Of possums, turtles, and ducks

Scoring what counts these days as a good deal on fuel—following a most excellent first day of cruising this summer—should yield a great night’s sleep.  Waking up to rain at 2 a.m. and remembering that the one of us who was supposed to put the cover back on the dinghy failed miserably at his job so had to go out and do it in the dark rain, however, tends to ruin any such plan.  But the Friday morning fog on the Connecticut River was pretty, mostly because we had no plan to go out in it.

Now, as promised, a bit about Essex, Connecticut, a town steeped in American history.  First, Essex has a store that only sells rubber ducks.  This has nothing to do with American history, of course, but we’ve never seen such a place before so we bought four ducks for Shannon.

Second, as previously noted, the night we arrived we had dinner at the Griswold Inn.  Turns out it’s the oldest continuously operating inn in the country, or so it claims.  The British ate brunch at the “Gris”—as the locals call it—after sneaking up the Connecticut River in 1814 and torching a bunch of wooden warships right about where we docked Tumbleweed.  We’re old enough to vaguely remember Dark Shadows, a weird soap-opera partially filmed there.  Mallory and Shannon are old enough to remember The Bachelorette, which at some point featured the place.  Other historical stuff and movies and whatnot also involved the Griswold Inn but we’re not cataloguing all of them in our blog.  What we do know for certain is that the potato cakes were unbelievably delicious.

The point is, Essex is a dang charming town, despite the periodic rain showers we encountered.

In addition to history, Essex has lots of flowers this time of year.

Because of the amazing experiences we enjoyed aboard Misty Pearl, we’re quite attracted to Pearl names.  We’ve met Red Pearl and Mystic Pearl and maybe a couple others.  Pearl the Gem car gave us a ride in Rock Hall that time her owner saw us lugging watermelons in the heat.  Tumbleweed very nearly was Desert Pearl.  This Pearl, however, is by far the most pitiful.

Beautiful boat.  Gloomy owners.*

Sometimes we bumble across things that defy explanation.

A couple of final notes about Essex, which we’re leaving tomorrow morning:

Turtle—which everyone will recall was the first submarine and which thus led in a direct line to Sean Connery defecting from Russia with the Red October—may have been built in Essex, although the sources we tapped were moderately equivocal.  At a minimum, there’s a really cool operational Turtle replica hidden in a back room at the really cool Connecticut River Museum.

Turtle reminds one of us of that time Doug and Brad hunted down and purchased a full set of plans from an eccentric inventor who designed a DIY personal submarine back in the 50s.  Sadly, the notion of building a sub went nowhere, along with The Great Sedona UFO Hoax and several other things that seemed brilliant whilst discussing them over beers at Pomeroy’s.

Back to Essex, where every October the town holds a Dogs on the Dock Festival.  The event includes numerous dog competitions we’re confident Oscar would dominate if only (1) he was fourteen years younger and (2) sport wasn’t beneath his dignity.  Our boy’s a sleeper, not a fighter.

Essex originally was called “Potopaug” by the natives that the nice English colonists shoved off the land in 1645.  “Potopaug” is way more fun to say out loud than is “Essex.”

Hey wait, the title of this post mentions possums.**  What’s that all about?  It’s about the lil guy who provided some Sunday excitement on the docks, that’s what.  At least to our knowledge he didn’t go into the bathrooms.

Bonus scenery!  Bonus animal!

Tomorrow off to Branford.


* UPDATE:  Pitiful Pearl’s owners aren’t gloomy sad-sacks after all.  The boat was named after a really bad cartoon character from some 90 years ago that neither of us are old enough to have heard of before Friday.

The dude who created Pitiful Pearl later in life created Shrek, which we assume he viewed as a much bigger point of pride.  We would.

**Before we get any comments from smarty-pants, we acknowledge that in scientific literature “possum” is supposed to be spelled with an “o” at the front.  However, this isn’t scientific literature.  It’s mostly nonsense.

A post with the primary purpose being to report that we’re back underway

We’ll have more about Essex next post, but for now the important thing simply is that we’re in Essex.  Remember when it was over 100° in Arizona?  Since then we made it past huge forest fires in New Mexico, 4” of snow in Wyoming, 40-knot winds in South Dakota, and what seemed like two months of boredom across a bunch of silly states before we got back to Connecticut, where everything was perfect.  Woooo!

Actually not everything was quite perfect.  Tumbleweed was in the water, but the good folks at Mystic Shipyard and New England Bow Thruster still had her in a state of minor disarray.

Setbacks like this are why God blessed us with Marriott points, however, and another night in a hotel wasn’t all that inconvenient.  And the good folks at the shipyard were pretty efficient all-in-all.  Great place.

By today everything was buttoned up and Tuesday’s sea-trial with the new fins was uneventful, so off we went.

Oscar needed all of about ten seconds to remember that he likes cruising days.

The Sound was too calm for us to test the new stabilizer system, which on balance was okay with us.

Heading up the Connecticut River, we passed on by the place we stayed in Old Saybrook a few posts and eight months ago.

As we anticipated, Next Stop, Christmas was pretty hokey.

Which got us to Essex.  Yesterday the nice dockhand at the Safe Harbor Dauntless marina said their diesel fuel was $5.14, which was about $2 less than anyplace else.  But, she warned us, a new shipment was coming in and the price would go up.  This morning the nice dockhand said they were expecting the new shipment today.  Grrr.  We tied off on the fuel dock literally as the Dennis Fuel truck pulled in, but got what in these absurd times counts as a deal.  Woooo!

That fuel savings allowed us to have a great dinner at the Griswold Inn.

If we weren’t so tired and the Vols weren’t playing Vandy in the SEC baseball tournament on TV we’d discuss the lengthy history of the Inn, along with a bit about Clark and Ellen and Aunt Edna.  Maybe next time. We’re staying in Essex until Monday so as to avoid Memorial Weekend boating knuckleheads and crappy weather, so there’s plenty of time.

Which way is Santa Fe, New Mexico?*

So we love our Arizona desert.  Gorgeous winters.  Sunsets on the mountains.  Cholla Pickleball.  Dana’s rescue dogs at Home Fur Good.  Great friends.  Funky desert plants that look normal to us but strange to East-Coasters.

What we don’t enjoy, however, are 100° temperatures that only will climb from there.  That’s not even a joke, even though it’s barely mid-May.

Summers here suck almost as much as Nick Saban and serial killers.  Thus it’s a good thing we also love oceans and rivers and canals, and sleeping on a boat, and sunrises over the water, and a different set of great friends.

The point is, tomorrow morning we leave Scottsdale and head back to Connecticut.  Oscar is older and slower, but we think he must be looking forward to inherently unstable surfaces since he hasn’t voiced any objection.

PSA No. 1:  Rental cars are insanely expensive these days.  Cargo vans, however, are $26 per day.  And as an added bonus, loading doesn’t require much more than just tossing stuff in since the cargo area is huge.  So we bought a bunch of provisions here since, what the heck, we have a huge cargo van reserved.

PSA No. 2:  The Hertz place on Bell Road sucks almost as much as a Phoenix summer.  They tell you your cargo van is ready to be picked up, except when you go way over to the west side to get it not only do they not have one, the frazzled girl at the counter keeps taking walk-in customers rather than focusing like a laser on your needs.  Then when she finally has one delivered from Tempe hours later, the AC doesn’t work.  And it’s roughly 140° inside the van so ain’t nobody taking it.  Even more hours later she finally admits that Hertz in fact has no cargo vans—or mini vans—in the entire Phoenix metropolitan area.  “How about a 12’ box truck?”  Um, no.  Ten miles per gallon in an uncomfortable cab across the entire United States doesn’t work for normal people or Oscar.

Just moments before Doug’s head exploded like one of those pressure-cooker bombs the Tsarnaev brothers set off in Boston, Hertz’ final option was a SUV which isn’t nearly big enough to hold all our stuff.  Screw it.  Hunt down a car-top carrier and we’ll ditch all those things we felt smart for buying in advance.  So no, that isn’t a cargo van.

All we know is that Tumbleweed better be ready to go, because we have big summer plans and those plans require leaving Mystic Shipyard.  In the immediate future, we’re counting on Dave and Becky cruising a bit up the Hudson with us.  If we get through a few dicey bridges intact, we’re picking up Brent and Karen—who by force of habit we collectively call Second Wave even though that boat has new owners and a new name—in Burlington.  Then to Montreal, Ottawa, Kingston, Toronto, and Hamilton for the Great White North portion of the summer.**  Ultimately we hope to be somewhere south of Tennessee by the time the Arizona winter calls us back, with a bunch more guests along the way.

Special thanks to Jack and Sharon for the wonderful last meal and for gathering our mail and checking on the house until we return.


*We won’t catalog all our stops between Scottsdale and Mystic, but assuming we aren’t swallowed up by forest fires along the way we’re heading first to Santa Fe to see Dana’s dad and stepmom.  Hence the Don Williams song title.  As an aside, we once saw him in concert.  He was cranky and unpleasant.

**Take off, eh.