After our island visit, we had a small window of time to visit Provincetown, MA before visiting our friends at their home in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. That window was smashed by the 5.5 hours we had to wait to get back to the mainland on the Martha's Vineyard ferry. It just wasn’t worth it to travel a few hours north, just to have to travel back south the next day.
Vanlife has proven to be a test of continuously changing plans that we must adjust to and be okay with, whether its changing routes due to weather conditions, aiming to visit friends on weekends (since most everyone we know works Monday – Friday), or prioritizing getting somewhere vs. staying and exploring or simply just staying somewhere to rest or take a break. We knew our route of getting through the North was very rigorous as we wanted to get all the “snow” states done before it got too cold. Starting in mid-August was already putting us behind. We knew we were going to need to speed through some places that we’ve already been to, just to keep our momentum going and get to as many places as possible before it got too cold. See original route map below:
There are also the best of plan changes, like when we spring a visit on our friends with only 24-hours notice and they are magically able to accommodate us.
Thanks friends and family who have opened up their homes, spare bedrooms, driveways, electricity, hot showers, laundry, culinary skills, and just general awesomeness to us! You truly are the best and we are so lucky to have such a great network of people in our lives.
Ok, sob fest over…back to Rhode Island…
We ended up staying at a random campground in Westport, MA. A good stop to get used to sleeping/living back in the van, since we had been mostly living in my parent’s house like normal people, while we were on Martha’s Vineyard. I got a good shower the next day and we headed off to a place that has a special place in our hearts, Bristol, RI.
Vanlife Pro Tip: Never turn down a free shower because you don’t know where the next one will come from.
Bristol is the home of where we both met, at our alma mater, Roger Williams University! Go Hawks! We have many fond memories of the 5 years we spent there, other than the times I was always stressing about school. (Architecture school is hard as hell!) We started at one of our favorite places, Colt State Park. Any time we wanted to hang out with friends in a non-college setting that wasn’t a bar or a house party, it was at Colt State Park. So we parked El Travato in the best waterfront spot we could find, plopped down the blow up lounger, and raced after the Del’s Lemonade truck to buy the biggest lemonade we could get. If you haven’t had Del’s, it is a Rhode Island staple, and it’s amazing, so GET IT!
We washed ours down with wraps from Papa Joe’s Wrap Shack on Hope Street. I always get the Chicken Pesto. Another Bristol Favorite-Absolutely-Must-Get is anything from the Beehive Café on Franklin Street. During my time in grad school, we used to live a block away from this adorable little coffee shop, back when it was a quaint little coffee shop. It’s still quaint and little, but waaaay more popular and serves full-on meals now (and still coffee), all locally sourced and different every day, depending on what goodies they have in stock.
Bristol, RI is the home of the longest continuous 4th of July celebration. It starts on June 14 (Flag Day) with various events including nightly concerts in Independence park and concludes on July 4 with a 2.5 mile parade. It’s an entire day of fun and it's kind of a HUGE deal. The parade route lines are painted red white and blue all year-round and I’ve noticed that it’s a selling point to have your house on the “Parade route” when you’re trying to sell your house.
AND NOW FOR A BLAST FROM THE PAST:
During my last year at graduate school, we lived on the parade route and it was the most fun we’ve ever had! We had to wake up at 4am to secure the space in our own yard for optimal parade-viewing…because yes, there are rules that you can’t set anything out before 5am. We had tons of patriotic-themed food, a hot grill, and we lived right next to a liquor store, the perfect trifecta. Every person we have ever met stopped by our house and took advantage of our top-notch parade-viewing-area!