John & Brenda's Excellent Tour travel blog

Blue goes to Yale

Taiko drummers in a New Haven square

Our Thimble Islands cruise boat, the Volsunga IV

A Victorian house perched on one of the Thimble Islands

A view of Stony Creek Harbor, Connecticut


June 18

Monday morning and our last day in New York arrived much too soon, just like everything else at this age. We packed up our things and took them to the lobby. While Brenda chatted up the friendly bellman, I went back to the parking lot to retrieve Big Blue. Lo and behold, she was as pristine as I had left her and the 3-day bill was $99 due to our much appreciated hotel discount.

I clawed the 3 blocks back to the hotel in a record 25 minutes (apparently I was in prime time for delivery trucks and movers). With Brenda's new friend the bellman scurrying to help, we were loaded up and heading for FDR Boulevard on our way out of town toward New England. Our general target for today was New Haven, Connecticut.

We were in Connecticut before we knew it and driving the interstate through Stamford, which we recalled as the headquarters city for GTE in our early days at BC Tel. We exited the interstate looking for a Subway shop for lunch but, instead, found a pub in a very quaint New England village called Southport along a narrow twisting lane of huge, gorgeous mansions along Long Island Sound. We were the only patrons in the 40's era pub at this time, but judging from the pictures and memorabilia by which we were surrounded, it was a popular local hangout.

Re-entering the interstate, Brenda located a couple of potential motel prospects in our discount coupon booklet. We now found our discount budget at serious risk, as it bumped up against "subject to availability" and high holiday season pricing. A couple of false starts later we ended up at a Best Western in Branford, Connecticut. It was handy to a great grocery and wine store and close enough to New Haven for us to book 2 nights in order to visit Yale University.

Brenda was able to get back to her fitness routine and I worked on getting caught up on my 8 days of journal notes I had accumulated prior to New York. The Nordgren procrastination factor rears its ugly head. We were able to second the washer and dryer with no contention other than that Brenda had with stubborn coin slots. We really miss New York.

June 19

On Tuesday, we awoke to another warm day and chose to activate our plan to drive to New Haven to visit Yale University. We had no map and just freeway exit signs to guide us; given that and my unerring sense of direction while driving in ever-decreasing concentric circles, we eventually arrived at the Yale Visitors Center.

It had been our plan to just do a drive-through Yale with the notion that proximity and osmosis couldn't help but make us smarter. However, when we got out and walked, we could see something was going on in the nearby squares. The New Haven/Yale Arts and Ideas Festival was underway and we had arrived in the middle of their noon hour program. We entered the square to the music of a Black woman jazz singer and her combo. She was very good and we found a nearby picnic table to listen to a couple of numbers.

Brenda spied a Subway across the way so we hurried over to pick up take-out sandwiches and scurry back. As we were finishing our picnic, the show ended, much to our disappointment. Disappointment lasted mere seconds when the MC came on and announced a Japanese drumming group (Taiko) would be starting in 10 minutes at the next square over. They were also incredible to listen to and reminded us of those we had seen in the Shoji Tabuchi Show in Branson and Disneyworld 2 years ago with Katie.

Regrettably, our 2-hour parking allotment was up before the show was over and we headed back to Blue to drive back to Branford and nearby Stony Creek. We took the exit to the Stony Creek town dock, found a shady spot to park and walked down the scenic waterfront to the dock. At the dock there were signs advertising water tours of the Thimble Islands, a formation of several small islands around the mouth of the Stony Creel harbour.

We made arrangements for the 3:00 pm tour and went for a walk of the neighbourhood while we waited. When 3:00 o'clock rolled around, we boarded the Volsunga IV for our 45-minute, $9 tour. There are hundreds of rock outcroppings in the ocean within a close radius of Stony Creek and 17 of them are inhabited. Most of the homes are from the Victorian era and are only occupied seasonally. The tour with Captain Bob was educational and entertaining, made even more enjoyable by the fabulous weather.

From Stony Creek we drove the side roads to nearby Gilford, an area of historic homes and quaint settlements. Connecticut has many such enclaves and one would need months, even years to see them all. However, in one short day we felt like we had seen a good representative sampling of what there is to see...all in all, we considered this a major bonus day!



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