A couple of weeks earlier than we’d planned, but it’s time to head back to the Valley of the Sun for the winter. The girls are anxious to get Black Dog Bikinis’ new workshop set up in Newport Beach, and we’re anxious to get back and help them. Plus it’s getting cold in Connecticut. And inexplicably we didn’t bring our fleece sheets. And explicably we’re weenies.
So sadly we had to bail on the Sydenhams, who were to be our last guests. Hopefully they’ll forgive us and reschedule. And we had to bail on Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and Block Island. Again. Which sucks, but we’ll be back here next spring. And hey, at least we made it as far as Mystic.
Despite showing up at these places in what essentially is our house, we’re really still just tourists. Which generally means that we’re obligated to do cliché touristy things. Obviously as tourists we can’t go to Mystic, Connecticut, without eating a Slice of Heaven and maybe seeing some other Mystic Pizza-related stuff.
The first one was easy. As we turned up the Mystic River on Tuesday we passed Ford’s Lobsters, where Kat delivered pizza to her seafood-picking mom, before she slept with Phoebe’s dirtbag dad and had her heart broken.
Ford’s looks about the same as it did in the movie, and the pickers look about the same as well.
The boaters in New England, however, look a lot different than boaters in, say, Tennessee and Texas.
These are the kind of folks who’d rather sink their beautiful wooden boats than be seen in one of them wearing non-designer shorts and a t-shirt. This area is so quintessentially New England that from our dock we almost can hear Bill Belichek and the Patriots contriving their next way to cheat. But everyone we’ve met has been nice, so we’ll let them slide.
The town of Mystic—which one member of our extended family who we won’t identify publicly but who is old enough to know better thought didn’t exist in real life—is way cool, which came in handy when the weather stuck us here for a week. As tourists we could’ve done with fewer tourists getting in our way, of course, but we heard it was way worse before Labor Day so we aren’t complaining.
On Thursday, our old buddy Fred from Chattanooga arrived. We figured if No Drama could have a Fred come visit, we could have one too.
Although we’d really hoped to travel over the weekend, big waves in the Sound meant that Doug and Fred instead were forced to spend two days at Friar Tuck’s Tavern, which would’ve been a great sports-bar experience had God not turned His back on His people by allowing Satan and his evil minions to prevail in the cesspool of iniquity that is Gainesville, Florida.
Dana was able to use the time Doug and Fred were gone for some well-deserved “me” time. Except everybody knows that everything revolves around Oscar, so basically that meant she had to tend to his whims and needs (mostly whims) by herself. But Texas won big, so she’s okay.
Anyway, Mystic is a great place to be a boater.
That’s true even if your boat is better suited for a bathtub.
Yesterday morning the weather was awesome, albeit a bit cold. We dropped the dinghy and cruised the Mystic River so that Fred could report that he had a boating holiday after all.
As we’ve observed in the past, sometimes the interesting stuff requires going a bit out of the way. Like Fall River, Massachusetts, is a bit out of the way when delivering Fred to the Providence airport for his return to Tennessee. Fall River, however, is famous because of that time in 1892 when Lizzie Borden gave her stepmother forty whacks with an axe before doing the same plus one to her father.* The house still stands, although the gift-shop girl who assured us of her initial skepticism says it’s almost definitely now haunted. Hence the very profitable ghost tours.
So that was awesome. Just like Fort Rachel Marina has been awesome.
Except that Fort Rachel doesn’t have room for Tumbleweed over the winter, so tomorrow morning we have to move her about five-hundred yards down river to Mystic Shipyard. Which meant that today was all about loading the rental van for the trek west, with a quick trip to the Goodwill in Groton.
Groton is home to one of the oldest free-standing obelisks in the country. It serves as a memorial to the American troops who tried to surrender Fort Griswold in 1781 but then were slaughtered when the British went all Lizzie Borden on them.
Fort Griswold was named for some obscure Connecticut politician named Matthew Griswold. We know a Clark Griswold who once took his family across the country to WallyWorld in a Wagon Queen Family Truckster, but we figure they’re probably not related. Groton also is home to the largest fleet of U.S Navy submarines, which explains why all those submariners were at Friar Tuck’s Tavern on Saturday watching football but does not explain why the base is called Naval Submarine Base New London.
All history and nonsense and historical nonsense aside, tomorrow we’re out of here. As for the blog? We’ll pick it up next May, because that’s when we’ll next see Tumbleweed, unless something horrible happens to her and we have to rush back to document the tragedy for insurance purposes. The general plan is to join up with the Looper migration, this time near the front of the pack. We’ll work around Lakes Ontario, Erie, Huron, and Michigan, then down the rivers, assuming we aren’t murdered on a dark night in Joliet. At a minimum this time, we’d like to take the Cumberland to Nashville and the Tennessee to Knoxville. Maybe catch up with The Lower Place and more old Tennessee friends along the way.
Of course, last time we left a boat on Long Island Sound with a solid plan to return, we failed to foresee a world-wide economy-crushing virus. So really, at this point we’re mostly just happy about the four months we’ve had since that day we loaded Tumbleweed and shoved off from the dock behind Rick and Mary’s house in Fort Myers.
*Imagine our disgust at learning that the doggerel on which most of our knowledge was based in fact is false. There weren’t even forty blows total and the murder weapon was a hatchet, not an axe. (Which we note oddly also can be spelled ax.) But “hatchet” doesn’t rhyme with “whacks” or anything else that would be as catchy, so we’re left with fake news. However, in an effort to be historically accurate, the gift shop did sell large replica rubber hatchets, complete with dried fake blood smears and fingerprints. That’s not even a joke. We took a photo.