It seems like whenever I hear about Rhode Island it’s always as the punchline of a fact designed to wow it’s audience. “This National Park is bigger than the state of Rhode Island!”

Rhode Island is a gorgeous state with miles and miles of rocky coastline. I can attest to it’s beauty but to see it through the eyes of a Rhode Islander I visited my cousin Jill, her husband Jeremy, and their adventurous daughters.

We leave our quiet campground in Connecticut and make our way along the Atlantic Ocean to a little town near the tourist enclave of Narraganset. We set up for a long weekend on Jill’s lawn. In Idaho we don’t drive on lawns – they are hard to grow and usually have underground irrigation – and I recoil in fear as we ease our way onto the grass. I forgot the sturdiness of East Coast lawns!

There’s a lot to see and do in a few short days so we get right to it. We start out with a day near Bristol, driving through swanky Newport. Bristol has the Rhode Island Audubon Center, and we hike through the oceanside meadow looking for monarch butterflies and ospreys. We see both in between eating handfuls of wild blackberries ripening along the trail.

We return home in time to pack up and have dinner at the beach. We eat big bowls of salad and watch the girls as they jump the waves and explore the dunes. What a luxury to live so close to the ocean.

The next day is rainy and we relax in the morning, eat delicious BBQ from a food truck and then make our way to the bowling alley. It’s ten pin bowling and the girls roll their balls slowly down the lane (hooray for bumpers!) while us adults compete for the highest score. The alley has cool plastic dinosaur ramps that helped the little ones roll the big bowling balls.

We have an adults night out (thanks to Grandma for babysitting!) in Westerly, another town full of visitors on a warm summer night. Mike and I taught Jill and Jeremy Durok, a Baltic game we learned over the 4th of July. We play at the bar, drinking cocktails and eating pizza. We play foozball and shuffle board, having so much fun that we laugh until the tears fall.

On Sunday we all drive to the wildlife refuge on the tip of Sachuest Point. The Point is remote and beautiful. People pack onto the beaches but parking is limited, so the land remains open and wild. We eat as many blackberries as we can pick and spend an hour tide pooling on the rocky coast. One of the girls is an avid lover of sea creatures and we have to peel her away from the tide pools. She is fearless, rejoicing over crabs crawling in her hand. Both girls hum tunes to snails to entice them out of their shells.

We drive to Narragansett and spend the late afternoon walking the sea wall before eating dinner out. Each day ends with conversation and games after the girls go to bed, catching up and laughing hard.

On Monday we bring Lemhi to the vet to get his vision checked. Last week, while in the Berkshires, we discovered that he’s lost all the vision in his right eye. The vet reports that it is likely permanent, but Lemhi is a trooper. He gets startled a bit more easily now, but is using his keen sense of hearing and smell to get around new places with ease. And he can still play fetch by using his good eye, though we aren’t sure how long that vision will last.

On Tuesday we say a sad goodbye to Jill, Jeremy and the girls and make our way north once more. We’re headed to the White Mountains to see Mike’s best friend, August, who is flying in from Vancouver for a wedding. We make a stop at my parent’s house for a night then spend the next night exploring Plymouth. Last night, in a Walmart parking lot (not our favorite choice, but occasionally convenient), a man parked next to us that could easily have been The Dude. There were some terrifying noises coming out of that converted school bus.

We’ll be in the Whites for part of the weekend then head to my parent’s house for two weeks with family. Summer is almost over!

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