Day Trip to Block Island, Rhode Island

Yet another long awaited trip finally came to fruition. A trip to Block Island has been on my list of places to fly to since I passed my checkride. However being a pilot in the northeast you get used to cancelling day trips and changing your plans due to weather. After at least three failed attempts I finally made it there the last weekend in August. Weather was absolutely perfect with calm winds aloft and excellent visibility. Copilot for the day was my girlfriend Anca. Our airplane for the day was my club’s upgraded Cessna 172N Superhawk.

The quickest way to the island is to make a b line from Morristown through the New York bravo airspace hugging the north shore of Long Island. This is of course easier said than done. In my experience it is pretty much 50/50 chance whether or not NY will clear VFR traffic into the bravo, especially in the area in proximity of LGA.  I had Morristown hand me off to NY and after a little bit of circling to delay entering the class b, I was cleared direct to Block Island. Our flight path can be seen below courtesy of flightaware.


As we passed Montauk lighthouse we listened to the airport’s AWOS which was reporting winds from 080 between 8-12kts. We landed on runway 10 after being bounced around a bit on short final. After landing we were directed to a parking spot in the grass by a man in a golf cart. The landing fee at Block Island was $10, which is fine considering there are no fuel sales for the airport to profit from. The center of town is only a 10min walk from the airport.

The island is a very charming place. There are no chain resturants or big box stores to speak of. We decided the best way to make use of our time would be to rent a moped and scoot around. It ended up being a great choice. We walked over looking for Island Moped but ended up finding The Moped Man. We rented the moped for 3hrs at $90. Not the cheapest option but this being only a day trip it was the most efficient. The moped had certainly seen it’s better days but it got the job done. My favorite feature aside from the torn seat was the pronounced wobbling at higher speed. No matter, off we went!

We drove clockwise around the entire island visiting the following places:

  1. Southeast Lighthouse – Classic lighthouse with an excellent view
  2. Mohegan Bluffs – You take a steep staircase followed by a scramble down some rocks to a very cool beach covered in stacked rocks
  3. Rodman’s Hollow – We walked about 1,000ft into this nature preserve and decided whatever was here to see would take too much time
  4. Great Salt Pond – The docks of this marina were filled with huge boats
  5. Settler’s Rock
  6. North Lighthouse – The other lighthouse, a bit of a sandy walk from the parking lot but pretty nice

After zooming around the island for a few hours we were in need of some food. We dropped off the moped and went to the first place with seafood that looked decent. It ended up being the Harbor Grill. While I was hoping for a bit fancier place since this was a special trip, this ended up being fine. I ordered the lobster quesadilla and she ordered the fresh lobster. Both were very good.

We walked back to the airport and took off for a calm flight back home. We elected to follow the north shore of long island sound this time, avoiding the NY airspace. It was an eventful flight home with the sun starting to set off in the distance. It was a great way to end the day and I look forward to heading back there soon. Total flight time was about 3hrs.

Bobolink Dairy Farm Tour

I was finally able to visit Bobolink Dairy Farm. I had heard about this New Jersey farm on tv years ago and never got around to checking it out. The farm produces award winning natural cheeses and breads. Their cow heard is strictly grass fed the way nature intended. Every Saturday and Sunday they give tours of their farm for $5. The farm was started by a husband and wife team with hardly a ‘farming background’.

Neither Jonathan nor Nina grew up with a farming background. He spent his childhood in Hoboken and Teaneck, attended Stevens Institute of Technology, wrote computer software and worked for a time at Goldman Sachs. She was the daughter of New York City schoolteachers, a dancer and dance teacher. They have long juggled a highly demanding family life: two of their three children (now grown) have Asperger’s syndrome and one is severely autistic.

They began making cheese while living in Westchester County, N.Y. A neighbor, composer and conductor David Amram, kept goats and cows, and started giving them the milk his children refused to drink…….

……Eventually, curiosity led him to take a few samples to the gourmet food purveyor Dean and Deluca. “He was nominated to the American Cheese Society on the spot,” Nina remembers. –

My visit on this particular day was sadly by car not plane. However I did figure out the perfect way fellow pilots can fly in and check it out. The Bobolink farm is just a 10 min drive from Alexandria Airport. How do I get to the farm from the airport you ask? Well lucky for you they have a pretty sweet courtesy car available that even benefits a local cause. Problem solved.

Jon the owner took us on a walk around the fields to see the cows grazing and explained how they operate everything. It was very cool being so close to the animals and seeing what farms are supposed to look like. He also took us inside and showed us the wood fired brick oven. One of the cool things was how he controlled the oven’s temperature with a computer by opening and closing the damper automatically. This allows the couple to get some much needed away time each evening without running in and out to the oven.

They have a large sampling station where you get to try each cheese and bread before you buy. While the goods might be pricey compared to your supermarket, the quality is far and away superior. In my opinion their food is worth every penny. So go ahead and checkout a family farm producing some top notch food.