Have you noticed how life seems to always bring things 'round full circle?
Ok, full disclaimer, for those who've never been to Rhode Island. Yes, we're called the "Ocean State". And I'm pretty sure that would lead most people to envision miles and miles of white sand Caribbean-style beaches. Um...no. While there are a few beaches that are pretty nice, they wouldn't be described as tropical-like.
Oakland Beach is more of a "diamond in the rough". As in its a bit rough around the edges. A little stretch of sand along a bay inlet.
Let me explain...
When my family visited this beach back in the 60's and 70's, the main goal was to get the kids out of the house (and bring them back home with their fair-skinned, freckled little bodies red as tomatoes - well, that's the way I remember it anyway). But for my dad, there was an ulterior motive: quahogs! He loved to go clamming. We'd get there in time for low tide. Drag rakes and baskets out into the warm ocean water. And dig. Those baskets would fill up with huge marine bi-valve mollusks (she be smart!)
When we got home, my mom would prepare the quahogs for eating. Some were steamed. But my favorite is the Rhode Island delicacy known as the "clam cake". Delectable warm little round golden deep-fried nuggets filled with steamy, juicy chunks of clam. My mom made the best, and my dad should know. We call him the connoisseur of the clam cake; that man can be very opinionated when it comes to how those little morsels should taste. And I don't blame him. It's got to be just right!
So let me get this post back on track...back to the beach. Us kids enjoyed these rare trips to the ocean and getting a ride or two on the carousel by the water and perhaps a bite from the clam shack. But there were times we wished we could have gone to the beaches as seen on those glossy travel brochures. Not Oakland Beach with its seaweed, rough sand, and rocks.
From my parents' point of view, it was a good choice. Besides the food for dinner ala the quahog, the beach was closer to home, not as crowded as the more popular beaches and there was no charge to park. So Oakland Beach it was.
When my kids came along, I wanted to bring them to the popular beaches on the ocean. But you know what? They were crowded, too far and cost big bucks just to park in the parking lot for the day. Soooo...guess where we went? Yup. Oakland Beach. That little jewel on the bay. It was still there, waiting for me to come back. And we spent many hot summer days, and even some off season time, at the little diamond in the rough.
And now for the full circle. Here I sit today. In a lawn chair. Beach umbrella (no more tomato skin for me!). On rough sand. On a gorgeous warm summer day. Under a bright blue sky. With puffy white clouds. Enjoying the smooth, cool ocean breeze. Daydreaming about boarding the sailboats that dot the horizon as they float slowly by on the shimmering blue ocean waters. From my vantage point, I can glimpse both the Jamestown and Newport bridges.
Oakland Beach. With the grandkids. They love coming here. They call it "great grandma's beach" since my folks live nearby and we always visit with them first (and sometimes they accompany us here). Even at their young age, they have realized how much this little beach means to their great grandparents.
Iggy's (our fav clam shack!). We've gorged ourselves on doughboys, clam cakes and French fries. YUM!
After drying off, the kids end their day playing super heroes as they climb up and slide down the beachside play equipment.
I hated calling it a day and leaving this peaceful, serene place. A special little diamond in the rough that I've rediscovered. Why I ever wanted to go anywhere else, I'll never know. Oakland Beach was and is perfect for my family. All four generations.
And hopefully you'll feel the same if you find yourself in Warwick. At Oakland Beach.