Although Rhode Island is the smallest state, it offers lots of historic sites to make it a good Shamrock Tour® base. This tiny piece of America is only 37 miles wide and 48 miles long, so trips into neighboring New England are unavoidable and certainly well worth it. Some interesting facts to note about the little state: Governor Lincoln Chafee is from an Independent Party making it the only state without a Democratic or Republican governor, prostitution was legal until 2009, and unfortunately, The Drunken Clam bar doesn’t really exist, at least the way it’s portrayed in Family Guy’s world.
My daily loops lead out of Exeter, where I’m staying with friends from Twisted Throttle. We’re close to the Atlantic, so my preplanned routes take me north, east, and west. Every day somebody from the Twisted crew joins me for the ride, partially because I’m riding one of the company bikes that appear as display models at trade shows. Fortunately for me, the Street Triple and the new V-Strom are ripe for my picking. So Adam Redford, Kevin Nixon, Ken Condon, and Erik Stephens take turns accompanying me through their backyard. We mostly stick to the rural byways and cruise from cafés to historical landmarks and racetracks.
After prepping the motorcycles, making sure all necessary paperwork is filed, and screwing on license plates, Adam, Kevin, and I follow the lazily sweeping country roads to Mystic, CT, where we tour the Mystic Seaport. Admission prices vary between and depending on age.
A huge anchor, surrounded by gift shops and exhibition buildings, greets us in the courtyard. Once inside Mystic Seaport, colorful buildings line the gravel footpath. Some of the structures that have been here for decades have been restored, and others have been transplanted from miles away. We watch an ironsmith working in his shop, fishermen drying their catch in the sun, and rope-makers twisting their craft in a particularly long and narrow building. Just imagine the length and weight of the ropes!
As I explore the galley and sleeping quarters below deck of a wooden ship, I gain a new respect for fishermen. They must have been shorter in stature than my tall frame. Maybe if I had some chains around my body, a lazy, single eye, grunted instead of speaking, and beat on a drum with sticks the size of baseball bats; I would have a place on a ship. Okay, maybe my view of fishermen still needs work. Thankfully, several buildings on the historical lot are dedicated to preserving this culture’s history. From naval operations to wooden beauties and maritime art, everything about ships and life on them can be learned here. At the end of the day, I certainly know more about real life at sea other than the fleeting images of Homer’s Odyssey. Shipsmithing and traditional boat varnishing classes are also offered here.