Blog Entry #8 Monday September 16 to Friday September 19, 2014 – Bedford and Mystic and Groton, Oh My!


On the 16th of September Rusty’s wife Gail and I took a driving tour of the Little Compton, RI region while Jean and her brother Rusty got caught up as they sorted through some circa 1950 family slides.9-17-14 50' model of Lagoda, Whaling Museum, New Bedford, MA

Largest Model of a Ship in the World, the Lagoda

The next morning, September 17th (and after installing a new speedometer cable) Jean and I took a Jeep ride over to the Whaling Museum in New Bedford, MA. I found the Museum overwhelming in a couple of ways. First of all, the museum has an extensive and eclectic collection of whale skeletons, nautical
artifacts, exhibits depicting the influence of fishing on cultures as far away as Alaska and the Azores off the coast of Portugal, boat building, and what is probably the largest ship model in the world – a half-scale 50’ long model of a 1800’s whaling ship along with numerous smaller scale models of early and modern whaling vessels.

9-17-14 Picnic lunch in New Bedford, MA

Picnic Lunch at the Whaling Museum

The aspect that was/is overwhelming to me is the unbridled taking of so many whales during the past two centuries driven by the need for whale oil. Only the economic impracticality created by the scarcity of whales and the discovery of crude oil in Pennsylvania curtailed the further mass killing of the whales. Although the harvesting of sea life has certainly had its place in providing income and sustenance, one wonders if examples such as near extinction of whale species and current devastation of the cod, clam and swordfish populations will drive us to find a better balance between short term needs and long term life quality. It was encouraging to learn while in Maine that their lobster fishermen have taken upon themselves the registration of lobster fisherman, regulation of lobster sizes and control of the number of lobster pots used in order to stabilize the lobster yields. Sounds like they are seeking a sustainable balance – and – recent harvests have been very bountiful.

We said our goodbyes to Rusty and Gail on September 18th and headed off to Mystic, CT for an overnight stay on our way to my cousin Judy’s house in Middlefield, CT; south of Hartford. On the way to Mystic we visited Newport, RI, noted for the summer homes of the Vanderbilts and other wealthy families constructed at the turn of the 20th century. Certainly, these 30 room summer “cottages” were impressive, but more impressive to me was viewing the 133 foot schooner “Coronet” being restored (more like reconstructed) in an enclosed wharf building near the center of Newport. Constructed in 1885 at considerable expense, this privately financed yacht amassed an impressive record as a both a racing yacht and international traveler (kind of like our Jeep, maybe). It is hard to imagine how they were able (then and now) to fashion the huge curved ribs and deck joists and affix the 2” thick planks snuggly to one another along the sides of the hull. Makes any woodworking project that I have undertaken seem truly trivial. Before traveling onto Mystic, CT, we capped off our stop in Newport with one of our traditional peanut butter and honey sandwich picnic lunches in a memorial park at the bottom of the Newport peninsula.

9-18-14 Coronet Plaque Newport, RI

The Coronet Plaque

The Coronet’s Renovations


9-18-14 Picnic Lunch Brenton Park, Newport, RI

Picnic Lunch at Brenton Park, Newport, RI

We spent the evening of September 18th in the famous seaport of Mystic, Connecticut. First order of business was for yours truly to do a couple of loads of laundry at the local coin operated laundromat. For me, visiting local laundromats is one of the highlights of our treks. One meets some very interesting people in the evening at local laundromats. And sure enough, in came a local resident who was more that pleased to share her knowledge of the local establishments and attractions. Her advice was most helpful. When I got back to the motel, I picked up Jean and we first headed down to the tip of a peninsula to view the sunset over the harbor (aaah), and then we headed off for dinner in the rock walled basement pub of a prestigious local restaurant (lots of character and less expensive menu than upstairs).

9-18-14 Sunset Stonington Point, Mystic, CT

                                                            Sunset at Stonington Point, Mystic, CT                                                      The morning of September 19th we made the short hop from Mystic, CT to Groton, CT to visit the Submarine Force Museum. It was a very worthwhile stop. Along with offering a tour of a cold war class US nuclear submarine (they wouldn’t let me touch any buttons), they have a comprehensive museum with scale models representing all the classes of U.S. submarines from the late 1800’s through the present, as well as representations of submarine instrumentation, controls, and periscopes. We then enjoyed a scenic drive through the winding roads of central Connecticut, arriving at Cousin Judy’s home late that afternoon.

9-19-14 Jeep thru the periscope - Submarine Force Museum, Groton, CT Jeep Through the Periscope at the Submarine Model at the Submarine Force Museum, Groton, CT


9-19-14 Sub Model - Submarine Force Museum, Groton, CT

Submarine Force Museum, Groton, CT


Blog Entry #7 Saturday September 13 to Sunday September 15, 2014 - Portsmouth to Worchester to Little Compton
Blog Entry #9 Saturday September 20 to Wednesday September 24, 2014 - Middlefield, Connecticut and Conquering the Barnegat Lighthouse