Thursday, June 19, 2008

Day 7 - Rhode Island to Connecticut

This was a day that started off with so much promise. We took a trolley tour of Newport, RI in the morning which included a stop at the Vanderbilt family mansion, The Breakers. Newport is a beautiful town right on the water. There are huge mansions all along the coastline and thanks to our bus tour guide, we now know every last detail about every house. He was thorough and he knew his facts, I will give him that. He was also incredibly boring and he kept stopping the trolley so we wouldn’t slow down cars and trucks and bicycles and possibly even cats and dogs. Also on the trolley, H was taking great pictures until all of the sudden our digital camera gave us the dreaded error “lens error, restart camera.” The last time this happened, H plugged the camera’s USB cable into the computer and the lens magically shut. Because the computer was in the car, we had to wait until we left Newport to fix the camera. More on that later.

As mentioned above, the trolley tour included a stop at the Vanderbilt family mansion, The Breakers. Outside the mansion standing in line waiting to get in, Z had the best comment. There was a sign outside the mansion that said “Please wait here for next tour.” Z said that we needed one of those signs for outside of our house. We all agreed that would add a nice touch to our home. Once we were inside the mansion, it was truly remarkable. In fact in one room, our guide told us that the entire room was built in France and then shipped to America. That seems a bit extreme. Also there was both a morning room and a breakfast room. Apparently the Vanderbilts didn’t think mornings and breakfast went together. At the end of the tour, our guide told H and J that Z and B were “the best behaved kids ever on the tour.” That made us very proud. It was also stunning considering the kids were acting crazy in the hotel before we left in the morning. We also learned that Anderson Cooper is Gloria Vanderbilt's son... who knew?

After the tour and lunch, we departed for Connecticut. H tried the computer trick to fix the camera and guess what, it didn’t work this time. That was very disappointing, very aggravating, and in J’s case, infuriating. We tried different things to try and get the lens unstuck but nothing was working. Digital cameras stink.

Once in Connecticut, H and J thought that we should fit in Dinosaur State Park south of Hartford before we checked into the hotel which was a little bit east of Hartford. It was only 3:30 PM when we made that decision and we figured that we could get there by 4 for sure. Plus parks stay open in summer usually until sundown. We had plenty of time. Well, the route to get there included some one-lane roads and naturally we got stuck behind a slow truck. It took a little bit longer than we would have liked but we got to Dinosaur state park at 4:20 PM. What is so special about this park is that there are actual dinosaur track fossils for everyone to see. The kids were so excited. One small problem though. The park closed at 4:30 PM. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! First the camera and now this. The day was slowly turning into a disaster.

After an ice cream dinner (our new once-a-vacation tradition) at Friendly’s for H, Z, and B (J and H’s mom chose regular food) and putting the kids to bed, H and J went to a local Best Buy to try and get some answers on why our camera is a piece of junk. Nothing quite like going to the Manchester, CT Best Buy on vacation. That should be on everyone’s itinerary. The Geek Squad there said that they sent out all of their cameras to be fixed. That wasn’t going to work so H bought the last remaining disposable camera to finish off our vacation pictures.

And a final touch to the day was that H and J got stuck in a traffic jam because Connecticut highway workers closed both lanes of the I-384 ramp that we were using to get back to the hotel.

Now onto the nightly feature of what did we learn today.

1. According to our Newport trolley tour guide, one of the socialites that lived in one of the many mansions threw a dinner party for 16 guests, 8 male and 8 female and they were all dogs.

2. The Panera Bread in Newport where we ate lunch was the most popular spot in town. As we were eating, the line was about 20 deep and going out the door.

3. We believe that the Mapquest directions showing how to get from Newport to Hartford had us going in circles. We were on 3 different roads (RI 102, I-95, and RI 138) driving in 3 different directions (north, south, and west respectively). On each road, we were welcomed into the town of Exeter.

4. Cuffy’s of Newport has a great selection of quality Newport T-shirts, hats, and polos but the staff is lacking. For example, there were 2 registers at the front of the store. The one register had a customer so I took my T-shirt to the other register. The clown at the register told me “She’ll take you right over there.” Superior customer service, no doubt.

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