An Autumn Paddle in New England

The source: Osprey Sea Kayak Adventures

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.

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11 responses to “An Autumn Paddle in New England

  1. I love your personifications of the New England states. So glad you got to paddle the river there too! I finally took classes on that river this past year, it’s strange to think it’s so close to the ocean, yet so different.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Johna Till Johnson

      Thanks! It would be really fun to do maybe a camping trip that started from Osprey, took a couple of tidal cycles to go out into the open ocean, camped out there, then returned with the tides…


  2. I have never been to the Eastern US states but I loved the way you described them as people Johna. Makes me want to come and meet each of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Johna Till Johnson

      You really should, Sue! New England is a special sort of place. There really is such a thing as a “New England” state of mind. And yes, Masschusetts is sure he’s the boss (and he probably married a proper lady from CT).

      I type this to you from lovely, scenic, Essex Connecticut which at this moment has a precise dusting of 2.25 inches of snow on its dark green hedges. And where the air is lightly scented with woodsmoke from everyone’s fireplaces…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. We live 2 miles from the RI border, so it is literally just down the road. If you miss our house and you see the “Welcome to Rhode Island” sign, you’ve gone too far. My only real problem with Rhode Island is that I can’t find anything. They have the most circular road system of any state in New England, and that’s saying a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Delightful! I bet my brother, who lived in Mass but now lives in Vt (way north, miles from any town) would agree with your characterizations. I lived in Norwalk for a while, in a little cabin on the Silvermine River, and though Norwalk is quite different from most of CT I’d agree with you on that one, too. Thanks for filling in the blanks on RI, and I hope you get up to Maine sometime to flesh that one out! ;-) .

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Enjoyed your affectionate characterizations of the New England states. Returned to this blog after sorting through old papers as a recent retiree, and remembering with pleasure many hours spent in the labs at Columbia with Vlad.


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