Rhode Trip Redux: Paul Kandarian

Our former “rhode trip” columnist reflects on his favorite ocean state endeavors.

Courtesy of Paul Kandarian

I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane over Newport, took part in a Providence Bruins practice (as a goalie no less), donned firefighter gear to bake inside an 800-degree training trailer in South Kingstown, walked — very carefully — on the catwalk under the Mount Hope Bridge in Bristol and got slammed around the ring taking a pro wrestling class in Pawtucket.

Am I crazy? Not clinically, but I am a journalist and wrote about 150 “Rhode Trips” over a dozen or so years, a popular last-page column in this magazine that included all the above and more, so maybe “crazy” and “journalist” do belong in the same sentence.

But I loved every minute of it, from scary ones like being subjected to 600 pounds of force flying in a World War II vintage Grumman TBM-3E Avenger torpedo bomber in Westerly to the tasty, like writing about — and sampling — classic Rhode Island staples such as hot wieners, stuffies, dynamites and johnnycakes, as well as chowing down on a half-dozen lobsters and half as many steaks while eating like a Viking at the legendary Nordic Lodge in Charlestown.

There are stories everywhere, even in the country’s smallest state with its seeming infinite supply of them. I’d cull phone books in the olden days to find stories like a tiny research nuclear reactor at the URI Bay Campus, and Cavanaugh Company in Greenville, which bakes billions of communion wafers for host-hungry parishioners the world over. And for the record, Greenville is a village in Smithfield, named for Revolutionary War hero Nathanael Greene and yes, I once did a Rhode Trip talking about the rich history of Rhode Island villages. Why? Because it’s a cool fact in a tiny state packed with them.

And that’s not crazy. That’s just the endlessly fascinating state of Rhode Island.