Tyler and I have often noted how different this experience would be without Noel. When we shared the tour with our families, one of their responses was wondering what we were going to do with “the cat.”

I have always told Tyler, Noel is a part of me. Wherever I go, she goes, not that he has tried to separate us but there was some debate before we hit the road of what we’d do if she didn’t adjust to life on the go. Fortunate for us, she’s done wonderfully. She’s been such a joy to have with us; just her presence makes the whole experience that much better. Additionally, she’s kind of a unique cat and I realize that’s probably what a lot of cat owners say.

But case in point: I’m not sure how many cats enjoy shopping cart rides in a Target parking lot. We love Target, but then again, who doesn’t? With store managers’ approvals, we’ve stayed in a few Target parking lots, one of them being just outside of Providence, Rhode Island. After doing some grocery shopping (plus many other things we didn’t need), we decided to take Noel out on a little joy ride, top down.


It’s not every day that you see a cat letting her hair fly in a Target convertible, but YOU’RE WELCOME to all of those watching in the parking lot. It didn’t take long for Noel to realize that she could jump out of the cart for some additional adventure, leading us to coaxing her out from beneath the trailer.

Sometimes people ask if we’re afraid that she’ll escape. The answer is yes, duh, but what we’re banking on is her tendency to: a) waddle a couple of yards before she just stops and sits when she sees that we’re chasing her, b) retreats to under the trailer c) want to be near us all the time. So far so good- knock on wood.

Believe it or not, this is not a post on Noel or cats, but actually one about our journey in Rhode Island. The elaborate cat backstory was a bonus. :)


Our stay in Rhode Island was relatively short, but fortunately it’s small enough that getting anywhere took about a maximum of a half-an-hour. Our campsite was in a dustbowl somewhere near a bunch of apple orchards. The RV park was not the prettiest of places but it was cheap so we’ll take it!

The first day, just a short drive away and over two bridges, we went from trailers to mansions when we visited the city of Newport. Along the rocky shore of the Atlantic, Newport is known for, well… it’s known for rich people’s summer homes and mansions.


Yes, out-of-town tourists (including us) are partaking in the sort of bizarre activity of walking by mansions in awe, peering through the gates and wondering, “what the hell is it like to live in there?” Or, “I bet this home sits empty 95% of the time.”

A few older mansions are open to the public as museums, charging people to find out what it’s like to live as a rich person. I mean, I know it’s about the construction, architecture, and way of life in the late 1800s when many of these mansions were built, but it is pretty funny to think about.

The most visited and famous of these mansions is the Vanderbilt’s summer home called The Breakers. Construction of the The Breakers began in 1892 and was completed in 1895. Because the previous home on the estate had burnt down, the construction was very impressive, using steel trusses and making the boiler separate from the house and underground.


Well, no offense to the Preservation Society of Newport, Tyler and I sort of kind of maybe might of snuck our way onto the property. Before you judge, I want to say that it’s not like we climbed over a fence or planned a way to get in. We just took opportunity of their extremely wide entryway and the chaos of construction on the building’s (let’s be honest, it’s not a home) soon-to-be and controversial welcome center. We didn’t go into the house but we walked around the property and its massive back lawn, which wore me out so I took a catnap in the gardens.


From there we spent some time walking along the ocean and listening to the waves crash on the rocks. It was the weekend and a big sailing competition was taking place so the ocean horizon was lined with boats. It seemed very Newport-y.

Jokes and sarcasm aside, Newport was very, very beautiful. I can understand why people flock there to escape the summer heat.


On a different day we went into Providence to check out the location where the state project would be held that week. It was late-summer hot but we were determined to check out the downtown area. To me, downtown Providence sort of felt like you stepped back in time. At least in the area that we were walking, the buildings did not have the post-industrial office building look. Many sat empty and thanks to a local’s insight and my best friend Wikipedia, we learned that they are owned by Providence’s mafia. Yes, you read that right. Like Boston, Providence had a long history with the mafia. Another thing we learned is that its clean-slate emptiness also makes it a prime spot of film sets.

After walking through the Arcade Providence, which is the oldest indoor mall in the nation that has now been converted to include apartments above the shops, and picking up some coffee at New Harvest Coffee & Spirits, we headed to The Dean hotel, a boutique hotel with a coffee shop (Bolt Coffee), chill vibe, a great neon sign, and an entertaining book/magazine collection.


In constant need of wifi, we made our way to the public library that has a stunning entryway. We must have felt pretty inspired by the books because our day-in-town ended with picking up some quarterlies at a nearby bookstore. Traveling across the country in a trailer, coffee shop hopping, library, quarterlies — I’m not sure when Tyler and I retired but we’re big fans. Four thumbs up.


*View the Rhode Island state project we facilitated with U.S. Navy Veteran Josh Chiarini, designers Jay Biethan and Rashelle Palmer, both AIGA Rhode Island board members, videographer Scott Beer from Animus Studios, and photographer and fellow firefighter, Sean McNulty. Their collaborative design is entitled “Take Flight,” a motto aimed for others to never quit, no matter the battles they may face because we can honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice through living life the way they would have wanted to live themselves.