quite stick to our ribs, as we found out about an hour later.
We crossed over onto Conanicut Island, then off of it onto Rhode Island - the actual island for which the state was named. We turned south to Newport, famous for its many mansions.
The traffic was horrendous getting through downtown, and everyone seemed to be parading a dog around as a status symbol. I got a sinking feeling that most of these dogs, if they were not named "Fifi," were named something pretty close to it.
One guy was on a bike, towing a little trailer with one of these stupid-looking dogs in it. If that's all you need to know about the ritzy nature of the place ... too bad, because I'm going to keep talking about it.
We finally got out of the traffic jam - a jam that extended through six consecutive stoplights - and out into more of the countryside. We located the mansions - some still private, some bought by the local preservation society and open to any member of the public willing to pay through the nose to ogle at their gaudy interiors.
After driving around on roads with a surprising number of pot holes, especially considering the money inherent in the region. Most of the mansions were obscured by carefully manicured hedges and only visible through fanciful wrought-iron gates, and then only for a second or so. The only mansion we got a real good look at was The Breakers - a summer cottage originally built by a member of the Vanderbilt family for his growing number of extended relatives. (His father, the original Cornelius Vanderbilt, built the Biltmore Estate outside of Asheville, NC.)
It was like the Biltmore crossed with the White House, with an impressive and detailed exterior. We circumnavigated the mansion and then went into the gift shop on the lowest floor.
The gift shop was quite thorough and extended over about five rooms of the basement. I'm pretty sure that we could have snuck into the rest of the house without anyone caring - in the same manner of how we got into the stadium in Scranton - but we didn't particularly want to.
We got back on the road, skirted Newport, and traveled up until we took a bridge off Rhode Island (the island) and then exited Rhode Island (the state), entering Massachusetts a little after 5:00.
(Side note: throughout the day, on major thoroughfares, have - with the exception of Newport - had incredible luck with our timing. As traffic gets backed up for tens of miles going the opposite direction, we make good time heading into the places coming out of the Memorial Day rush. If we'd left earlier, we'd still be stuck in Connecticut.)
A half-hour later we entered Cape Cod - at least, according to the sign; we'd not yet crossed over the Cape Cod Canal. As we did so, we saw the most incredible traffic buildup of the day - thousands of cars headed west on Route 6 out of Cape Cod. Around us, on the eastbound side, there was one other car in our sight for the longest time.
We got to Hyannis and checked in a little after 6:00, and got some restaurant advice from the front desk. They recommended two places downtown almost right across from each other. We parked in a nearby lot and chose the one that looked more interesting.
There was no disappointment in the quality of the food. I got lobster ravioli, served in one of those bowls that looks like it doesn't have much food in it until you get about a third of the way through the meal, when you realize just how much food there is in the bowl. My mom got a seafood sampler, and my dad got some pan-roasted scallops. We all sampled some of each other's food, and we came to the conclusion than mine was definitely the best. My mom got some of the place's award-winning clam chowder. We all tried it, and we all loved it. It was the first time I've ever had clam chowder (or even clam, for that matter), so I guess it was a good place to start.
Our waitress was very pleasant and even posed for a picture with that perennial trip mascot, the one and only Yoder the Duck. It was a sight to behold ... especially for the confused patrons sitting around us. We also learned that the insane build-up of traffic isn't just a Memorial Day thing - it's like that on every weekend.
We got some ice cream comes and walked out around the dock area before getting in the car and heading back to the hotel. But getting back, the car made noises between scratching and squeaking with every turn. These sounds got progressively worse en route to the hotel.
With the drive between Hyannis and Boston only about an hour, Dad will have a chance to get the car looked at in Hyannis next morning and still get to Boston on schedule.