We’re finally heading south (-ish)

October 21 — After our weekend in Boston and one final night with Cousin Aleta in Connecticut, we moved back into Charley this morning with plans to drive 200 miles down to southeast Pennsylvania where we are setting our circus down once again – this time for four days west of Philadelphia.  For those who know this part of the country, you know we can simply hop on I-95 and take it down the rest of the Connecticut coast, over the GW Bridge and around NYC, down the New Jersey Turnpike to Philly and to our campground.  But as it goes with this gypsy lifestyle of ours where we drag around our ‘studio apartment on wheels’ as Fred likes to call it, we ran into a low railroad bridge – 11’1″ clearance – just 500 feet from our desired entrance to I-95.  Needing 12’4″ of headroom for Charley, we couldn’t make it under.  [Insert gameshow voice that bother, Tom, does so well: Wah wah….]

Fortunately, my driver – of course, this would be Fred – was paying attention and we were able to bail into a parking lot just before the bridge and thus avoid the terribly embarrassing and wickedly (borrowed this word from Boston) expensive incident of sheering the top of our RV right off, leave aside the fact that this would considerably delay our plans of fleeing south to get out of the looming cold.  But anyway, we got ourselves turned around and once again headed back north where we would need to re-route ourselves.  I as the CLO [Chief Logistics Officer] was thinking we could just head a little more south and west to the next I-95 entrance point a few miles down.  But not so fast… dang!… same railroad line – this one, too, with only 11’1″ of clearance under the bridge right next to the highway entrance.  It didn’t take me too much longer to figure out that this was very likely the Metro-North line that shuttles 125,000 commuters from CT to NYC every day, and this would mean that it would parallel I-95 and likely present low bridge problems all the way down the line/Interstate.  Well this CLO was not going to be stymied!  With the aid of my couldn’t-live-without-it Google Maps app, I found a new route for us that took us back pretty far north, then west to Bridgeport where we could make it onto Hwy 8 that went south and then fed onto I-95.  I’ll bet my average reader doesn’t have to think about low clearance bridges like we now do…!

Steering a wide berth around NYC
As close as we wanted to get to Midtown or Downtown; we steered wide around NYC!

But anyway, we finally made it onto our desired highway, steered a very wide berth around NYC and made it into our KOA Kampground [that’s right, with a ‘K’, where we’re racking up our Kamping Points on our Kamping Kard!!]   Incidentally, we’re sorry, Anne & Linda; we won’t be coming to visit you in NYC this trip as it’s just too difficult with Charley having the final say in our itinerary.

After our hour-long delay up in Connecticut and a lunch stop at the truck stop in Fort Lee, NJ (talk about an interesting place!) we made it to our destination where it is somewhat warmer.  We set up camp, showered, and then met my dear friend, Troy, at her house for some wine and nibbles before a delicious dinner in West Chester with her.

Laura & Troy
One of the best things about our journey is meeting up with friends & family members along the way. Here I am with my good friend, Troy.

All in all it was a good day and we’re finally on our way to some southern destinations and ultimately winter warmth.  Unfortunately the weather forecast for the next two days doesn’t look too promising for this area in the country, but that’s okay….



Connecticut with Cousin Aleta

Cousin Aleta & Fred enjoying back yard happy hour
Aleta & Fred enjoying back yard happy hour

We are spending several days with my father’s cousin, Aleta, and her partner, Ed.  Most of my father’s side of our family resides back in Denmark, so the few of us that are here in the U.S. definitely need to stick together!

Happy hikers who made atop Sleeping Giant
Happy hikers who made it to the top of Sleeping Giant

It’s been a wonderful visit and they’ve taken good care of us; we’ve eaten and drunk (that’s the proper word usage, right?) well!  Highlights of our time together include a Columbus Day hike the three of us took in nearby Sleeping Giant State Park.  We made it up to the summit of the ‘sleeping giant’ and were rewarded with lovely views of the fall foliage and surrounding areas.

The four of us also very much enjoyed a morning in New Haven, home to Yale University, where we walked around some and spent time at the Yale University Art Gallery; a world-renowned gallery with many impressive works.  Four stood out that I think are worth sharing:

Surrender of General Burgoyne, by John Trumbull (1821)
Surrender of General Burgoyne, by John Trumbull (1821)

Worthy of first mention is this painting on the left.  Revolutionary War artist John Trumbull gave more than 100 of his paintings to the Yale College back in 1832 which was the foundation for the permanent collection here.  Surrender of General Burgoyne is his famous painting depicting British General John Burgoyne’s surrender to American General Horatio Gates at Saratoga on October 17, 1777.  Regular readers of my blog will remember that we visited Saratoga NHP back in August and had a wonderful time with cousin Jason who works at Saratoga.  So Jason, we were thinking of you as we saw Trumbull’s original paintings here at Yale!

Le cafe de nuit (The Night Cafe), by Vincent van Gogh (1888)
Le cafe de nuit (The Night Cafe), by Vincent van Gogh (1888)

I just like Vincent van Gogh, as I do the other Impressionist painters, and when in Arles in southern France some years ago, I walked right by the Café de l’Alcazar, where van Gogh took his meals. Naturally, I loved seeing yet another of his originals hanging here in the gallery.

Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point Trail, by Albert Bierstadt (1873)
Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point Trail, by Albert Bierstadt (1873)

Another painting in the category of ‘we recently saw this’… well, not this painting because it’s hanging here at Yale, but others by this artist back when we visited the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller NHP in Vermont.  This painting is one by Albert Biersadt, who was part of an informal group of like-minded painters in the 19th century called the Hudson River School artists.  They painted landscapes as pastoral settings, with very carefully-painting details and romantic, almost glowing lighting.  The Rockefellers were avid collectors of these artists’ works; in fact, they have one of the largest private collections of these Hudson River School painters, amassing 24 of their paintings in all.  So back in September when we were touring the M-B-R home, we saw two other Bierstadt paintings with this unmistakable look and feel.  It was a real treat to see this painting!

Augustus Saint-Gardens' Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln, by Augustus Saint-Gardens (1884)

This should look familiar to our Chicago friends. This is a reduced version of the much much larger scale Abraham Lincoln statue that stands (literally) just south of North Avenue at the edge of Lincoln Park.  Fred & I loved walking past this statue after our walks up through the Lincoln Park Zoo.  So you can imagine our déjà vu when we saw this one here in the gallery!

Pizza lunch at Mystic Pizza
Pizza lunch at Mystic Pizza

And from priceless classic paintings to “classic” B-grade movies… from Aleta’s location in Shelton, we also took a day trip up the Connecticut coastline where we enjoyed the small coastal towns of Guilford, Groton, Old Lyme, Stonington, and Mystic.  And you know, Fred being the movie buff that he is, we just had to eat at Mystic Pizza – setting for the movie Mystic Pizza – for lunch.  If I’m not mistaken, this was the breakout movie for Julia Roberts back in 1988.  The pizza was actually very good!

We are not quite finished with our visit with Aleta & Ed.  We are going to spend a long weekend up in Boston, then come back here for one more night next week, and then although we’re having such a nice time together, we really must scoot south before it gets too much colder.