Weeks 4-5: You Connect, I Cut
It’s been a while, but we’re back with a travelogue covering Weeks 4 and 5 of our epic road trip, which we spent in Jake’s home state, the great and tiny Connecticut. This will be a long one, so buckle in (assuming you’re also reading from a driveable house), and prepare for an exciting game of that classic Connecticut Rochambeau variant: Rock, Beach, Mosquito, Goat, Double Bus Explosion.
Black Rock State Park
The first stop in our CT odyssey was Black Rock State Park, located in Thomaston. We stayed at the nice RV park across the street, but hiked at Black Rock for two days – which unfortunately happened to be two of the hottest days of the year. The trail was rocky, full of mosquitoes, and at one point appeared to lead through an electrical substation, but it did have a satisfying view from the top. Overall, we rate the park “sweaty.”
We did not have a car, and moving the RV around is not that easy, so after our hike we needed to walk somewhere to get a late lunch. Amusingly, the closest restaurant was actually a new location of Senor Pancho’s, a Mexican place which originally opened in Jake’s hometown, Southbury, CT. Senor Pancho’s’ food is notoriously terrible, so their business model always seemed to be “don’t check IDs.” That business model has apparently been successful enough for three locations! As legal drinkers who have tasted actual Mexican food, we wisely chose instead to walk about fifteen minutes in the sidewalk-less heat to a nearby restaurant, Rozzi’s, for a pretty good lunch.
Next time, buddy.
We also met up with Nothing Mundane’s official sister, Kate, and her friend Tanya, along with Tanya’s cute new baby Kennedy. We neglected to take any pictures, so you’ll have to take our word re: cuteness.
Hammonasset Beach State Park
Next up was Hammonasset Beach, a state park on the Connecticut coastline where the cool kids partied back in the day. It’s probably the only Connecticut public beach worthy of the name, as the others tend to use “rocks” instead of “sand,” although there are no real waves since Long Island steals them all. We had a great time at Hammonasset, which suggests we may ourselves have now become cool kids (doubtful), possibly since we get to go to the beach instead of going to work. We also got to visit with some of our friends and family still cruelly forced to live in the CT.
Our favorite part of Hammonasset was the sunsets. With beautiful hues of orange, pink, and lavender, they looked like God had thrown up Gatorade and a Yankee Candle all over the sky. So romantic! We took pictures, but some things just need to be experienced.
Hopeville Pond State Mosquito Sanctuary
After Hammonasset, we continued our eastward trek, spending some time at Hopeville Pond State Park, an obscure park near Connecticut’s eastern border. It was fairly overgrown and had very few other residents, possibly because there were no flush toilets. We, however, scored one of the few sites with an electrical hookup, and so had the unique pleasure of laying in our comfortable, air-conditioned RV, drinking french-press coffee and using our computers and watching TV (more on that later), while the people around us lived in tents, attempted to make fire, and used what was basically an outhouse.
Friends, we are living the good life here.
The only downside of Hopeville Pond, aside from the infrastructure, is that – and this cannot be said properly any other way – there was just a shitload of mosquitoes there. We tried to hike into a nearby state forest, but the mosquitoes were so thick that even an irresponsible amount of bug spray did nothing to keep them away. There was an actual cloud of them following each of us. The huge amount of flying insects also supports an equally huge amount of spiders, so the narrow trail was full of spiderwebs, lined up right at mouth level.
You may not be surprised to learn we did not complete that particular hike. What you may be surprised to learn (we were!) is that a cloud of mosquitoes will follow you forever, through the woods, out onto the road, and even down the road, and they do not care if you you walk quickly and then jog and then run. They do not care even if you just start sprinting, confusing the passing cars and especially your own body, because mosquitoes are Liam Neeson from Taken mixed with vampires.
We probably will not be back to Hopeville Pond, but we did snap a few pictures of the forest in between swats.
While in eastern Connecticut, we stopped to see Jake’s dad, who was gracious enough to put us up for a night and let us store some stuff at his house. He also spent a few days helping us with some RV fixes and enhancements, using a technique we hadn’t tried called “actually being handy.” The sweetest of these was figuring out a mounting system for our 55″ television, which happens to fit perfectly onto the long shelf in our tiny bedroom. (We take it down to travel.) The result is getting to watch what feels like a huge screen while laying in our own bed, an experience you can’t get at the big chain cinemas without a lot of negotiation.
While staying with Jake’s dad in Niantic, we stopped at a very cool place called the Book Barn, which features a huge number of books (they claim over 500,000) spread across numerous buildings (some across town). The main compound is extraordinarily whimsical, and includes a small tower, fairy garden, faux cemetery, chalk body outline in the crime section, goat petting zoo, and about 1000 things more. It’s weird and awesome.
All bookstores should have goats playing “king of the hill” with a large plastic castle near the fiction section!
Bonus: We saw what can only be called a “double bus” in a parking lot in Niantic, and no, there was not really any more explanation than that as to why it was there. As for the explosions, well, maybe Heather added them in, or maybe they actually happened spontaneously in real life because Jake is so damn awesome. We’ll never know for sure.
But it was probably the second one.
What’s next: Currently, we are in Massachusetts near Boston, and we just finished buying a car to tow behind our RV! Now we just need to install the parts so it is actually towable… We’re headed to Maine and New Hampshire tomorrow.
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