I shoulda known. All them hours of back-breaking labor to wash the beast, get it nice and shiny. Then, the rain. Moving day we got thoroughly dumped upon, to the tune of about 168 miles worth. Our destination: Nelson Family Campground in East Hampton. Talk about a stressful swim. Besides the sheets of water pounding down on us relentlessly, the route to get to the campground took us on back roads a half lane wide, severe twisting and turning, with an onslaught of low-hanging branches. I was surprised to arrive at the campground with my 2 antennas still attached to the bus. But hey, what’s a little stress in your life, eh?
Speaking of stress. We have discovered that this little corner of our world (the northeast corner of the USA) comes with all kinds of issues. All of our machines (iPhones, iPads, trucker version of on-board GPS) seem to be less than trustworthy when it comes to routing us most anywhere. Driving 40’ of bus towing a Jeep and getting routed onto skinny, hard-to-maneuver roads is not a lot of fun. Thankfully, I have only run into a couple of situations where I actually had to disconnect the Jeep in order to turn around. Again, Jeanne gets to be entertained by the depth of my 4-letter vocabulary. Additionally, it seems the various DOT’s in these here parts don’t seem to worry much about forewarning motorists (signage) regarding steep grades (grade + distance) nor give consistent warnings about low clearance overpasses. And to top it all off, finding campgrounds/parks with available space is nigh impossible. As I have mentioned previously, we do not like to do the reservation dance, preferring not to tie ourselves down to a schedule. In most of the rest of the country we have had little issue with just driving in as “walk-up” business (except the big ticket snow-bird areas like Florida). But here in the northeast, they have such limited facilities and short season, they fill up quickly for summer. We have been spending hours researching for places to stay and have to give in to the reservation way of life. &%$#@* !!!
Nelson Family Campground is a nice facility. They have tons of activities geared toward family fun; well kept pool area, shuffleboard courts, playground, horseshoes, basketball court, soccer field, movies at a pavilion, clubhouse with a snack bar on weekends, and small camp store. Our site was in an open, grassy field which is preferable for satellite reception. The sites have no sewer hookups but there is a dump on site and they do accept Passport America.
We got a break in the rain and decided to go back to college, so to speak. We loaded the bicycles up and headed into New Haven for a bicycle tour of town and Yale University. Yale was pretty impressive (it should be, it is WAY beyond my means!) seeing it dates back to 1701. Harkness Tower was particularly gothic.
Jeanne wanted to check out the Westport area, she had learned it had a beach area for the rich and infamous. When we got there we found the continuing “anti-tourist” theme of charging exorbitant fees to use their beaches. They wanted $50 for parking and day use fee. OK, it then became a driving tour. We found a property formerly belonging to Katherine Hepburn called “Paradise”, 6 bed, 2 bath, 8368 square feet. It was built in 1939, renovated in 2005, and currently on the market for anyone having a spare $11,800,000.00 floating around. Unfortunately we could not get real close to get better photos. But the photos they have posted on zillow.com are very nice.
We drove by the Old Saybrook Police Dept. and I caught a glimpse of an old patrol car in their lot, which I could not resist getting a photo op with.
The town of Essex has a bunch of historical houses along Main St. That includes the Griswold Inn, touted as Connecticut’s oldest continuously operating inn and one of their “picture book” buildings.
Also nearby we found the Gillette Castle. Not the razor guy but an actor named William Gillette. Built in 1919, the state took it over and made it a state park in 1943. We passed on the interior “tour”, but walked the grounds with Woody.
Just up the road from our campground we ran across “Wild Bill’s Nostalgia Center”, a memorabilia/antique style shop akin to something you might find in North Beach of San Francisco. The interior was a tight squeeze among a whole lot of “stuff”; LP’s stacked floor to ceiling, old pin-up posters (including that iconic one of Farah Fawcett in her one-piece swimsuit), black light posters, period articles of clothing (most I saw from the 60’s-70’s), photos, incense, and just about anything 1960-ish. The outside was definitely “eye-catching”!
Our next moving day took us all of 44 miles to the Seaport RV Resort just outside of Mystic, CT. On our way, we needed to burn a couple of hours since most of the folks back here insist on charging extra for early check-ins. So we stopped off at the Mohegan Sun Casino to see if I could win us a lunch or donate to their economy. Whoopee(!) it was the former. This is a VERY nice casino and for anyone interested, they do allow RV stays (free dry camping in the lot) for up to 7 days! Just check in with security…
We still got to Seaport RV a little early, but they did not enforce the early fee. The check-in gal was very friendly, helpful, and the park is pro-military/first responder as far as discount goes. We ended up paying about $41 per night for our weeklong stay. The park itself is fairly open sky, level, grassy sites with W/E only and for our week we got 2 free visits from the honey wagon. There is a nice pool facility, miniature golf, a laser tag yard, and a playground for the kiddies.
The rain continued off and on during our stay here. In between downpours we did find time to explore. Stonington is a small town area with a coastal point from which you can supposedly see pieces of NY, RI, and CT. We got there and barely saw 25 yards of ocean, the fog was England-like thick (must’ve been brought over by the Brits pre-revolutionary war).
The town of Mystic lays claim to being the home of Mystic Pizza, subject and location of the Julia Roberts movie by the same name. Besides walking the town and seeing the sights like the Mystic River drawbridge and the Union Baptist Church, we just HAD to sample the fare at Mystic Pizza. Not bad pizza (not Chicago style, but not bad). To finish off the day we found the Outer Light Brewing Co. to be a rather busy little micro-brewery. Jeanne enjoyed her pilsner style and I liked their coffee stout. And the owners are the nicest folks you could meet. They, too, are very first-responder friendly. We had a good conversation about traveling and the full-time RV lifestyle.
We found another nearby casino, Foxwoods Resort, to occupy some of our rain induced down time. That is one very large Indian casino/resort that incorporates a Tanger outlets mall into it’s mix. The size of that place rivals some of the large casinos in downtown Vegas. Jeanne was able to hold her own and break out even, while I continued my standard practice of donating to their local economy. Due to rain we also had ample opportunity to hit the grocery stores and Walmart to stock up on supplies. Now I’m gonna mention the Apple app “Shopkicks”. Jeanne’s niece Savohna got us started on this silly thing. I guess I should not refer to it as silly, I think between the two of us over the past 3-4 years we have received at least $1,000 in gift cards, mostly used at Walmart and Best Buy. Shopkicks is a conglomerate of participating retailers where you can get “shopkicks” (points) for walking in their store front door, scanning the bar code on certain products, watching short video ads, buying certain products and scanning the receipt, or finding “surprise” shopkicks while viewing the product ads on the app. And they offer different awards for various amounts of accumulated points, from gift cards up to luxury cruises. We just happen to redeem our points for gift cards. For example, a Walmart $25 gift card requires 6,250 shopkicks. Typical earnings for bar code scans can run 10-100 shopkicks, walk-in shopkicks typically in the range of 25-100, etc. And, if a shopkicks user invites others to join via e-mail, once the invitee gets established, the one doing the inviting will get a cut of the shopkicks picked up by the newbie for their first couple of weeks (at least that was the promotion way back when we got started). It really does not take long to store up for the gift cards we use. The goofy thing is, especially during bad weather, this becomes our warped sense of entertainment, wandering around the stores with iPhones in hand, scanning away. But it becomes un-goofy and un-silly when we get to buy stuff for free.
We wanted to make a short trip into Westerly, RI, and got the clear weather to do it, hoping to check out some beaches. We let Woody walk us around the historical downtown area, then headed off to Misquamicut State Beach. Big bummer. I am officially fed up with this area’s tendencies to be so un-visitor-friendly. We have found every beach we encountered to charge fees, some very high ($40-$50 range). And the ones, like Misquamicut, more doable but doggies are prohibited. The fees would not bug me so much, but they close off ALL nearby surface street parking so we can’t even do a quick walk-on to see what they have to offer. And public beaches are limited. I have not experienced this many private beaches on the ocean, coming from California where there are virtually no private beaches.
Yet, the adventure continues. Good-bye to Connecticut and look out Rhode Island, here we come! Until next post…