Hiking the Cliff Walk (Newport, Rhode Island)
I hopped on the RIPTA bus #60 from Kennedy Plaza in downtown Providence to go to Newport, a seaside city in Rhode Island. It’s about an hour on a public bus to get there. I looked forward to this day—a day of hiking and exploring. I planned to hike the Cliff Walk and also visit one of the mansions along the path.
I haven’t traveled in a year and a half and I was excited to be somewhere else new. My body and soul craved for an adventure. Since my son was busy with all the activities at Brown for the admit week, I took this opportunity to spend time alone. As they say, solitude is the soul’s holiday 🙂
I arrived at the Newport Visitor Center and from there, I hopped on another bus (#67) to Cliff Walk. I asked the driver to stop at Memorial Blvd (where the trail begins), with the intention of completing the 3.5 mile hike, but instead he dropped me off at Forty Steps. Although I wanted to start hiking from the beginning point, the driver had misunderstood thinking I was okay with a short cut (missing about quarter of a mile). I contemplated on walking back to the starting point but changed my mind. I decided to head towards the Breakers Mansion, an opulent summer home previously owned by the Vanderbilt family.
Dallas is a land locked city and the last time I saw an ocean was during our trip to Hawaii last year. I felt an inexplicable euphoria at the first sight of the ocean. Perhaps it reminded me of the nostalgic road trip I took with my parents in northern Philippines not too long ago. We stopped at a seaside resort and enjoyed the warm ocean breeze. But when the memory shifted to my dad, an air of melancholy surrounded me. It was going to be the last vacation I would ever take with him.
But the quiet roar of the ocean and the sound of the waves pacified and consoled my weary soul. I focused on the stunning views along the path—to my right were opulent mansions and to my left boasted spectacular vistas of the Atlantic Ocean.
It is at least a 50 foot drop from where I was.
About half way through, I took a break from my hike and toured the magnificent Breakers mansion, a summer home previously owned by the Vanderbilts. It is now owned by the Preservation Society of Newport County.
The rows of mansions along Bellevue Avenue were reminiscent of the Gilded Age, a term derived from Mark Twain’s 1873 The Gilded Age: a Take of Today. It is a satire of an era with serious social problems but masked by gold gilding.
The Vanderbilt family had amassed their fortune from their shipping and railroad empire. Cornelius Vanderbilt was the second richest American in history (after John D. Rockefeller). Contemporary descendants include Gloria Vanderbilt and her journalist son, Anderson Cooper.
The Breakers is the grandest of Newport’s summer homes. Most of the mansions are walking distance of one another along Bellevue Avenue and Ochre Point. If I find myself another opportunity to visit Newport again, I would definitely visit the other mansions.