Friday, November 30, 2018

Connecticut - Day 29 - Mystic

Mystic KOA
Thursday, 29 November 2018

today's route
Today was the last day for doggy day care in CT, and I begged them to wear the dogs out please.  Lily didn't seem to have hurt feelings at all about being left in sole possession of the cabin (I, of course, don't count).

I wanted to get some errands done and decided to go to Mystic, taking different routes than I had before.

I don't think I've ever mentioned my souvenirs from each state I visit.  I thought about it probably a lot more than it deserved before I started this trip and finally decided to get a t-shirt from each one.  They're much more lightweight and portable than the other things I considered (wine from each state, for instance - except it's heavy and how would I keep it during the winters?).  So here I was with the month almost over and I still hadn't gotten a CT shirt.  I decided to get one in Mystic, which I thought would remind me of how I spent my time here, considering so much of it was spent in this part of the state.

Because it was a weekday and relatively early in the day, I found a parking place in downtown Mystic right next to several clothing shops.  I first tried The Black Dog General Store, which turns out to have a black labrador printed on every single piece of merchandise they have, none of them saying Mystic or Connecticut but all of them saying The Black Dog General Store.  Not what I had in mind.

Across the street I found the Tidal River Clothing Co., locally owned, with very nice and only slightly expensive outdoor wear.  Including a selection of Mystic t-shirts, so I was in luck.  Very nice shirt.

Next I went back to the grocery store where I'd shopped before Thanksgiving and stocked up on all the things I'm running out of.  And especially went to the liquor store below it to get another bottle of Teacher's scotch before I leave a known source.  It's not a product that will go bad by sitting for a while, and after not finding it in the last 4 states I'm not sure the next ones will have it either.

I still had some time left before I needed to go back north for the dogs so I went over to the campground.  It had occurred to me that maybe my water pump hadn't really broken but instead that I was out of water for it to pump.  I'd of course looked at the water tank when it first happened and it looked to me to be at least half-full, but I figured it was worth a try.  And sure enough, I pumped a lot of water into the water hole and then the pump sounded a lot more like itself.  Sometimes the obvious answer is the right one.

Along the road today, I passed the 1st Congregational Church of Canterbury and its sign saying "Carols Cookies Cocoa" coming up in December.  Sounded pretty good to me - sorry I'll have to miss it.

I passed a house that had inflatable Christmas figures in the front yard, except they weren't inflated - probably just blow them up at night.  But there was a fairly strong wind today that was blowing the deflated baloons (and me) around and, as I drove by, they suddenly started rearing up like they were coming to life.  It was actually a little spooky.  Probably just a strong gust caught them just right, or maybe the owner was doing it and I just didn't see him.  But it looked like they were rising up on their own.  I've heard that robots will take over the world, but inflatable Santa Clauses?

There was an hour-long NPR program about a museum in Hartford called the Wadsworth Atheneum.  I guess they've got a really good exhibit on modern art, which I've never warmed to.  But the odd thing to me is that they kept pronouncing the museum as ath'-uh-NE-um.  I've spent my whole life pronouncing it ath-E-ne-um - as in the goddess Athena.  So I've just looked it up in my trusty hardcover Webster's dictionary I've actually lugged along on this trip for just such occasions and learned that I've been wrong my whole life.  And apparently so has everybody I've ever met, though I can't say this is a word used in my daily conversations so maybe not everybody.

I passed an intersection with Cow Hill Road on one side and Pumpkin Hill Road on the other.  Makes me think about the people who used to live in this area.

I drove back through Norwich a couple more times and still like it, still like looking at some of those fancy houses.

When I picked up the dogs, they'd just been running for a while on the treadmill and were seriously hyped up.  It's true they slept the whole way back to the campground, but it took a while for them to calm down.  As long as their energy level tomorrow is lower than usual because I still have things I need to do before we leave CT on Saturday.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Connecticut - Day 28

Mystic KOA
Wednesday, 28 November 2018

I saw the news reports about all the snow in the mid-west and how it was coming this way, so I figured it might be pretty cold here by now.  But I still had water coming through my water line this morning, and when I walked the dogs it wasn't bad at all.  It wasn't as cold as I expected and there was no wind at all, so our first walk was downright tolerable.

Of course, things changed by our 9:00 walk, because the wind had definitely started picking up and it seemed like the temperature was colder as well, and between the two I was sorry I hadn't put on my new long underwear.  I was chilly.

I'd intended to go into Mystic today to do some shopping and give the dogs somewhere else to walk, but by our 2nd walk I'd already changed my mind.  I'll be on the road tomorrow anyway, taking the dogs to their last day care session, so I decided to do my errands then and spend today getting more little chores done.

I've mentioned before, I think, that some of the folks who are staying here through the winter have insulated their underneath areas.  I thought you might be interested in what that looks like.
This type was much more favored at the Tototek Valley RV Park - almost all the RVs there had something like this.  But at this KOA, this is the only RV with this type.
This flexible silvery stuff is much more popular at the KOA.

I have no idea the relative insulation value or ease of installation.

Not everybody has bothered, though.  The RV next to the pink insulation one doesn't have any insulation, and I'm pretty sure the guy who lives there has a job he goes to most days so is probably here for at least a while longer.

I think if I had a trailer, or if I had some transportation besides my motorhome, and if I planned to stay the winter, I would definitely insulate.  Especially since the KOA is charging 15¢/Kh. 

Actually, I haven't even used 100 Khs while I've been here, because I don't use electric heat, don't have an oven, use my TV only for a couple hours at night, and am very careful about turning off my lights unless I need them.  But most people apparently do things differently.  The KOA told me some people end up with a couple thousand Khs each month.

And on a different subject entirely, I forgot to mention earlier in the month that I'd seen a pair of swans swimming in a pond over in the New Haven area.  I don't know which type of swans they were and the bird book doesn't help.  The picture showing their range is too tiny to let me see anything except any of them might be in coastal CT during the winter.

And I didn't mention Monday that I noticed a flock of juncos here at the campground.  Technically, Dark-eyed Juncos, and the subspecies over here is likely the Slate-colored Junco.  Juncos are one of the first species I learned in Alaska (though that was a different subspecies), and the wonderful thing about them for a casual birdwatcher like me is that they're so easy to identify - they clearly show white stripes down each side of their tails when they fly.
Junco - 6" - pretty, aren't they?
I've also been forgetting to show what Connecticut license plates look like.  CT doesn't seem to have many specialty plates, and the ones they have tend to follow this color pattern, so they're always easy to spot.

Connecticut - Day 27

Mystic KOA
Tuesday, 27 November 2018

This was one of those days that have to happen but you wish there was a way around it.

We were already below a quarter tank of propane again, thanks to all this cold weather, so I had to get refilled.

I had to dump the sewage tanks because it had already been more than a week.  I knew they probably weren't full but didn't want to leave the sewage sitting too long.  Both those tanks have heating elements underneath that run off the cabin electricity, so at least I don't have to worry about them freezing before I can get them emptied.

I stripped my bed so I could wash the sheets, and that meant I had 2 washer loads to do.  That took several hours because I had some heavy sweatshirts and towels and things that took a while to dry.

And I took a shower so I could be as clean as my clothes and sheets.

Time out here and there to walk the dogs.  Thank goodness it's a Tuesday, one of the 2 days of the week when campgrounds tend to be the emptiest (Wednesday's the other), so I didn't have to worry as much about running into other dogs and felt more comfortable about going for longer walks.

Just one of those days where I felt really pooped by mid-afternoon.  I'd have made a lousy pioneer woman.  (Really - the contrast between boiling water over a fire and scrubbing clothes in a wash tub versus today's washers and dryers.)

Connecticut - Day 26 - Norwich and East Hartford (again)

Mystic KOA
Monday, 26 November 2018
today's route
I picked up Rt. 2 near the campground and took it all the way to East Hartford to the Banfield that would take Lily and me on short notice, and Rt. 2 took me through Norwich, which I'd missed on earlier trips.

Norwich
For some reason - I have absolutely no idea what - I'd gotten the idea that Norwich was a nothing kind of place that mostly just deserved to be bypassed.  I couldn't have been more wrong if I'd tried.  Norwich, a town of about 40,000, still shows evidence that it was once a thriving prosperous place - and may still be, for all I know.  If I ever come back through Connecticut, I'll definitely want to spend a little time here.

Norwich, I learned from good ol' Wikipedia, founded in 1659, was already a major shipping center by the late 1700s, because it sits on the Thames River which flows into Long Island Sound.  And part of what was shipped were the products of the mills that were established nearby.

The result of all this money (from shipping and manufacturing) were some beautiful houses that are still in town.  I don't know anything about architecture so I may be wrong, but I think of this style as Victorian, though it may actually be Queen Anne - lots of porches and turrets and gingerbread - really beautiful still.

The town is built, at least in part, on the sides of hills, with steps leading from the street to the houses built on the up-sides of the hills.  Only once you get to the house, you have to walk up another 10 or 12 steps to the front porch.  My first thought was that the folks who live there must have legs of iron.  Especially because all those houses had 3 stories, meaning lots more stairs.

I also learned from Wikipedia that the word "hello" had its first recorded use in the Norwich Courier in 1826 (and now you know), and that Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson developed the first repeating rifle in Norwich in the 1850s.  And that both Benedict Arnold and Edward Land (inventor of the Polaroid camera) were born here.  Just a little hot bed of innovation.

Today's weather was pretty crummy, though, so I wasn't at all tempted to stop and check things out more closely.  But with better weather and more time I'd like to.

East Hartford
As I've noted before, Lily seems to be pretty smart, and when I brought in the cat carrier from the underneath storage she seemed to recognize it immediately and tried to hide.  The odd thing about this is that the carrier I use is cardboard and folds flat, so it looked nothing like a carrier when I brought it inside.  But she sure reacted to something about it.

I left it flat on my bed for the ride to the vet, and after a while she relaxed and came out of her semi-hiding spot.  Good thing because she could have slashed me to ribbons with those claws I'm going to get clipped.  But by the time we got to East Hartford, she was lulled into a false sense of security, so I was able to get her crated without damage.

Banfield put her information into its computer and then clipped her claws and microchipped her.  And after watching the vet and her assistant, who was wearing very thick gauntlets, only barely be able to clip all Lily's claws (they threw a towel over her head to help ward off her biting them), I gotta say it was worth every penny of the $16 they charged for that.

I'd noticed when I was at that PetsMart before that there's a grinder (aka sub) shop nearby, and today I decided to try them out.  Nordelli's - serving grinders since 1922 (they say).  When the guy wanted to take my order, I told him I'd never been there before so it would take me some time, and he just lit up.  Never been here before?  That's great.  We've got some wonderful things here - some kind of chicken, a special eggplant, some pastrami - I picked the pastrami.  And it was good.

After lunch, I still had time before I needed to head back for the dogs, so I went ahead and registered Lily's microchip number with Home Again.  I'd been meaning to call them anyway to update my address and take off Momma's phone number.  Then I went back into PetsMart (good thing I hadn't driven away already) and got a tag for Lily's collar with my phone number and her name and microchip info on it, plus some Milk Bones (we were out).  And then I got a new tag for Dexter's collar, because the one he's been wearing has Momma's phone number on it, so that needed to be changed.  And then I went back again to get a replacement for the long leash Dexter wrecked a few weeks ago - this time a heftier one that may last longer.  So between the vet and the consumer items, PetsMart did pretty well out of me today.

Dogs
After being boarded all weekend, I'm pleased that both my puppies were glad to see me and that both acted like the RV was home.  I'm also pleased that I asked them to give the dogs a bath, so for at least a few hours they and their beds will smell clean.  I always give groomers my own preferred pet shampoo, billed as odorless, which actually means I can't smell it, even if the dogs can.  I got tired long ago of having my dogs come home smelling like a perfume counter and I'd have to wash them again so I didn't gag, so why pay someone else to get them that way in the first place?  Now I just skip that step.  So clean dogs and clean beds and clean smells.  Pretty great.

I was interested to note that having the weekend with the RV all to herself gave Lily enough confidence that she didn't hide behind the TV when they came in.  In fact, she's started claiming territory by hissing and swatting when the dogs come within 4' (hard to avoid in a 24' RV).  At least she can't do as much swatting damage now with her claws shorter.  I defend the dogs when she gets unreasonable, and they're clearly curious but generally respectful, so I think things'll settle down pretty soon.  Especially once we start traveling more.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Connecticut - Day 25

Mystic KOA
Sunday, 25 November 2018

It was really nice being able to decide when to get up this morning without considering whether I needed to walk the dogs.  In fact, I've hardly set foot out of the RV since Lily and I got back yesterday.

And since it was pouring down rain with very strong wind gusts all during the night until about 7:00 this morning, I was absolutely delighted not to have to be walking the dogs in that weather.

I found this special cat bed - I think it's called a Kuddle Kup (ghastly name) - here in North Stonington at a grocery store, of all places, that I used to have back in Olympia (WA) for my cats and haven't seen since.  All 3 of my cats loved that thing and pretty much wore it out.  So when I knew I was adopting Lily, I grabbed the grocery store one, and today I was glad I had.
She completely ignored it for 2 days, and then - as you see - she adopted it wholeheartedly.  It's actually supposed to have the edge folded down like a cuff to form a little bowl, but I opened it up like this because that's the way my other kitties had preferred it, and I guess that was the right thing to do.  Once she moved in, she's hardly left it.

Thankfully, I can report that she's become friendly with the litter box.  I don't know what it's going to be like when the dogs come back, but I think letting her have these days on her own for orientation was absolutely the right decision.

I actually left the RV this afternoon to wash the dog bedding, which I don't think I've done since summer.  A lot of laundries have signs saying don't wash dog beds, so I've been discouraged.  But I'll leave the beds unclad tonight so they can air out some more, and the covers are now amazingly clean to match the dogs that will be much cleaner (I hope).  It might all last as much as a few days, who knows?

I cleaned the bathroom and washed the dishes - it's been that kind of day.  Lily has been sleeping and getting used to the new noises and routines.

I found a Banfield up in East Hartford that can fit us in late tomorrow morning.  I've discovered that not only does Lily need a microchip, she desperately needs to have her claws clipped.  I've got the clippers, but there's no way this cat is going to allow me to do hers so early in our acquaintance. 

I've already been scratched a few times, but I'm much more concerned with my seat covers.  She's already been putting some holes in them because when she thinks she's going to jump and puts her paws out, her claws are so long she has trouble retracting them and then she starts tugging to get them out of whatever they're stuck in ... I'm not willing to let her tear up my RV just because I'm afraid of being attacked.  So I'll pay somebody else to risk it.

Connecticut - Day 24

Mystic KOA
Saturday, 24 November 2018

It was below freezing again last night so my water hose wasn't useful, with the water inside having frozen, but this time I was prepared so things were fine.  I should have disconnected my water hose last night, though, and this morning I learned that it's hard to unscrew a brass water pressure gizmo, even from the plastic connector to the RV, when the water inside both is frozen solid.  Live and learn.  Next time I'll disconnect the night before.

I dropped the dogs off at day care/boarding, Dexter as usual going into a semi-controlled frenzy when he realized where we were when we turned in the driveway.  They promised to try to wear them out.  They also agreed to give them baths for only $15 apiece.  Can't turn down that bargain.  I think they haven't had baths since we left Austin, which was only 10 months ago so no problem.  (Amazing the smells you can get used to.)

We got back to the campground and almost immediately Lily started moving around the RV.  Seems she's no slouch in the brains department and figured out during the ride back that the dogs were really gone.  And here she is.
Lily, age 11
She hasn't been microchipped yet, and I wouldn't normally do it to someone as old as she is, but anything could happen with this odd life I'm living and she may live another 5 years or so, so she's going to get chipped as soon as I can find someone to do it.

She turns out to be really affectionate, loves loves loves to be rubbed and petted, loves to lie down beside my legs (I'm so glad she's not a dedicated lap cat because I get up too often for that).  And so far she hasn't eaten a bite of food.

Actually that doesn't bother me, partly because everything's all still new to her, but mostly because she weighs 10½ pounds and is absolutely huge around the middle.  This photo doesn't show it at all, but she is.  It can't be healthy for her and I'll do what I can to help her lose some of it.

The photo also doesn't show her bizarre tail, which is as skinny as a rat tail with not much more hair on it than that.  A total contrast to her body which is thick with fur.  I'm sure it's partly the contrast with her fat body that makes her tail look so skinny, but I'm also sure it'll still be skinny once she loses some weight.

I also changed my mind about leaving CT before the end of the month.  When I called for the reservation yesterday, the woman in NJ told me the temp there was 33° and that yesterday it had been 23°.  Those are the same temps we were having here in CT.  So during the night that fact moved into my brain and it occurred to me that I should pay attention to it.  Just because NJ is farther south than CT obviously doesn't mean it's automatically warmer.

So after we got back from dropping off the dogs, I checked the weather forecast for the Philadelphia area, because that KOA is only a few miles south of Philly.  And oddly, that area is expected to have almost the identical temps that are forecast for here in the Mystic area.  On top of that, I've already paid for the entire stay here in CT, so if I went somewhere else, I'd be double paying for those days.  Plus, the staff here at this KOA are really wonderful, and I don't know what they'd be like down there.  This is a big area where there's room to walk the dogs in some wooded areas, which they love, and on the weekdays there are likely to be far fewer people and dogs staying here than right now.  So all in all, going down early just made no sense.

I called the NJ KOA and they were fine with moving my reservation to the first of December, so I'll just figure out how to make the best of it here.

Connecticut - Day 23 - Lily's first day

Mystic KOA
Friday, 23 November 2018

I started the day with no water, my water line having frozen overnight and my pump still not working.  I absolutely have to have coffee though, so I took my tea kettle down to the women's bathroom and - presto - plenty of water!  Enough for my coffee and for the dogs to have water to drink and for me to wash my hands.  But I've got to find a solution for that problem.

But the main thing I planned for the day was to pick Lily up from the PetsMart in Westerly (RI).  I was warned she was likely to be a bit standoffish, which I figure is par for a cat in a new home so doesn't worry me.

After we finished the paperwork, Kelly the PetsMart manager took her out to the RV for me and we put her up on the overhead bed so she could be away from the dogs.  And that's where she stayed the entire rest of the day.  I put food up there for her, and she sniffed it but didn't touch it.  She wouldn't let me take her down so I could show her where the litter box is, and I just prayed she had a good bladder.  I wanted to take a photo of her, but she spent most of her time behind the TV - not really a picture-worthy angle.  I'll get one when she comes down, presumably tomorrow.

I walked the dogs several times before we got her, hoping to shave off the top layer of their energy, but it was clearly not enough to do anything but make them want more.  Dexter especially was interested in Lily, but I kept him from trying too hard to get at her to sniff more closely.

I finally called the day care place and made arrangements to board the dogs there over the weekend.  I thought it'd be good for Lily to get a chance to explore the RV, and for the dogs to get some exercise and doggy companionship, and for me to get a break from dog care.

When we got back to the campground, I asked one of the KOA folks who was working nearby about the water situation, and he discovered to his surprise that the heat tape on my water tap wasn't working, and it wasn't working on the one next door, either.  So he got busy with that, and an hour later I had a water source.  Still not totally useful since I don't have an insulated water hose, which is what's needed in this climate, but I don't want to pay for and store something I can work around and would only need a short time during the year.  So I can measure out my coffee water before bed and fill the dog bowl and water jugs also, and as long as the daytime temps get up into the upper 30s I should be able to make do.

But today I finally felt like I'd had it with the weather.  Trying to walk the dogs was seriously difficult with the strong wind and really cold air.  And between the water problem and using up propane so fast trying to keep the internal temp into a tolerable (if not comfortable) level and me feeling stuck over in this one corner of CT and not being able to get to any sights in the west, I just felt like it was time to consider leaving Connecticut earlier than my month.

From here into NJ it's normally a 3-4 hour drive, but there's massive traffic on the way (NYC vicinity) which stretches the drive to 7+ hours.  And that's for a normal drive.  For me in the RV, needing to stop every hour and a half or so and driving only 60 or 65 mph, it takes much longer.  So I pulled out my New Jersey map and checked out the campgrounds that are open this time of year, and decided one of the KOAs was the most direct to get to.  I called them and made a reservation for coming in next Tuesday, the 27th.  I hate to skip out on CT, but I'm not really being fair to it anyway.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Connecticut - Day 22 - Thanksgiving

Mystic KOA
Thursday, 22 November 2018 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, turns out the forecast was too generous.  It was 16° at 7:45 this morning, but the wind chill took it down to -3°.  No wonder I started worrying about frostbite after I'd had to take off my mittens a second time to pick up dog poop.

Today's high is expected to be 23° and tonight's low 8°, not accounting for wind chill.  I have the heater set at the same temp I always do, which usually keeps the internal temp around 62° or so, but today the heater's been running almost constantly to maintain that.  Really glad I got that propane yesterday.

Part of the problem is the pretty stiff breeze that blows under and all around the RV, keeping things chilly.  Gusts occasionally strong enough to move the RV around.  Sure glad I'm not driving today.

Gracie and Dexter
I think I've mentioned before that when it gets really cold, both dogs camp out in front of the heater, and this is what it looked like this morning.  You can see what a tiny space it is but when the heater's blowing, that's definitely the warmest place to be.  When even Gracie thinks she needs it, you know it's chilly.

I was stunned to learn in the campground office yesterday that about 20 groups were expected to come in to the campground for the holiday.  And sure enough, this morning I can see that all the cabins across from me are taken again and there are quite a few new RVs around.  Honestly, I'm not sure I'd choose to go camping in Connecticut for my Thanksgiving holiday, but maybe I'm not adventurous enough. 

Or maybe a lot of these folks are planning to spend the day with family nearby and think a campground is better or cheaper than a hotel.  But there's a LaQuinta about a mile and a half away and that would absolutely be my first choice - KOA isn't cheap.  And unfortunately a lot of these newcomers have brought dogs with them, and my dogs are starting to go stir-crazy being inside so much, so taking them on walks has gotten a lot harder.

After my divorce when I was living alone in Washington, my friends would invite me over for Thanksgiving dinner, and that's what I did for several years.  But gradually I decided that's not the way I wanted to spend the day.  My friends' traditions weren't at all like my family's, so the day never seemed like Thanksgiving to me.  I finally decided to ditch the expected behavior and figure out something that seemed a better fit for my sense of being thankful. 

So what I've done for years now is fix a nice dinner for myself and watch Schindler's List.  That movie makes me feel more thankful than any other I've found.  Even when I lived with Momma and spent Thanksgiving with her and Anna and David, I'd pick out a day near then to be my Thanksgiving, and that day I'd watch my movie and fix a nice dinner for the 2 of us. 

Momma never wanted to watch it - said she thought it'd be too depressing - so I'd go into my bedroom for the 3 hours the movie lasted.  Finally, that last year, she'd gotten curious and said she'd be willing to watch it with me.  I'm guessing she didn't see it as the life-affirming show that I did, because she never said a thing about it.  Well, not the first time I noticed our taste in movies sometimes differed. 

Anyway, here I am alone again, and Schindler's List is what I'm going to do this afternoon., thanks to Anna finding a copy of it for me, and thanks to David mailing it to me.

But I don't need a movie to tell me how lucky I am.  I have health - as good as I can expect for having lived 69 non-conventional years.  I have family - my wonderful brother and sister-in-law and lots of really great cousins.  I have friends - the really good kind I can count on and trust.  I have my pets - healthy and happy and, despite their high energy, very easy to love.  I have a good home - an odd one, maybe, but comfortable and that allows me to expand my horizons far beyond what I'd expected.  And I have freedom - the freedom to move around as I choose and say what I choose and live as I choose.  What more, I ask you, can anyone want in life?

Connecticut - Day 21 - Westerly, RI

Mystic KOA
Wednesday, 21 November 2018

today's route
I really didn't want to move today but had no real choice: this morning I was down to less than 1/4 tank of propane, with a forecast of overnight temps in the teens.  The only choice was between moving the RV to buy propane or plan to freeze to death.  As I said, no choice.

I've also been looking for a coat for Dexter to help get him through this intense cold, but can't seem to find one to fit him.  The coats that fit around the middle are either much too long on the back or much too short.  One pet shop employee told me that's not uncommon because even within a breed - like labradors - different dogs will have different chest sizes, let alone the problem if they're also overweight.  Uncommon or not, I keep trying because I think it'd be good for Dext.  Of course, he's not sure he agrees and has been resisting all my attempts to try them on him.

Anyway, I thought I'd go find a PetsMart that I knew was in Westerly (RI), because that's only a few miles down the road; there don't seem to be pet shops in Mystic, and New London is quite a bit farther away.  As you know, I try really hard to stay inside the state whose month it is, but I also wanted to keep my dog warm - gotta keep your priorities straight.

I went down the wrong road in Westerly and found another pet shop, and they had a selection of dog coats, but again they just didn't fit Dext.  Same at the PetsMart, where they had a better selection, but still no luck.  (Oddly, I saw the same St. Bernard at both stores.  I recognized both the dog and the people.)  While I was there, though, I noticed a pretty gray and white cat in the adoption area, and the upshot is that she'll be mine on Friday.

She's 11 and her name is Lily, which I'd change except that's been her name all her life; I'd change it if she were younger or if it was just a name the shelter gave her, but not after 11 years.  Her previous family moved and kept their dogs but decided to get rid of her.  (Boo!  Hiss!) 

I explained my situation to the PetsMart manager, about Jasper and Roscoe, about the RV and the dogs and the travel, about being turned down by the previous shelter - all of it.  I felt like I was blithering after a while, but I didn't know if she had influence with the shelter people over who can adopt and thought the more information she had, the more I'd feel even being turned down was fair. 

But it turned out that she (the manager) has been designated as the foster parent of Lily by the state of Rhode Island, so she has the say-so about who gets to adopt her - not a system I've run across before - so I was talking to the right person, after all.  And she decided I'd give her a good home despite its unconventionality and told me to come back Friday after the paperwork got processed.  So I've almost given myself a Thanksgiving present (just a day late).

After that the dogs and I went back down the road into CT and on to the Tractor Supply where I filled up on propane and got a second pair of thermal underwear.  Now I can stay semi-warm, but I just wish I could say the same for Dexter.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Connecticut - Day 20

Mystic KOA
Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Well, the weather forecast has been changed pretty thoroughly and now almost no snow at all is expected anywhere in CT, let alone here at the coast.  We got rain for a few hours this morning, but it doesn't look like any more of that even is expected this week.  Instead, we can expect seriously cold temperatures, with teens and twenties during the night and highs in the 30s most days until the weekend.  Given that, I think we're lucky not to be having precipitation, since it'd just freeze on the roads.

I'll need to move my RV in a day or two to get more propane, but otherwise I'm still planning to stay right here.  I've seen such a lot of eastern CT, which is all I can reasonably get to from here, so instead I'm just playing catch-up.

For instance, one of my doctors in Austin told me on the phone today I need to come in for my annual check-up.  So I had to explain (which I've done before but they've obviously forgotten) that I won't be in Texas for a few more years and am now in CT.  So who's my doctor up here, they asked, and I had to explain I'm not really here so don't have a doctor.  So how am I getting my prescriptions refilled?  The CVS computers are all hooked together so when the doctor calls in a refill to the CVS in Austin, the ones up here know about it.  So they have to think this over and decide how soon I need to get checked out and whether there's anyone in New Jersey they can recommend.

If you're planning to do some traveling, medical questions require planning.  Banfield is answering the pet med questions, but mine aren't so easy to deal with.  I checked in with my doctors and dentist before I left Austin, but time moves on and they're all going to be looking to be checked in with again coming up.  Things just aren't quite as uncomplicated for us senior citizens as they were when we were younger.

Connecticut - Day 19 - Hartford

Mystic KOA
Monday, 19 November 2018
today's route

more recent version
Several times I’ve passed this church and today I stopped to take its picture.  It had seemed to me so New England-y when I’ve passed it before, and I’m sorry that doesn’t seem to have come out in the photo. 

There’s a long stretch of grass in front that contributes to the picturesqueness and that doesn’t seem to be in the photo.  And today was overcast so the light wasn’t very cheerful.  Plus plus most of the leaves have gone from the trees since I first saw it, making it look more winter-y than autumn-y but without enough snow on the ground to make it look Christmas-y which would be picturesque for another reason.  Oh well. 
earlier version

It’s the First Baptist Church of North Stonington.  Right next door protected by a 3’ tall rock wall is what's apparently an earlier iteration, with a sign saying it was the First Baptist Church on Pendleton Hill, organized 1743.  Too bad about the overcast sky and lower light level.

First stop was to drop off the dogs at day care.  And boy were they ready for it, having gotten only one day last week and sitting around in camp so much due to weather.  Dexter’s learned to recognize the turn-off from the main road and starts jumping around and nearly hyperventilating he’s so excited.  Don’t know why he doesn’t do more bouncing around once he’s there, given all that excitement.

Today I wanted to get to Hartford if the roads were clear enough, and it turned out they were.  I saw plenty of snow on the ground, but it had had time to clear off the roads and they were fine.

The snow started showing up in greater quantities the farther away from the coast I moved.  And for a while I thought there was significantly less snow in places where there was grass, but later I saw plenty of snow covering big lawns and decided some people with lawns also had snow-blowers.

I saw an actual chipmunk sitting on a rock this morning.  I guess all I have to do is say I’m not seeing something in order to make it appear.  Cute little guy.

On the map Windham and Willimantic are labeled as distinct towns, and wikipedia says they’re separate too.  But on the road I can’t tell where the line is.  I know that I passed the Windham Textile and Historic Museum, which I’d like to visit except it’s only open for limited hours on weekends.  It’s right across the road from a building that obviously was once a mill but has been seriously renovated and is now used as apartments and offices and is very attractive.  Then just around the corner is that frog bridge that is apparently claimed by Willimantic, which is one reason I can’t figure out which town is which.  Oh well.  I guess they know.

I heard a program on public radio about wild turkeys and how they’d gone extinct in CT long ago.  Probably way overhunted, though they didn’t say so.  What they did say was that in the early 1800s CT was 95% forested but by the 1850s it was down to 30%, thus substantially reducing turkey habitat.  They repopulated CT using turkeys from New York in the border area.  They’ve finally gotten the population up enough to allow hunting again, and a few years ago they issued 400+ permits for the season.  Turns out wild turkeys are very wily and only 21 were harvested.  They can fly 50 mph (I had no idea).  What they didn’t say but my Momma did often is that Benjamin Franklin kept pushing for the wild turkey to be named the national bird.

All the way along the road I'm seeing a real difference since I came to the state 3 weeks ago.  Now there's almost no colored leaves, unless you count brown dead ones as colored, and most trees are completely bare.  Definitely late autumn, I'd say.

CT state capitol
I made it to Hartford just fine and managed to find the capitol pretty much where the map said it'd be.  

I'm using my photo instead of one off the internet, partly because I had to go to a lot of trouble to get this, and partly because mine's a closer view than the others.  I hope you can blow this up to see the detail in the stonework.  It's like a fairy castle.  Really charming.

On the way back to the day care, I passed Andover (CT) which claims to be the birthplace of Nathan Hale.  He's the one who was a spy in the Revolutionary War and supposedly said, "I regret that I have but one life to give for my country" (though since I've been here, I've heard that what he actually said wasn't nearly as quotable).  He's been designated the CT official state hero.

I passed several Christmas tree farms today, one of which had a sign posted that offered a $500 reward for information regarding thefts of trees.  Hadn't occurred to me that it'd be a problem, but of course it would.

The dogs and I got back on the road about 3:30 and by the time we got back to the campground it was definitely dusk.  I was starting to notice that my headlights were being useful (I always drive with them on).  And we're still a month from the solstice.  But next month I'll be farther south, which should help.

Connecticut - Day 18

Mystic KOA
Sunday, 18 November 2018

And the latest thrilling installment in the saga about the dog-run-free people staying across from me happened this morning.  I always take my dogs out very early and then again about 9 or so, and again about lunchtime.  Well, today they didn't get their mid-morning walk because those people were out the whole time, and they had dogs I hadn't seen before.

From somewhere they produced a German Shepherd that was new to me, and at least they kept him on a leash.  But still not the others.  And they again ate breakfast or something on one of the outside tables so no chance for me to sneak my dogs by.

I was counting on them checking out today, which they did, but they missed check-out time by half an hour - apparently as lackadaisical about their times as about their leashes.  During the last hour I was waiting impatiently and watching them to be sure they were really going, because if they were staying I'd have to talk to them or ask the KOA people to do it.  I HAD to walk my dogs, after all.

Turns out there were 4 couples and 4 dogs.  Couple 1 came in a pickup and stayed in a cabin; couple 2 came in an RV and stayed in that; couple 3 came in the same RV and stayed in a 2nd cabin; couple 4 came in a car and stayed in the RV.  They had license plates from 3 different states and it was obviously a reunion of old friends.

And this was the least organized batch of people I think I've ever seen.  When they were packing up vehicles, couple 4 stood around and provided zero help.  All the women of the couples stayed indoors until about 11 (check-out time), when they came outside and stood around doing nothing.  The other 3 men did all the work loading vehicles, but they were so haphazard.  They'd go inside and bring out a few items and load them.  Then they'd wait a few minutes and go back inside and bring out a few more items and unload what they'd already loaded and reload everything.  And then they'd repeat these steps.  Nobody else helped bring things outside.  Nobody else helped load.  Nobody seemed to any clear idea of what should go where - including the dogs, which also got loaded and unloaded several times.

Meanwhile, I'm sitting there watching all this, willing them to get things done and get themselves gone, or at least get their dogs firmly penned up so I could take my dogs out.  Time moved on, the dogs kept coming in and out and the people kept coming in and out and the stuff kept coming out in dribs and drabs.  It was excruciating - for me to watch and for my dogs to wish they could go pee.  The instant I was sure they'd left I took my dogs out for a nice long walk.  But quel nuisance (as my mom would have said).

According to internet weather, I'm expecting to be sitting very still in this spot for most of this week.  It looks like we'll have rain tomorrow, but tomorrow night cold and snow will start coming this way, and they're predicting a white Thanksgiving for most of Connecticut.  I hope the rain is what I wake up to tomorrow, because I really want to take the dogs to day care again.  If the roads aren't bad, I'll plan to drive over to Hartford.  Depends on the weather.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Connecticut - Day 17 - Mystic

Mystic KOA
Saturday, 17 November 2018

The people who were noisy last night seem to be 3 couples, 1 in an RV and 2 in cabins across from me, each with a dog.  The smallest dog is the only one that's kept on a leash - the others run around freely, and one of the men keeps throwing a frisbee for his dog to chase.  And they're all gathering for meals at the outside table for one of the cabins. 

All of that means I'm afraid to take my dogs out for the walk they usually get before we leave for traveling.  Neither of the running-free dogs looks to be under very good voice control and I can't believe they wouldn't come running up to my dogs if we set foot outside the RV.  And that my dogs wouldn't go so crazy at 2 strange dogs running up to them that I'd lose control of them.

I wanted to ask the people to control their dogs but was afraid I'd just get some idiocy about how they were friendly and wouldn't hurt anybody - and no leashes.  I finally just drove the RV down to a different part of the campground and let them walk around in that area before we took off.

today's route
You can see we didn't cover much ground today - just that little bit of Rt. 1 from the Mystic River to the Rhode Island border.

A sign said Mystic was "settled" in 1654 - as opposed to "incorporated" like the other towns and which apparently hasn't ever happened.  Wikipedia says Mystic is a village but isn't a municipality and therefore has no municipal offices.  I don't know who paves their roads and picks up their garbage, but that's what it says.

It's a nice little village, much like the other coastal New England villages I've seen.  Lots of quaint little buildings and shops near either the Mystic River, which runs through town, or the coast, which is actually Long Island Sound.  One of the biggest chunks of town seems to be Mystic Seaport, which is one of the world's largest maritime museums.  If the weather will cooperate, I'll come back to tour it after dropping off the dogs at day care.

I drove past Mystic Pizza, which the old movie was named after, and wanted to stop by but, alas, no hope of finding a parking place.  I remember passing it 40 years ago when I was here with my husband, and it doesn't seem to have changed a bit.

The pizza place is on the west side of the river and the museum is on the east side.  The town seems to be evenly divided between the 2 sides, which are connected by the Mystic River Bascule Bridge.  I'm including a picture of the bridge, but if you're interested in more than that, I'm also including a link.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mystic_River_Bascule_Bridge  The bridge in motion looks incredible from the interstate, by the way - I've seen it raised a couple of times when I've been driving that way.
Mystic River Bascule Bridge
I found a good local grocery store - great selection of cheeses and 5 kinds of paté and an olive bar and all kinds of stuff.  But no boneless turkey breasts.  They had 2.5 pound bone-in turkey breasts, but I just couldn't be sure all those bones would fit in my little 4-quart slow cooker.  I can barely fit in a 3.5 pound chicken and chicken bones make a smaller package.  So I spent quite a bit of time standing in the store rethinking my Thanksgiving menu, not wanting to count on being able to find what I wanted at another store before then.  Actually, I'd already tried at 2 other stores, so I knew my chances were slim.

In the same building but lower on the hillside was a great liquor store.  The first store I've found in the last 3 states that had the brand of scotch I prefer - Teacher's.  Felt like a jackpot.  And a wonderful selection of French wines - as many of those as from California, which is truly unusual.

And I walked the dogs around on the hillside for a while, dodging the snow piled up in parking lots and trying to work off some of their energy.

On the road back we drove through Wequetequock and Pawcatuck, on the RI border, both just little villages on the coast.  I passed a pond with a dozen or more Buffleheads, my favorite duck.  They're pretty and easy to identify.  What more can you ask?
Male & female Buffleheads
I should say that all the photos today except the map are off the internet.  I couldn't get angles on anything that would let me take them myself.

When I got back to the campground, I stopped at the office to check on the dog leashing policy and found out that they do indeed require leashes.  I explained my dilemma and the nice guy at the counter said I should call them if I felt uncomfortable talking to the people about their dogs.  I figured I'd play it by ear.

I drove the dogs down to the uninhabited part of the campground for a good walk before going back to our site, and luckily at bedtime these people and their dogs all seemed to be indoors.  Thank goodness, because I was a little nervous about talking to them about it.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Connecticut - Day 16

Mystic KOA
Friday, 16 November 2018

As predicted, the snow did stop and the rain did start, and some of the snow had begun to recede when I got up this morning.  The trouble is that either there was a lot more snow than they'd predicted or there was a lot less rain than they predicted.  Either way, there was still a whole lot of snow on the road, and as time went on, it didn't seem to be going away very fast.  The roadway here in the campground had a lot of slush on it, but it also had a lot of snow on it, as did my campsite which I'd have to drive over to get onto the road.

I checked the online weather report, that said it was still snowing in Hartford, which is where I wanted to go after dropping off the dogs.  And I figured if it was still snowing there, then there was likely still a lot of snow on the country roads I'd be having to take to get to the day care.

I would normally have left here about 8ish, but I waited till after 9 and the roads didn't seem to be improving significantly.  I finally called the day care and canceled.  I'm hoping to be able to take the dogs on Monday, when there's just forecast some ordinary rain.  Though even that will depend on whether the below freezing nighttime temps will have left ice on the roads.

It's one thing to drive my VW in Alaska, or even my Miata in Washington, and something entirely different to drive this RV.  I'm out of practice and the balance is totally different anyway.  I'm not risking it if I don't have to.  A shame, though, because the dogs are jumping out of their skins.

I'm lucky that the campground has been so empty - I've identified only 5 other households (RVholds?) with dogs, and the campground is so huge it's been pretty easy to find places to walk the dogs.

That said, this is the beginning of a weekend, and I'm finding that even November snow isn't keeping people from coming to camp.  Several of the cabins across from me have tenants for the night and 3 of the campsites have newly-arrived RVs in them.  Hope the number of dogs is more limited than the number of people.  They all seem to know each other and to be boisterous in their pleasure at being here, which may mean noise at bedtime.  But it'd be much much worse in the summer so I'm happy.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Connecticut - Day 15

Mystic KOA
Thursday, 15 November 2018

Again, really cold.  I checked the propane gauge and, sure enough, I'm right on empty.  This KOA sells propane, though, so I don't have far to look.

According to the owner's manual and everything everybody's told me, we're supposed to fill the tank only 3/4 full, because the propane gas needs tank room to expand or something.  When I've mentioned it to the guys who are pumping it, they always assure me their pumps have an automatic shut-off at 3/4.  But I've now found 2 different places that filled it full or nearly full, so their "automatic shut-offs" weren't working too automatically. 

When I mentioned it to the guy today, he said those tank gauges aren't completely accurate and I shouldn't worry too much.  Maybe so, but propane scares me and I'll keep right on worrying, and keeping an eye on these guys.  Because it was actually on empty, he put 8.2 gallons in it, which is by far the most I've bought so far.

I went on over to the Tractor Supply and found both thermal underwear (the basic duofold type, which is what I wanted) and a lined vest.  I can't seem to find the kind of vest I used to have in Alaska - I've been doing some online shopping lately and can't find anything quite like it.  Of course, that was back in the '70s, so all the features I liked have probably been "improved" out of them these days.  But this one I bought should at least help keep me warmer than I've been with this really cold wind blowing.

The snow didn't start until late in the afternoon.  Wish I'd known it would be that way because I could have taken the dogs to day care.  But I didn't. 

When we stepped outside for our bedtime walk, the dogs were thrilled to find snow on the ground.  They immediately started bouncing around and wrestling with each other and fairly easily pulled me over so I was coated with snow.  Better than being pulled into a puddle, though, even though both are wet.  Snow's a fun wet.  And because it was still snowing, when we all came back inside we were coated with snow and I had to do a lot of mopping and hanging up of clothes and towels and things.  But it happens in winter.

Connecticut - Day 14

Mystic KOA
Wednesday, 14 November 2018

It's been seriously cold all day long.  The online weather report said it was in the 20s this morning when I was still drinking coffee.

The heater is having to work overtime (it seems) to keep the cabin temp anywhere in the 60s.  I turn it down a little overnight and wake up to just over 50°.  It's cold.

And it's even colder because of the wind chill.  Everybody I've talked to here in the park agrees - it's not just my little maladjusted Texas thermostat.

I took my laundry over to the machines this morning and found myself the only one there for a while.  Much better than yesterday's crowd.  I've learned to check my quarters before putting them in the machines because they usually get upset with Canadian quarters.  I think I'm seeing many more of the state quarters than I remember doing in Texas, but maybe I just wasn't paying as much attention there. 

Anyway, today I found 2 quarters, both saying they were West Virginia quarters, but they were different.  The one dated 2005 shows the New River Gorge Bridge on it.  The one dated 2016 shows John Brown's Fort on it. 

This is the first I've heard that states may have more than one quarter so I looked it up.  In fact, the US Mint is issuing a 2nd round of state quarters, this one called the America the Beautiful Quarters Program.  Actually, I have trouble seeing what's beautiful about either John Brown or his fort, whereas the New River Gorge Bridge looks like it's quite pretty.  But what do I know.

This afternoon I got a new next-door neighbor - one of those enormous Class A RVs - and met the husband named Eddie.  Definitely a gregarious guy who says he works at a KOA in Georgia but had come back up to his native CT for family business.  Nice guy.  Quickly diagnosed my water hose problem as a missing gasket and gave me one of his extras.  Really nice.

Actually, if he sticks around till the weather's better, I'll hit him up for advice on how to get reception from the TV cable.  When I tried to hook it up at another KOA a few months ago, all I could pick up were seriously pixilated somethings. 

But given the current temperature and the fact that snow's predicted for tomorrow, I'll wait to hook up both the water hose and the cable.

When I was getting washing machine change in the office, I mentioned a dire need for long underwear, and several employees told me there's a Tractor Supply just a couple miles down the road.  I won't go today but maybe tomorrow before the snow comes.

The other even more serious need is getting more propane.  When I'm plugged in to electricity, the propane runs only the heater and the range top.  When I'm not plugged in, it also runs the reefer and freezer.  Not much, but as I was saying, that heater is working to beat the band.

Plus, the dogs are so cold they've both taken to lying in front of it and I finally put down a little bed of towels to keep them off the cold floor.  Even Gracie is spending time there, which gives you an idea of how cold it is. 

The inside temp hasn't gotten near 70° in ages so I'm not really cranking the heat up.  I've just got this huge gap underneath the cabin where cold air flows in unchecked.  The RVs in the park that are here for the duration all have insulation put up around their bases, but obviously I can't do that.  So we'll just keep using propane.

Connecticut - Day 13

Mystic KOA
Tuesday, 13 November 2018

The rain started about midnight and kept up all morning, until about 2 in the afternoon.  And it wasn't just a drizzle but actual heavy rain, with strong wind gusts that moved the RV around.  A little yucky to walk the dogs in, though they go so stir-crazy in the RV they'll take even rain without complaining.

When the rain finally let up, I went down to take my first real shower in nearly a month, and it was wonderful.  This KOA doesn't charge for its showers, and there's plenty of room and privacy to change clothes in and enough hot water to feel really good.  Actually, the hot came and went and came and went, but it was enough to get me through even an abbreviated shower.  How nice to be using something besides boiling water and a kettle.

I stopped to check out the laundry room and found it packed.  All the machines were busy and lots of people were standing around.  Definitely not the right day for me to do laundry.

I'm finding it a real handicap not having access to local TV stations with their morning weather reports.  I haven't had that since I came to CT, and the weather's definitely a matter of concern this time of year.

As a substitute, I spent some time online comparing forecasts for North Stonington (where I am) and Canterbury (where the doggie day care is) and Hartford (where the state capitol building is), trying to figure out when I can make the trip. 

I learned that Thursday is guaranteed to produce snow all over CT.  Thursday is when the dogs are next scheduled back at day care, so I called up and moved it to Friday.  The various forecasts said the snow would taper off in the evening and rain would come and non-freezing temps, so I figured the snow would be mostly gone by Friday.  But what a nuisance trying to piece all this information together.

I also checked to see whether I'm going to have this campground problem when I go to New Jersey in December.  I was hoping it's far enough south that I'll have more than 2 choices, but either way I figured I'd better know what I'm dealing with.  Fortunately, I found 6 private campgrounds and quite a few state parks and forests with open campgrounds.  A relief.  I'll pull out the NJ map and make a few reservations later in the month.

I've finished all the Jane Austen books and am reading one my cousin Trish gave me.  She said she'd ended up with books that belonged to my grandmother and to our Aunt Alice, and she didn't know who this book had belonged to but was sure I'd want to have it.

The inscription on the flyleaf said, "Merry Christmas '27 From Thos Jr. [my uncle] & Barbara [my mother]".  My grandmother died the year I was born, but I got notes and gifts from Aunt Alice all my life, and I'm nearly certain this handwriting was my grandmother's and the gift was for Aunt Alice.  Momma would have been 5 that Christmas and Uncle Tom would have been 8-going-on-9.  The book is titled The Enchanted Barn, copyrighted in 1917 by the Golden Rule Company. 

It's actually a sweet little book about a pure (and poor) young woman whose family is so desperate for a cheap place to live for the summer that she rents an old stone barn.  Her plucky, hard-working and very Christian family make the best of the situation, and in the process transform the lives of the extremely wealthy family that owns the barn.  Yeah, I know.  But it's well-written and not as saccharine as it sounds.  And anything that's 100 years old deserves some deference.

This KOA is anything but in the country: the interstate runs so close to the campground that I'm really afraid sometime the dogs will frighten some little critter into running on the highway - and even that they'd get loose and chase the critter onto the highway themselves.  The first night the traffic noise kept me awake, but I got used to it in a hurry. 

Right here, we're close enough to RI to walk there.  It isn't more than a couple miles down the road.  RI has a little projection down in the very very southwestern piece of it, and where I am is actually above that little projection on the CT side.

I keep meaning to say something about Garelick's milk.  I started finding it in grocery stores somewhere in New York - it's a regular brand up here.  I mention it because the name always reminds me of some boys I went to elementary school with - the Harelick brothers (pronounced Har-lick).  They were unidentical twins (unfortunately for Larry, who was just a regular guy, in contrast to Harry who was very attractive - life's so unfair), and all through elementary school I'd have one or the other in my class. 

I remember in 6th grade our teacher - I don't remember why - but she got Larry talking about his family history.  They were Jewish and I think some of his family had emigrated just in time.  Anyway, Larry said their name hadn't always been Harelick, but they'd changed it after they got to the US.  He said it had been Garelick - and, of course, in the ghastly rude way little kids have, we all howled at being named garlic and embarrassed poor Larry.  But that story always stuck in my brain.  And I'm betting the people who own this dairy concern up here are related.  If so, they're probably fine people, because all the Harelicks sure were.  This story isn't apropos of anything, but I don't want to forget in a couple of years that I'd found this family, in a way.

Connecticut - Day 12 - northeastern CT

Mystic KOA
Monday, 12 November 2018
today's route
It was really cold this morning, and my water hose was frozen and I had to use my water pump and storage tank.  There was frost everywhere, and I passed a pair of mallards swimming on a pond covered with skim ice.  My first stop was doggie day care at Quinebaug Kennels.  I was hoping a 2nd day for Gracie and 3rd for Dexter would help the staff figure out more about them than they'd already seen - and really hoping they'd work off some of that energy.

All through New England I've been seeing rock walls - especially in Rhode Island, it seemed.  And I'd been thinking I hadn't seen as many here in Connecticut, but apparently I just hadn't noticed because I saw plenty today.  I even saw a man mending one.

I passed a business called The Best Little Hair House (maybe transplanted Texans?).

I passed the Finnish-American Heritage Society in Canterbury.  Who knew?  And later in the morning I passed the Hungarian Social Club in Ashford.  I would never have dreamed there'd be enough Hungarians in all of CT to need a whole building for their social club.  Live and learn.

Gen. Israel Putnam
In Brooklyn (est. 1786) I passed their historical society with 2 huge statues in front.  I found one online: Gen. Israel Putnam, who distinguished himself at the Battle of Bunker Hill.  The next town over is named Putnam, presumably after the general.  But don't you think this is an enormous statue for a town of 8000?

Actually, Brooklyn has another claim to fame: in 1809 the Windham County Agricultural Society began holding an annual agricultural fair.  By 1849, they were calling it the Brooklyn Fair, and it's now the oldest continuous ag. fair in CT.

In Pomfret (est. 1713), I passed what was obviously a greyhound kennel and looked it up online.  The owner calls it Regall Sports Kennels, and he has as many as 100 greyhounds that he raises to race at tracks from Rhode Island to Miami.  I have to say they looked well cared for.

I ran across the Pomfret School, a boarding school for college prep, getting ready to celebrate their 125th anniversary next year.

I passed another Woodstock (popular name in this part of the country), this one established in 1686.  They too have a very large fairgrounds.

Throughout this region I saw highway signs warning to watch for horseback riders on the road.  And I passed quite a few small stables and paddocks with horses in them.

In Ashford (est. 1714), besides the Hungarians, I passed a Mormon Church.  Not sure why that surprised me, but it did.

St. Philip the Apostle
I also passed this church and almost screeched to a stop.  It's a Roman Catholic Church and was built in the 1930s.  I had figured it for an Orthodox Catholic Church, because of the semi-onion dome, but the sign said I was wrong.  Pretty church.

And you can see it was a pretty day, probably why it was so cold.

I passed through Willington (1727) and Mansfield (1702).  I keep putting in all these dates because my little Texas background keeps being amazed these places have been around so long.

Puddin Lane in Mansfield is the terminus of the Nipmuck Trail, which I kept seeing signs for, and which is a 34-mile hiking trail.  The sign for Puddin Lane reminded me of my Uncle Tom and Aunt Marguerite, who named a cat of theirs Puddin'.  He kinda was a puddin', too.

I was vaguely aiming for Storrs because I'd seen that it was the main campus for UConn.  Like everybody else, I've been incredibly impressed with their basketball program.  I knew UConn had campuses in other places - Waterbury, for instance - and kept having trouble believing I'd really find a major school in a town that looked like an afterthought on the map.

It was there, all right.  As far as I could see, Storrs is almost entirely a college town and UConn is an agricultural school.  I passed their dairy barn, horse barn and plant science research building, for instance.  But it also has a Museum of Puppetry, with 2500 puppets from around the world.  Who'd have thought?
Storrs Congregational Church

I went to a fair amount of trouble to take this photo of the rooster on top of the Storrs Congregational Church - parking precariously in what turned out to be a dead end driveway - because I thought this was the one I'd read about that had been used as target practice by some soldiers long ago.  But I was mistaken.

It was the rooster on top of the Newport (CT) Congregational Church, not this one (what is it with Congregational churches and their roosters?), and the story was that the French troops under Rochambeau were doing the target practice.  But I found a Newtown website that says this story is just a local myth, and includes more information about the Rochambeau march.    patch.com/connecticut/newtown/french-soldiers  Interesting how these stories persist.  Of course, once I'd taken this photo I still had to get out of my tight parking spot.  A woman walking to her office at UConn stopped to tell me about a cemetery down the road she thought I'd be interested in and, when I mentioned my parking problem, told me people thereabouts are very polite and she was sure they'd let me work my way back into the street.  I thought, but tactfully didn't say, that if they really were polite drivers, they'd be the first I'd seen in CT.

Turns out she was right - several cars stopped to let me out.  Another myth shattered.

The cemetery, when I passed it, did indeed look interesting but had no visible parking area.  Or, at least, not one I could fit into.  I noticed yet again that very old headstones are often very thin, especially compared to today's solid chunks of stone.  Which makes it even more amazing that so many of them have survived 150 years or more.

cute, right?
Since I got into southern New England, neither Dexter nor I has seen or heard one chipmunk.  They were in New York, which is as far south as CT and RI are, so I don't know why chipmunks would be so scarce here.  Makes it easier to control Dexter, who's just not as interested in squirrels as he used to be, thanks to the chipmunks.  But they were really cute and pretty.

Picked the dogs up and found the staff bewildered.  They'd been trying all morning to get either of the dogs to react to the other dogs they paired them with, to no avail.  Dexter would go sniff them and bounce a couple times, and then go straight back to the staff.  Gracie could hardly be bothered with even doing that much and wanted to spend most of her time lying in the sun.  Because I'd pleaded with them to work off some of Dexter's energy, they put him on the treadmill for a half hour, but they couldn't get him to run around with the dogs.  Where is the dog other day cares throw out for being too aggressive?

I stopped a second time at the Prudence Crandall Museum (unfortunately closed for the season) so they could walk around a bit before the hour drive back to the campground.  There's an informational sign there that explains some of what I was saying about her the other day, so I took pics of it.  I had to take the sign a part at a time so the words were legible, so I'll mark the order to read them in.
#1

#2


#3

#4












#5
I can't help but wonder about this woman and how incredibly stubborn she was.  Just knowing you're doing the right thing and believing that everybody deserves an education couldn't possibly have been enough in the face of the threats and violence and vitriol by her neighbors.  There had to be something else going on with this woman and I'm sorry I won't ever know what it was.

Back at the campground I found I couldn't connect my water hose to the RV.  When I tried, water spurted all over from the connection and, though I spent time on it, I couldn't figure out what the problem was and was way too cold to keep looking.  Tomorrow's another day (me and Scarlett).

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Connecticut - Day 11 - New Haven to Mystic via coastline

Mystic KOA
Sunday, 11 November 2018
today's route
Today I'm moving from Totoket Valley RV to the KOA, the other CT campground that's open through the winter.  But first to a New Haven legend.

Pepe's Pizza and Little Italy
I had read online that it's common to find long lines at Frank Pepe's Pizzaria Napoletana, so I decided to go early enough to be sure of finding a parking place, figuring I could walk the dogs around in the spare time.
Wooster Street

I found the pizza place, on Wooster St., is in the heart of New Haven's Little Italy.  You can see my RV parked a little way down the street in this photo on the left.  In the 3-block area, there are 6 Italian restaurants, including Pepe's.  The next street over, Chapel St., is packed with historic markers on all the houses.  And some of them are amazing, as you can see.

It must once have been a very wealthy district.  On the corner was a huge Catholic church (for all the Italians, I guess) complete with stone steeple with fretwork.  One of the blocks was covered by a green, where everybody in town was walking their dogs.  I saw an interesting sign there.

read about the Rochambeau route
I had to look all that up about the Rochambeau Route and found a chunk of history I knew nothing about.  It details the key aid French troops gave us during the Revolutionary War, without which we almost certainly would have lost to the British.  I wish our president knew about this before he started blasting the French this last week.  There's a lot on this link but you should read at least some of it.  www.nps.gov/rochambeau-revolutionary-route

So dogs have been walked and I'm still parked across the street from Pepe's and, at 10:45 there are already 2 dozen people in line for the 11:00 opening.  More arrived and there must have been at least 5 dozen by the time the doors opened.

People ordering to go, as I was, can wait at the counter and watch them make the pizzas.  A family was waiting there too, and I asked them to take a photo and email it to me, and the daughter did take the picture, but maybe she forgot to send it, because I still haven't received it.  I wanted it because they make the pizzas on wooden paddles with handles 12' long, and rest the handles on a cradle while they're putting the pizza together.  Then they shove it into the ovens, which they said are 14'x14', and they've got 3 of them.  They said they'll make 900-1200 pizzas on a given weekend day.  Incredible.  I have no idea at all how they can keep them straight once they're in the oven, because it looked to me like they just shoved them in any old way.  But in the 20 minutes or so I was there, I never saw them take out a burned one, and everybody seemed to be getting what they ordered.

I went here because it's one of the best known places in the state, famous for its white clam pizza.  Their pizzas are known as apizza, meaning they use a thin crust and a coal-fired oven, a style they originated.  I saw a number of pizza places in the New Haven area advertising themselves as selling "apizzas" and finally looked it up online, which is why I'm able to tell you this.  I understand the style is geographically limited but has spread to a few other places, such as Salvation Pizza in Austin.  Their pizzas are oblong-ish and not served by the slice - buy a whole one or don't buy one.  So I bought a whole one.

I just couldn't bring myself to commit to an entire white clam pizza so instead went for a sausage pizza, which I saw online as being great.  And this is what mine looked like.

And yes, it was really good.

I ate half of it in the RV (the rest for dinner), and when I left at almost noon, there was a long line and a stretch limo waiting at the curb - a long line even though the place seats 150.

I saw on the lousy AAA map that Rt. 146 runs along the coast for at least part of the way along, and that's what I was aiming for, but ran into a fork in the road that wasn't labeled at all and took a chance.  After winding along for what seemed like a long time, on a barely 2-lane road, I started to get nervous.  And then I suddenly found I was going to go under a railroad trestle and hadn't paid enough attention to the sign saying how much clearance there was, so got very nervous.  Fortunately, I saw a place to pull off the road and reassess, and that turned out to be a good spot. 
Hoadley Creek Preserve

"Lease dogs"
There was a trail back into the woods starting at the sign on the right, so I took the dogs back in there a little way, which they loved.  This marsh area on the left was the only cleared spot - the rest of it was forest, as on the right.

There were informational signs posted there.  One said deer hunting season was in full swing (so I wore the reflective vest I always wear when walking the dogs in the dark).  The other had a list of rules; the first 4 were: -use blazed trails only; -do not disturb plants or animals; -lease dogs; -build no fires.  I assumed #3 was a typo and decided it was okay if I leashed my dogs instead.

When we got back, I had time to watch the other traffic go under the trestle (there was a surprising amount of traffic, considering it was a Sunday and a country road), and there was obviously plenty of headroom for my RV, so we kept on going.  Turned out I'd accidentally stumbled on Rt. 146 back at that fork.

The next town on the road was Guilford, an agricultural community since 1639 (their sign says).  I passed Sam Hill Road and remembered something I'd seen in the AAA guidebook: Sam Hill was a local resident who ran for public office every chance he got - resulting in the expression "run like Sam Hill."  I've never heard that expression, but my dad used to say "what in the Sam Hill . . ." - usually about something dumb one of us kids was doing.  Same guy?

I passed a peapod-shaped vehicle going the other way, and was very glad it wasn't going my way.  It was driving on the shoulder, for one thing, and was about the size of a go-cart so would have been hard for drivers to see.  You couldn't have paid me enough to drive that thing out on the road - way way too dangerous.  And it looked so small I'd think the driver must have been about go-cart age.  Weird.

I went through the village of Westbrook (est. 1635) and passed a lovely building.  I had to get this photo off the internet, and it's not as detailed as I'd wish.
Those cornerstones or keystones or lintels or whatever you call the pieces above the windows are actually carved with scroll-y designs - really pretty.  I think the building is now used as the local historical society.

Rt. 146 seemed to merge with US Rt. 1, or at least I lost the state route somewhere.  I wanted to see more than the interstate would show me, but it was hard to stay off it.  In fact, when I got to Old Saybrook I had no choice but to get on the highway - the Connecticut River insisted on the right of way.

I keep hearing news on the radio about the fires in California.  At the rate they're going, there won't be much left of the state for me to visit in 3 years.  I sure hope they can figure out how to short-circuit this ghastly pattern they're developing of droughts, then forest fires, then torrential rains and mudslides - not to mention earthquakes, which I guess is all they're missing.  Poor people.  What a mess for them.

The KOA people were really nice and, when I couldn't easily get into the site they gave me, let me have another, that turned out to be on a slant, so they gave me a third, which I figured I'd better take before their patience ran out.  Most of their campground is closed for the winter - odd to see so many vacant spaces and not have my choice of place to stay.  But where I am is fine.