AUTUMN IN CONNECTICUT (WITH A LITTLE JULIA ROBERTS) – PART ONE

I have always wanted to see local areas renowned for their brilliant fall foliage even though my own neighborhood is pretty spectacular:

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This year my cousin and I finally decided to take this quest head-on. As my readers know, I am a bit obsessive compulsive, and my cousin easily matches and in some cases surpasses my need to be organized and in control. As my previous posts have proven, those who insist on control will often run into WTDGAP and my cousin and I proved this axiom on our recent multi-day jaunt through Connecticut.

There was no need for me to do much preparation as my cousin prepared an extensive and intensive itinerary – complete with maps, points of interests, place to dine and to sleep.  He even provided this chart, which might make you laugh, as it has been the first notation on a good number of my posts:

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Fortunately this forecast wasn’t as totally off base as the ones I had collected for Peru, Alaska or Iceland so by packing a few layers that could be peeled on or off I was set. My cousin also provided some links for background information:

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As well as maps highlighting our intended pathways with proposed detours:

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There’s more – a detailed timed itinerary for each day with a few dining choices  – here is Day One:

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This is why we get along so well. in addition, while I entered Day One’s destinations into my Honda’s GPS system (hereafter known as Miss Honda) my cousin had also plotted the course into his portable Garmin which he affectionately calls Jill.  Initially I was concerned that we would have a dueling GPS thing going on:

Fortunately, as often occurs when females are under close living quarters for a continued period of time, systems synch up and Jill and Miss Honda got along well.  Jill proved very helpful in finding some out-of-the-way places through some clever manipulation of data input by my cousin – thanks Jill!.

I took the driving helm at the start – and we were off. Before beginning our foliage hunt in earnest however we decided to make a few stops at some well-known sites.  First up:  Mystic Pizza.

For any who do not know- this Mystic, Connecticut establishment was the setting for a 1988 movie starring a newcomer named Julia Roberts.  Despite the hokiness, the restaurant was fun and the pizza and salad were very tasty:

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Also in the same town is the Mystic Seaport, a 17 acre “living history museum” consisting of a village with shops and ships depicting coastal life in New England during the 19th century. Some of the boats are still in use today: .

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My favorite spots, however were the apothecary, doctor and general store, where docents told us great tales of life back when:

Apothecary/Doctor’s Office

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General Store

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Hearing aid

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Children’s toys

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Walking around 17 acres works up an appetite so we checked into the hotel (this was the budget-as-long-as-there-is-a-clean-bed and shower accommodation) changed and headed out to dinner.  The Conn. sky welcomed us officially with a stunning sunset followed by the moon peeking out from the clouds to say hello:

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We chose Ford’s Lobster in Noank for dinner and although the cool weather forced us to eat indoors, the ambience and food was amazing:

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Here are some culinary highlights:

Baked clams, crab cakes:

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Male lobster (my cousin wanted a female complete with roe which wasn’t available, but this guy proved to be a succulent alternative) and Lobster Thermidor:

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Bread Pudding:

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Even the plates provided entertainment:

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Well sated, we headed back to the hotel to rest for Day Two which according to the itinerary was jam-packed.

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Of course we couldn’t resist starting our day at this wonderfully retro restaurant, The Somewhere in Time Cafe that served the best scrambled eggs bacon and bottomless cups of coffee.  It appeared to be a simple route just a few minutes from our hotel, but this time neither Miss Honda nor Jill was able to find the turnoff – WTDGAP 3?  undaunted, I took out my iPhone – for some reason wi-fi was exceptionally good during this trip – and soon enough we figured our path out and our breakfast was particularly savory:

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Our first foliage stop was the Pachaug State Forest in Voluntown and our specific destination was Mt. Misery Overlook.  As I think about it now that name should have given us warning that we were about to experience some WTDGAP moments.

Background: Pachaug State Forest is over 24,000 acres and is the largest forest in the State system. The word “Pachaug” is derived from the Indian term meaning bend or turn in the river – The Pachaug River runs through the center of the forest. Indians of the Narragansett, Pequot, and Mohegan tribes inhabited this area until the last half of the seventeenth century when the Narragansetts and Pequots were defeated by the combined force of the Colonists and the Mohegans.

Mt. Misery Overlook is considered one of the 10 best places to see Conn. foliage – and ostensibly it is at the end of a three-mile trail. Easier said than done- one has to FIND it first. Somehow, even with two GPS systems, we initially passed the road that led to the entrance of the park. Eventually we found our way, and proceeded to drive into the forest, following signs which we thought we lead us to Mt. Misery Overlook.  Note:  these are HIKING trails and in retrospect not the best roads for my poor Honda, but no one stopped our “progress.” After a first loop got us to a dead-end, we retraced our “steps” and found a ranger, who when asked for directions sent us back the way we had just come from.  Okay, being game we tried again, and came to the same roadblock:

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Continuing on foot, my cousin went on ahead to see what he could see, while I stayed with my car – not being comfortable with leaving it in the middle of nowhere.  The windows were open and I experienced WTDGAP number 2 as an enormous flying insect decided to join me.  As you know I am terrified of things flying at my face so I did a quick exit out of the car. Eventually the bug decided this was no fun and flew off.

My cousin soon came back with no sighting of Mt Misery.  We decided to cut our losses and head out to the Goodwin Conservation Center in Putnam where our luck fortunately and gloriously changed as you will see in next week’s post.

At least the Pachaug scenery was pretty and my other car companion Mr. Moose (from my Alaska adventure) seemed to like it.

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2 thoughts on “AUTUMN IN CONNECTICUT (WITH A LITTLE JULIA ROBERTS) – PART ONE

  1. Once again, beautiful pictures. Thanks for the food porn pics as well. I need to remember to read your blog after I eat. Looking forward to the next installment.

    Carolyn (one of your Peru mates)

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