A Trip to New England – Part II: September 2015

This is Part II of my posts about our visit to New England, most specifically Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont (with a drive through Massachusetts).  Day 2 was a nice day of travel south to Mystic, CT and then north all the way to Maine.  Following is a map with our basic route

Map of Connecticut to Maine
Map of Connecticut to Maine

We took a fairly easy morning and went over to pickup our grandson Rockwell, who would join us on this two day adventure and off we went.

Wells Dinosaur Haven in Uncasville, CT
Wells Dinosaur Haven in Uncasville, CT

DSC_6882Our first stop was at Wells Dinosaur Haven in Uncasville, CT.  This is actually a person’s house with a huge backyard full of self-sculpted dinosaurs.  The brainchild and creation of Jeff Wells, this unique “haven” got its start in 1981. He has well over 30 dinosaurs, including a life-size T-Rex, most of which are made from welded metal fabrication.  Some are pretty realistic!! (See a detailed writeup about Jeff Wells on Roadside America.)

Head of the T-Rex at Wells Dinosaur Haven
Head of the T-Rex at Wells Dinosaur Haven

DSC_6898Fairly easy to get to, you get off at Exit 79-A on I-395 , then immediately take Hwy 2A exit 1. Drive north on Hwy 32 for a half-mile. Wells Dinosaur Haven will be on the left, across the street from the casino. It’s back in the trees and easy to miss, but look for the red house, brown fence, and small dinosaur sign.

One of over 35 life-size dinosaur creations at Wells Dinosaur Haven in Uncasville, CT
One of over 35 life-size dinosaur creations at Wells Dinosaur Haven in Uncasville, CT
Sumoflam and Bronto at Wells Dinosaur Haven in Uncasville, CT
Sumoflam and Bronto at Wells Dinosaur Haven in Uncasville, CT
Dinos at Wells Dinosaur Haven in Uncasville, CT
Dinos at Wells Dinosaur Haven in Uncasville, CT

Though visiting is free, Mr. Wells requests that you ask to enter.  So, we knocked on the door and I even called the number (860-848-0616) to get permission.  Nobody was home, so we went in and I made sure that we left nothing but tracks, a Guest Book Entry and a Donation.  It really was fun for the kids to walk through and see all of the dinosaurs.  The adults were fascinated too!

Dinos peek though the grass
Dinos peek though the grass
Another dinosaur type at Wells Dinosaur Haven
Another dinosaur type at Wells Dinosaur Haven

DSC_6888Jeff Wells’ work is very good.  I would count this place among my must see places that would include Jurrustic Park in Wisconsin, Enchanted Highway in North Dakota and others.   I will likely do a special post just on this place in the near future.

Welcome to Mystic, CT
Welcome to Mystic, CT
Mystic Pizza in Mystic, CT with my sweet wife
Mystic Pizza in Mystic, CT with my sweet wife

After our visit in Uncasville, we were off to Mystic, CT for a visit and for lunch.  Founded in 1654, the town now has a little over 4000 residents.  Many know of the town due to the famous 1988 movie Mystic Pizza which helped kick Julia Roberts and Matt Damon off in their careers.  We had actually considered going there to eat, but decided against it after hearing numerous reports that it really wasn’t too good.

But, since it was the site of a well known movie, it was a fun place for a photo op! So, Julianne and I hit the scene and at least got a photo.  Wherever I am with my sweet wife is a slice of heaven!

Mystic Pizza cast with Lili Taylor, Annabeth Gish and Julian Roberts in 1988
Mystic Pizza cast with Lili Taylor, Annabeth Gish and Julian Roberts in 1988
Mystic, CT signpost
Mystic, CT signpost

DSC_6909Mystic is actually a very scenic New England coastal village.  They have a well known Aquarium (which we didn’t visit due to cost and time limitations), a seaport, which includes a unique museum called The Museum of America and the Sea, and nearby in Groton is the Historic Ship Nautilus and Submarine Force Museum.  Unfortunately, we had a tight schedule, so we opted out of these two museums as well.  But, we DID have time for lunch and opted for a local eatery that served Thai and Asian cuisine since we are all fond of that kind of food.

4 Roosevelt Asian Bistro, Mystic, CT
4 Roosevelt Asian Bistro, Mystic, CT

IMG_4639We discovered the 4 Roosevelt Asian Bistro on our drive in and turned around after our drive thru town to go grab lunch there.  It was a pleasant surprise to know that they also had a good number of vegan and vegetarian items on the menu, which made most of us happy.

The restaurant is not a large place, with only a few tables.  The staff was very friendly and helpful (and willing to handle a crowd with three adults and four young children).

4 Roosevelt Menu Board...changes frequently
4 Roosevelt Menu Board…changes frequently
The whole gang was ready for a good lunch!
The whole gang was ready for a good lunch!
Vegetarian Pad Thai with Tofu at 4 Roosevelt Asian Bistro in Mystic, CT
Vegetarian Pad Thai with Tofu at 4 Roosevelt Asian Bistro in Mystic, CT

Each of the kids got some kids specialities and I think there was some curry ordered and a couple of vegetable dishes.  I enjoyed the Pad Thai with tofu. The prices were reasonable and the food was excellent!

 

Welcome to New Hampshire! US State #48 for me.
Welcome to New Hampshire! US State #48 for me.

With tummies full, and palates pleasingly tantalized, we were ready to take off on the long drive north to Old Orchard Beach in Maine. We hopped on Interstate 95 and stayed on the road through Massachusetts, skirting around the traffic of Boston on I-495, a quick cut through New Hampshire and then into the bottom neck of Maine, my first visit there.  With a stop in New Hampshire’s Welcome Center Rest Area (in Seabrook, NH) and then into Maine, I had officially hit my 48th and 49th states in the United States!

Sign Post in Seabrook, NH
Sign Post in Seabrook, NH
On the road with da grandkidz in New England
On the road with da grandkidz in New England

After the brief stop in Seabrook, we were back on the road headed for Maine.  Unfortunately, I-95 offers few glimpses of the rocky coastline along the Atlantic Ocean.  You need to be on US Highway 1 to get those great views.  We were hsutling to get to Old Orchard Beacwhile the sun was still up so that the kids could play on the beach and Julianne and I could sit on the beach and watch the sunset.

 

View of Old Orchard Beach and the Atlantic Ocean from the Normandie Motor Inn
View of Old Orchard Beach and the Atlantic Ocean from the Normandie Motor Inn
Outside the Normandie Inn with grandson Rockwell
Outside the Normandie Inn with grandson Rockwell

We had made prior arrangements to stay at the Normandie Motor Inn, a 1960s style Motel that was literally right on the beach.  We were a two minute walk from our room to the beach. They had a special rate and it was perfect for us for the one night stay.

I think was actually my first time ever to stay in this kind of beachside motel.  I was close back in the 1980s when I stayed in a motor inn near Rehoboth Beach, DE, but it was a five minute drive from the beach. So, it was a thrill for this young-hearted grandpa!

Julianne and I enjoying sunset on the beach at Old Orchard Beach, ME
Julianne and I enjoying sunset on the beach at Old Orchard Beach, ME
Grandkidz enjoy their first look at the Atlantic Ocean on Old Orchard Beach
Grandkidz enjoy their first look at the Atlantic Ocean on Old Orchard Beach
Julianne and I watch the grandkidz playing on the beach in Old Orchard
Julianne and I watch the grandkidz playing on the beach in Old Orchard
Bell Buoy Menu
Bell Buoy Menu

We watched the sun go down and then we watched as some folks came in to do some night fishing for sea bass. Their poles were lit up with blue lights that would shake and shimmy when there was a fish on the line.   And, when the fun was over, we made our way into town to find some dinner and enjoyed some fresh seafood at a place called the Bell Buoy Restaurant.   It was very kid friendly though it also had a bar. The kids were all happy with their meals.

Waiting for dinner at the Bell Buoy in OOB
Waiting for dinner at the Bell Buoy in OOB
Outside for the required Selfie
Outside for the required Selfie

It was a long day…we were tired and finally made it to bed. The morning would bring us a wonderful sunrise and a new day of fun.  I’ll cover that in Part III.

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Sumoflam

Travelographer Extraordinaire. I Enjoy the Ride by traveling and seeing the world around me. We are so busy speeding down the freeways of life that we miss out on the back roads and all the wonderful little stories that every place offers. So, I try to take the less beaten paths and see the real world. I have visited all 50 United States and many provinces in Canada, nearly all prefectures in Japan as well as Seaul, Korea, Shanghai and Suzhou, China and Cenu, Philippines. Also been to Mexico. Father of five, grandfather of 10 and happily married to my sweetheart for nearly 38 years. Fluent in Japanese. Happy and well traveled. See details at http://www.sumoflam.biz/SumoflamBio.htm

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