The Super Secret Road To Block Island
For decades now, I have been traveling to Block Island (New Shoreham, Rhode Island) with family and friends. I have traveled to BI for work. I have visited for day dates and anniversary weekends with Rachel. I have scootered and biked and walked just about every tourist mile there is on Block Island over my nearly 50 years of visiting there. And in the past several years, Rachel and I have taken our Weims, Rookie and Nora, over to Block Island to check out the beaches and walking trails.
I remember one particular trip in the fall of 2021. Rachel and I took Rookie and Nora over to the Northern section of Block Island, specifically the beach area near the North Lighthouse aka Settlers Rock. We packed up the VW with our beach chairs, lunch, lunch for the Weims, and of course Rookie’s frisbee for our trip and eventually found a great spot on the beach, which was nearly empty that afternoon. As Rachel and I sat and enjoyed the crisp fall air, Nora and Rookie played in the water and the sand and the area surrounding us. Nora was very interested in the hundreds of seals that kept popping up in and out of the water about 30 yards off the shore. Rookie remained focused on retrieving his frisbee and placing it on my foot for re-throwing. I have to say – our Weims stay loyal to us and typically don’t stray too far in public places. It was a bright, sunny day on Block Island that afternoon with beautiful blue skies and plenty of sunshine.
After lunch, Rachel and I decided to leash up the Weims and walk towards the lighthouse. We put our cooler into the VW and folded up the beach chairs with our other stuff and headed down the beach, with the seals in the water “tracking” us as we walked. Nora would stop from time to time to watch the seals come out of the water and then disappear into the water and swim away. A playful back and forth that Rachel and I found hilarious. As we walked towards the North Lighthouse area, the wind had started to pick up. Rachel and I were busy accommodating Rookie’s frisbee request when I spotted Nora staring in the direction of the end of the beach. Strange that I remember this moment, because I thought I heard a motorcycle on the beach. I asked Rachel if she heard it and she said “Nope.” Nora, at our home in North Kingstown, has a particular distaste for bikes, bicycles and scooters and motorcycles. She barks at them and has even tried to run and “catch” them as they drive up Stony Lane (she runs parallel to the road in our yard). She looked seriously to the north and didn’t waver. She heard something and for whatever reason that day, so did I. I shot this video, see if you can hear something:
By the time we got up to the north end, Nora was refocused on the gigantic seal population. I couldn’t find any tire tracks and ultimately just chalked it up as “hearing something.” Rachel, Nora, Rookie, and I finished our trip up to the north point, then spun around to walk back to Settlers Rock, packed up our beach chairs and headed over to Heinz Field so I could take a few photos of the baseball field. That sound, I could have sworn it was a motorcycle. And Nora’s reaction to that sound, it was unmistakable. No tire tracks and no physical evidence, maybe it was a fluke and Nora and I were being a bit too imaginative that day.
Fast forward to the summer of 2022 – Rachel and I traveled to BI for a horseback riding tour of the Island. Well, Rachel toured on horseback and I walked due to the weight limit restrictions for the tour’s horse roster. In other words, I outweighed the maximum weight for the horses that were in the stables that day. So, I walked and got a great workout while Rachel and the other tourists rode around on beautiful horses. Walking around on a hot July afternoon can get a man real thirsty, so after our tour we headed over to BI’s famous “The Oar” restaurant for drinks and lunch. “The Oar” has a great view of the harbor, boats coming in and out, tons of families and friends having a blast on a summer day on BI – great spot to go to if you haven’t been! After a much needed lunch, and well into our 2nd Mudslides, Rachel and I decided to plop ourselves into one of the lawn chairs and let the afternoon just happen.
Shortly into my 3rd Mudslide, I decided to bring up the phantom motorcycle I heard the previous fall, along with my detective Weim Nora. I started telling Rachel that I definitely heard something and was trying my best to re-convince her of the sound I heard, as well as the look on Nora’s face. “The motorcycle is all in your head, along with the Jameson’s from the Mudslide at this point,” laughed Rachel as she pointed to my drink. “Babe, I am telling you I heard something,” I replied. “Then where did it go? Did it just disappear into thin air? Where did it go Merlin the Mudslide drinker?” Rachel and I both laughed, both a bit buzzed at this point. “It went into the tunnel,” said a man sitting with his back turned to us facing the harbor. “I beg your pardon, tunnel?” asked Rachel who looked at me with that “oh shit he wasn’t fibbing this time” look. “I said it went into the tunnel, right there at the point, into the shack and into the sound.”
The shack, I remember a shack but it was a tiny structure. No bike or even human could fit in there, I thought. I pulled out my phone and remembered taking a photo of it. It was just a tiny little hut like shack. The man continued without any prompting from Rachel or myself. “That’s the Block Island terminus. It takes you to the tunnel which takes you to Narragansett.” He made a gesture like a wave but I think he meant under the water. At this point, the man had not turned around. He was talking to us facing the harbor, sipping on his pint of lager. “And where is the Narragansett terminus, Mr?” I finally asked after a brief pause by the man. “Mr? No, you can call me Brewer,” as the man looked over his left shoulder to sort of face us. He looked like an artist depiction of an 1800s lobster boat captain to the T. “Hi, Noel and Rachel, just a couple of innocent bystanders here, not trying to pry. We were on the point last fall and I thought I heard..” Brewer cut me off, “you heard right, Noel. It was a motorcycle. And there were no tracks because those are the rules.” Rachel and I looked at each other as if we had discovered the wheel or bread or solar energy.
As soon as Brewer uttered the word “rules”, his attention went from Rachel and I to something behind us. “Uhhhh, will you excuse me a moment?” Brewer said. Then, he stood up with this beer and walked towards us. I started to stand and extend my hand but Brewer simply walked past focusing on the deck of “The Oar.” Rachel had already spun around but didn’t really see anything or anyone out of the ordinary. “See, I told you I heard something!” I declared with great enthusiasm. Rachel pointed to my drink and to Brewer who was now making his way up the steps to the deck. “That’s your source? An old fisherman who looks like he was cast in a fishing movie starring Charlton Heston?” laughed Rachel. “Charlton Heston catchin’ tuna, I would see that movie,” I replied as I took a deep draw of Mudslide and smiled with pride over the quite possible discovery of a secret tunnel on Block Island. “Let’s finish up Drunken Sailor Husband of mine and pay the bill and get home,” joked Rachel. I nodded and drew my Mudslide up in the air and gave a toast “To secret tunnels and the detective team of Nora and Noel.” We both had a big laugh as we sipped delicious Mudslide mixes overlooking the harbor.
“Looks like Brewer got called out to sea,” said Rachel as we stood to find our waitress and to pay the bill. “He left his notebook over there, why don’t you grab it and I will bring up to the hostess, maybe its important.” I nodded and walked over to the chair where Brewer was sitting and chatting with us. He had been gone a good half hour now, so we assumed he was gone for the day. Maybe some at “The Oar” knew him and could get him his notebook? I was a little wobbly, I admit walking over to the chair but soon focused on a drawing in Brewer’s notebook. On the first page, which was flapping in the wind, a rather intricate cartoon of a tunnel, a bike, and a man exiting to a home. There were some markings on the drawing but it was a rough sketch at best. I snapped a photo of it with my phone, closed the notebook and handed it to Rachel, who then handed it to the hostess with the story of how we got it. The hostess nodded and gave it to the manager, who said he would find the man and return it to him. “Do you need his name?” asked Rachel. The manager simply walked quickly away with the notebook, to which Rachel replied, “well ok then.” We paid our bill, took a taxi to the ferry, and made it home safely after a very adventurous day on Block Island.
By the way, here is the photo I snapped from Brewer’s notebook. I’m looking forward to heading back to Block Island this summer, along with Detective Nora and Rachel and Rookie to look into this secret tunnel thing again!!!
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