Friday, June 30, 2017

2017-16 Connecticut to New Hampshire (Including Rhode Island)


Moooo, to all my Iowa Friends, miss you all

North Grosvenordale Connecticut

a side trip to Rhode Island

Massachusetts, just driving thru
Concord New Hampshire

West Thompson Lake COE
gyspy moth caterpillars have eaten all the leaves
off the trees
Campground: West Thompson Lake – COE, $15 senior rate. 30 amp elec./water. A few over-the-air tv stations. Wooded campsites, beautifully raked and clean campsites. Mid week, one of the camp hosts came onto my site, early evening, to brush off my picnic table.  I was inside the camper and seeing someone out of the corner of my eye on my campsite scared the crap out of me.  

Campground: Epsom Valley Campground. Epsom NH. $21 PPA discount rate. Full hookups, 30 amp. Rustic looking park, pine trees, restroom/showers/small laundry room. Odd, the last couple campsites, I can get about 10 Tv stations, but none are ABC/NBC/CBS.... very odd.

Distance traveled: 39 miles

Foxwoods Resort Casino

My last day at Foxwoods Resort Casino, I went over to the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center. It's a centerpiece of the native Indian tribes culture and history. The displays going back to the ice ages on up to the present are some of the best displays I've seen in any museum. No money was spared to create each venue. From descending into an ice cave, the recreation of a caribou hunt to a full immersion into an Indian village. It's amazing what can be created with enough money coming in from a large Casino resort. Before I left the museum I asked about the Indian tribe and how many members are a part of it. After reacquiring the tribal reservation lands, as so many of the original members had moved off the land to find work, they were able to gradually get many of the tribes members reestablished. Now consisting of around 990 members. Not all tribe members live on tribal land. The tribe elders have closed the tribe and will not permit any other Indian claims that might be out there. Only children born to certified tribe members will be added to the membership roster.

an 18 story elevator tower with viewing area on top

the manikins are so life like 

escalator takes the visitor down to the
1st level, The Ice Age....

Only 950+ tribe members remain 
bringing the tribe members back home

impressive museum

The wealth being generated by the casino must be enormous.

But I've moved on from my parking lot Rv site at the casino up to the NE corner of Connecticut, for a few more days before heading into New Hampshire.

And it's time to do a few chores that need to be done whether I'm on the road or not. In between all that touring, here are just a few of the things that keep me busy.

  • Fixing a squeak in the cabinet holding the fireplace. When I would walk out onto the slideout containing the fireplace/entertainment unit and dining room, an annoying squeak sound would come from the unit and the wall. I was able to separate the unit from the wall, a couple toothpicks would keep the space open long enough to fill with some silicone sealer providing a cushion. No more squeak.
  • One of the large mudflaps on the back of the truck was about to fall off. I re-secured it with a few screws and washers.
  • A side table between the two recliner tables keeps loosening up with all the travel movement while going down the road. Reworking the bolts and screws that keep it together along with more of that silicone sealer to hold them in place so they can't work themselves loose again should do the trick. I hope.
  • After arriving at the new campsite on a Sunday no less, I was able to go into a quaint little town for a visit with the Urgent Care facility. Housed in a lovely house, it's open in this small rural town 7 days a week. I had been concerned over a possible bug bite. Could it be a tick bite? No, it was probably a spider bite this time. And I needed to get some prescriptions refilled. The Doctor was most accommodating and gave me a prescription for my regular meds along with one in-case I do actually get a serious tick bite. It's important to take the meds as soon as a tick bite has been confirmed to reduce the potentially deadly results.
  • Get the oil/filter changed in the truck
  • Get prescription filled
  • Wash camper and truck
  • Fix the new wireless printer. Will not work with the laptop. I'm completely at a loss as to why it won't communicate wirelessly between the printer and laptop. After a couple frustrating hours, I finally found a suitable cable and connected them that way,,,, forget wireless communications, $%%#@*()!!!!

Of course I always try to keep to the retirees motto “one chore a day” but I might need to do two in one day since the list has grown over the last couple of weeks and I've only gotten to a couple in between all my travels and tours.

In this area of NE Connecticut the gypsy moth are at the end of their caterpillar stage. Thousands of the little buggers have eaten all the leaves off of many of the trees, especially here in the campground. It looks like an eternal spring time with the trees just barely covered in leaves. Experiments are being made using a fungal growth on trees that kills the caterpillar. With a dry spring, it hasn't grown and killed the caterpillar like they would hope for. Caterpillar poop rains down from all the trees and it's expected that the leaves will come back out on the trees after the caterpillar goes into it's cocoon stage or just die off.

Newport Rhode Island

The Breakers "Cottage"
from the Gilded Age

From my campsite in the NE corner of Connecticut, I drove over to Newport Rhode Island. That's where all the gilded age “cottages” of the wealthy are located. The local preservation society owns and operates 9 of the grand houses and all are available on tour. Remember last week when I visited Samuel Clemens home in Hartford Connecticut. He is the one that coined the term “the Gilded Age” and he was not being kind when he used the term. As he thought it a disgrace to flaunt all that wealth and waste in on such things as these grand homes. Which I might add were only used for approximately 6 weeks out of each summer.

It's hard to imagine spending all that money just to have a summer place to entertain other wealthy friends. Each home would have had as many as 40 servants to take care of the family and guests and maintain the homes for those 6 weeks in the summer. I visited the grandest of them all, the Breakers as well as The Elms.

The Breakers, main Hall

Grotto under main staircase

main entrance Hall

The Breakers Main dining room

Breakers, dining room detail

loggia overlooking Atlantic Ocean

The Breakers

The Breakers, music room

The Breakers was the Cornelius Vanderbilt (summer home) mansion, one of a few the family built here in Newport. The Breakers was built in 1893 the architect was Richard Morris Hunt. 70 rooms on 5 floors and the house covers approximately one acre of the 14 acre estate overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. After Cornelius's death only a few years later, his wife Alice who would outlive him another 35 years. She gifted the house to their youngest daughter, Gladys, mainly because she had no property in America. Having married and become the Countess Gladys Szechenyi. Back then, the wealthy industrialist having money, but no titles, often had their daughters marry into European royalty. After selling the property to the preservation society, Gladys's family still have the right to use the house anytime they are in the area. The third floor apartments are closed off to the public and are for their use exclusively.

second floor bedrooms with hidden doors

the Breakers

I had purchased a ticket to see two of the homes and could have also visited more if I had the time and energy. The other home I visited was the Elms Mansion. It was originally built for a wealthy coal magnet. Having only 7 bedrooms, but as many as 40 servants, they also owned a few other homes to accommodate guests if needed. It is all so overdone and over the top.  Hard to imagine living like this.

Today, the wealthy still gravitate to New Port, as I drove past many other large mansions occupied by the wealthy with their perfectly manicured hedges, lawns behind massive iron gates.  Even Larry Ellison of Oracle purchased the former Astor's Beechwood mansion.  After restoration is complete, it will be used as a non-profit art museum.  Ellison will use the second floor as his personal apartments.  Though the public will be able to view artwork he has collected on both the main floor and second private floors when not in residence.  The mansions rooms will provide the proper backdrop for his art collection.

The Elms, Main entrance

The Elms, office

The Elms, living room

imported from Europe

the conservator, The Elms

Conservatory, the Elms

The Elms, extensive gardens

The Elms, dining room, very handsome

the Elms, breakfast room, oriental motif 

many of the mansions had a two story
butlers pantry, dishware on second
floor and a safe to store the siverware

Distance Traveled: 117 miles

From Connecticut through Massachusetts and into New Hampshire. It took about an hour and half to travel through Massachusetts before entering New Hampshire. My Google maps continues to welcome me as I cross into each new state. The new England states are much smaller and it doesn't take much to travel through them.

Before I headed out I had one of those Not-Happy-Camper moments. I decided I'd head out to McDonald's for coffee and a quick breakfast. When I got back to the campground, the entrance gate was still locked. It was a couple minutes past 8 am and I thought for sure it would be open. One of the two camp hosts was working on his camper, each of which flank the front entrance. He refused to open the gate until 9 am. Said it was their rules, and couldn't open it. I drove over to the park office, where 4 park rangers sat. They all refused to open the gate Said “Sorry you should have been warned, we keep it locked during quite hours. We can't have people coming and going disturbing the campers.” But I'm a camper. Aren't you supposed to be accommodating me. Wouldn't budge. Finally drove back to the entrance and sat in my truck for about 15 minutes in front of the locked gate. Finally, the camp host took pity on me and opened the gate.

First time in 13 years I've ever been locked out of a campground. Most campgrounds, if they have a locked gate at night will give you a combination to open the gate after hours.

a fine new carpet to
keep out the mud and dirt
I'll be here at Epsom Valley Campground over the 4th of July Holiday. Though they are celebrating Christmas in July this weekend, not the 4th of July. Christmas decorations are going up throughout the park. I'm not planning on many adventures, as the traffic could be daunting with the holiday. Listening to the local radio today around 3:00, the announcer said that I-95 was backed up heading north through New Hampshire the entire distance through the state. Everyone heading towards Maine for the long holiday weekend.

My timing is back on track. Once I got to my campsite, part of which is just a soggy dirt patch where I come out of the camper. Fortunately, just down the road is a Camping World and I was able to purchase a really nice long outdoor carpet. With some rain in the forecast, this will help greatly to keep the mud and dirt at bay.

more photos:

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