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.

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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?

 

Soar and Tour: Heliblock

What’s that? I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you over the roar of my helicopter (ok, the helicopter). Regardless, there is something new in the skies above Block these days.

There is a unique and different way to explore Block Island this summer and you don’t even have to exercise or sit in a stuffy taxicab to take part. Heliblock is new to the island offering “hell of a good” Block Island tour.

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Co-Owner Matt Hallet will take you up in the Robin II.

I always thought I would be in some kind of medical emergency if I found myself in a helicopter above Block Island, but it turns out I can skip the moped accident.

Zoom above the beaches and bluffs for the best views the island has to offer. The helicopter goes up about 1,500 and makes Block feel much smaller than it already is.

For those of you who are skittish when it comes to being more then 6 feet off the ground, let me tell you. The ride is certainly smoother then any airplane flight I’ve taken. Add to that is being able to watch the pilot handle the controls makes the whole “no-control” thing a little less worrisome.

The Tours

Block Island Tour

P1080260Approximately 10-12 minutes, costs $60 per person. When the helicopter takes off it cruises over the western half of the island. This allows for surveying of private homes and beaches you never knew existed. The tour then loops left towards the Mohegan Bluffs taking in views of the Wind Farm and Southeast Light. The aircraft goes up the eastern coast making riders feel a world away as the entire island is visible at once. The entire tour is awe striking and leaves passengers ready to go check out a new beach once they have returned to land.

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Can you say hot date? Cruise over Block and hold their hand, this option is about 20 minutes in length and even if your date rejects you, the Instagram likes will make the trip worth it. #nofilter

Islands Tour

See the neighbors. Fly over Montauk, Gardiners Island, Fisher’s Island, Westerly and come home to Block. This option runs for $300 for two passengers.IMG_1066

Want to learn to fly yourself? Matt Hallet, co-owner of HeliBlock is a certified flight instructor. Demo flights are available.

Oh and it’s probably best to just take a tour or lesson. Fun Fact: This helicopter costs about $500,000.

Reservations are accepted, but walk-ins are welcome. There is no age limit or physical requirements to riding. The HeliBlock helicopter is found on the western end of the Block Island airport. Check out Heliblock on Facebook and Instagram . (Their photos kinda rock!)

Are you afraid of flying? Where on Block do you want to see from above? Does the tour count if you don’t Instagram a photo from it?

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Block Island Farmers’ Market: A Craft Fair With Some Cucumbers

I have mentioned it before, but never fully post on the Block Island Farmers’ Market. And It is well worth the mention.

The Block Island Farmers’ Market open Wednesdays 9- 11:30am at The Spring House and Saturdays at American Legion Park in New Harbor. Its’ season runs from mid –June until October boasting all Block-Island produce, foods and crafts.

13407059_1137679179626066_1671465165789616405_nMost of the vendors at the market can not be found elsewhere on the island. Some of my favorites include Block Island Sweaters and Block Island Wildflower Honey from Littlefield Farm (sold by the one and only Hope Brigham). There are a few exceptions like Mutt Hut and The Spring House (my haunt), but for the most part the farmers’ market is the only chance to score some the island’s best offerings.

IMG_0922Like island-famous scones. They go for $1.50, and they go fast!

If you are looking to fill your pantry, the market is a good place to start, but it would be hard to survive completely off of the provisions of the market. The Spring House has fresh produce for sale at the Wednesday market, but one can not sustain themselves on vegetables and baked goods alone.

Meg Vitcoo of Mutt Hut heads the market making sure all vendors are able to have a fair chance of your market dollar. That means no purchases until 9am, so don’t even try.

Hot Tip: Pack your cash, most vendors are cash only.

The new locations offer a view (at Spring House) and reason for New Harbor exploration (at American Legion). Take the chance on Wednesday to score an awesome seat for lunch on the porch at the Spring House after the market and on Saturday grab a donut from Payne’s on your trip.

IMG_0957Stop by the Spring House shed for Unlocked Block sightings. Mention this post and I’ll give you a wine cork keychain (a $5 value!).

Have you been to the farmers’ market? What are the fruits of your labor? What is your spirit vegetable? (Mine is eggplant)

Block-Buster: Movies on Block Island

Summer is the time for beach days and outdoor exploration, but sometimes we like to kick back our feet and take in the arts. Luckily on Block there are a number of options that stray from the typical Netflix and Chill scenario for movie watching. 

And with the occasional rainy day popping up during the season of summer blockbusters, it’s best to be prepared. 

Option 1: Watch a First-Run Film in the theater time forgot.

Empire Theatre is 134 years old and a jewel on the island. The historic space was recently renovated but remains true to its original structure. And if you’re a smartie, then you know that there were no movies in 1882, but there was roller skating. “Polo on Skates”1937empire-300x201 a form of hockey was played in the building when it initially opened.

Empire runs only one or two films a night. Check their schedule for updates. The offerings of films normal are the “big ones” of summer. Sadly, that means that the summer flick you’ve been dying to see might never see the Empire spotlight. The upside? No family drama selecting with movie to see. 

On rainy days Empire plays matinee films, check their website for updates.

Tickets are $12 for adults and  children and $10 for seniors. 

empire-interior-for-home-pageLike any good movie theatre, you will have to be sneaky with your snacks. Before you head in stock up at nearby Seaside Market (great candy shelf) or Pop on the Block (for not your average pop).

Enjoy pre-show entertainment from local kids on the piano. It is a unique experience, you won’t want to miss.

There is one other movie theatre on Block Island at Champlin’s Resort in New Harbor.I have not attended a film here, but let me know if YOU do.

Option 2: Watch the stars under the stars.

New this summer the Spring House Hotel will be showing family films on its front lawn every MONDAY evening at dusk. Don’t feel guilty about spending a beautiful evening inside a dark theatre. Attendance is free.

13495101_1064651043615046_2109429567314636823_nShow up a little early to grab dinner on the porch or to grab a bottle of wine from the bar. Wine specials begin at $19 a bottle.

Upcoming Films:

June 27th – Little Rascals (PG)

July 4th – A Bug’s Life (G)

July 11th – The Gonnies (PG)

July 18th – Monster’s Inc. (G)

July 25th – The Loin King (G)

Hitchhiker’s Guide to watching a movie and feeling like you’re at home (when you’re not at home)

IMG_0694So if you want to watch a movie in the comfort of your snuggle, head to the Island Free Library and check out one of their hundreds of DVDs. They have a pretty impressive collection. (BTW it is only free if you have a Library card, for RI residents it is free, for non-RI residents it is $25 for a card)

Take it as a chance in watch an old classic or long time favorite. Feel the notastal course through your veins as you remember those trips to the video store.

Don’t forget you’ll need a DVD player to watch it on. Rental homes often have them or go for the Laptop theatre. Don’t be afraid to ask your hotel if they have any lying around (Maybe with a $5 bill in your hand).


Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 4.56.29 PMHot Tip: Save yourself the trouble. Netflix is not going to stream on Block (make that any internet streaming service). Scope out local listings for TV films instead. 

Fun Hollywood Fact: The Showtime
The Affair was filmed an episode on Block Island at The Inn at Block Island. 

What summer film are you excited for? What’s your go-to movie snack? How many times have you watched 27 Dresses?

POPportunity Knocks

Pop on the Block is the new kid on the Block this summer. This new shop is bringing the trendy treat of sweet and savory popcorns to the island.unspecified

The shop is eye-catching and mouth watering with something for everyone. Owned by a mother and son duo, there is something for everyone.

Popping Products

Prepared Popcorns

With 25 flavors to choose from you might be in here a while. Like any good store THERE ARE SAMPLES. Flavors range from candy inspired to spicy Siracha. My favorite sample (making my mother proud) was New England Maple. Come in try a few and note your favorites or recommendations on the wall. Owner Lisa Rose takes these notes serious.

Kernels and Spices

More of the independent type? Want your popcorn your way? Also for sale find numerous kernels and flavorings. Salts and sugars are available large and small. Small “make-your-own” variety packs come in clutch when you are the can’t-make-up-your-mind type.

Popcorn Pizzas

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I have never seen anything like these before. Small and large size “pizzas” combine popcorn held together with a chocolate “crust” and topped with other crunchy, sugar-filled toppings. No they don’t deliver.

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Almost any toy, housewares or clothing item that has popcorn on it is here. Think Popcorn “Corn Hole” (which puns itself) and Popcorn jewelry.

Corn Hater? No worries, Pop on the Block also carries a range of candies and snacks. Making it a one stop shop before heading into Empire for a movie.

Pop in. See what new flavors are being added. I know it’s corny, but don’t miss your popportunity for a fabulous snack.

What kind of popcorn do you want to try? Should this place sell POP-sicles? How many popcorn pizzas am I going to buy this summer?

Stay the Night: The Darius Inn

If you are looking for a cool place to stay on Block Island, the Darius Inn is the perfect place. Located on Dodge Street, this Inn offers larger suites and standard size rooms.

6Allegra_Anderson_Photography_Block_Island_Photographer_Darius_InnThis place is eclectic. Every decoration, book, and room were selected by sisters Becca and Christy Zendt. For the past three summers, the sisters made the inn their own. A certain personality is felt when you enter the Inn’s lobby and its one of intrigue and excitement. All the rooms are embellished with Block Island inspired pieces, and every room is different.

The Place

On the first floor, there are mostly suites with separate rooms that can sleep up to 6 people. FYI, the first floor rooms are PET-FRIENDLY. The rooms are decorated with charm and originality.68Allegra_Anderson_Photography_Block_Island_Photographer_Darius_Inn

Most of the furniture in the rooms is repurposed Block Island finds. The suites include modern efficiency kitchens (which if your like me is important for bedtime tea-making). All of these rooms have private entrances and some even have porches that let guests sit out and watch Block Island stroll by on Dodge St.

Upstairs the rooms are a bit smaller, but more affordable. There is sitting parlor and a communal porch for that people watching previously mentioned.25Allegra_Anderson_Photography_Block_Island_Photographer_Darius_Inn

The Perks

There are some additional perks for staying at the Darius. First off, though they may not advertise, is the perk of a totaly laidback vibe and feel. This place lets you feel at home in paradise.

 

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Happy Hour snacks are just as pin-worthy.

In the morning, breakfast is served. Guests can try homemade recipes of foods they have probably “pinned” but never had time to make.  (You can follow Darius on Pinterest too.) Coffee and tea are available throughout the day as well.

 
In the afternoon, Happy Hour serves up exactly that “happiness”: drinks, bites and a little bonding with your neighbors. Enjoy it in Darius’ backyard (yup, add that to the perk list.)

Additional services include bike vouchers and casual concierge services. The Darius also offers to “stock your fridge” with guest’s lists of groceries for a fee.

As a social media hog, I appreciate the Darius’ Bag trend. Guest can purchase the famous bag and tote it with them around the world. #wheresyourdarius #socialmediagoals

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The Props

As a sister of four, I give total props to the Zendts for working together and creating a cool, but also functional place to stay on Block Island.

The rest of the summer is fairly booked, but a number of one-night weekday stays are available. Rates for rooms begin at $195 and range to $565 for apartment style suites. To check availability visit dariusblockisland.com. The Inn is worth the follow on Instagram with fun photos and Block Island beauty.

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All photos are from dariusblockisland.com and Darius social media.

 

Have you ever stayed at the Darius? What’s your happy hour? How many sisters of mine will read this and want to open an inn with me?