Take Two: Block Island Triathlon

Over the weekend I took part in one of my favorite events of the summer: The Block Island Triathlon. I competed last year and loved every second of it. This year was different, I had a race team.

IMG_1387I must have made it sound easy or something as my mother, Karen, and friend, Evan, decided to sign up as well. My mother is a fit lady who loves to be active in many ways (especially Jazzy ones), and Evan is a runner who has never competed in a triathlon.
Mom was pretty confident. Saying ,“Michael Phelps isn’t even a stellar athlete” as we watch him carry the US flag at the Rio opening ceremony the night before. I guess she thought she could take him on the swim portion if she had to.

 

As race day approach we were all nervous about the weather with storms predicted. I said my prayers and wished for the best. Luckily, Saturday arrived with sun and smiles. We prepped our transition stations with “recyclable” footbaths.

At 9 am the race went off. I was in the first heat. Ekk.

The race consisted of a ¼ mile swim at Fred Benson Town Beach. It was tough as I was running into the water and headed towards the same buoy as the rest of the pack. There was a lot of arm flaying and no apologies.

When I ran out of the water and went to throw my sneakers on I swear everyone else was dilly-dallying. I had places to be. The bike ride consisted of a few close calls with cars and other bikers and only once did I yell “MOM!” at the wrong lady.

13901547_1233309526699427_8045180890117176352_nBy the time I got to the beach, I was pumped yelling, “These are my roads” to everyone I passed. The run was tough as the high tide meant wading through calf-deep water at some points. I was cheered on my beach goers loving my St. Lawrence T-shirt (and Cole Hann shades).

I finished in just over 1 hour and 30 minutes, third overall female and first in my age group. For anyone else that did the race, I had to search far and wide for the results (here they are) I am now the proud owner of the coolest T-Shirt on Block Island. So yes ,this blog post is somewhat a humble brag, but I know you care.

Besides me, my mom did phenomenal. She finished 12th out of 20 people in her age group. Take those Tri Veterans! Her biggest feedback was that the race was the perfect choice for her. The mixed training was better than simply training for a half-marathon that she had been interested in.
IMG_0963Evan crushed the game as well placing 2nd in his age group. I had to say no when he mentioned a “cool down” run after the race.

Block Island is a great place to race. There is one more chance this summer to “Run Around the Block” on September 10th. I won’t be able to be here for it so you might have a chance.


Have you ever raced on Block Island? Is Michael Phelps a stellar athlete? How many scoops of ice cream did I eat after the race? (Wait, don’t answer that)

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She definitely earned her cone.

To Insure Proper Servitude: Tips for Tips

IMG_1057Gratuities are never expected, but always accepted. As someone who appreciates a nice tip (I mean who doesn’t), I wanted to investigate the tipping environment on Block Island. Who works for tips? What does proper etiquette call for tipping the many given services on the island? As an island employee I can relate to feeling let down after providing stellar service, but I know I don’t exactly how many others feel, as I don’t work solely for gratuities.

On the island, the offering of a tip can unintentionally offend another. Or a tip can be innocently forgotten when one might be anticipated. There are the experts’ opinions, but there are also certain caveats to Block Island worth consideration. The uniqueness of the island offerings means unfamiliar situations can arise.

At Your AccommodationsIMG_4031.jpg

Most innkeepers do not expect tips for themselves, but notice if someone else does the housekeeping. Housekeeping staff works to make rooms feel new to guests every day. So if cleaning is done by housekeeping staff, the industry guideline is to tip “$2-$5 per night”, dependent on the number of people in the room.

Keep in mind that more than one housekeeper may clean your room, so tip daily during your stay to make sure the correct individual receives the payment. There may be an envelope in your room, or leave a note with a thank you so it is clearly a tip.

Island Transportation

Transportation around the island is different than the mainland. Because taxis are often called for over the phone versus being hailed (or requested through an phone application), the time invested in a ride is greater. The standard tip rate for cab drivers is 15 to 20 percent of the fare.

On the island a $25 ride puts the tip at about $3-$5. Cabs might cost more on Block Island, but on Block Island most drivers are willing to answer any questions you have about the island as well. The friendliness of drivers is not something you find in the average mainland driver. Yes, the cabs might cost you an arm and a leg to begin with on Block Island, but an extra dollar or rounding up of the cost can help make sure you are fondly remembered (and swiftly picked up again)!

If you are transporting yourself around the island on a rented bike or moped, be cognizant of the service you are provided by the person renting the vehicle. The process of fitting riders, testing the bikes and keeping the bikes in top condition is a formidable task.

Island Eats

Restaurants

One place many are attuned to standard gratuities is in restaurants. The typical expectation is 15 percent for adequate service and 20 percent for exceptional service. If there is a comment card included in your bill, fill it out; it is a free way to voice your appreciation on top of a tip. If you are enjoying your company and spend a little extra time at the table, remember to increase the tip as you are IMG_3537with holding the table from the server to serve another party.

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Consider how much “service” the counter is providing? Is the barista making your drinks and food as well? Is the food being delivered to you at a table? The more service provided should increase the tip percentage. Consider these questions when someone is scooping ice cream or making your breakfast sandwich. In many Block Island eateries counter staff is providing service that is nearly equivalent to that of a full-service waitperson.

Bartenders

The experts say “$1/drink (or 15% of total bill). Pre-tip for better service.” If the preparation of the drink is a show, reward their efforts accordingly.

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Musicians

The island is speckled with musical talent. As a passerby it is impossible to tip every musician. If you stop to enjoy the music for a minute, it is courteous to leave a one to three dollars. If there is a musician is playing in a bar or restaurant that you are in, he or she are
likely being paid. If you especially enjoy the performance, a tip is easiest way to show it.

Concierge

If she’s cute, tip accordingly 😉 No, but seriously as a concierge I only expect to be tipped if I do something extraordinary.

There are people serving all around the island sometimes expected and sometimes in unexpected way. Being aware and thankful is the first way to show gratitude. If you enjoyed the service and it met your standards, a few dollars shows that. A small tip can make a big difference to the tipped, especially on Block where the cost of living is greater than on the mainland. And if you don’t feel money is appropriate a clear thank you in person or in a note can voice your appreciations.

IMG_1268Who do you sometimes forget to tip? Have you have gotten an unconventional tip? How smoothly can you pass a hundred dollar bill?

 

Block Party: Blues on the Block

IMG_1236Blues on the Block is a Block Island tradition that brings together many of my favorite things: music, early evening activities, sand, the list goes on and on.

On select Wednesdays at Fred Benson Town Beach Pavilion, join the “cool cats in town” for a shaking good time. This summer you still have one chance to go, August 3rd.

IMG_1226Go prepared. Music starts at 6pm going til about 8pm so make it a picnic. Serious tailgaters you know what to do here, but if you’re new to the game here’s your short introduction. Start with drinks, a nice wine says “I’m classy and I know it” and pairs well with a hummus spread. Throw in some pita chips and a quarter pound of sharp cheddar and you’ll be turning away the Queen from your beach blanket.

On Block with limited resources? Go the take-out route and pick up some pizza pies at Aldo’s. You won’t have to worry about utensils, and you’ll make your evening hassle free. Just remember “carry in, carry out” the seagulls are not hungry for your beer bottles.

So once your bottomless pit (stomach) is full, time to dance. The musicians at Blues on the Beach changes each night, but all of the groups play for the crowd and play very well. After 7pm once the crowd is really there, the platform in front of the Pavilion becomes a dance IMG_1229floor. To my surprise, people really dance (myself included) (yes that link is worth clicking)! Say awe when they slow it down for couples and enjoy watching older couples circle the floor (if your faith in love isn’t restored, you’re a cold one).
The night winds down as the sun sets and music fades. Blues on the Block is the perfect cap to a Block Island day.

If there is inclement weather, Blues on the Beach is held at Captain Nicks. So mark your calendars for August 3rd, you don’t want to miss this show.

Do you like Blues music? Is 6pm the new hot hour of the night? Is Bruno Mars considered Blues?

Bonus Blog

Today, I had my lovely grandparents on Block Island. They choose the perfect day to visit with calm seas, a farmers’ market and a natural-born tour guide with the day off. And hey, this isn’t their first time.

We had lunch at the Spring House because why go anywhere but the best? Then we were ready for a quick dip. We headed to Ballard’s beach because of its location, but I did so begrudgingly. Ballard’s is too crowded for me with too much alcohol to worsen the situation. But it did the trick. We dunked and dashed, dodging Ballard’s finest.

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It was a quick trip, but these two did it right. I tried to offer them a hotel room, but they forgot their toothbrushes. Thanks for visiting Grandma and Grandpa, see you soon!

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Block: 5 Letter Word for Paradise

If you haven’t heard, there are power issues on Block Island this weekend. A fire at the Block Island Power Co. on Friday evening is leaving some in the dark. The town is rotating which parts of town are receiving power at any given time in order to conserve the limited energy.

So in the midst of a crisis, keep calm and carry on. I present my Block Island crossword puzzle. Print it out, take it to the beach and enjoy! No electrical power needed just brain power (and some serious island know-how).

If you complete the puzzle, snap a picture and send it my way (jennamead7@gmail.com). I’ll send you a limited edition wine-cork keychain. I would say those who read the blog regularly have a big advantage on this.

Click here for a high-resolution copy: Block Island Crossword

 

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Dying to know the answers? Message me and I’ll send a copy.

What do you think of my crossword? Do I have a future as a puzzle guru? What did you get for 8 across?

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Time for Shots: Photography on Block Island

There are plenty of reasons to put your phone away on Block Island. With plenty to see and do, the island is a welcome escape from technology. But what is summer if you can’t remember it in the depths of February when the days are short and the temperature is low. Here are five of our favorite places on the island to dig into the backpack and pull out the camera (but more often cell phone).

Whether it be for a selfie, a screen saver or a family photo these spots “capture” the island. Snap away and if you share the photo tag #Unlockedblock .

1. The FerryIMG_0892

It’s not everyday you’re on a ferry. Grab a shot of your traveling companions, your Bloody Mary or your wind-swept hair. A before and after Block picture might show you smiling a little wider and sporting a new t-shirt. The Block Island Ferry has a Friday photo contest. Upcoming themes include:

  • July 22: Pt. Photo Theme: A selfie or groupie on the ferry
  • July 29: Pt. Photo Theme: Wildlife on the island or in the water
  • August 5: Photo Theme: Favorite cocktail on the island
  • August 12: Photo Theme: A selfie or groupie on the beach
  • August 19: Photo Theme: Best Biking Experience on Block Island
  • August 26: Photo Theme: Your favorite place on Block Island

Submit your photo on Facebook or Instagram using the hash tag #BIFphotofriday on the specific Friday before 3pm.

2.IMG_1031 Abram’s Animal Farm and North Light Fibers

The farm is great place for an unexpected shot of a camel, a yak or any of the many animals at the farm. Don’t get too close; all animals deserve their personal space. Score a selfie with Cindy the Zedonk, for a fabulous one of a kind Instagram post.

IMG_34913. Mohegan Bluff’s Staircase

From the bottom or from the top, the view is desktop background worthy. Known for being a popular shot on the island make your angle an interesting one, don’t be afraid to change you’re focal point. Be there at sunrise for lighting that will feel magical or be there at sunset and enjoy watching the sky dance. The stairs and bluffs combination will inspire you when paired with the quote “there is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs.”

IMG_33854. Your frozen delight

At some point during your trip to Block Island there is going to be ice cream or some other frozen goodness. If you can help yourself, pause yourself before you devour your frozen treat. Find a scenic background near your scoop shop of choice and savor the beauty of the cone in a “freeze” frame. Or make it a family affair, have everyone put his or her cones in for a group shot.

5. Sunset

With a sky that likes to show off, Block Island sunsets are clearly worth the shot. Head west for the best views and do not be afraid to wait. The closer the sun gets to completely disappearing the better light. And if you are looking for a good time to capture a picture of yourself or group, wait until the last hour before sunset. It is known as the “magic hour” by photographers, it makes for amazing lighting and for every side to look like your good side.IMG_1205

How many like have you ever got on a BI instagram photo? Pics or it didn’t happen? Does anyone else like taking pictures of other people taking selfies or is that just me?

Chopping Block: Southeast Light Delights

It’s a about a mile (UPHILL). I say it many times a day. People ask where the Southeast Light is and I have to inform them that it is a little of ways, but it is certainly worth their efforts.M333

Luckily, to reward their climb Southeast Light Delights and a lot of lobster awaits them. With a literal monopoly on the refreshments available nearby, the food truck could rest on it’s laurels, but IT DOES NOT.

Andre Boundreau is the funny man running the show at Delights. He dishes out high quIMG_1129 (1)ality food and drink for the flocking tourists. One of his children will likely take your order.

I had never been to the truck, but a serendipitous win at Bingo with my mother left us with a coupon for a Free- Range Lobster Roll, a Del’s Lemonade and an ice cream sandwich. Yes, all lobster is free-range by the way. This lobster happens to arrive fresh from Scarborough, Maine. Sorry, lobsters you can’t be free forever.

We biked up and enjoyed every little bitIMG_1151 of the winnings. Boundreau as pleased to have us come and collect. Even promising to my momma #blockislandfamous
The menu is not limited to lobster rolls (which at available both hot and cold), it also includes lobster grilled chesses, ricotta and berries sandwiches, hot-dogs, and more. For refreshing drinks, they offer Avery’s Artisan sodas, Maine Root beers and assorted soft drinks.

 

So plan for a picnic. This food truck provides chairs and blankets as well. Leave room for dessert. The ice cream sandwiches are layered: cookie, cookie-dough ice cream, cookie. Or if my last post has you craving gelato, the truck has two flavors that rotate daily.

The truck is located just inside the fence at The Southeast Lighthouse. Continue up Spring Street from Old Harbor (yes, about a mile) and you’ll find it. It is open daily typical 10am-4pm. Like Southeast Light Delights on Facebook for menu update and a dose of good cheer.

Do you prefer lobster rolls hot or cold? What’s the best picnic food? Did we cheat at Bingo?

Ge-Lot to Love-O: Mia’s Gelateria

IMG_1085The sign reads, “If you like ice cream, you’ll LOVE gelato!”

Is it true? There’s only one way to find out.

Mia’s Gelateria is new to Block Island this summer operating in the same location and serving the same gelato last the former Beckett’s Gelato. I never made it into Beckett’s last summer as I have a strong affinity to the classic cone of ice cream.

But, times are a changing as they say. So I did my research. For those of you that don’t know Gelato is the Italian version of ice cream. The major difference is that it is made with milk instead of cream like in ice cream. Also, when it is prepared less air is introduced to mixture so the product is richer in each bite.

With the perfect flavor in each bite, gelato is eaten in smaller quanities thanyour typical cone. This is a bold move. Less dessert? Are you kidding me, that sounds horrible. But trust me, the Gelota at Mia’s is rich, creamy and round in ever bite. The tiny spoon slows you down and you’ll join the “less is more” bandwagon.

IMG_1082The dense dessert is available 18 flavors at Mia’s. The most popular flavors include Salted Carmel Chunk, Coconut Almond Crunch, and Sea Salt Chocolate. Mix and match flavor combinations or go for a scoop in a freshly prepared waffle cone. Flavor change weekly, check back for new additions. Doyon ‘s also dishes up non-dairy sherbets. And on cooler days stop by for Dunkin Donut’s brand coffee.

One super cool thing about Mia’s Gelateria is the fact it is Mia’s own. Mia Doyon is 19 years old and is the owner of the shop. Having worked in the shop before, she bought out the previous owner and now is her own boss.IMG_1089

Major kudos to Mia for young entrepreneurship. Oh and for serving top-notch frozen deliciousness.

The shop is open daily from 12-10pm and is located just below the front porch of the National Hotel. Mia’s Gelateria is cash only. Stop by for a sample and you be ordering a cup! Like Mia’s on Facebook for flavor and shop updates!

Have you every tried Gelato? If you were a gelato flavor what would you be? Don’t tiny spoons make you feel like a giant?