A runner with an appetite for adventure!

A Wonderful Wedding in Warwick! August 1, 2011

Filed under: Food,Rhode Island,Wedding — Kelocity @ 9:35 pm
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After our fabulous day at the Newport Mansions, we continued our journey over the bridge into Providence for the weekend. One of my very good friends from High School was getting married there the next day and we wouldn’t have missed it for the world!
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The Bride and Groom and all of our friends were staying at the Providence Biltmore, so staying there was a no-brainer. 


Our room was really nice, although we saw another room later on and saw that they had completely renovated it and installed flat screen TVs! We had room envy, but ours was plenty comfortable. We had a nice stay.


And the view of Providence was really nice. See the State House back there?


After relaxing in our room for a while (and escaping the heat), we ventured out for dinner a little later on. We didn’t really have a plan, we just figured we’d stumble upon something good. And boy, did we luck out! It was Restaurant Week in Providence!!!
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The Union Station Brewery had an amazing deal. Drinks and a three course meal for two for only $30. We’ve always wanted to give one of these menus a try, and tonight was the night.
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We started with some delicious crispy bread. Somehow that whole basket disappeared. It was fantastic.
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We had a nice time chit-chatting while the meal came out. We love exploring new towns and we were happy to be here! Irving had a nice looking beer…
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But I really enjoyed some Root Beer on tap! ***slurrrrrp****
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PS… like my new shirt ^^? I got it that week at the outlets with my mom. I thought it screamed New England.

We picked the caprese salad for our appetizer and it was delicious. I could have had this as my entree and gone home happy. 
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But alas, there were two more entrees to enjoy too! First up was a Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese. Does not require further explanation!
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And Irving ordered the burger with steak fries.
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And just when I thought I was stuffed to the gills…. they came out with a slice of Oreo Pie! The inside was cookies and cream ice cream! What are they trying to kill me, here in Providence? Holy man, this was awesome.
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We barely made it out of there alive! And when we got outside, we learned that the temperature had not dropped. It was still pushing 90 degrees at 9 o’clock at night! What the what?

We met up with our friends back at the hotel and caught up for a while. It was so nice to see them. I really miss my old high school group. It’s hard living so far away, but we had a blast.

The bridal party had an early morning wake-up call and we were exhausted too, so we said goodbye and hit the sack.

We knew the next day was going to be just as hot, so we sprung out of bed early to get a nice walk in before the sun came out. There was so much to look at! Providence reminds me of Boston so much. Those old brick buildings and the style of architecture are just so cute.


We saw the fire cauldrons for the “Water Fire” displays they do throughout the summer. They put wood buring fires in those wire holders at night and it lights up the river! Sadly, we weren’t there on a night when they were lit, but I bet it looks awesome!



I love college towns and was excited to find out how close we were to Rhode Island School of Design and Brown University!! Plus we got a nice hill workout in there too. Wowzers!



I love college campuses! I wish I could go back to school and be a student all over again.





We made it back to the hotel just in time to avoid a sudden downpour!!! I forget how the weather changes on a dime here! But they say rain is good luck on a wedding day! Though I’m sure that stressed the bride out a bit!



But the rain didn’t last long. It cleared up soon after and led the way for an absolutely perfect afternoon. We had to check out of our hotel, so we opted to enjoy a looooong lunch together at McCormick & Schmicks. IMG_6519


We weren’t really that hungry, but we had time to kill.



And soon I was able to sneak a glimpse at the bride and her dad heading out to the wedding!!!! She was glowing, such a beautiful bride. She just looked stunning. =)


And my friends in the wedding party looked amazing too!! Weddings are the perfect reason to get old friends together again! I miss it!


And then we headed over to the wedding ourselves. They had an incredible venue. It was in the Aldrich Mansion in Warwick, RI. It was located on a 75 acre estate right on the water (across from Newport). It was built by Senator Aldrich, a prominent banker and investor, in the late 1800s. Soon after, his daughter, Abby, married John D. Rockefeller here! (See! Again withAmerica’s elite! I love the history!) And then later Abby’s daughter became Vice President of the United States under Gerald Ford!


And as if that’s not impressive enough… they also shot the movie Meet Joe Black here!!! Now I have to watch the film again to see all the cool rooms in it!


Adjacent to the mansion is a church that used to be a seminary. Instead of the pews facing the alter, they faced each other! The idea being that if the priests in training couldn’t see God in each other, then they had no business being there. Kind of cool! The Priest that married Katie and Mark was really funny. He kept it really light (there was no AC in the church!) I enjoyed hearing him speak.


And the ceremony was beautiful. These two are so in love. They’ve been together for almost a decade and I felt so lucky to witness their exchanging of vows.

Then it was time to celebrate!! I couldn’t wait to see inside the mansion! (And PS, look at the clouds! You’d never guess it had rained just hours earlier! They had a perfect day!)

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The back of the mansion leads down a great staircase to the open sea. Across the harbor was Newport!


The cocktail hour was so fun because we got to explore a bit, catch up with friends and enjoy the venue.




Inside, the mansion was just as wonderful as you’d expect. The ceilings were sparking in gilded gold, and the paintings really brought you back in time. I loved how the lights made a nice mix between chic and modern with the historical and classy.



I hope Katie felt like a princess on her wedding day because she certainly looked like one. =)


We had fun reminiscing about our own wedding day too. It’s crazy how fast it all goes by.




I loved her flowers! Gorgeous.

Gilded gold mirrors and a marble fireplace! How cool!


Each of the tables was a place they had both traveled to! We were psyched that we were at the “Hollywood Table”! I think Irving might have even taken the picture they had displayed!


Yum. Dinner was fun! Chicken in a Riesling Cream sauce!!

And cake!!!





The dance floor was packed all night long. The DJ was phenomenal. Probably the best I’ve ever seen at a wedding. It felt like we were inside a night club. It was a blast!


Dancing in “The Great Hall” sounds so cool, doesn’t it?


We had a wonderful time. Congratulations, Katie and Mark!!

Here’s how the rest of the night went down….
11p Wedding Ended
11:15p Pull over on the side of the road and change out of your wedding clothes in our rental car
11:30p Drive back to Providence
12a Meet up with Bride & Groom in a bar for an after party
1a – Say goodbye and start the Drive back up to Boston.
2a – Return Rental Car to Airport and take Shuttle to the Terminal.
2:30a – Realize that the airport is closed and you have to sit in the waiting area for two more hours.
3:30a – Start blogging about the trip so as not to fall asleep
5:30  – Board flight back to Los Angeles and promptly fall asleep!


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What a whirlwind of a trip. It’s hard to believe that was all just 9 days! Whew!





A Trip to America’s Palaces: The Newport Mansions July 31, 2011

Filed under: Rhode Island,Travel — Kelocity @ 8:10 pm
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Last week, we bid our farewells to New Hampshire and Massachusetts and headed down to Rhode Island for the remainder of our trip. We rented a car from Logan Airport and hit the open road. But first, a very important stop….

I am still avoiding coffee, so I got an iced tea hoping that would fill the void… it wasn’t as good as I had hoped though.
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And two chocolate munchkins… because we don’t have Dunkin’ Donuts in Los Angeles and I miss them!
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After an hour or so of driving, we arrived into Newport. I grew up in Boston and I’m still shocked that we had never ventured down there before. There is so much to do in the Providence/Newport area and we were really excited to spend the weekend exploring.

But #1 on our Rhode Island to-do list was seeing some of the Newport Mansions. They are world-renowned and such a huge part of United States History.  Each of the mansions was commissioned by some great American visionary and the walls all have so many stories to tell.
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Special thanks to The Preservation Society of Newport County for providing me with complimentary tickets to visit the mansions. The Preservation Society manages 11 historic properties and 7 of those are now National Historic Landmarks. We had plans to visit anyways and all opinions in this post are my own.
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We had “The Breakers Plus” ticket, which includes entry and an audio tour at The Breakers and one other property. We found that this was perfect if you only have one day. The tours are very engaging and in depth and I’d recommend going for multiple days if you want to see multiple houses.
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We got to The Breakers right when it opened (which was nice to avoid the summer heat and some of the crowds). When we arrived, we first walked around the grounds to get an idea of how big and grand this house really was.
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The Newport Mansions were not considered “mansions” or “homes”, but instead were considered to be “summer cottages” for America’s elite.    The Breakers is the largest of all the Newport “cottages”. It was built in 1895 by Cornelius Vanderbilt II who was the President and Chairman of the New York Central Railroad.
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The Villa house has 70 rooms, all created in the Italian Renaissance style.

The grounds outside were just as incredible as the house itself. There were gardens, walking paths and flowers. They say just about everything was just as it was when the Vanderbilt’s lived there more than a century ago.

But of course, one of the most impressive things about it is that the yard is that it sits right on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean.


They even need a special wide lawn mower to take care of the grass.  In all, the estate is 13 acres.
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The craftsmanship was unparalleled. It really does look like it could have been from Ancient Rome. Americans hadn’t really seen architecture like this in our country prior to these homes.
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And look at those gorgeous oval windows!

When we were walking around the grounds, we stumbled upon this cute little house.

I’m sure you’ll be as surprised as I was to learn that this was the children’s playhouse!
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Those were some very lucky children!


Once we got back to the front, it was time to go inside and begin our tour.
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The Breakers has an incredible audio tour (included with your ticket). It takes you through almost all of the rooms, describing in detail about the architecture, furnishings, history and everyday life that happened there. We were really taken back in time as we walked through. The descriptions were so vivid and the rooms came to life.
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You are not allowed to take pictures inside of the mansions, but everything about it was impressive. The mansion was commissioned by Cornelius Vanderbilt II, but it was designed by  renowned architect Richard Morris Hunt. Hunt  is also known for designing the Biltmore Estate (the largest private mansion in America) and several other famous buildings around the world. It cost $12 million dollars to build (over $300 million in today’s prices)! And it was only used a summer home.
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I felt like I was in the Great Gatsby. You can imagine the big parties attended by world diplomats, the women in their big gowns and the men in their finest suits. You can envision the how Vanderbilt’s daughter must have looked like when she entered the room for her debutante ball. A grand party with food and dancing that didn’t cease til 5am. A party that would become the talk of the world.
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The dining room was covered in gilded gold paneling (thin gold leafs that were pressed onto the wood).

“If America’s Gilded Age were to be represented by a single house, that house would be The Breakers, so for an important museum like ours, the discovery of platinum is the equivalent of striking architectural gold,” said Trudy Coxe, CEO and Executive Director of The Preservation Society of Newport County.  —source

There were so many other amazing design elements throughout the house. Of note:

  • The walls of one of the rooms was paneled in Platinum Leaf (so the color would never tarnish). This would have been extremely expensive and I’m not sure it’s ever been replicated elsewhere since.
  • Under the grand staircase was a beautiful water fountain that looked like it came straight out of Italy
  • The bathtubs each had four water faucets. Fresh water (hot and cold) and salt water (hot and cold).
  • Nearly every European Country had some kind of influence on the design. You can see pieces of England, Spain, Italy, France and so many more.
  • The billiard room had solid alabaster walls.


The audio tour provided so much more than I could possibly remember. I left feeling as if I myself had actually lived there for a time. We very much enjoyed it. Also of note, they have a “Family Tour” available at “The Breakers”. I punched in the numbers for that tour and listened for a little bit and it was so cool! It’s the story of the Vanderbilt’s told from the perspective of the House itself. It still brings you throughout all the rooms, but told in a way that kids will understand. I love when people make history lessons come alive for kids. I would have loved that when I was little!
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After our tour was finished, we wanted to our next destination, The Marble House. It was almost 90 degrees out. but we looked on a map and saw it wasn’t very far, so we decided to walk along the Cliff Walk.
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Along the coast is a well maintained walking path that we thought connected each of the mansions…
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…but we soon realized that the path we were on did NOT actually connect to any of the other houses and we had to walk TWO MILES in the scorching heat to get out of it. There was a sign that said noted the path was two miles long, but we didn’t realize that it meant there were NO EXITS until then! If it wasn’t so hot out, I’m sure it would have been great, but we were hungry, hot and cranky by then.
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It took us almost an hour and with no water and no shade, it was not very pleasant. And the nice path turned into rock climbing too!
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Much of the trail looked like this!
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Our destination was the Tea House, located on the grounds of The Marble House, and we were sad to pass by it without being able to stop like we’d planned! They really should add a gate there for tourists who want to stop.
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Finally we got to the end and then had to double back on the road. We were happy for some shade. This is the famous Bellevue Avenue. And it feels like it is straight out of movie set. Each of the houses are incredibly large, ornate and beautiful, most built in the early 19th century. It was THE place to be for America’s elite.
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And then we arrived at the Tea House for some lunch.
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This Tea House was built by Alva, one of the wives of a Vanderbilt Son. She hosted rallies for Women’s Suffrage here. Alva was one of the most prominent supporters of Women’s Right to Vote during that time.
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We both ordered chicken sandwiches, but were surprised to learn that they were pre-wrapped, catering style and didn’t come with any sides. But they tasted fresh nonetheless.  I just wish they had a greater selection of food to choose from though. There are only two restaurant options among all of the Newport Mansions…. so we were expecting a little bit more.
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But the ambiance was nice. Despite the heat outside, it was pretty nice inside. We needed to cool off after our walk!
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And then we began our second tour of the day at The Marble House.
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This “cottage” was finished in 1892 for William Vanderbilt. The house was a gift for his wife Alva as a 39th birthday present. It was called “The Marble House” for good reason too! It contains 500,000 cubic feet of marble. Alva was very involved in the building of the house and made most of the decisions during construction and decorating. (William Morris Hunt was also the architect on this house too).
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I loved so many things about this house. It looks so presidential, almost reminiscent of The White House.

But as grand as it looks on the outside, the rooms inside felt cozy like a home. You could really tell that Alva loved this home. She had three children with Willam Vanderbilt, and it was fun to learn about them through the audio tour.
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My favorite part of this tour was learning how the Preservation Society restored the wallpaper in Alva’s bedroom. It was a custom design in a bright lilac color, but it had faded over time. When they restored the house, they found the same company who had originally made them more than a century ago… and the company is still in business! And not only that…they still had the ORIGINAL design templates in their archives! So the wallpaper you see, though reproduced, is identical to the original! So neat!

I don’t have a picture, but it looked similar to this design.
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Another cool thing about the Marble House was it’s impressive display of “America’s Cup” trophies and memorabilia. Harold Vanderbilt (Alva’s youngest child) was a champion yachtsman. They even had the actual winning boat wheel that he used on each of his ships during the America’s Cup competitions.

The Vanderbilt family had so much wealth and power in our country’s history. They invested in promising companies and led the way through a time where America was still redefining itself. To see two of the houses where all of this happened is really neat.
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We always joke that we will go half way around the world to see royal palaces, historic buildings and impressive architecture, but truth is, we have some pretty amazing sights in our own country too. Sure, they’re not as old, but they still have tons of historical significance.

We loved the Newport Mansions and hope to visit again someday to see some of the other houses. I highly recommend a trip to Rhode Island to see them, it is definitely worth it. We wanted to spend more time by the seaside and walk around the downtown area, but it was just too hot. I bet it would be beautiful to visit in the spring or even in the fall.

We are making it a point to seek out and enjoy more of what our country has to offer! We still have Hearst Castle on our list in California! Talk about America’s Palaces!


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