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.