Connecticut – August 2019

We began the third week of our 2019 late summer/early fall in Connecticut. I never realized that it has quite a New England type feel and plenty of charming little towns.

Our first stop was the Bethel/Ridgefield area where we spent a couple of very fun days visiting friends. The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum was right next door to where we were parked. We were amused by and enjoyed frolicking around their sculpture garden- the photos on the left side above show a couple of the pieces displayed on their lawn.

Ridgefield is the “quintessential” Connecticut small town. Actually we heard that adjective used in several towns we visited. The top right photo shows an example of the architecture typical to the area. We loved the stone walls we saw everywhere.

We visited a “swimming hole” near Bethel.  It was actually an old limestone quarry and I couldn’t help like I was going to see Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn run out of the woods and jump into the water.

Speaking of – our next big stop was the Hartford area so we could visit the Mark Twain House and Museum .

Samuel Clemens and his wife built this house that they dearly loved but the neighbors hated due to its quirky looking facade. They actually used his wife’s money to build it, and kept it in her name- which was a good move since he went bankrupt over some bad investments.  He recouped the money lost by going on his legendary, world-wide speaking tours. Over to left side, there is a glassed in solarium which was filled with plants. His three daughters pretended it was the jungle and Clemens and the butler would hide in the foliage and act like lions and tigers.

From there we went to the  Seaport RV Resort in Mystic (Old Mystic) Connecticut. It was a little pricey, but it had a nice pool and lots of rigs like ours parked there.

The first night we were there, we discovered Sea Well Seafood , which we went to a couple of times, in nearby Pawcatuck. Actually, everything out east is “nearby” – each town just seems to blend into the next one.

Check out the price on haddock above- nice! One night we had them steam a couple of lobsters for us.

Mystic is really scenic and has several museums worth going to. We skipped the aquarium due to some online reviews that said it was just fair. We did go to a couple of other sites and really enjoyed them.

It took us a whole day to go through the Mystic Seaport Museum . It features different inside exhibits, such as one on the history of the whaling industry, and lots of outside walking through a recreated 19th century fishing/ship building village.

Since I love to cook, one exhibit that was in the first building, caught my eye. It was called “Streamlined from Hull to Home” and had some great vintage photos and artifacts.

According to the exhibit, the word “streamlining” started in the boat building business. Streamlining meant building things such as boats, cars and even kitchen goods in a way that mimicked the horizontal speed lines of air craft.

After World War II there was bent up desire for consumer goods after years of living through the depression and then the rationing of the war. Gadgets such as toasters and juicers had been around for years but in a boxy form. They were revamped into streamlined designs which “modern” homemakers just had to have.

We took our time and strolled in and out the exhibit buildings throughout this sprawling museum.

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One of the restored boats that is on display is the Charles W. Morgan which is the last wooden whaler left in the world. It is America’s oldest commercial ship.

The ship above is Mayflower II, a replica of the original Mayflower that the Pilgrims sailed on. It was built in 1956 and usually is on display in Plymouth, Massachusetts as part of the museum, Plimoth Plantation. It was at the Mystic Seaport Museum being restored in their working shipyard.

Several buildings had been originally located in other places nearby and were moved to the museum. Then, they were restored.

The next day we went to the The Submarine Force Museum in Groton.

Almost as soon as we got there, they announced that a submarine was leaving the nearby Naval Submarine Base New London. Everyone rushed out to see it pass by and head out to sea.

Part of the museum is a self guided tour of the world’s first nuclear-powered sub, the USS Nautilus.

Inside, the sub is like a small city. The crew of 105 or so, had everything they needed to stay submerged for months.

One thing that really caught my fancy was one of the very first submerged vehicles- something called Bushnell’s Turtle. During the Revolutionary War, a patriot named David Bushnell got the idea of constructing this underwater device, pedaling it over to an English ship, and then attach a gunpowder bomb to the side of the ship. He talked someone in to doing it (I noticed he didn’t man it!) but the mission was unsuccessful. The bomb didn’t go off and no one got hurt. Later, he turned his attention to torpedoes and people did get hurt – but they were all on the American side.  After the war, Bushnell moved to France and then resurfaced years later as Dr. David Bush in Georgia.

 

We spent a couple of hours at the museum, just looking at all the artifacts and information about submarine advancements over the years.

Downtown Mystic is fun to walk around, and of course we had to eat at Mystic Pizza where the Julia Roberts movie of the same name was filmed. The movie made her a star, but the pizza was not that award winning- I’d give it a grade of B.

Bluff Point State Park in Groton was a great place to hike.  It had plenty of the Connecticut stone walls that were left over from original settlers who lived in the area.

We hiked the 3.6 mile Coastal Reserve Trail that went through the woods but also had some great views of the water.

This stone foundation outline is all that remains of colonial governor John Winthrop Jr.’s house. It was originally build in 1648 but rebuilt around 1708-1710 after the first house burned down. We read that the house had a field stone foundation, was built of wood and had a chimney constructed with bricks from Europe. It also had an underground exit that extended 300 feet from the cellar to the barn in case of a native American attack.

We had a weekend to kill before our reservations on Cape Cod began. Out of curiosity, we went to the FREE RV parking at the  Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville. All someone needs to do is call the number given on posted signs and security comes to register you and your RV, Every 15 minutes, a shuttle drives by to whisk anyone over to the casino.

The view from the casino parking lot was beautiful.

We heard that the casino had acquired the land across the river. Plans are to tear down the old state mental hospital and build an official RV park with all the amenities.

The inside of the casino was fabulous. It rivaled anything I ever saw in Las Vegas. I really enjoyed the upscale shopping mall that was inside.

We took a day trip to  Essex , another of those “quintessential” towns.

Men from the Essex area were captains and seamen. It was raided by the British in the War of 1812.

We checked out the over 240 year-old  Griswold Inn . Over the years, its been the setting for films  “It happened to Jane” (1959) with Doris Day and “Parish” (1961) starring Troy Donahue and Claudette Colbert In recent times it was the inn in the soap opera “Dark Shadows” and shown in the “Bachelorette”.

We sat on the patio outside of the Tap Room, which is the bar area. It has an abbreviated menu and we ordered a couple iced teas and split a bowl of their Signature Clam Chowder. Unfortunately, it was disappointing. It either had yogurt or sour cream in it; either way, the resulting tangy flavor was off-putting.

Then, it was on to Cape Cod

Just for fun, here are some links to some other Yates social media sites:

 

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Unless otherwise indicated, all photography and texts are property of the author. To use or share should only be done after being granted permission and with proper credit to the author.

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