Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Sprinkling of Nutmeg

It's Saturday and heading over to talk bikes, politics and what we would do if either of us hit the lottery big time. Giff is heading out camping with his friend after his boss lets him off and me, I have planned a ride to mid and southern Connecticut for some more Double Down towns. I figure I would get an early start, however plans are just that, theoretical. I got out of Giffs about 11:30 and screwed around checking the route until 12:30pm or so before I actually got on the road.

First place I am heading is Bloomfield, CT which is just west and a little north of Hartford. Mapsource had me going out the MA pike and then down I-84. Turned that sucker into an elastic band dropping it onto CT 197 past Bigelow State Park and then picked 84 thru Vernon and Hartford. It was very tempting to stop at one of my all time favorites places Reins, but I resisted. They make the best sandwiches for sure.

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Got the Bloomfield High School and headed out of town. The GPS was acting up and I figured I had a corrupted waypoint in the route, because everytime I charged up the route, the GPS would shut down and reboot itself. Time for some Point to Point navigation. I find myself going down this neighborhood street, passed these guys coming home and had to go back for some pictures.

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The GPS has picked some roads thru Hartford before placing me on I-91. As I looked around I realized I was in this neck of the woods running down BBQ joints a couple of years ago for the Smoke Chasing Grand Tour. Off I-91 to Higganum. Nothing special about this place other than it is worth 1 point and the town name is neat.(not a clue how to say it)

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Into Haddam for the Congregational Church, which is a replica of the one built in 1846 that burned to the ground in the 1970's. Fooled me, figured the church was old. A quick look around the church and it reeks of history.

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As I am making my way down the west side of the Connecticut River, I diverted myself to one of the NER BONE Scenic places. Grab a few pics, one with Gillette Castle in the background.

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Back to grabbing Double Down towns pull into Deep River. I had marked 2 National Register of Historic Places in the town to grab if I had time. Well I had time and grabbed Pratt, Reed and Company Complex. These guys manufactured piano keys and key boards from ivory and wood from the time of the Civil War to WWII. The first pictured factory was built in 1881 and the white one was built in 1914. The old place looks like it has been converted to apartments or condos and the other houses a plastic company and some other business endeavors.

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Right across the street from the plastic company was this pond with water spurting up in it. Appropriately the pond is name Keyboard Pond.
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Right down the street they used to make Gliders used in WWII.

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I headed for the next historic spot, the Deep River Freight Station. This made for a much more interesting picture for the Double Down tour. This was built around 1915 by the New York, New Haven and Hartford RR.

Located right behind the freight station is the dock for the Essex Steam Train and Riverboat dock. This is a really pretty view of the Connecticut River, very peaceful and serene. While I was there, newly weds were having their wedding pictures taken by the river.

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Back up on CT 164 headed further south to Essex. Stopped for the entering Essex sign. It was just so big and available. The Double Down tour allows entering the town signs only if they are put up by the local folks and are not just the green entering signs put up the state. This would be my first one on these if I use it.

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In Centerbrook picked up the pizza place for Double Down. Right behind this place is a really neat dam and figured it might be a good scenic shot.

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Just in case I decide not to use the Essex town sign stopped at the Essex Hardware. Right across the street is Essex Steam Train. Picked up a brochure from the kid at entrance telling him I was just turning around. They had some kind of circus event going on and I think they were charging just to get onto the lot.

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Hanging a right onto CT 153 head straight for Westbrook and got this pretty uninteresting place pictorially, but satisfied the Double Down stuff. It was right here I got gas. At the pump next to me was a family filling up their car and a kid probably about 9 years old was standing there watching me. As I mounted the bike and began to start the bike he watched me go for the starter button and put his hands over his ears. To his surprise there was no explosion, just a really nice purr coming from the FJR. I said to him, what did you expect a lot of noise. His mother looked up and just smiled.

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I was going to go deep into Old Saybrook but this was just there. The GPS is acting up again so I simply plugged in the next destination, but realize it was taking me up the west side of the Connecticut River and I was to wind myself up the east side of the river. I forced my south, crossed over the Connecticut River via I-95 and turned north on CT 156. Veered left on Hamburg Rd and stopped for a picture of this bridge. At this point I am in Lyme.

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I crossed over the bridge onto to Joshuatown Rd and began one of the most scenic rides I have been as I made my way up to Gillette Castle. Not a long stretch of road, about 6 miles, but worthy of trip whether you be in a cage or bike. CHECK IT HERE

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Stopped at the other side of the Hadlyme Ferry Launch to make it a paired stop.

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Pulled into to Gillette Castle State Park, snapped off a bad pic of the castle and decided I had to bring MeAsWe back to this area for a more intensive photo session in the MINI. I have been to the castle but it was with the NER group back in 2005 and a return trip is warranted.

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Day is moving on, made tracks to East Haddam Fire Dept. The scene across the street was much prettier that what I captured with the camera. The rays of the sun coming out from the clouds were much more defined. I need to work on my photo skills for capturing something like this.

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Right up the street is East Haddam Congregational Church. While this is a spectacular old church in it's own right, it was the bell tower that grabbed my eye and made me turn around and go back. There was something about the weathered paint on the tower that gave this church a kind of eerie spooky look. Built in 1794, it is America's Oldest Federal Meetinghouse. The word "Federal" here refers to the architecture type versus government. Right next door is also the First Church Cemetery established in 1788.

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Back to the more mundane sites. (like the colors of the sign though)

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Last stop is Middle Haddam. Clipped my flag to the church sign and pulled off the last scheduled stop of the day. To my surprise the sign was made of metal. I was expecting it to be wood.

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I am done for the day, other than I have to get home. Plug is the Home waypoint and the GPS has me heading east on CT 16. I started seeing the signs for Colchester. Isn't Harry's Place in Colchester. Pulled up Harry's in the Where do you want to go section and made a bee line for Harry's.

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What can you say about Harry's. There is something about their cheeseburgers, they don't look special, but they are. Is it the memories that are conjured up as you bite into the burger, is it the grease on the grill that marinates the ground hamburger, is it the kids running around, or the classic 56 Chevy that pulls in. I don't know what makes them so good, they just are GOOD. I hear the fried clams and onion rings are out of this world. READ FOR YOURSELF.

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I was disappointed that I only had enough cash on me for one burger, but I am sure my waistline thanked my wallet.

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Some of the folks at Harry's

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Great day of riding, scenery was superb, and riding home as the sun set was wonderful. SLIDESHOW HERE

T 2014 07 26

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Raking in the Rest of Rhode Island

After a nice ride out to the Berkshires yesterday, it is time to knock off the rest of the Double Down towns in Rhode Island and some of those bordering MA towns as well.

First planned stop is North Attleboro, however on route to the police station I happened to see the sign for South Attleboro Marine. A quick U turn on US 1 and I head into the parking lot for a pic. WHOA WHOA full fisted brake grab. Across the entrance to the parking lot is a yellow wire to prevent intruders such as me from entering the lot. When I came to a stop and I mean a STOP (ABS working its glory) the wire was resting on my front fender less than 6 inches from the front forks. Any further I would have looked like a pumpkin loaded on a trebuchet. Second close call on the second day of the weekend on seventh month that just happens to be 2 times that month for the year, which begins with a 20. I am starting to feel jinxed about this whole Double Down, which is a 2 too.

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With that said I still grabbed a pick and had my fingers that my Karma mantra is not Third Time is a Charm. From North Attleboro headed to Attleboro and then Attleboro Falls to finish out the Quadfecta. The following week I called the owners of South Attleboro Marine to tell them of my experience and got a great response from them. They were all apologetic and said they would immediately put some flags on the wire to warn future drivers of the wire across the driveway.

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Did grab this really neat Hot Dog joint in Attleboro.

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I will dodge and jump between MA and RI for the next few miles picking up Seekonk and Barrington passing Evelyn's Drive In reviewed by Guy on Triple D.

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Heading into Little Compton, I remembered to mark the map with the RI NER tag, Sakonnet Yacht Club and then headed for the Little Compton Historical Society for some Double Down opps. I spend about 40 minutes with the guy at the Wilbor House built in 1690. This place was owned by the same family until 1920. Not a bad run.

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Middletown and Naragansett are my next 2 stops. Nothing special about these places other than I get to points for Narragansett as a double double.

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I was going to head for East Greenwich, but the traffic was horrendous on RT1 and opted for Shannock and Wood River Junction.

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Right by the Wood River Golf, matter of fact right there was this barn with the wavy roof.

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Pointing North picked up West Greenwich which was not planned, but got it never the less.

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Last scheduled stop for the day was the Greene Public Library, which put me wandering on some pretty nice roads I had not been of before.

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As I got closer to home stopped in Chepatchet to grab a quick photo for the RI tag, so I did not have to look thru some file photos when I got home. Much easier that way to get the tags posted.

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Told MeAsWe my story about the guide wire, to which she said "Maybe you should stop riding" to which I said "I don't think so"

Todays trip was just under 200 miles.

CLICK ME for the Non Cut Version with additional photos and outtakes.

T 2014 07 13