Tag Archives: Mystic CT

July 30: Ahoy, me mateys! And what’s a casino doing here?

Last night was fine, and this morning I got an early start and arrived at Mystic Seaport just before it opened at nine a.m.  I’ve got so many photos of the Seaport that I’m just going to put them all at the end.

It was just as good as I remembered, although I have to say I don’t remember a lot about it. The highlight was the Charles W. Morgan, which is the oldest whaling ship left in America. She just turned 175 years old a few days ago, according to the docent who told me. It was built in 1841. I got to board her and look around, and watch a crew launch one of the little boats they actually chased the whales in. That was fun.

I also went through lots of reconstructed period maritime businesses and a couple of homes (one of which had a garden I fell completely in love with), and went through a really wonderful (and air-conditioned – while the temperature is only in the low 80s, it’s even more ridiculously humid) exhibit on whaling history. It sorta took Moby Dick as a jumping off point, but aside from that (Moby Dick is one of my least favorite books I ever had to read in college) it was enthralling. Some of the technology they used for the exhibits was stuff I’d never seen before, too, which fascinated me, too.

Oh, and I got to see the one thing that made an indelible memory for me the last time I was here, which was the exhibit of ships’ figureheads. They were so cool.

I finally left Mystic Seaport about the middle of the afternoon, and came back to the Indian casino camper lot, where I decided I’d go check the casino itself out. Why not, right?

Well, it’s the biggest casino I’ve seen outside of Nevada (and presumably Atlantic City, although I’ve never been there), and certainly the biggest Indian casino I’ve ever seen (which is saying a fair amount as we have a number of them in Washington). I thought I’d check out the outlet mall attached to it, just for the heck of it (since I’m not a gambler and also because they don’t believe in smoke-free casinos the way they do at home). It was the biggest outlet mall I think I’ve ever seen, too, and it was only one small part of the casino. Anyway, I was really glad they had a shuttle running out to the parking lots, because my feet were dead by the time I was ready to leave.

Tonight I’m camped here again, but tomorrow night I have a reservation at a hostel in Newport, Rhode Island. I’d have had one tonight, but the Newport Jazz Festival is this weekend, so lodging was hard to come by. So I’ll go drive around where all the mansions are, and tour one or two (I’m thinking of Cornelius Vanderbilt’s The Breakers, in particular), which is something I’ve always wanted to do, then I’ll spend the night and head north in the morning.

I will also have knocked off one more state (Rhode Island), probably the last one that I’ve never been to for this trip, since the only two left after that will be Oklahoma and Hawaii [g].

Then it’s on to Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, and Maine. And Canada!

A cigar store Indian standing in front of the grocery store.
A cigar store Indian standing in front of the grocery store.
Appropriately enough, the quilt on the bed in one of the homes I toured is a Mariner's Compass pattern.
Appropriately enough, the quilt on the bed in one of the homes I toured is a Mariner’s Compass pattern.
Calling Dan Reilly.  This is just like the police lantern he used in Sojourn!
Calling Dan Reilly. This is just like the police lantern he used in Sojourn!
Did you know they used to make sewing machine lubricant from whale oil???
Did you know they used to make sewing machine lubricant from whale oil???
A chunk of ambergris, which is a whale product.  One of my favorite fictional characters is described as smelling faintly of ambergris, and this is *not* what I was expecting it to be!
A chunk of ambergris, which is a whale product. One of my favorite fictional characters is described as smelling faintly of ambergris, and this is *not* what I was expecting it to be!
That globe is a projection screen, believe it or not.  You could choose one of three documentaries to watch on it.
That globe is a projection screen, believe it or not. You could choose one of three documentaries to watch on it.
The Charles W. Morgan, 175 years old.
The Charles W. Morgan, 175 years old, and the oldest whaling ship in existence today.
Crew's quarters in the Morgan.  Can you imagine spending several years straight sleeping in there???
Crew’s quarters in the Morgan. Can you imagine spending several years straight sleeping in there???
Another view of the Morgan.
Another view of the Morgan.
Lowering a whaling boat from the Morgan.
Lowering a whaling boat from the Morgan.
The garden I fell in love with.  It's the mishmash of flowers, the whole dooryard thing, and the picket fence, I think.
The garden I fell in love with. It’s the mishmash of flowers, the whole dooryard thing, and the picket fence, I think.
Aren't these the most beautiful rose hips you've ever seen?
Aren’t these the most beautiful rose hips you’ve ever seen?
Figureheads.  One of the few things I really remember from the last time I was here.
Figureheads. One of the few things I really remember from the last time I was here.
Tiger lilies!  Blooming full blast with all the stops out.
Tiger lilies! Blooming full blast with all the stops out.
Part of a whole display of miniature figureheads.  The biggest ones are about six inches tall.
Part of a whole display of miniature figureheads. The biggest ones are about six inches tall.

July 29: A misty, moisty morning, and cloudy was the weather

As my mother would quote at me whenever it rained. Which it did, most of last night and well into the day today, although it had stopped – and cooled off, down to around 80 for the high, amazingly enough – by mid-afternoon.

I left Irene’s around nine, and headed southeast towards the Connecticut coast and New Haven. It was a pretty drive, which could have used more pullouts for photo opportunities. New Haven itself was something of a rabbit warren. I’d had sort of vague ideas (not terribly concrete ones because DC sort of museumed me out) of stopping at the Peabody Museum of Natural History and the New Haven Museum (local history), but parking was a pain in the rear so it just didn’t happen.

The river I followed from Danbury to New Haven.  It's very inconsiderate of my map not to have its name marked.
The river I followed from Danbury to New Haven. It’s very inconsiderate of my map not to have its name marked.
An interesting building in New Haven, crouched down amongst the skyscrapers.
An interesting building in New Haven, crouched down amongst the skyscrapers.

Once I got to the coast, I kept trying to get off of I-95 and onto U.S. 1, but wow, were the roads badly labeled. At one point I was so lost I wound up flagging down an extremely nice FedEx driver, who let me follow him out of the labyrinth of backroads – and back to I-95 instead of U.S. 1 [sigh]. So I pretty much gave up at that point and didn’t try to get back off of the Interstate until past New London, where U.S. 1 was labeled, and went on to Mystic.

The only real reason I wanted to go to Mystic is for the Mystic Seaport Museum, which I’d been to once 35 years ago, on the same trip that I saw Washington Irving’s house. I had good memories of it, and I love maritime history, and I wanted to see it again.

I didn’t arrive in Mystic till the middle of the afternoon, though, so I parked Merlin (who parallel parks much more easily than you’d think) on a side street and walked the touristy little downtown, where I also got to watch the drawbridge over the harbor entrance go up. Which was kind of cool.

I haven't seen the movie, but I've driven by the pizza place, does that count?
I haven’t seen the movie, but I’ve driven by the pizza place, does that count?
One of several painted submarines in downtown Mystic.
One of several painted submarines in downtown Mystic.
A tribute to my alltime least favorite fictional character.  If someone behaved like that to me, he'd get a knuckle sandwich.
A tribute to my alltime least favorite fictional character. If someone behaved like that to me, he’d get a knuckle sandwich.

Then I went looking for a campground, because it was, hurrah! cool enough to camp. Well, barely. And my rib is finally healed enough, too!!! I ended up in the RV lot of a local Indian casino with everything from huge fifth-wheelers to one family with a tent trailer, and at least two other vans, of which mine was the smallest. I fit right in, thanks much. It was either that or pay forty bucks for a campsite, and I’m sorry, that’s ridiculous. I paid less than that for my motel room in Williamsburg, and it was the principle of the thing.