Wednesday, June 18, 2014

TRAINS AND BOATS AND DON’T FORGET THE LOBSTA…

From New Jersey we head northwest making a wide berth around the NYC congestion and stop for the night in the Poconos at the Ironwood Point Recreation Area on the edge of Lake Wallenpaupack.  We have a wooded site with a view of the lake through the forest, H2O and electricity.  If it weren’t for the rain, the scenery would be spectacular.  But since Mother Nature is not smiling at the moment, it’s just another dreary day at the lake. 

It’s still raining as we head into Connecticut.  Here we stay at the Riverdale Farm Campsites.  This is a large resort just outside the town of Clinton, along the Hammonasset River with a swimming pond and a lot of activities for families.  Our space is over on the quiet side of the park away form all the activity.   It’s perfect for our sensibilities with full hook-ups and decent WIFI. 


A shack by any other name...

The next day the rain has not let up.  Not a good day to go to the beach, or take a hike or even sightsee, but it’s a good day to find some Lobster.  A quick internet search gives us a list from Yankee Magazine of the top twelve lobster shacks in New England, and low and behold Lobster Landing is just down the road WOO HOO! Technically speaking, Lobster Landing isn't even a shack. It’s a ramshackle, 100-year-old, wood-frame shanty by the water selling lobsters, oysters, and steamer clams to take home and cook. The adjacent food trailer sells three items: hot dogs, sausage pepper onion subs and hot lobster rolls plus bags of chips and soda that you fetch yourself from a cooler near the order counter. Seating is in a makeshift dining area on cheap plastic chairs and tables on a broken clamshell deck under a plastic tent.

Heaven on a bun!
Since it would be sacrilegious to order hot dogs or sausages here, we order up two made to order Hot Lobster rolls.  They come in a big submarine bun, the center of which is cut away before toasting, and stuffed with a half pound of butter-dipped claw, knuckle, and tail meat.  No mayo here, just Lobsta with butter and a squirt of lemon. Who knew that heaven can be purchased for $15 a roll!

Lobster Landing on Urbanspoon

All Aboard!
The skies final clear and we decide to check out the local’s local attraction.  The Essex Steam Train and Riverboat Ride.   Our 2½-hour journey begins at the historic 1892 Essex Station where we board vintage coaches for a journey into the heart of the Connecticut River Valley. We splurged on first class tickets. (Coach passengers sit on benches and buy candy bars and soft drinks, first class get individual upholstered swivel seats and bar service with vintage cocktails.) Along the way we pass through: quintessential New England towns, pristine meadows, and quaint farmland. We pass a millpond with waterfall, and trestles and bridges over rivers and creeks, along tidal wetlands and natural bird habitats.  We see Cormorants, Ducks, Swans, Greenland Geese, Blue Heron, Egrets,  Red-winged Blackbirds and a Bald Eagle.

Goodspeed Opera House


At Deep River Landing, we board the Becky Thatcher riverboat for a cruise upon the Connecticut River. The deep water, coves, inlets, marshes, wildlife, and rocky shoreline are pretty spectacular considering that the river was badly polluted in the mid-20th century, fouled by industrial and sewage wastes. Thanks to the federal Clean Water Act of 1965 pollution entering the river, has been reduced and it’s pollution rating has improved from a “D” (boating but no swimming) to a “B” (boating and swimming.)  There are also historic sights including Gillette Castle, Goodspeed Opera House, and the Haddam Swing Bridge. Upon Becky’s return to Deep River Landing, we board the train again for the return trip back to Essex Station.

Yale the modern side...
We’re not too far from New Haven, so why not go to Yale?  It’s a beautiful campus with old collegiate gothic and modern iconic brick and stone buildings on wide tree-lined streets, fitting for one of our top universities. 

ThePeabody Museum of Natural History is one of the best we have visited. We are here to see the special exhibit, Tiny Titans. This is the latest in paleontology, fossilized dinosaur eggs, bones of tiny hatchlings and teeny tiny embryos from sites around the world. With hands-on displays, life-like models, stunning artwork, and more than 150 dinosaur eggs on display, Tiny Titans offers a rare and exciting look at the lives of dinosaurs, as well as their living descendants—nope not lizards… it’s birds!
Nesting Mama 

There is a second special exhibit with the meteors. A meteorite that has been identified as a fragment of the planet Mercury that traveled to Earth after an impact on Mercury’s surface blasted the stone into space. Yes we have now seen a bit-o-Mercury up close and personal!

In the permanent exhibits, The Great hall of Dinosaurs with the Age of Reptiles Mural, has iconic dinosaur skeletons, the Riddle of Human Origins exhibit has brass replicas of early humanoid skulls mounted next to replicas of modern human skulls that you can touch and feel the difference between our ancestors and us. The Hall of Mammals features their evolution.  There are also Connecticut specific exhibits of native birds, minerals, plants and vertebrates and Native Americans.  And to round everything out they have Egyptian mummies and artifacts.

Southern Connecticut along the Long Island Sound is beautiful. The towns are quaint in a Martha Stewart sort of way.  Although houses are painted in many different colors, some neighborhoods sport house after house of white with black shutters… homogenized… BTW homogenized milk was invented in Connecticut…

so after tiny dinosaurs… next the tiniest state...


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