Nature walk

Weekend Warriors: Biking, a bird sanctuary, and the beach

As the weather has improved, my partner and I have gotten amped up for outdoor adventures. Their new job gives them actual weekends off, like a real adult, and I’ve set my availability at my job so that I have Sundays off. This gives us the chance to become weekend warriors, which is a concept I absolutely love.

Sunday, June 11, while it was 90º+ in Providence, we took the bus to the Aquidneck Island and enjoyed a long, full day of outdoor activities. It was significantly cooler in Newport, because we spent our time along the ocean and in the woods.

It was honestly one of the best days of my life.

We started the morning with a leisurely bike ride to The Grange, where we enjoyed a nice full breakfast before biking the rest of the way to the downtown bus hub. From there, we took the bus to Newport, then biked ~5 miles to the Norman Bird Sanctuary in Middletown.

The NBS was established by Mabel Norman Cerio in 1949. According to the nonprofit’s mission statement, the land is maintained “for the propagation, preservation, and protection of birds, and where birds and bird life may be observed, studied, taught, and enjoyed by lovers of nature and by the public generally so interested in a spirit of humanity and mercy.”

We took a few of the trails within the sanctuary and hit some unexpected elevation on the Gray Craig Trail. We saw a wild turkey, a couple robins, and even a snake! When we ate lunch after our hike, we were joined by a very vocal hawk (who just left its nest, according to information from the sanctuary!). On our bike ride to the sanctuary, we also saw some really adorable bunnies.

The trails themselves were gorgeous and diverse, spanning forest, swampland, and some rocky areas. We climbed the rock that faces Second Beach and had a surprisingly awesome time summiting the Gray Craig Trail. I discovered that the bounce in wooden paths spanning swampland can be fun rather than scary. And when the trails were muddy, or difficult, or confusing, we persevered.

It felt really amazing to be able to take my time, take photos, and just enjoy everything. Reed and I supported each other at every turn and had a completely stress-free day. I loved every minute of it.

All in all, we hiked ~3 miles in the actual sanctuary. It was a workout, especially after our ride, but it was really enjoyable. Getting to take our time and enjoy each other’s company while we explored somewhere we had never been was incredible. For a first excursion as weekend warriors, it felt pretty damn good.

Then, it got better. Reed proposed that rather than biking straight back to the bus station and returning to Providence, we stop halfway and take an impromptu trip to the beach. We had biked past several miles of beach on our way to the Norman Bird Sanctuary, the ocean breeze making everything smell and feel amazing.

One of the best things about living in Rhode Island is the beach access. Last summer, we didn’t take any beach trips (for a dozen reasons that I won’t go into), so it felt long overdue. I told Reed I liked the plan, because I fucking love the beach. After we had lunch — which was honestly sad, because the wraps and protein bites we packed had gotten soggy and gross — we hopped on our bikes and headed to the beach.

With the wind and the slow tide, the water was cold. The Atlantic Ocean is always cold, but after an afternoon spent working up a sweat on bikes and then the trails, it felt particularly frigid. We opted to go for a nice, long cooldown walk along the water rather than jumping right in. It was a great way to wind down. I love the feeling of sand beneath my feet and water lapping at my ankles.

We walked our bikes back into town, got some food at a local health food shop, then biked back to the bus station. We made it just in time for an earlier bus than we had planned to take, which got us home sooner. Providence was much hotter than the Aquidneck Island, city-sticky and stifling after so long spent exploring outdoors.

Our next adventure as weekend warriors is a beach trip! The little taste we got was so good, but not nearly enough. I want to immerse myself in the ocean and read on the beach. I want to eat popcorn and bury my toes in the sand and take pictures of seagulls. I’m so excited.

And in the future, I want to go on more hikes! I definitely want to spend more time at the Norman Bird Sanctuary, because it was such a cool experience. I would love to use this adventure as a jumping off point for future excursions.

I’ve never really been an outdoors person, even though I grew up in an outdoor mecca. Reed has really opened my eyes to the possibilities of outdoor recreation, which is so cool. I’m so grateful. And I can’t wait to keep exploring with them. Weekend warriors! Heck. Yes.

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