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Day 38 – Connecticut’s Litchfield Hills Part 2

Litchfield Hills

I must apologize to my avid readers in advance, as I don’t have many stops or pictures to contribute to today’s post.  I awoke to a dreary, overcast day with yesterday’s sinus headache, only magnified, despite my body being a walking medicine cabinet for the last 24 hours – Tylenol Sinus, Nyquil, Excedrin, and finally a migraine pill in desperation.  Nothing worked, and the weather wasn’t helping matters, not to mention I was frozen!  After I let the dogs out, I crawled back into my sleeping bag and waited to see if the haze would clear, or if I was in for an ugly day.

The haze dissipated; though the forecast called for intermittent thunder showers which would definitely contribute to an oncoming migraine.  As I followed Gina’s (my GPS) directions to Kent, I passed by a sign pointing to a covered bridge, so I detoured across the river and over the bridge where I pulled into a parking area to a variety of trails to take a picture.  I know nothing more about the bridge.  I do wonder, however, how some of the bridges make it into the Reader’s Digest Book since some have official street signs directing tourists to their whereabouts, while others are simply forgotten.  I haven’t figured out what makes one more special than another.  It must be like art, what makes a brush stroke across a white canvas sell for millions of dollars?

I passed through Kent to arrive at Kent Falls State Park, home to a small covered footbridge and a lovely multi-tiered waterfall.  I had been using my point and shoot the last few days, so I decided to break out my good camera.  I think my good camera automatically qualifies me as a good photographer in the eyes of other tourists…more often than not, with my good camera in tow, another tourist asks me to snap their picture…I must look more professional lugging that paperweight around!  This would have been a perfect opportunity for me to meet “my stranger” for the day, but I could hardly look through the view finder, much less carry on a conversation today.  I politely took a few shots, admired the falls with them, and started the quarter mile walk up the stairs along the cascades.

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Just as we began climbing the thunder rolled.  Behind me, the sky – pitch black…In front of me, the sky – sunny laden with bright white clouds.  I thought, be optimistic, it has to thunder more than once before it starts raining and besides I was heading into clear skies.  Well, we climbed a few more flights of stairs – one with each tier of the cascade, and with the second thunder clap, the sprinkle began.  Ok I thought, it’s probably not smart to venture into the woods with an ominous sky above, so I turned around.  As I stepped off the last stair, I strode toward the covered bridge ducking my head in the HAIL!  The storm subsided as quickly as it arrived…I got back to the car and it was over.  It was at this moment I thought, what am I doing?!?  I feel like crap (pardon my French) and the only 5 minutes I’m outside, it hails!  I want a couch, a blanket, a cup of hot cocoa, and a fire…thus my thought of the day.

I guess every day can’t be great, and it certainly could have been much worse.  I could have been driving to work in the storm!  On my way to West Cornwall, I spotted another roadside sign pointing to a covered bridge.  On the other side of this bridge was “The Wandering Moose Café”. I relished a savory cup of potato garlic soup and some fried onion rings.  Probably an odd combination to some, but that’s what my cranky body craved.

I continued on through Canaan, choosing to rest at a Wal-Mart near the starting point of my drive tomorrow.  I can say, this drive was spectacular.  Each individual leaf on one tree I passed by was half yellow and half red – truly amazing.  I hope another opportunity to photograph a tree as such presents itself.

I suspect tomorrow will be a better day, and I hope to see some of my relatives in Long Island tomorrow evening.  I should probably call them to give them fair warning!  Oh, and sorry you got to hear about my ailments, but just keeping true to my day.  I’m certain the dogs aren’t too happy with me either…a five minute walk at the waterfall and a few potty breaks at Wal-Mart…hmmm think they will be ready for a good hike tomorrow as well.  There is a chance of snow tonight…I attempted to work my propane powered heater to no avail, consequently, the pop top will be down, and I will be snuggling with the dogs…move over Scout and Petey! ETB

websites: http://www.ct.gov/deep/cwp/view.asp?a=2716&q=325228&deepNav_GID=1650

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log cabin website copy

Day 37 – Connecticut’s Litchfield Hills

Connecticut

After oatmeal doctored with some fruit, compliments of Julie, the dogs and I set off to Farmington, home to many historic sites, though I was most interested in Miss Porter’s School, an exclusive boarding school over 100 years old.  My old college roommate attended high school here, and I was curious to know how she spent some of her formative years.  I only drove by the campus and got a glimpse of the classic buildings, but also passed by the lovely Farmington River.  In hindsight, I probably should have stopped here for a walk, as the river was lined with trees in peak fall color.  The vibrant oranges and reds reflecting off the calm water provided such a picturesque view that I missed my turn to Topsmead State Forest!

Topsmead State Forest was a pleasant surprise and a hidden gem.  If it weren’t for Reader’s Digest and my GPS, I never would have found it as I didn’t see one sign pointing in the direction of the old Edith M. Chase estate.  The local grande dame bequeathed her estate to the state, and the fabulous grounds afforded a variety of walks.  Our first walk, a self-guided nature walk, took us through the forest full of maples, birch, hemlock, wild raspberry bushes, ferns, grapevines, and more.

Our next walk took us over rolling green hills that would have been a horse’s delight to a fantastic, Tudor-style mansion (only open alternate weekends) surrounded by a flower garden.  I strolled around the house twice just taking in the details of the slate roof, wooden doors laced in iron works, metal gutters, and quaint courtyards.  I let the dogs off leash as I walked along a few more paths mowed in the green pastures and along an ancient stone wall through a canopy of trees.  Hardly anyone was there…a peaceful treat.

I briefly passed through Litchfield on my way to Lake Waramaug State Park where I had hoped to pull in early, take a breather, and catch up on my blogging.  The drive was breathtakingly gorgeous.  The lake, surrounded by the autumn colors, was home to several crew teams practicing rowing.  Unfortunately, the campgrounds were closed for the season, so I set off in search of the next Wal-Mart.  Not that there is anything wrong with Wal-Mart, but I was hoping for a more scenic place to rest for the afternoon than a parking lot.  I hope not all the campgrounds are closed for the season, or it might be a while before I find a shower! ETB

websites:  www.ctov/dep/cwp/view.asp?A=2716&Q=325076

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fall colors website copy

Day 36 – Rhode Island’s South County Coast and Hartford Connecticut

Rhode Island/Connecticut – yesterday’s post

What an action packed day!  I started out at Misquamicut State Beach, Rhode Island’s largest.  The seas were as calm as I’ve seen for days. With barely any surf, if it weren’t for the blue horizon of water and sky, it could have been mistaken for a tranquil pond!  As I walked along the beach with the dogs; however, I spotted evidence of recent rough seas as I passed countless starfish washed ashore every five feet.  I found two caches of a series of Misquamicut caches nearby…one hidden in the brush across the street and another magnetically attached to a “No Parking” sign.  The Oceanside community of Weekapaug across the way reminded me of Rockport, Texas; quiet streets, lined with gingerbread-style beach houses.

After our walk at Misquamicut State Beach, I traveled a few miles down the road to Watch Hill, a lovely seaside resort.  Most of the stores appeared to be closed for the season, but the sandy path along a peninsula jutting over a mile into the ocean to Napatree Point was magnificent.  Reader’s Digest describes this location as one of the best beach walks in Rhode Island, and I have to agree.  I walked/jogged the beach to wear out the dogs as I knew they would be spending the afternoon in the car.  My view to the left was a red roofed lighthouse on the rocky shore, while the view to my right was grassland dunes.  To make the walk even better, a cache was hidden on the other side of the dune where a salty marshland laid nearby.

After a morning on beaches, I headed to New Haven to spend an afternoon with my stepdad’s college roommate to tour Yale and the surrounding area.  We had a busy afternoon!  An ex-student and current fellow, Bill took me through several areas of the campus that I would not have known I could enter or that required an access card.  Our first stop was McClellan Hall, part of the freshman quad, where my stepdad, Bart, and Bill spent their first year away from home.

Thereafter, we walked past Harkness Tower, through the Branford College courtyards, the Saybrook College courtyards, the Trumbull College courtyards (Bart ‘s and Bill’s home as upperclassmen), and the Berkeley College courtyards.  Each College contains a dining hall, a library, and living quarters.  The upper classman are assigned a college and remain in that college through graduation.  At the time Bart and Bill attended Yale, the dorms simply consisted of stairwells with a suite off each side including a living area with a fireplace and two bedrooms sleeping four men.  The residence halls didn’t have any corridors like most other college dorms.

Other points of interest on the campus that we visited included the Women’s Table (a granite fountain inscribed with the chronology of years and how many women attended Yale in graduate school until the campus became co-ed in 1970), the Yale Center for British Art which housed some outstanding oil paintings, the Sterling Memorial Library, the Law School, and the Beineke Rare Book Library.

The stone carved figurines in the library corridors and along the windows of the Law School were especially funny to me.  Yale, built in the 1930’s, has a gothic appearance, and I would have passed by the figurines like they were any other gargoyle…not so.  One of the stone carvings in the library was of a college student holding a book open to pages with the inscription U. R. A. JOKE. (Text started a long time ago)!  Each side of the law school window sill was cornered with a policeman figurine with criminals and justice in between.  The campus was chock full with clever and beautifully handcrafted architecture.  I can’t imagine how anything similar could be built today.

The Beineke Rare Book Library, an addition in the 1960’s, was built with translucent marble walls and is home to a rare copy of the Gutenberg Bible encased in glass.  Next to the glass case, is a phone number that may be called to hear a translation of the open pages displayed in the Bible.

After our tour of Yale and tasty lunch of bean soup and a portabella sandwich, we drove to the top of East Rock, one of the two rocks between which New Haven is settled.  The rock offered a view of New Haven, the town’s harbor, Long Island, and Long Island Sound.  After enjoying the view atop the rock, we ventured back to Bill and Julie’s house, picked up the dogs, walked across the street to East Rock Park and College Woods and enjoyed a view of the rocky cliff.

We walked along the trail and across a footbridge, stopping a few times to photograph the fall colors.  The College Woods, once used by Yale to harvest firewood, was home to a cache.  Bill found my description of geocaching interesting, so we set off on a hunt for an ammo can.  The area, canopied with trees, wreaked havoc on my GPS reading, so that I could only narrow down the search area to about 60 feet!  It took a little while to find, but we were successful, so he knows this activity does actually exist.

After only a short time at home visiting with Julie, Bill’s wife, we decided to dine at Frank Pepe, a pizza restaurant established in 1925 and an old Yale hangout.  At 6:40 pm, with over 30 tables in service, a line of 10 people was out the door!  We ran into some of Bill and Julie’s neighbors, Barbara and John, and combined to one table for only a 15 minute wait.  We had a busy day and lovely evening…by the time I sat down to the computer, it was ten o’clock. ETB

websites: http://www.riparks.com/Locations/LocationMisquamicut.html, http://www.yale.edu/

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fall colors website copy