Sunday, December 2, 2018

My month in Connecticut

My take on Connecticut

Where I went this month
I learned this month how thoroughly my style of travel has been dependent on conveniently placed campgrounds.  There being only 2 open this month in the whole state didn’t give me any real choice about where I’d stay, which severely limited what I was able to see.

You can see from the map that I missed the whole western third of the state and most of the north, and I’m really sorry about that.  Especially because to a great extent I caused this situation myself.  Remember last March I was planning to start my month-per-state with April in New York, but discovered NY still had a fair amount of snow in its northern half so switched to Pennsylvania instead.  That changed the month I’d be in the next 12 states, because my original plan was to visit PA in April of next year.  Thus, here I am in Connecticut in November.

What’s done is done, and the revised schedule works out much better for West Virginia which I’ll now visit in April instead of March, but it’s a shame for CT.

I was further limited by my very strong desire to take Dexter especially to the doggie day care that had been recommended to me, in hopes of getting rid of at least the top layer of his energy and maybe getting him better socialized.  Since that day care was in the northeastern section of the state, I had serious drive time from either of the available campgrounds just to drop off the dogs, hampering my ability to spend time sightseeing elsewhere.

Then there was the weather, which mid-month started getting 10°-15° colder than normal and made it much harder for me to be as ready to get up and go and I have been.

On top of all that were the repair problems I seemed to keep running into, requiring time off to visit the RV repair place I very luckily found (“luckily” because they were so competent and so reasonably priced).

All in all, I guess you could say I lost momentum this month.

But I’m not sure how much I really missed.  Over and over I kept talking to people who told me there’s nothing much to see in CT.  They’d tell me to check out Mystic Seaport, maybe, but I kept getting a ho-hum attitude.

And this attitude seemed to extend to their feelings about the state as well.  I tend to use the same formula when I’m talking to people – are you from around here? do you like it here? what do you like best? what do you suggest I see here?  That kind of thing.  And in Connecticut, when I’d ask if they liked it where they were living – for the first time all trip – almost without exception they’d hesitate, then shrug a little and say something like “I guess” or “it’s okay” - clearly conveying a total lack of enthusiasm.  I couldn’t believe it.  It didn’t matter how old they were or where they were living.

There was only 1 exception: a woman in Stonington who said without hesitation that she loved it there, because it had a nice small-town feel.

But I met a woman who’d moved here from New Jersey 26 years ago and still preferred it there than here.  I met a man who’d grown up here and was delighted he’d moved up to Vermont 7 years ago and had come back to CT only to sell his house.  I met a woman who was pleased to be planning her move up to Maine.  I met a woman at AAA, of all places, who told me not to move here.  It was incredible the lack of pride most people seemed to take in this state.

I would have expected at least a few people to say CT would be great if there were fewer New Yorkers here, or that they enjoy it much more in the summer than the winter – or anything to mitigate the general negative feeling they were giving me.

And to continue this bash-CT trend, I’ll say these folks are by far the rudest batch of drivers I’ve come across yet.  I wouldn’t have been surprised if the rudeness came from cars with out-of-state license plates (e.g. New York), but instead what I saw were CT cars being rude.

They tailgate, they speed as much as Texans (with a lot less cause because they don't have as far to go), they refuse to let anybody (not just my RV) merge ahead of them.  I don’t know how they are with pedestrian crosswalks because the pedestrians I saw jaywalked routinely, but the traffic sure didn’t want to stop for them.

On the plus side, CT seems far more focused on recycling than any other state so far.  The KOA tells guests recycling is mandatory.  Even the tiny Totoket RV park had recycling bins and asked me to use them.  This seems so odd when people don’t seem to like where they live and when I’ve had a hard time this whole trip finding recycling places – and in CT they’re insisting on it.

Also on the plus side, CT roads are absolutely the very best I’ve come across so far.  I don’t like those stupid curbs they’ve put on their state routes, but the road surfaces are, almost without exception, superb.  They may not put any money into tourist assistance, but they sure make their roads nice to drive on.  And they do a beautiful job of labeling the streets and roadways.

I think I missed some pretty scenery in western CT, but Connecticuters told me that along with the scenery I'd find large numbers of New Yorkers who had their second homes over there, and they spoiled the Connecticut feeling.

I know I missed seeing more of the coastal areas.  And I missed historical sites that I either couldn’t get to or were closed for the season.  I would have wanted to get to Stamford and Bridgeport, names I’ve heard all my life.  And Danbury once had 40 hat factories there – it must be an interesting place to visit.  I heard from somewhere that Greenwich has Cos Cob, but when I looked it up, all I found was that Cos Cob was a train – the local newspaper editor, present for the 1848 inaugural run, noted that citizens and livestock “were nearly frightened out of their propriety” by the train whistle.  I learned as I was leaving the state that Cos Cob is also a town near Greenwich, presumably where the train had its run.  

But taken all in all, I’m not seeing this as a state I’d want to come back to for a second look.  What a shame.

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