Vacation Adventuring: In which we swam in the ocean and climbed a mountain

Location: Mohegan Bluffs/Block Island, RI and Mt. Monadnock, Jaffrey NH

Links: Mohegan Bluffs; Block Island; NH State Parks; Monadnock Trails; Mt. Monadnock Weather Forecasts; Monadnock Hiking Map PDF

Date: Tuesday, August 14th; Thursday, August 16th

Our lunch with a view on Mt. Monadnock

Our summer vacations are usually spent somewhere up in Vermont, camping out in a lean-to. But as Collin says, “the struggle was real” with last year’s camping trip – damp wood that made it challenging to get a fire going, fishing lines breaking and a slew of lost lures, almost sinking a canoe (honestly, that’s probably our favorite story!), and getting lost on mountain roads and animal paths.

It was definitely a Manuilow Family camping trip to remember and makes for some great stories we laugh about now. At the same time, it also led to our decision to take a break from camping this year and plan a staycation. Ultimately, this worked out well since it was a rainy week and we were able to plan our two big day trips around the nicer weather.

On the ferry to Block Island

Collin came up with the idea of visiting an island, so we decided on Block Island. We took the 9:30 am ferry from Point Judith and arrived on the island an hour later. First up on our list of adventuring was a hike to Mohegan Bluffs. The bluffs are just under 2 miles from the harbor and it took us about 40 minutes to walk there.

There’s an overlook at the top and then a staircase of 140 or so stairs we were able to take down to the beach at the bluffs. It had been about 6 years since I’ve been to the beach, so the sounds of the ocean surf and the smell of the salt water were heavenly.

Mohegan Bluffs
Southeast Lighthouse

Taking the stairs back up and walking the 2 miles back to town was another story! All in all, we hiked about 5 miles that day (and if the stats on my phone are correct, that looked like 12,500 steps and 20 floors.) On our way back, we stopped at the Southeast Lighthouse and then made our way to the beach at Ballard’s for some swimming, sun-bathing, and lunch.

Next up for our vacation adventuring was Mount Monadnock. I’ve done this climb a handful of times in the past, but it’s been on my bucket list for us to do together as a family for a while now.

I learned two important things from this hike: Mount Monadnock is brutally honest in letting you know how out of shape you are AND I am definitely not in as good of shape as I was the last time I hiked it 6 years ago! Jeesh.

The thing about having a hard time keeping up is that everyone else gets a break while they wait for you, and then keep moving on once you catch up. Which means, no rest for you!

Mount Monadnock stands at 3,165 feet. Park headquarters are at 1,375 feet, so the 2 mile hike to the summit takes you up 1,790 feet. We took the White Dot trail up, which is the steepest and most direct route. Opting for something slightly less steep on the way down, we followed the White Cross trail.

Almost to the summit

As much as I enjoy swimming in the ocean, there is nothing more healing to my soul than being in the mountains. Looking at a landscape of mountains in the distance, being in the midst of mountains (like on the Kancamagus Highway in NH), or actually being on top of a mountain, makes no difference. I love it all!

Some people say they feel land-locked not being near the ocean. For me, it’s being in the mountains that makes me feel that sense of expansive freedom. I often connect it to my astrological sign. Although Aquarius is known as the water bearer, it is actually an air sign. Being up in the mountains, where I can look out over a wide expanse of earth and sky, makes me feel like I can soar.


I could take a million pictures and none would capture the feeling in my heart the moment we reached the summit. I want to hold onto that feeling, breathe it in and allow it to nourish me.

We found a spot protected from the wind, ate our lunch, explored for a while, and then with much reluctance on my part, began our hike down. Stats on my phone for the day say 6 miles, almost 15,000 steps, and 150 floors.

Overall, I think this summer vacation far exceeded our expectations of a staycation. I know I returned to work feeling rested and rejuvenated!

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