After lunch I went driving along the mansion-lined roads near the coast before stopping at the Breakers Mansion
. The Breakers was a summer home built by the Vanderbilt family, who made their fortune on the railroads and are noted as being the seventh most wealthy family in history. The four story, 70 room mansion dominates the surrounding property and massive sloping yard that leads to the cliffs by the sea. The cost at the time of its construction in the 1890's was over 7 million dollars. Obviously, that number would be exponentially higher by today's monetary standards. It must have been exciting to live in America before the onset of income taxes. The mansion was built in the style of the Italian renaissance during the "gilded-age", a term coined by Mark Twain to criticize the ridiculous way that rich industrialist leaders threw their money around when building such lavish homes and summer vacation getaways. Photography was, of course, not allowed within the mansion, but it would have been hard for photos to do the house true justice. The sheer scale of the place would have been difficult to capture; the great hall's ceiling reaches a height of 50 feet. No expense was spared in the design and decoration, which is evident when looking at all of the marble, mosaics, plaster reliefs, mosaics, and finishes in gold, silver, and even platinum. The cost of admission seemed inexplicably high at $19.00. Keeping in mind that the local preservation society was able to purchase this nearly priceless architectural artifact in 1972 for $365,000.00. I suppose they are attempting to acquire new properties and continue to refurbish the ones they already have, but with an annual average of approximately 300,000 to the Breakers mansion alone, I think they could afford to back off the ticket price just a tad
Once I left the Breakers, I decided to go along Newport's cliff walk. The cliff walk is a 3 1/2 mile trail with a mixture of paved and natural surfaces that follows the cliff-faced coast of Newport. The cliffs themselves are rather small, but many of the massive, historical mansions are visible along the path and it was something to do that didn't cost another $20.
After hiking the path, I made my way back to where I had parked by following the tree-lined streets and viewing the other side of the gigantic homes that fill the area. Once I reached my car I started driving towards Wareham, Massachusetts.
I started the day by wandering a bit along the streets of Newport before stopping for lunch at an old art deco style diner. As part of my lunch, I decided to try johnny cakes, a local dish that is similar to a pancake or crepe but made from corn and fried. They're usually served with butter and locals put anything from maple syrup to ketchup or just salt and pepper on them. I'd have to say they're a little more dense than regular pancakes and also a bit thinner, but not bad. It also looks like it is easy to overcook them and get them too dark, making them black and bitter. I also got a cup of the Rhode Island clam chowder, the difference being that it has a clear broth rather than cream. So, it's technically not a chowder at all, just a vegetable clam soup...not bad if you happen to be a fan of clams.