A walk on the Cliff Walk -- 08/09/07

This is how Wednesday began -- very, very foggy.

The forecast was for 40 to 50 percent chance of rain showers and/or thunderstorms.

And, indeed, it rained on and off for most of the morning, complete with rumbles of thunder from time to time (although nothing like the fierce storms that soaked the New York City area).

Around noon the rain had stopped and the sky began to clear.
Our street (our mailbox) around six-thirty Wednesday morning.
By mid-afternoon we had blue skies and bright sunshine, so Nancy and I drove over the bridges to Newport. (Yes, and last week's bridge collapse in Minneapolis did add a certain amount of - uh - increased attention to the process of driving over such long and imposing bridges.)

Our plan was to take a walk on the Newport Cliff Walk, the famous public right-of-way that winds above three and a half miles of Newport's coastline with a drop-off to the waves below on one side and some of Newport's most imposing mansions on the other. We picked a Wednesday for this expedition because a former colleague, Diane Blue, a very talented blues singer who had left the corporate software world to follow her dream, was performing Wednesdays during July and August at the West Deck at Waite's Wharf in Newport. (So if you are in the area, you still have an opportunity to catch her performance... if not, you can listen to some samples here.)
Mrs. Vanderbilt's Tea House (on the grounds of Marble House, one of the palatial Vanderbilt estates) was built above the walk so that nothing would interfere with her views of lower Narragansett Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. (Marble House was built by Mr. and Mrs. William Vanderbilt, a younger brother of Cornelius Vanderbilt II who built The Breakers... both of them grandsons of the Cornelius Vanderbilt who founded the family fortune in steamships and the New York Central Railroad.) At this point Cliff Walk goes through a long tunnel and then becomes much rougher (and more hazardous) for the remaining mile and a half. This spot is about two miles down the Cliff Walk from its northern end. Until this point the walk has been paved (except for one short section where you had to step from rock to rock) and here is where Nancy and I turned around to head back to our car (which we had parked at Easton's Beach (the beach where I had stopped on my way home from my last day at the office)..
There are a number of spots along the walk where you could easily spend an hour just watching the waves break against the base of the cliff. (This is near an area where the more daring surfers like to ride the waves coming in from the Atlantic -- Looking at the ocean you can quickly realize how "The Breakers" mansion got its name.)
The blue sky and sunshine have suddenly disappeared, replaced by gray clouds. Some foolish tourist ignores the ominous rumbles of thunder and pauses to have his picture taken. (At the time this picture was taken, the darkness on the front of my shirt is from perspiration, not rain. That will soon change.)
This is The Breakers -- which we had visited a few weeks ago -- viewed this time from the outside of the chainlink fence that separates it from the Cliff Walk.

There had been some light but intermittent rain. In a few more minutes it will rain quite heavily for a few minutes -- long enough to get us quite wet -- and yet by the time we get back to the car, the clouds will have moved on and there will again be bright sunshine.

I drove us on a quick tour of some parts of Middletown that Nancy had never seen -- out past the Middletown beaches where the turn-around point is on the five mile race that Jill and I often run on Thanksgiving morning, and the spot on the hill by St. George's School where in recent years I have had to switch from a run to a walk for a hundred yards or so.

We then drove into Newport, but as we circled about trying to find a parking space near the restaurant (on Thames Street) we began to think about how wet we were and how uncomfortable it would be to sit in an air-conditioned restaurant -- so we decided to come back for dinner and music next Wednesday night and headed home to take showers and get into dry clothing.

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