Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Connecticut - Day 5 - eastern CT

Totoket Valley RV Park
Monday, 5 November 2018
today's route
We had to get moving earlier today than usual so I could drop Dexter off at the day care, and have time to do a few things with Gracie and then pick Dext up again and still get back across state before too late in the afternoon.  

Now, without daylight savings time, the sun's coming up at 6:30 and going down just after 4:30 and, on rainy or overcast days (which we've been having a lot of), it's getting dark early, and I don't want to drive in it.

Day care for Dexter
We left the campground a little before 8:00 and didn't get to the day care till after 9:15.  Most of that was on the interstates, and I only ran into one traffic jam - at a construction area.  That's all driving, and I'm already tired when I'm just dropping him off.  But I have hopes of it doing him some good, even in the half-day I'd signed him up for.

To the beach
Gracie and I went straight down to New London and, once again, I found a town with well-marked streets!  Not just signs on street corners but also signs showing where a road was going when it went around a curve.  Huge help in negotiating a strange town!  I hope all of CT is like this.

I passed a Haitian 7th Day Adventist Church in New London.  Not something I would have expected to see.

Because of the great street signs, I had no trouble finding the beach - Ocean Beach Park - and also had no trouble seeing the large signs saying NO DOGS ALLOWED and, underneath, ENFORCED YEAR ROUND.  Not very friendly, I thought.  I was really disappointed but still needed someplace to walk Gracie, so we turned down a residential street and had a nice walk until it started raining.  I really need a raincoat.

In that residential neighborhood, I saw 2 black birds - either a raven and a crow, or a crow and a blackbird (that kind of size difference) - flying around with the small bird chasing the large bird as if protecting a nest which surely it wasn't at this time of year.  But anyway, they were flying around this HUGE tree completely covered in bright yellow leaves.  It made a lovely picture.

Day care for Gracie
It was already after 11:00 by this time (it takes so long to get anywhere in this state), so I went straight down the highway to the day care near the KOA I thought might be good for Gracie.  But once again, I was disappointed.

They keep all the day care dogs outside all day long; in bad weather, they bring them inside if they've got enough kennels for them - but it was cold and rainy when I was there so I'm not sure what constitutes bad weather.  

Plus it looked to me like most of the kennels were full of boarded dogs (barking their heads off at high decibels - hurt my ears), so I'm not sure where they'd put the day care dogs even if they decided it was bad weather.  Plus plus, they only had one worker in the yard where they had at least 30 dogs, so I'm not sure how they'd be able to handle a problem if it came up.  

Everything was clean and all the employees seemed to like the dogs, but I was not impressed.  It did not at all look like a good place for Gracie.

I walked Gracie around their large outer yard (in the rain) and by then it was after 12:00.  I was supposed to get Dexter at 1:00 and had no idea how long it would take me to drive from there so decided to get moving.

Country road
I took Rt. 49, which runs right by the KOA so would be my fastest route to Dexter's day care.  AAA has designated Rt. 49 as a scenic drive - I don't know what it's like when most tourists would be driving it, but this time of year it's gorgeous with beautifully colored leaves all along.  It runs through an almost entirely rural area with a few villages scattered here and there.  I guess the villages are what would have been a day's travel apart, way back when this area was first settled.  Plainfield, for instance, the closest town to the day care, was incorporated in 1699, which is a while ago.

When Rt. 49 hit Rt. 14A, I went west toward Plainfield and saw a stand of completely bare birch trees.  I wouldn't have known that's what they were except for having seen them in New Hampshire (with a road sign saying that's what they were).  And I saw an entire hillside that was all red, from the leaves.  Really pretty.

Back to Dexter's day care
Here I was once again disappointed, because they reported he had nearly ignored all the lively dogs they'd introduced him to and focused almost entirely on the people.  They had concluded he was a people dog and couldn't believe it when I told them he absolutely wasn't.  With him, dogs are first, food second, people third.  But that was definitely not what he'd been showing them.

Of course, while we were standing in the waiting area talking, another dog was greeting its owner and Dexter suddenly decided to growl and lunge at that dog.  The staff were stunned, not having seen anything like that all day.  I assured them that's one of the reasons I had brought him to them, that kind of behavior.

I said I wanted to try him again on Thursday, and I wanted to bring Gracie too.  The main person, Darcy, was reluctant to take Gracie and finally explained clearly what I'd missed before when she was describing their program - that they have gun dog training classes every day, which involves gunfire every day, and Darcy was afraid it would trigger Gracie's PTSD and maybe send her over the edge.

Of course, I don't want that either, but I'm not sure gunfire would do it.  I haven't heard gunshots very often, either in Austin or on the road, but they don't seem to bother her as much as thunder does.  

Besides, I think she's getting her fears triggered every day all day anyway.  I can't guarantee I'll never again accidentally drop something on the floor within 4' of her, or that loud noises won't ever happen again, or that I won't make a sudden move that she's not expecting, or that I won't get mad and speak sharply to either of them ever again - or any other of the thousands of tiny things that trigger her fears.  It seems to me gunshots rank way down on the list - way way below bouncing balls.  And she's got to have more exercise.  They both do.

So they'll take them both on Thursday for another half-day, and maybe the 2nd time Dexter will act a little more like himself, and maybe the staff can figure out how to get some exercise into both of them.

The drive back

Prudence Crandall
The day care is technically within the village of Canterbury, though it's out a long rural road.  In Canterbury at the crossroads is the Prudence Crandall Museum.  I looked it up and really  do wish it were still open - but sadly, closed until next spring.

Prudence Crandall (born in Rhode Island) has been designated Connecticut's Official State Heroine.  She was a teacher here, then opened her own boarding school for girls in 1830.  In 1831, a young black woman named Sarah Harris asked to be admitted to the school, but when Ms. Crandall allowed her in, quite a few of the other girls' parents pulled them out.  Ms. Crandall then closed the school and reopened it in 1832 as a school for girls and young women of color.  She managed to keep it open until 1834, when the serious violence from the townspeople made her fear for the safety of the students and teachers, and she closed the school and left the area.

In response to her opening her school, the state legislature passed what was called the Black Law, making it illegal to admit black students to a school.  Ms. Crandall was arrested and jailed under that law, and had 3 separate court cases brought against her.  Those court cases were cited by the US Supreme Court in its ghastly Dred Scott decision in 1857, as well as by that same court in 1954's Brown v. Board of Education.  (Nobody should consider the Supreme Court static.)   About 4 years before she died, the CT legislature tracked her down in Kansas or wherever she was living and gave her a pension, as a gesture of apology for what they'd done to her with the Black Law.

There's a statue of Prudence Crandall and Sarah Harris in the state capitol building.  None of the internet photos say I can use them but, if I can go to the capitol, I'll take my own photo.

The Last Green Valley
I passed a sign on the highway saying "The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor."  I had to look this one up too.  It's a chunk of eastern CT plus a little of Mass. that's still rural: 77% farm and forest, they say.  It's the last swath of dark night sky between Boston and Washington, DC.  I don't know how long they'll be able to hang onto it, but it's a really pretty area now.

Other thoughts
In Connecticut, the highway exit numbers correspond to the mileage.  Thank goodness.  That's the way Texas does it and, having now spent time in a batch of states that don't do it that way, I have to say that in this, even if not much else, I'm with Texas.  And Connecticut.

I saw 2 dead deer along the highway.  In different places.  So sad.  And lots of dead other animals along all the roads.

CT drivers aren't particularly polite, I can tell already.  They aren't interested in letting anybody in ahead of them anywhere.  It's not just me in the RV - I've watched them not let regular cars in at merge areas.  And they drive really fast.  Maybe it's because the southwestern state line is practically in New York City, and everybody is either from New York or drives into New York.  I don't know but it's sure a contrast to the polite drivers in the rest of New England.  But I haven't given up on the state yet.

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