Rhode Island Ramble

Every Road Has Its Thorn
By Mark A. DeWolf
  |  Gorp.com

Views alone, however, don't guarantee acceptance into the pantheon of American auto rambles. The criteria vary from state to state, but committees generally assess some combination of the following qualities: scenic, recreational, natural, historic, cultural, and archaeological.

Once approved by the state, the road becomes eligible for the national program, in which DoT looks at these same qualities (and accepts most every proposal). Approved roads are then categorized as National Scenic Byways or All-American Roads. National Scenic Byways must possess at least one of the six qualities. The rules for an All-American Road are much stricter: It must have multiple qualities, contain one-of-a-kind features, and be considered a "destination unto itself." No surprise, then, that there are only 15 All-American Roads—or that the Las Vegas Strip is one of them.

One thing you won't find in Vegas that you will here: beautiful flowers and large groups of thick-leafed trees. Because Bristol was once an international port, it's home to many exotics, like the oriental bittersweet flower and weeping pagoda tree. Once again, I get out of the car to explore the bike path between Independence and Colt parks. Here, the purplish seaside rose and the long-stemmed orange and purple orange hawkweed are entwined on the wood fence. Along the roads, Lindens and Horsechestnuts that date to the 19th century provide a canopy with their spreading branches.

The biggest of the trees, though, is the giant sequoia, which springs from the grounds of Blithewold Gardens and Arboretum. It may be easy to get lost in Blithewold's gardens, but there's no missing the sequoia, which stands over 90 feet tall, ringed by its smaller neighbors and commanding the grounds like the tallest building in a skyline. Towering above me with its massive burgundy trunk and thick green branches that run to the top, I feel like I'm in the throne room of a monarch.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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