Mystic, CT & Newport, RI – Late Summer 2016 Road Trip – Day 4

MysticIf you really want to test a marriage tell her we are leaving the hotel at 5:45 AM to beat the traffic into and through the city. True to course we were in the Holland Tunnel at 6 AM, eventually making our way to Park Avenue, before cutting across 79th Street to the Henry Hudson Parkway to get out of the city. It was interesting sailing up Park Avenue with little traffic, and few people on the street.

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Once on the Henry Hudson Parkway it was fortuitous that we were leaving the city as you did start to see traffic backed up coming off of the GWB and onto the Parkway. But the view of the bridge, albeit brief, was excellent with the towers gleaming in the morning sun.

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We made a brief stop in New Canaan, Connecticut for coffee and hot chocolate at Zumbach’s Coffee. An interesting little shop who specializes in grinding their own beans, they had bags of them everywhere.

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After crossing much of southern Connecticut we arrived at our next stop, at Mystic, to see the Mystic Seaport.  Subtitled The Museum of America and the Sea offered a glimpse into the whaling industry and the importance of shipping to the area.  We were free to roam the shipyard to stroll through the recreated 19th-century seafaring village, comprised of dozens of real 19th-century buildings brought there from parts of New England and staffed with historians and craftspeople.

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Also onsite is a cooper’s shop that made barrels, the rigger’s shop that made and installed the ropes on ships.  The rigger shop was a long building with ropes stretched and looped; it had spools of hemp or manila to make rope for the rigging on the ship as in early times there, but today, rigging is made of wire or chain.  The final buildings in the village were a home and general store open for tours, as well as a small ship.

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There was a large shipyard where repairs are made indoors to ships. This enormous building offered a bird’s eye view of the carpenter’s shop and massive yard to hold the ship. Currently there is restoration work being done on the Charles W. Morgan.  The ship, owned by Mystic Seaport and docked at the Seaport’s Chubb’s Wharf, is the last wooden whaling ship in existence and the oldest commercial vessel still afloat. This ship had not sailed for nearly 100 years.

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Prior to the 16-week voyage that set off on May 17, 2014 along New England, the Seaport had spent $7.5 million on the vessel’s restoration.  Built in 1841, the Morgan is a legendary relic of the whaling age that sailing historians consider priceless.  Now as of our visit, the Charles Morgan is again in repair for more work not allowing us to board the ship. We did visit the museum of artifacts and the history of whaling in America.  Whale teeth and baleen were part of more than 100 whaling-related artifacts, images, and documents, including logbooks, photographs, scrimshaw, ship models, souvenirs, and sound recordings.

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From there it was another hour drive to Newport, Rhode Island, a tourist town that capitalizes on the millionaire mansions from long ago such as the Breakers. Initially we parked in town and had lunch at the Red Parrot. Lunch was excellent, as we sat at an open window looking upon the street, which was filled with traffic and scooters the entire time, with the harbor just down the street.

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We made our way to the Cliff Walk area, finding parking on a street and starting the hike along the path. The first mansion we came upon is the Breakers, an east coast summer palace owned by Cornelius Vanderbilt located on Ochre Point Avenue in Newport with a view of the Atlantic Ocean.  As we continued along the paved cliff walk that snaked along the edge above a rocky ocean beach hoping to see the millionaire mansions, but, only saw surfers catching waves riding into dangerous water near boulders.

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Finally giving up on the cliff walk, our route took us back to the street for a front view of the mansions until we reached the car. A drive along the ocean drive in Newport while seeing cliffs, beaches and marinas filled with small boats.  Eventually we had enough of Newport and headed for our home for the night in New Bedford, Massachusetts, a Residence Inn.  The hotel fed us a complimentary dinner of meatballs and Italian sausage.  We laughed thinking that our best meal thus far was a free meal from the hotel.