Saturday, May 27, 2017

Pony Express Connecticut

I feel like I am getting into a rut with traveling in Connecticut. My primary driver to get me out is the Grand Tours that I participate in, today is no different. Eastern Connecticut just seems to be rich in L O V E towns so this is where I am heading. To keep me off highways I use historic sites to route me in Mapsource, the software I use for my GPS route planning.

While heading to my first stop, on North Rd in East Killingly I came across the Westcott family cemetery. Why do I stop and take pics of cemeteries. There is a Waymarking category for them and they can be quite photogenic. There are only 10 residents in this one.

North Rd. dumps out onto Hartford Pike, RT 101. Stopped for the first E town of the day.

Hung a right onto Peeptoad Rd (cool name, eh )NRHP (National Register of Historic Places) site, Elliotville Lower Mill. Peeptoad is a hard packed dirt road, however it is a town road and not a private road. The mill was built in 1850 as a cotton mill, owned by the Elliotville Manufacturing Company. The dam and pond provided the power for the mill. Today the mill is a residence, studio and craft exhibition space.

As I was taking pictures I saw a woman coming toward me from the property. This is not unusual, most of the time it is what am I doing, which I tell them I am an amateur photographer and historian, which satisfies the folks for the most part. That would not be the case today. The woman admonished me for taking pictures, telling me she has worked very hard on the property to get it to this point and did not appreciate me taking pictures of her property. I assured her my intents were purely innocent. Well for now the law states that a photographer is in the public domain they can take pictures of what ever they want. Since I was standing on a town owned street that is the public domain. That was my thought bubble, however I kept it to myself. No point getting into a never ending argument between us. You would think that the artist (see above) would appreciate another artist (cough cough) practicing their craft.

Following the back roads, RT 664, I worked my way to Glens Falls Bridge (NRHP) on Brunswick Ave in Plainfield. The Glen Falls Bridge is a single span wrought iron lenticular thru truss bridge built in 1886. It was built by the Berlin Iron Bridge Company for the Town of Plainfield. It crosses the Moosup River and is adjacent to the former Glens Falls woolen mill. Brunswick Ave was once was a major road, closed sometime before 1989.

The lenticular part is the structure that looks like a rear axle leaf spring (well at least to me).

View of the Glens Falls Dam that was used to power the mill.

Not seeing any signs on the bridge to stay off, I ventured out to the middle.

Just up the road on RT 14 is the Aldrich Free Public Library, on NRHP. The Aldrich Free Library was built in 1895 in the Queen Anne style. The library was a created as a result of donations from David L Aldrich ($3,000) and Edwin Milner ($2,000), who were the town's leading industrialist, as well as smaller donations from community residents. The library opened on Washington's birthday in 1896. The architect was Charles F. Wilcox from Providence, RI. It is located in the village of Moosup, part of Plainfield.

Rt 14A splits off from RT 14, which heads to Sterling Hill. Grabbed the Oneco PO for the "O" and the Oneco Market right across the street. The store qualifies as a Local Grocery on Waymarking, but they are cool looking in their own right.

Further up 14A is Sterling Hill Historic District (NRHP). The majority of the homes are 18th century with the Sterling Hill Baptist Church the focal point, built in 1797. English settlement came shortly after 1700, with the area incorporated in 1721 as part of Voluntown. Route 14a was a major link between Rhode Island and central Connecticut. Many of the homes in the district served as taverns at one time or another. The residents of the area in 1797 built the present day church to serve as a meeting house and only occasionally did it serve as a religious place. In 1812, the trustees of the meetinghouse made it available to the Sterling Baptists.

Picked up RT 169, Canterbury Rd and headed south. Rt 169 is an America Byway and quite a scenic route. Saw the Lisbon Town Line marker which I will use as a "L" town.

Tried to get the Versailles PO but no sign, the Welcome to Versailles is much prettier anyways.

On CT 97, Bridge St is the Occum Hydroelectric Plant and Dam (NRHP).

The dam dates to 1865, was intended for providing water power down stream for mills in the area. In 1932 the dam was purchased by Norwich and reconfigured for electrical power generation. The dam is built of large irregular blocks of granite, which measures 14 feet high, 12 feet wide at the base and 6 feet wide at the top of the dam. The dam was heavily damaged in the 1938 hurricane, resulting in reconstruction of the eastern portion with reinforced concrete. There is a brick powerhouse on site. The interior space of the powerhouse is filled with a single vertical shaft three phase 4,000 volt, 8oo kw generator made by the Electric Machinery Manufacturing Company. It was constructed in 1934. The powerhouse served main functions: shelter for the controls and generators and support for the bridge crane used to lift the units up for service.

Picked up the Occum town line sign

On Ct 163 is the Bozrah Congregational Church (NRHP). Completed in 1843, the church served as a religious site as well as a meetinghouse for the town for 100 years. It is a white Greek Revival structure with the gable end prominently facing the street. The three stage tower does contain a large bronze bell.

In investigating the church normally the Congregational Churches in New England are affiliated with groups such as United Church of Christ. The Congregational Churches were organized in the States as individual societies to be run by the members without affiliation with a church in Europe, England or Asia. It appears the Bozrah Congregation Church has remained as the "Church of Pilgrims".

At the intersection of CT 163 and Oakdale Road is Raymond-Bradford Homestead (NRHP) in Montville CT. The original house was built in 1710, with updates to the structure in 1820 and then again in 1870. It was the home of Mercy Sands Raymond, who was associated with the pirate, Captain Kidd.

Following CT 163 into Oakdale for the PO and then East Lyme, Old Mystic and Ledyard. Old Mystic was turning north point of the journey to head for the barn.

In Preston at the intersection of Colonel Ledyard Highway and Spicer Hill Rd is Bill Gurdon's Store (NRHP). The store was built in 1818 and was located on an important cross road for the stage coaches. The store maintains its 19th century look and is the best preserved of its type in Connecticut. The store carried manufactured goods, seeds, tools, prepared foods, cloth and other sundries farming people would need.

Having left home in the morning without anything to eat and being after 4 pm, I came to the intersection of Mathewson Mill Rd and Norwich Westerly Rd. The light was red which gave me a chance to glance over to the right to see Jimmies. Light turns green and I make a U Turn and stop. I was thinking Ice Cream but then I saw a Bleu Cheese and Bacon Hotdog, which I ordered. Paid and went to sit down at the picnic tables to watch the girls softball teams arrive for a late afternoon ice cream after a game. My meal arrives and I discover they made me a Bleu and Bacon Grilled Cheese. No wonder why the bill was so much. Well I have to say this was one of the best sandwiches I have ever had and will be sure to try making one at home. Highly recommend a stop here if you are in the area.

As I left Jimmies my Android phone was playing the Moody Blues - "I know you are out there", which made me feel my brother-in-law John was with me along for the ride. John passed away a few years back and the Moody Blues was one of his favorite bands. Miss the guy for sure.

Traveling north via Branch Hill Rd hanging a right on CT 165 to Glasgo Rd for the Kinne Cemetery (NRHP), brought me to a dead end where the cemetery was suppose to be however it appeared to enter some private property so this was a bust. As I turned around, rather than heading back to the main road went the opposite direction to see if the cemetery was along this road. Instead found the Glasgo Dam that is being updated and rebuilt, it is 146 years old after all.

Quick stop in Voluntown for the V.

Headed north and east into Rhode Island for the E in Exeter.

All of the previous Grand Tour stops have been for Teamstrange. This spot is one of the specific locations for the GLMC Americana Extreme Tour.

One more post office in East Greenwich for Teamstrange.

And the fire station in East Greenwich, a general place to Americana Extreme. The general locations for this tour are state and national parks, schools, fire departments, dinosaurs, train stations, motorcycle shops and Diners / Drive Ins.

The last stop of the day is the Chapel by the Sea in Warwick RI. A specific spot for Americana Tour. This is right on the Providence River and a very scenic place. The chapel is used for a lot of weddings. When I pulled up the road was filled with water from the heavy rains we have been having and I pulled further into the driveway so I wouldn't be standing in ankle deep water while trying to capture the bike, flag and chapel. A lady came out and said feel free to pull in as far as you need. I assume she was the owner of the property and quite pleasant. Nice way to end the day for stops.

With 37 miles to go, made my way to I-295 to 146 to get home the faster. Pulled in right around 7;30pm, grabbed a Rolling Rock, put my feet up, feeling quite satisfied with the day's captures. Just over 200 miles for the day, on some great roads in Connecticut that I have not been on before.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

It's About Time

Headed over to Giff's as I usually do, to hang out and shoot the shit. Expectations on my end is there will be a line of bikes trying to get their inspections before May 31st, as required in Massachusetts. No lines but a steady stream of bikes coming in. Bill closed the doors at 12:30 and we headed for lunch at a new place. At lunch I told him I was heading out to Dinosaur State Park to see if he wanted to go. He said he would follow for a while and would turn off someplace. That's one of the best things about being friends with Giff, we don't get upset, offended or take it personal when we do stuff like that.

Around 2:30, Bill shows up at my house and we head out toward Connecticut. When I plan my routes on Mapsource I let the mapping software pick the roads. If I don't lick it's selection, I then reroute it's choice to what I want. Makes things simple this way. Well I didn't really pay that much attention to how it decided to get to Eastford Post Office for the Americana Extreme tour, since we went straight thru Webster center to get to the intersection of Ct 197 and 12. There were much prettier ways to get to this spot. Eastford had the first Union general to be killed in the Civil War. It also has the village of Phoenixville, which makes me think of that movie about a plane crash in the Sahara Desert with a dozen people aboard. One of the passengers claims he is a plane designer and they begin to rebuild the wreck out of the pieces. They come to find out during the build process he is a model airplane designer. Maybe this village will rise from the ashes as well.

Riding along the very country road of Bassett Bridge Road and saw this farm, with the pile of bowling balls and cows having lunch at the picnic table under the pavilion. Just had to stop.

One has to question, why would someone put a neatly stacked set of bowling balls in a field, which are probably glued together so the cows don't know them over. Maybe there was a bowling alley on this farm and like most of the stone walls were built by clearing the land of the boulders.

And then there is the cow pavilion. What I did notice there is a cow skull hanging of the left side of the pavilion, I wonder if the cows noticed this as well.

Actually the Holy Cow Family Shelter is a real place in Willimantic.

Holy Family Home and Shelter, Inc. operates by the Sisters of Charity of our Lady Mother of the Church. The home endeavors to serve those families whose circumstances have deprived them of an adequate lifestyle and housing. Holy Family Home and Shelter does not seek to pass judgment on any person for their current or past lifestyle. The Home offers families a warm hearted environment while providing nourishment with shelter in a kind Christ - like manner. The Shelter's safe harbor allows for assistance in finding solutions to alleviate their own situation for those capable of living in harmony with others, while respecting their own mutual rights.

Grabbed Mansfield Hollow State Park for the second of two parks for the Americana tour which was right down the street from the farm. Did pull into the park and drive around, took a picture of the picnic area, which had people enjoying the afternoon, and moved along before I had to answer questions about why I was taking pictures of their family.

Found myself on US 6 in Columbia and caught this octagonal building and pulled into the Park and Ride lot to take a picture. Octagonal buildings are somewhat unusual, which is a Waymarking category. The building is known as "Lighthouse" and the area was renamed from Katzman’ Corners to Lighthouse Corners due to the building.

I had 2 ways to cross the Connecticut River. Either I could use RT 3 or take the Glastonbury - Rocky Hill Ferry for $6.00. I opted for the ferry since it is way cooler and the ferry is on the National Register of Historic Places. Well I got there and apparently it was not running today.

I ended up heading North on 17, picked up 3, crossed the Connecticut River and headed south on I-91 to get to Dinosaur State Park. I am here for the Americana Extreme Tour, but not for the state park, I need a picture of a "Dinosaur – statue, mural, or sign of a dinosaur". This was the whole purpose of the trip today and the turn around point to go back home, which is about 90 miles away. Get waste those miles of traveling without throwing some more stops in.

Crystal and I found ourselves here once before by happenstance and went into the building for a visit. A very neat play to visit. Kids should get a kick out of it too.

Dinosaur State Park and Arboretum is a state owned and operated natural history preserve occupying 80 acres (32 ha) in the town of Rocky Hill, Connecticut. The state park protects one of the largest dinosaur track sites in North America. Its Jurassic-era sandstone-embedded fossil tracks date from about 200 million years ago. Source: Wikipedia

Getting late in the afternoon, I don't fell like riding thru Hartford or finding roads around Hartford, I head for Windsor via I-91. Windor has a RR staion I need for the Americana Extreme tour. Windsor is also home to Nat Hayden's BBQ. says this; Nat Hayden's isn't going to blow you away with barbecue to tell your grandchildren about, but it's an honest brand of 'cue in a cozy shop that does a lot of the peripheral things right.

The station was built in 1869 for Hartford & New Haven RR. Windsor became of large scale residential neighborhood because of the depot with folks commuting to Hartford form here. It is listed on the NRHP.

Heading back east I decided to pick up the Broad Brook school for the Americana Tour as one of the general sites, SCHOOLS. While I was parked here, I decided the trunk need to be straightened out, so I could find the 2 little green spring clamps for clipping the Love and Merci flag to the Spyder. Of course they made it to the bottom of the trunk and to see into it I had to take my helmet off, which I placed it on the seat. I pulled a bunch of stuff out, also placing this stuff on the seat. The sweat starts to break out on the forehead, which happens when I get aggravated. Finally found the clips, clipping to one of the plastic wings up front. As I was putting the stuff back in the trunk, my helmet decides to roll off the seat to the asphalt driveway. Yup, this caused the reaction of increasing the flow of fluid off my forehead. I just looked at the helmet as it roller around and then came to a stop. Put the rest of the stuff back in the trunk, picked up the helmet and put It on and left feeling a bit stupid.

Next stop is the Vernon Rockville PO for the V in LOVE, completing my first LOVE sequence for the Teamstrange Love and Merci Tour. After grabbing the pic, I seriously thought about heading for Rein's Deli for a Jersey Deluxe. This is one of my all time favorite delis and rivals some of the best delis in New Jersey. Crystal and I always seem to stop here after one of our mecca 5,000 mile tours as we head home on the last day. To me it is a reward for a well done trip and a way to prolong vacation just a wee bit longer.

Heading out of Rockville, passed the Hockanum Mill. This joint has a huge waterfall that comes out of the middle of it, which I am sure powered the mill at one time. The trees have grown up around the area I was parked in, so it was hard to get a decent shot.

A mill was first constructed at the site of the future Hockanum Mill on the Hockanum River in Rockville in Vernon in 1814 by Bingham & Nash. The mill produced satinet, a finely woven fabric that resembles satin but is made from wool. In 1881, the Hockanum Company built a three and a half story brick Romanesque Revival building, adjacent to the original wooden structure. Source: Historic Building of Connecticut

Of late I have been taking a lot of shots of barns. I have one handing in the main gallery of the Gifford Gallery of Upton and another in the annex called The Barn. Maybe a contender, since I got a LIKE of FB.

Riding along RT 44, also known as Pompey Hollow Rd. I stopped at the Mixer Tavern. The house was built in 1710 as a tavern to serve as a gathering place for local folks and a place to rest for travelers. It is also on the NRHP.

Last stop of the day is the Ashford Academy, listed on the NRHP, built in 1825. The Academy stands on what was once the village green where taverns and a Congregational Church once stood.

As I traveled along US 44, hanging a left onto 198 and a right onto 244 then I-395, I noticed how comfortable I have become with the Spyder. The turns and twisties have become effortless and now have to watch my speed so I don't have those ugly performance certificates to deal with. Rolled into the barn right around 7:30 with just under 200 miles for the day. Not bad for not getting a start until 2:30pm. All in all a great Saturday out on the road. Oh whats with the title. Well it's about time the weather changed to a day that was worth riding in.