Exploring Rhode Island and Camping with Headstones

Map of the Rhode Island area we explored while staying in Middletown and visiting Newport

Since I still haven’t written about our summer in New England, I wanted to return to those states and post about some of our discoveries there. I figure this will be a good time since we are continuing to hang out in California for awhile longer and will not be doing much sightseeing. I thought I would start with Rhode Island, the smallest state in America and one that definitely made an impression on me. It was easy to decide which city and area to focus on in Rhode Island as Newport sounded the most intriguing with its seaside location and lots of history. There were few RV parks available near Newport, but there was one in Middletown just a few miles north. Reviewers were not that complimentary of the park, describing it as camping in an empty field with no amenities. We were coming a few days before Labor Day weekend and luckily they had a spot for us. I wasn’t expecting much and just hoped we could make do for the week we were staying.

A tiny Rhode Island Historical Cemetery next to our RV site

After checking in we were shown to our site where RVs were in fact, crammed together in a small field with no amenities. But our spot had a little something extra as it was right next to a teeny tiny cemetery with a sign of protection from the Rhode Island Historical Society. We did our best to pull in without driving over the burial plots. I couldn’t help but wonder, where was the fence around this little cemetery and why so little protection? After getting our trailer in I checked out the most prominent headstone which listed an Edward Tewes from 1776. Camping right next to a burial ground was a first for us, but next to a headstone that was well over 200 years old was something rather different indeed. Always curious, I tried to dig up a little about Edward online. What was his former occupation? Could he have died fighting in the Revolutionary War? Is this his date of birth rather than date of death? I had questions, but unfortunately came up with no answers about our neighbor. In the days ahead as I passed close by Edward’s tombstone to get into our truck, “good morning Edward,” or “good day Edward” became my mantra.

Edward Tewes, 1776

During our first day while Mark got the trailer hooked up I wandered down the street away from the RV park and found more history. This is one of the things I love about traveling and coming to a new place. You never know what you will find and I found something interesting at the end of the street. At a little park was the Boyd’s Wind Gristmill from 1810 which in addition to being beautiful and old had other historical significance. Still in operational order, it was moved to this park from another location in the state. A large mill stone located here was used during 1840-1844 with grain from almost every farm on Rhode Island passing over its surface. Rhode Island is surely a small state, but it is hard to imagine one mill stone and windmill doing the job for every farm.

Boyd’s Wind Gristmill built in 1810

Besides the windmill, a historic school house is also located at the park. Walking along the street I saw a number of historic homes with plaques. They had dates from the later 1700’s and into the early 1800’s, like the beautiful wood shingled home below. Instead of fences that are normally seen in a neighborhood, here it was old stone walls up and down the street. There is nothing like a good old fashioned stone wall to take you back a few years. Our neighboring burial plot and my walk around the neighborhood set the stage for all the history we would be seeing in Newport in the coming days. I also realized that this RV Park was actually not a bad find and we didn’t need any amenities this week any way.

Our first night in Middletown we found a pizza place that was supposed to be pretty good called “Carmella’s.” After ordering I was looking at the chalkboard sign on the back wall advertising all the good things in their pizza. My eye was drawn to the “Stanislaus Plum Tomatoes” used in their homemade sauce. I wondered, could these tomatoes be from the same Stanislaus County in California where we lived for many years before taking up RVing? It seemed likely since many tomatoes are processed in that county. In fact I have driven by those processing plants from time to time and seen the trucks loaded with fresh picked tomatoes. Upon inquiring, we found out that yes, we were right. What a small world – here we were at the opposite end of the U.S. eating pizza with tomatoes from our former California home.

Here at Carmella’s we ate good pizza with tomatoes grown in our former California county.

In Middletown we made another great find – the Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge right next to the Bay. It had a nice system of trails with beautiful coastal views and little paths down to the water. In addition, there was the hope of seeing waterfowl, deer and other wildlife. A beach near the wildlife refuge was called Second Beach and was very popular with locals and visitors. The cost to park in the lot by the beach seemed a little outrageous at $15.00 per car on weekdays and $25.00 on weekends. It didn’t take long to discover that people love the beaches in the Newport area. Our friendly neighbors at the RV park kept their trailer here throughout the summer, coming frequently for the past 40 years from their home in Connecticut. When I asked about the beaches in Connecticut they said they weren’t worth going to, the best beaches were in Middletown and Newport. They went to Second Beach every day while we were there.

Mark walking the path by the Bay at Sachuest National Wildlife Refuge

We came to Sachuest several times to walk the trails and watch the sunsets. One sunset was particularly gorgeous as golden light burst from a hole in the parting clouds.

Another lovely sunset from Sachuest looking out on the Bay toward Middletown.

We had almost perfect weather during our week in Rhode Island. There was not a single drop of rain during our stay, a rarity in the Eastern U.S. and something I always hoped to see! The temperatures were also that ideal summer warmth. I soon realized that a week in Middletown and Newport, Rhode Island was not going to be long enough. I will close with a scenic coastal view from one of Newport’s lighthouses.

Castle Hill Lighthouse, an active light in Newport, Rhode Island

Thanks for checking in! In my next blog more exploring in Newport.

2 thoughts on “Exploring Rhode Island and Camping with Headstones”

  1. Not sure how I would feel pulling up to my RV spot next to a cemetery, but that spots looks very cool. Would love to find out more about Mr Edward Tewes, I’ll try some google searches myself :-). So funny to see the Stanislaus tomatoes, what an exotic place to eat produce from hehe

    1. Thanks for your fun comment Matt! It was quite unusual to pull into that campsite and try not to hit the tiny cemetary. I really enjoyed the uniqueness of that campsite. It surprised me as to how it seemed to be no big deal that it was there. You would think they would not have a camping spot so close to it in order to make sure no harm is done to the tombstones. They did have a sign that it was protected and all that, but still it was not fenced securely. Interesting situation! I googled but couldn’t find anything about Edward Tewes. I was disappointed. I hoped there would be something with the local historical society but nothing popped up, so the mystery remains!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *