Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Day 15: (Yesterday) Essex Steam Train

So, first off, sorry about not posting last night. I'm sure it broke your heart and you were probably biting your finger nails and now they're all bare. :( Eh, I was working on my real travel site. You'll see in the pictures that there wasn't really a work area so it was really uncomfortable to have the laptop out. So, YESTERDAY, I rode on the Essex Steam Train and Riverboat. It was quite the experience. How slow our previous citizens travelled! The Steam Train ran up about 10 miles and then back. In between there was an hour and a half trip on a riverboat. This was the engine. I LOOOOOVED the sound of the ..... "toot toot." I don't know what that's called ... :D
I rode in a pullman car. The seats were so squeaky. And you swish from side to side.
Here's what my view was on the inside...
and outside the window...... :D
This would be the riverboat...
Great views of the Connecticut River. I'd had quite a few of these lately.
Then I stayed at a well-known CT Inn named the Copper Beech Inn. It was quite nice. My reward for hassling with them was staying in a suite for the price of the regular rooms. However, my credit card still shows that I paid for a suite. (I'm totally getting screwed on these deals but I'm harrassing them until my credit card bill shows otherwise.)
The bedroom area...
The seperate seating/tv room...I ended up eating dinner here in their nice french restaurant. It wasn't that good....

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Day 14: Essex, CT

Today is the two week mark. Wow, I've been gone for two whole weeks. I must be outta money. Good thing payday is on its way! Well, today I was in Essex, CT. It's right off the Connecticut River so more beautiful scenery. In fact, I just spent some time by the dock reading and talking to Mom. Very peaceful here. No fast food. No traffic lights. It's like a whole other world. I started my trip to Essex at The Griswold Inn, opened since 1776. They have a famous Sunday Hunt Brunch which I ate at. The waffle station was my favorite :) I'm also staying here tonight.
Then I walked down to the Connecticut River Museum. As you can almost tell it's right on the water.
Apart of the museum was the Mary E, a schooner boat. I chose to get the more expensive ticket so I could ride on my first sail boat. I was really excited because it said it went all over the river and it said it was an hour and a half. Well, we didn't use the motor other than to get up to the dock and out....and the wind wasn't really blowing....so we kind of went out into the river and came back. I could see the museum at all times. So, note to self, sail around the world in a MOTORIZED boat.
However, the views were great and the weather was a perfect 75-80 degrees.
Then I walked up and down Main St looking at the not-so-many shops. Most of them were real-estate companies haha.
But I did find.....ESSEX BOOKS :)
Then I walked back towards the museum and water and got some coffee here. I took my book and walked to the water and just sat and read and relaxed, remembering what vacation was reallllly about!
And here's where I stay tonight. You can actually see my room with the lights on in the top left-hand corner. There's a band playing in the bar down below so I'm just sitting in bed, listening to music and blogging. Not bad for a Sunday night. Tomorrow I'm going on my first Steam Train and River Boat. And I told Mom today I'll probably head back to Texas around July 2-3. I've been making reservations and they're annoying to set up at these little inns. I'm starting to get that spark back, too, to get some school stuff done this summer.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Day 13: Seafood Fest

Today started out with a letdown. I don't know if I told you yesterday but some bad storms came through CT yesterday and threatened with twisters. I don't think those are very common here so the news was full of warnings. Because of that, my first stop at the Hill-Stead Museum was interrupted. The town of Farmington, where the museum is, still had no power from the previous night so I went about 20 total miles and an hour out of my way. But the main objective for today was to have a seafood fest based on the 3rd tip of 1000 Things To Do. There were three different seafood restaurants I tried. Each very casual and two had quiiiiiite the view as you'll see. First, was the Blue Oar. I couldn't find anything on this place online. The book said the popularity was spread through word of mouth. I can't see why, though, the view is wonderful!
Isn't it?
After you order your food you sit on a colorful picnic bench. It's BYOB so a lot of people came with a cooler. I envisioned Terry and Barbara, Aunt B, Mom, Dad and I enjoying a place like this on Cedar Creek. Anyone wanna go into business? :) Here I had a lobster roll (sandwich).
Then I found a museum that I missed yesterday. This was the Florence Griswold Museum. She was left this beautiful house and, never marrying or having children, decided to take in boarders. Those boarders would be very famous American artists. The galleries and house housed many landscape pictures (most done in pastels--adult crayons hehe).
Then I was off to Seafood Fest #2, otherwise known as Abbott's Lobster on the Rough. Beauuutiful place in Noank, CT about 10-20 miles from Rhode Island. Again, you order at the stand and then pick a picnic table. I had a 5-shrimp cocktail and some cheesecake.
Isn't the view AMAZING!?! It was definitely my favorite place so far in CT!
To give you an idea of the seating... I SHOULD have sat under the tent...but I sat right next to the water.
See, the temperature was like 75 degrees. Don't shoot me TX! So I drove to all these places with the top down on the convertible. Problem? My shoulders are a bright red right now. One coat of aloe vera is doing well, though. Anyways, in between eateries I stopped off to do some not-so-shopping. I almost fell victim to Dooney and Bourke and then Coach but I came out alive and with money still in the bank, thank goodness.
Then I drove down the coast to Lenny and Joe's Fish Tale. I was seafooded out and got some shrimp and crab to go. The crab was like whole and then fried. I couldn't eat it. So I'll munch on the shrimp tonight for dinner.
However, this place was CRAZY. Look at all those people ordering. Not only do you have to find a line, yell your order, and then find a place to sit. They call your number and you have to hurdle back through that crowd to fight for your order they sit on a counter. Like I said, I didn't stay, I was pretty tired.
Now, after such a beautiful day....as I was driving back to the hotel....it started RAINING, POURING, and yes...that's what you think it is. ICE....it was HAILING on June 27. Can you believe it?!? I was pretty stunned...but with some help got through the storm and am resting nicely at the hotel for the night.
Tomorrow is the exciting Hunt Brunch at the Griswold Inn and then Essex, CT. I'm hoping to ride on my first train!!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Day 12: New Britain, CT

Ok, so...slow day. I couldn't get to sleep last night and ended up sleeping late this morning. I was supposed to go to 4 different art museums but only made it to this one...the New Britain Museum of American Art. The only art in there?!? By Americans...or those who immigrated to America. It had the art periods that American artists went through. Pretty interesting...
This was what the hall looked like...
In the previous picture you saw the wall in the background. This is it close up. It was all painted cups! Some of the old blue ones were pepsi cups and some of the red ones were pirate birthday cups and Seattle Coffee cups. It was crazy cool!
I included this picture for Aunt B. Hanging like a chandallier, this was all Murano blown glass by the only American asked to work in Murano as a glassblower.
I thought I'd show you this. It was a symbolic portrait of what?!? Did you guess it? Two twins...blinded....and planes...September 11. The two things at the bottom are benches so if you can imagine this painting is actually bigger than anyone's bedroom wall. Makes quite the statement.
So because I had such a relaxing day I am going to have to double-time it tomorrow. I have three museums and three restaurants to get to AFTER I tour the Goodspeed Opera House that I saw the show at earlier in the week. Have a good weekend everyone!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Day 11: Chester and East Haddam, CT

Boy, do I have some good pictures for you! I started my day in Chester, CT. Actually, before that I finally made it to breakfast haha "One small step for man..."
In Chester, I did some itsy bitsy shopping. I only spent $3...so that's pretty itsy bitsy.
I thought you might like to see what the houses looked like here. It was like a requirement to look perfect...and have an American flag flying!
Then I went to the Gillette Castle State Park. Check out the scenery.... :D Ohhhhh yea, heaven!
The Gillette Castle belonged to William Gillette who I guess playing Sherlock Holmes.....or maybe he wrote it? He was a writer, actor, etc, etc. His house was CRAZY!
This was the living area....
And then I was in awe of his bedroom. Hello, I could not even live in such a small area. I mean, I can hardly contain my stuff in an apartment AND the wing of a house :D
And the scenery from his house......amazing!
His house.....he designed it himself.....crazy...
It almost reminds me of Edward Scissorhands in the obscurity of it all. Such a weird structure in such a beautiful landscape...
Then I visited East Haddam. There's not really much there...(except for the Opera House below.)
This is back in Chester where I ate dinner at Restaurant du Village (vee laj). It was french. I was really scared because the menu had lamb and duck and I don't eat that stuff. When I sat down I was served an hor d'oeurve (had to look it up to spell in right) and it was....duck liver pate on a cracker. (Give me a second to stop gagging...ok better) I ate it.....Then had a glass of wine. Luckily they were serving salmon so I actually was able to eat a good meal. Then I had some chocolate cake, yummy, and $65 later I walked out haha.
Then.......I went to see 42nd Street at the Goodspeed Opera House back in East Haddam. Such an interesting place!
Another shot of the bridge that you cross over the Connectict River to get to the Opera House on the right. The show was fabulous! Tomorrow is a day of Art Museums along the Connectict Art Trail. Let's hope the weather stays ok....I had such great luck today!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Day 10: I Made It!!!

Today was the most boring day so far. I knew driving would be bad .... and it was. In fact, there weren't even any places up here to pull over and get gas, get something to drink, etc. There were just "Service Areas" where men pump gas for you (it's illegal to pump your own gas in New Jersey). THEN there was the $30+ in TOLL that I had to pay to drive on I-95. WTF, it's an interstate. How would people feel if we charged to drive on 35 or 45?!?
But....I made it! I'm in Connecticut tonight and ready to start the real adventure. Let's just hope I have the weather to do it in. It's actually kind of chilly up here and rainy...go figure haha Today I started by visiting the George Washing Masonic Lodge Memorial. This was the place...
This is view from the memorial :)
This is the statue inside... (HUGE!)
There were murals on the wall...it's huge.
View while waiting on the GPS to find a way to Connecticut.
I got bored quickly and started taking pictures....this was Baltimore. This road only cost me $2.
Delaware cost me $5 toll and I was outraged. I called Mom and we were laughing but boy...did I not know what was to come.
(Ahhh crap I deleted the picture again). In New Jersey I ended up paying $8 to enter on 95 and then $10(!!!) to drive on the Turnpike.
And after passing NYC (in the very background) I started to get excited. Until...I had to pay $8 to cross the George Washington Bridge and in rush hour traffic. So an hour and a half of going 10 miles I was a biiiiiit peeved.
This is what the traffic looked like. It really was terrifying!
But, alas, I crossed into Connecticut. I'm staying in the middle of the state so I have access to almost all the areas within 30-45 minutes. Tomorrow I'll start my journey (weather permitting) in Chester and East Haddam. Stay tuned for the good stuff!!