Some may say that Rhode Island doesn’t even exist. I mean, think about it, have you ever seen a news headline about Rhode Island? Well, just for you, I drove across the entire country to see whether this mythical state is actually there and I’m here to say: Add it to your bucket list right now.
Arriving in Providence
We arrived in Providence while the sun was setting and checked ourselves into a yacht. Tonight, we would let the waves rock us to sleep. I climbed up the steps of the boat and opened the door to the captains room, dropping my luggage.
Making my way down the staircase, I was greeted with a full kitchen and dining room— begging me to pop a bottle of cabernet. I couldn’t say no to that. Wine glass in hand, I completed my self-guided tour of the yacht. Two more bedrooms, each with a private bathroom held a space in the lower cabin. This was heaven. I was surprised someone would rent this space out instead of sleeping in it themselves, until I realized the owner was sleeping in the same marina as us on a different boat. Fair enough, captain.
I climbed back upstairs to enjoy the sun setting over the bridge from above. A hammock was hung, stretching from one side of the room to the other and I wiggled in, slowly swinging back and forth. I could’ve fallen asleep right then and there if it wasn’t for the event I had planned for the night. It was the 25th anniversary of WaterFire Providence. This event was rated in the top 20 events in North America by National Geographic and so, of course, I had to see what the hype was all about. We met a woman leading WaterFire tours by boat on our dock in the marina.
“Just follow the river that way, you’ll run into WaterFire in about 15-20 minutes.”
Trailing the river’s edge, we began the journey. The sun was now completely set and the only lights left were streaming from the city. The tall apartment complexes and business sparkled, reflecting on the river. It was breathtaking. We crossed the bridge to the other side in hopes of gaining a new perspective. Instead, we were met with construction, which pushed us to cross back over the river on the following bridge. I knew we must be getting close as peaceful notes of music began dancing toward us in the air. As the tempo got louder, I peered over the edge of the bridge.
The river had opened in one area, forming a large circle and within it rested glowing flames. Looking closer, these were not what I’d originally thought they were. I’d expected flames to be lit with gas, someone turning on the show with the press of a button. Instead, inside of each torch rested a pile of logs.
You could hear the crackle of the fire as the wood burned and sparks flew above us, reenacting the night sky. Every once in a while, the pile would shift, causing a half-burned log to tip off of the platform into the river. You would hear the sizzle as it crashed into the freezing water and watch the heat smolder out of the blackened log as it floated downstream. It was mesmerizing.
The Secrets Of WaterFire Providence
As the flames began to die out, a small boat circled the channel, stocked to the brim with chopped wood. One by one, volunteers would lean over the edge, putting more logs on the fire to keep the ceremony alive. Though this was their 25th anniversary, it was practically empty. Picture a football stadium, with only thirty people inside. It was a bit saddening to see all of this work going into something so spectacular, yet having no one there to witness it. On the other hand, it was magical to have it to myself.
I tiptoed over to the edge of the cobblestone path and nestled in on the edge, my feet dangling over the river. I saw the tour guide from the marina who gave us directions drive by, glancing up with a soft smile, pleased we made it.
Not long after, another boat crossed under the bridge and into sight, but this one was equipped with entertainment. A woman stood on the bow, dancing with the flames. She arched her body this way and that, juggling torches of fire. She must’ve been freezing without a jacket, but maybe the flames in her hands balanced the temperature out. I watched as she moved slowly with the violin notes and faster as the tempo increased. This was WaterFire Providence in all of its glory. This was Rhode Island.
A Road Trip To Remember
I stood on the river’s edge watching sparks fly for a longer time period than it would take me to drive across the entire state of Rhode Island. This was our last night traveling during our entire east coast road trip. I wanted to soak it in, but in the same light, it was exhausting. When the relaxing music began to sound more like a lullaby, we decided it was time to head back to the yacht.
That night, I had my best sleep in months. The warm, cozy bed in the quiet marina with a gentle rock was a perfect recipe for REM. After all, I had just driven 3,818 miles in ten days. I’d crossed through 17 states. I’d soared under Niagara Falls, hiked the Appalachian Trail and fed an emu named Clarke a handful of Goldfish Crackers. I now had all but three states in the entire United States of America checked off my bucket list. For everyone that has followed along on this journey, thank you for reading. However, to those that are just finding my blog: Stay Tuned. There are many more adventures to come…
If you’ve enjoyed reading this post, please consider donating. I love making free content like this that is accessible to everyone and truly appreciate your support in helping me do so!