By Johna Till Johnson
October 7, 2017
To me, Rhode Island is New England’s quirky little brother.
In the New England family, Massachusetts is the corporate CEO: rich, polished, well-connected, and casually dominant.
Connecticut is the suburban matron with pearl stud earrings, perfectly pressed khakis, 2.5 blond kids and a white picket fence.
Vermont is the crunchy-granola hippie sister, with flowing locks and skirts and beads.
New Hampshire is the gruff older brother with flannel shirts, pickup truck with a gun rack, and the “live free or die” bumpersticker.
Maine… that’s the far-off cousin I’ve never properly met, distant, mysterious, and cold.
But Rhode Island is the bright, tattooed little brother with grommet earrings who’s working as a barista while waiting for his band to hit the big time.
The person I’d naturally gravitate to at Thanksgiving dinner, in other words, because he’s likely to have the most interesting stories and unusual perspectives.
So when the email arrived notifying me that the paddles I’d ordered had arrived at Osprey Sea Kayak Adventures, it was a no-brainer for me to decide to drive up and pick them up. My weekend had come unexpectedly free, with an unusually warm and sunny Saturday forecast. A visit to Rhode Island seemed like a brilliant idea.
Technically, Osprey Sea Kayak isn’t in Rhode Island. It’s in southern Massachusetts, on the banks of the eastern fork of the Westport River. But the owners, Carl and Samantha Ladd, live in Rhode Island, and it’s always seemed like a Rhode Island institution to me.
I’d never paddled the Westport before. Whenever I’d headed up to Rhode Island for past trips, the whole point had been to play in ocean surf. In fact, I’d barely noticed that the tiny “creek” behind the kayak shop was actually a river.
But it is, and like Rhode Island itself, it’s an under-appreciated gem. See for yourself: Click on any of the photos below to see the vistas from that day. And you can read about my timely discovery of the boat named “Sea Hare” here.