Saturday, June 24, 2017

2017-15 Litchfield, Hartford and Mystic Connecticut


Litchfield Connecticut
Hartford Connecticut
Mystic Connecticut

Campground: White Memorial Foundation Family Campground. $18.50. No utilities, except water nearby. Dump station on exit. Campsites are rustic with picnic table, rocks/boulders on sites. Half the sites are on the water. Tons of little white flying insects when there's no breeze. They don't bite or anything, but I think I've eaten a number of the little pests every time I open my mouth.

Campground:  Foxwood Resort Casino.  Free Rv parking lot.  Dry camping

Distance traveled: 205 miles

route Ill be taking over the next couple of weeks
what a journey

I traveled a southern route through New York state along hwy 17 and a section of I-84. Hwy 17 was a surprisingly pleasant 4 lane divided highway that bordered the lush tree covered Catskill mountains. Using my trusted Google maps/gps the first exit heading towards my camping destination in Connecticut turned out to be a no go as the route was for “cars only”, “no trucks, trailers or campers”. I therefore continued along I-84 letting the GPS select the next best route. As I exited the highway to begin my northerly route, I stopped abruptly as a large sign indicated a height restriction of 10' 5”. Yikes, that would never do. The 3rd option turned out fine and I arrived at my campsite after a stop for lunch along the way.

The day wasn't over with surprises though. As I signed up for the campsite, a fair $18.50 a night, I would minutes later discover the campground named “Point Folly” had no utilities at the site except a water spigot. Point Folly may be I sign, I'm not sure. What to do? Well, I do have solar panels. The weather is expected to be quite overcast for the coming week which will hinder the use of electrical items especially without the possibility of collecting much solar energy. Temperatures are expected to be in the mid to high 70's and fairly comfortable at night.

Life is an adventure and so I decide to stay. It will give me an opportunity to see what I can use in the camper with limited power options this week. Besides, I am within an hours drive of one of my main attractions/adventures for the summer season. I'm going to see the home of Samuel Clemens better known as Mark Twain. It's been on my bucket list for many years... too many to count and it might make me appear older than my youthful feeling/appearance. Ok the appearance part might give my age away but my feelings at getting to visit this historic home sure keeps me excited and feeling young.

Samuel Clemens, (Mark Twain) would live 17 happy years
here with his wife and three daughters 

before making a few bad investments.  They would
close up the house, move to Europe where the family could
live more cheaply and he resumed a world wide speaking tour

The next day, I drove some wonderful country roads heading to Hartford Connecticut. Up and down some awesome hills with grades between 8 and 9%. Traffic was a bit congested along the route what with morning traffic and some construction zones along the way. Past beautifully maintained country homes, all in the New England style. With many small panes windows, white square columns defining entryways, dormers and multiple eves. All classic designs.

The Mark Twain house is stunning and though I was not able to take any pictures of the inside, I'll provide a link so you can see the interiors. The guided tour was excellent at $22 and they do have a number of other programs with living actors portraying various members of the Clemens family. Our tour took us through the richly decorated first floor, my favorite being the spacious library and conservatory with all of its plants and water fountain. The second floor bedrooms and all the way to the third floor billiards room and office where Samuel Clemens wrote so many of this famous works.

Thank goodness it was recovered from being converted to an apartment for a while and almost destroyed to build a new development on the site. Next door is the Harriet Beecher Stow House also available on tour. My bucket list should be getting smaller, though I seem to keep adding new items to it.

After the tour which lasted just over an hour, I could have easily gone on it a second time just to look over the house one more time, but instead I thought I'd drive into the rather stunning looking downtown of Hartford. Planning on going to their visitor center, driving into town with numerous jogs in the roads, switches to one lane roads and odd cross medians, the congestion and lack of easy parking made it impossible in my mind to stop and park anywhere near the visitor center. I reluctantly headed out of the city without exploring it further. My loss I'm sure. If time permits, I may drive back into town and give it a second try.

downtown Hartford Connecticut 

all traffic stops to let pedestrians walk in all directions
through the corner cross walks

Along with writing the American Classics like Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Innocents Abroad and many others, Mark Twain was also known as a superb lecturer/entertainer. Traveling the world, telling his stories and adding bits of wisdom and humor that never failed. Here are a few of Quotes from his books and lectures:

  • Man is the only animal that blushes, or needs to

  • We ought never to do wrong when people are looking

  • Never tell the truth to people who are not worthy of it
  • Always obey your parents when they are present
  • A full belly is little worth where the mind is starved

  • Nothing so needs reforming as other people's habits
  • Prosperity is the best protector of principle
  • An uneasy conscience is a hair in the mouth
  • There is no sadder thing than a young pessimist, except an old optimist
  • The man with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds


The heavy overcast skies, an evening of rain and one lighting bolt and thunder so close it lit up the darkened interior of the camper momentarily. After two days of this the sun has once again shared it's sunny disposition with this part of the New England States. Though a bit breezy with temperatures in the low 70's, I enjoyed a walk through the historic part of downtown Litchfield. Too early for most of the shops to be open, it was still enjoyable to window-shop and then at the end of the main street, turn right and enter a heavily tree lined residential area. Filled with late 1700 and early 1800 houses. Beautifully restored and maintained. Not all the shops and stores have made it, as some are empty with for-rent signs in the windows. It must be hard to maintain a business in a beautiful area as this, yet not really be a tourist destination. I have noticed that the local restaurants are a bit more expensive than I'm used to and many unwilling to substitute the standard side items. Making it a bit difficult to order while on a strict low-carb diet. I end up paying for many side items that come with the meal, but asking they leave it off the plate. With no substitute, my meals have been quite small lately.

1780's to early 1800's

side porch detail

so many large homes/mansions

dogwood in bloom

Camper Update/Solar panels.

With the first couple of days being completely overcast, I limited my electrical use to running the fridge on gas, as well as some electric being used to monitor the unit. LED lights can be used at night, but I've refrained from using the TV or radio, just to conserve power, especially not knowing how many days it will be overcast. I have noticed that even with overcast skies, a trickle of solar energy has recharged the batteries enough to keep the basics running. Today, with the sun expected to be out most of the day, I turned on the inverter which provides the a/c, alternating current, to run the TV and recharge all my electronic devices of which there are many. With a constant breeze today, and all the windows in the camper open, it is very comfortable without the need for a/c. It's been great sleeping weather at night. I've been able to watch TV throughout the day without depleting the batteries, which remain fully charged with all that sunlight. I should be able to use the coffee pot tomorrow morning as long as the sun comes out to recharge the batteries even for part of the day. And I could use the microwave while the sun is still out. Life is good in an “unplugged” camping world. I'm a very Happy Camper.

I took another tour of historic part of Litchfield today. Going into the Jeffrey Tillou Antiques shop. What an awesome collection of New England antiques. Most in the 10-12 thousand dollar range and higher. I was able to take a few pictures throughout the 3 story gallery. Later I would go into the Litchfield Historical Society museum and as expected, the collection in the Tillou Antique shop was much more impressive than most of the displays in the Historical Society. Both were free entry today so I think I came ahead on that deal for the day.

Delft Charger, Adam and Eve

Eagle, Ca.1820-1840 $85,000

Distance traveled: 88 miles

Foxwoods Resort Casino

Mystic Connecticut

I'll only be at the Casino and Mystic Connecticut for two days, but this is a return to a very special place for me. Not the casino, though I'm sure I'll enjoy a good buffet meal and put a few dollars in the slot machines. No, my goal is to once again to walk down what was a magical street and place back in time when I was in my late 20's.

Foxwoods Casino

Tangier Shops/casino

A Mystical Experience:

I was on my first big adventure back in the 1980's, and I had driven all the way from Orlando Florida, heading up the east coast to visit a few spiritual retreats in Massachusetts and Upstate New York, before heading back home along the Skyline Drive. The trip would take a full two weeks, driving my Toyota Corolla station-wagon. I would sleep in the back of the station-wagon along the way. I would stay in a state park in New Jersey and pick wild blue berries along the hill in the back of campsite.

Mystic Seaport was not on my agenda, it just happened to be on the way. And what a remarkable experience it would be. Today, as I drove into town from the north end, high up on the hill, next to the tall white church and steeple, the bells began to ring. Back in the early 80's when I arrived, I saw the white church up on the hill as I entered town from a different direction.

Getting out of the Corolla so many years ago, I walked a short distance, and then entered a shop next to the seaport and lift bridge. The proprietor was open and friendly asking me where I was coming from and where I'd be going. As I started to tell him about my journey and that it was a bit of a spiritual journey at that, he became so interested in my story that he called over to a local boy in town and asked him to go down to the pub and get a six pack of beer, so we could relax and he could hear about my journey through life.

As we talked I caught a glimpse of a large Sailing ship passing by the back door window as the shop was right on the bay. We shared our goals in life and what we most wanted out of it. To have a stranger interested in my story, such as it was at the time, has always been a moment I've remembered throughout the years. Walking out of the shop and viewing Mystic Connecticut, probably through rose colored glasses at the time, I was very tempted to call into work and tell them I would not be coming back.

It was that special of a feeling. Fortunately, my desire to be a gypsy and vagabond came with a caveat.. I didn't want to be a poor one. So of course I did eventually finish my spiritual travels and return to work. But now, here I am, experiencing it all once again. Oh the original shop and shop owner are no longer there, but the town of Mystic is still here and so once again I'm able to walk down those streets, talk to the shop owners, have an awesome lunch by the seaport all while enjoying my gypsy lifestyle.

And that's what I call a 5 Star experience and adventure worthy of repeating. My heart is filled with joy, thankfulness and a humble gratitude for being able to do just that.

which boat would you choose?

Mystic Harbor

Mystic, with it's iconic white Church on top of the hill

I believe this may have been the store
my where my story took place so many years ago

so many colorful flower boxes throughout town

Mystic Seaport

drawbridge leading into Mystic Conn.

This could have been the shop I entered so
many years ago, such good memories

I shared the above story with a delightful sales gal at a most unusual shop called Sea Bags: Maine. Learning about what life is like today here in Mystic. The story I'm told is that the owners traveled the world, enjoying every place they went. Eventually coming back to Maine, where they wanted to start a company that could employ locals and give back to the area they so loved. Using old sails, they created bags made from what would normally go to a landfill. Each a unique design hand crafted. The shop sells sea bags made from the used sails they say have “soak(ed) up the sun, salt, smiles and adventure” before their craftspeople transform them into bags. They now have 12 stores along the east coast. Now that's a success story all and of itself.

Sharing life's moments along the way....

Additional photos:

No comments: