Absolutely, without a doubt, my favorite town to visit in the state of Connecticut is Essex. Whether it’s to walk the quaint little streets, eat at the Griswold Inn, or to look out over the Connecticut River from the dock at the end of Main Street, I’m not quite sure. What I am sure of is that I’ve enjoyed many a wonderful evening in this town and I just love it. Laura and I have visited Essex many more times than indicated below, but I think I’ve shared enough photos in the following entries to keep you busy for a while. Browse and enjoy.
Visiting Essex, Connecticut
A few nights ago, out of nowhere, I was bitten by something. I didn’t know what it was, but when I woke up, I wanted a boat. I guess I was bitten by the boat bug.
This is horrible. I have never wanted a boat in my life. I think it all started when I was wandering around on Google Earth (again) and noticed how cool it was that the Connecticut River leads right into the Long Island Sound. I mean, it is so easy to either launch a boat or have it docked up in East Haddam and within a half hour, you could be in the ocean. The access is incredible. That’s probably why there are like two zillion boats on this river and in the Sound. How this is just dawning on me, I don’t know.
Anyway, I decided a wanted a boat about two days ago. Then I told myself to forget about it. I didn’t want another thing taking up space around here. Then, I got back into it because I was talking to my accountant about business and the boat thing came up. Apparently, he is in the market too and he knows all about them. So, I wanted one again. Then, I talked to my father and kind of didn’t want one, but still did. I just told him I didn’t want one anymore because I didn’t want to make him nervous, even though he has two boats and two jet skis. He believes that his boats are plenty and if I would just go visit him, he could take me out. What he doesn’t know is that I need a boat to go visit him in. Then I could take him out. To make a long story short, when I went to bed that night, I kind of didn’t want a boat anymore. I figured I should sleep on it instead of making another impulse purchase.
Okay, back to a long story. Since boating requires some knowledge of the subject, I figured it would be a good idea to visit a boating town to learn a little something. What better boating town is there than Essex, CT? It would be like visiting the belly of the beast as Rob would say. So, that’s what we did.
Today, we visited Essex, CT, the nicest small town we have visited in a good long while. Essex is otherwise known as “BMW Heaven.” That’s the name I gave it. There were more BMWs in Essex today than any other place on earth. It felt good being among so many high quality machines. I kept looking at all of their wheels, running boards, ski racks, etc…seeing who had what. I am sure there were a few other enthusiast doing the same thing as I was. I decided that the X5 looks great in black. Also, the larger wheels look pretty good, but could possibly make someone a little nervous around curbs.
We visited Essex on a mission. We had to get to the water and visit a few of the many shipyards and marinas in the town. We also had to talk to a few boaters and generally absorb he vibe of the boating life. We did that and now I really want a boat.
Here is my dream – I want a boat docked in East Haddam. I want to drive down to the boat weekly with my lady and hop in for a ride. I want to cruise down to Essex, Old Saybrook, Stonington, Block Island, Matha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, Newport, etc…, dock someplace and eat dinner. Then, I want to slowly cruise along the Connecticut shoreline while making our way back to the Connecticut River and up to East Haddam. Again, I want to do this all the time.
Now, I know this sounds absurd, but that’s what all these people were doing today in Essex. Man, it was so cool. All day, people were pulling up and docking their boats, only to jump out and walk around town and stop at the local eatery. It was a whole new lifestyle I have never really witnessed. I mean, I knew it was there, but I have never seen it. It’s interesting and really neat.
We did a lot of walking around today in Essex. I got a bunch of pictures and we visited a few shipyards. I got the skinny on where to dock a boat and how much it costs. Both Laura and I also helped a guy with his boat. He was having some trouble trying to dock it. All I needed was my skipper hat. It doesn’t help that I have been looking at boat websites for the past few days. Here, check out the boat I want. Now wouldn’t that be the mac daddy?
We also did a bunch of general walking around today just to check out the scene. Essex is really nice. It’s very well taken care of and the shops are unique. We stopped and went in one just because it had a sign that said, “Garden open in back.” I wanted to check that out.
After a while, we ended up in the Griswold Inn for some drinks and dinner. That was nice too. It was fun to see the boating crowd come in and eat and then leave to get back on their boats.
Back To Essex & New Hartford
Boy, what a weekend.
Laura’s brother and girlfriend came over for a weekend visit. They arrived yesterday and left today. Their visit was tentative, so when they said there were going to make it, I was a happy boy.
Since they showed up in the late afternoon, there was only one real thing to do…bring them down to Essex, CT for dinner. I bet you couldn’t figure that one out. Man, what an awesome night.
When we got to Essex, the sun was going down. We parked and walked around and bit and looked at the sights. I showed Laura’s brother and his girlfriend the town green and then we went down to the water. Oh yeah, just for your information, Author Norman Crampton named Essex as the best small town in America in his book, “Best small towns in America.” It’s that neat?
Last night, just like the night we visited two weeks ago, there was a wedding on the lawn at the Connecticut River Museum. It’s exciting when this happens because that means liquored up people and loud music. I dig it.
Before we made it to the water, I thought it would be a good idea to pop into the Griswold Inn to make dinner reservations. I didn’t know what kind of crowd was going to be there so I figured better safe than sorry. As it turned out, the place was pretty busy, but we could have done fine without the reservations.
Okay, so we hung out a bit at the water, then walked back up Main Street for some dinner. We ate dinner and went back down to the water. This is why I love this town. It’s a walking town and there seems to be stuff going on. I like the way that you just need to park and forget about it…then walk around all night doing all sorts of stuff.
As we were walking down to the water again, Laura’s brother happened to see fireworks going off in the distance. I guess there was some sort of fireworks show going on way across the river, maybe in Old Lyme or something like that. By this point, we heard the music from the wedding, along with people talking loudly. There was a real party going on down there. When we made it to the water, we saw everyone dancing like dancing people do. I luckily didn’t hear the chicken dance or one of those cheesy songs. They did choose “Faithfully” by Journey as their “Song.” I thought that was nice because I am a Journey fan. It also added some romance to the air and we all know how much I am into romance.
So as Laura and I were standing out on the dock in the dark, I thought to myself that a “move” was in order. These moments don’t come along too often these days, so I took the opportunity to give my lady a nice kiss. I think she liked it. The funny part is that as I was doing this, the drunk guys at the wedding caught a glimpse of it and started yelling, “WOO WOO WOO.” I got a little embarrassed, but handled myself well by smiling and waving at them. It was a funny scene. Hey man, you gotta do what you gotta do. I’m not going to let the drunk dudes stop me.
After that, we were looking out on the water at all the boats cruising around, when we noticed a big sailboat pulling in. I saw a sign that was half folded over, but I believe it said something like, “Come sail with us.” I got excited and needed to check it out. We walked over to the entrance to the Connecticut River Museum and saw a sign for daily schooner cruises. I think they go for about an hour and a half out to the Sound. I took a picture of the sign and have a little plan to go on one of these very cruises next week.
That was an awesome night.
Today’s plan was to head back up to New Hartford, CT and the Farmington River to do a little more canoeing. Since we had two more people this time, it was going to be even more fun than we had last time. The only problem was that the weather people were calling for rain all day. Funny, as I sit here and write this at 8:06PM, it hasn’t rained yet. Good thing we didn’t listen to them.
After a bit of indecisiveness, we got in the cars and left. They took their car and we took ours. Since they came from NY, it would be easier for them to get back home from where we were.
This time, we got dropped off four miles further North than we did last time. There were supposed to be more rapids up in this area of the river. Also, since the water was so high today, it was moving faster. I was all set for some serious canoeing. I really wanted to go for the full twelve miles, but there was a little fright in some of our friend’s eyes, so we decided to stick with the ten mile trip. It didn’t disappoint.
Since the river was higher (the highest level before they don’t let you go on it), there were many more opportunities to get splashed with water from the rapids. Again, Laura sat in the front and got hit the most, but I enjoyed my fair share of water in the lap. It was a good trip and I’m glad that we got to show her brother the river, because he was psyched to go down it.
So those two events took up most of our weekend. I am starting to notice that the good ‘ol state of Connecticut is pretty fun. There are just a ton of things to do and people around here love outdoor activities and nice little towns. Looks like I am in the right place. Now, if I could just get my hands on a nice old house on the water…okay, just kidding.
Schooner Cruise Up Connecticut River
September 23, 2009
Well, we finally did it. We took the schooner cruise on the Mary E. up the Connecticut River.
This was something we were supposed to do about a month ago. When we got the great idea, the weather was nice and cool. When it came time to actually drive down and get on the boat, the heat wave hit. We weren’t in the mood to do anything at that point.
September offers a bunch of great days to get back into those activities you missed during the heat of the Summer. Also, the kids are back in school, so that helps with the crowd levels. The schooner cruise we went on had mostly older folks aboard. I believe we were the youngest and best behaved people on the boat.
I took a bunch of pictures during the cruise and went through them this morning. We actually went on this boat ride last week. I just found the energy to write about it today. I deleted a bunch of pictures that I thought were good at the time of taking them, but later discovered that one can only have so many photos of a flat river. The ones I posted below are the better of the bunch.
If you are interested in taking a schooner cruise on the Mary E. up the Connecticut River, get in touch with the Connecticut River Museum in Essex for information. They manage the whole thing and is a nice place to visit on its own.