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Friday, July 21, 2017

Fort Trumbull - New London, CT

Welcome to another (late) Katie Wanders post, and this one, quite close to home.  The Amanda in New England tour continued with more local history, and more historic sites in my backyard that I have NEVER been to.  Our first stop in the history tour was a quick trip to the Submarine Force Library and Museum and a tour of the USS Nautilus.  Second stop was a fort Amanda had mentioned locally.  Just as I originally shrugged off the Nautilus, I responded with a "Oh yeah, those forts no one really goes to in the area? Yep".  Again we went and again I was surprised at another chunk of history and a gorgeous State Park 15 minutes away.

Beautiful state park, pet friendly and on the water.  No charge to enter the grounds (charge for the visitor's center/exhibits).  Great spot for an afternoon picnic, walk your dog, or to fly kites.  Great for the history buffs in the family, or a way to stretch your legs on a nice summer evening.  The museum/visitors center and grounds are packed full of history.  A water taxi will take you to Fort Griswold and New London City Pier/Waterfront District.  

 The first (yes, there were several) Fort Trumbull was built to protect the New London Harbor from British attack.  The fort later served as part of the country’s coastal defense system. The masonry fort (which is actually the third) that stands today was constructed between 1839 and 1852.

Built from 1839 - 1852, the fortification is one of a group of 42 forts which were constructed for the defense of the coast of the US and the harbors they guarded.  This group of forts became known as the Third System of Fortifications.  Fort Trumbull is unique in the "Third System" because of the Egyptian Revival features incorporated in the architectural design.  The Fort is a wonderful example of its era, a masterpiece in stonework and masonry.  The Fort contains informative markers and displays, a touchable cannon and artillery crew display, and gun emplacements.  

The fort interior features 19th Century restored living quarters, a mock laboratory, and a 1950's era office furnished to resemble a research and development lab at the facility.  The public also has access to the ramparts for a spectacular view of the New London Harbor.

  • The Revenue Cutter Service Academy at Fort Trumbull became the first U.S. Coast Guard Academy, and all U.S. Coast Guard training took place at Fort Trumbull.
  • By World War II Fort Trumbull had become home to the Coast Guard, the U. S. Maritime Service Officer Candidate School, and the Columbia University Division of War Research Underwater Sound Laboratory was established there. 
  • In 1970 the Navy merged the Underwater Sound Laboratory at Fort Trumbull with the Underwater Weapons Research and Engineering Station, at Newport RI, forming the Naval Underwater Systems Center (NUSC). 
  • In 1991 the Naval Underwater System Center in New London was renamed the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC).

The Center contains state of the art multimedia theaters, computer touch screen interactive exhibits, 3-D models, and extensive graphics and text panels.  This one of a kind center depicts over 225 years of military history and technological advances from the Revolutionary War to the Cold War.  Some of the main themes of the Visitor Center are the September 6, 1781 attack by the British under the command of Benedict Arnold, the U-boat menace during World War II, and the anti-submarine efforts during the Cold War.
Visitor Center Hours:
The Visitor Center will be open Wednesday through Sunday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm through Labor Day.  The Center is closed between Labor Day and Memorial Day Weekend. Areas where the public can drive into are open all year round.

There are no fees for parking or visiting the park grounds. A per person charge applies for the Visitor Center exhibit area and Fort Tours.

Facilities at the park  
Bathrooms, Conference Center, Fishing Pier, Onsite & On-street Parking, Visitor Center, Waterfront Walk

Dogs are permitted around the park grounds.  However, they are not allowed in park buildings (including the fort) or on the fishing pier. Dogs must be under their owner's control at all times, and be leashed and cleaned up after.  I did not see any dog bags around the park (or garbage cans!) so make sure you come prepared.

Fort Trumbull State Park was a stop on the Thames River Heritage Park Water Taxi route.  The Water Taxi offers an exciting, affordable, and fun trip across the Thames River between New London and Groton on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays during the summer, with special sunset tours, in season.  The three taxi stops at the New London City Pier, Fort Trumbull and Fort Griswold landings brought excitement and endless photo opportunities for thousands in its initial season. 

The Water Taxi runs on a hop-on hop-off hourly loop between the three stops:
1.  At Fort Trumbull in New London the taxi departs on the hour.
2.  At New London City Pier in the Historic Waterfront District it departs at 20 minutes after the hour.
3.  At Thames River landing on Fort Street in Groton, it departs at 40 minutes after the hour.

It operates Friday – Sunday, 10AM to 9PM May 26th through September 17th.(Private charters are available seven days a week with reservations made 72 hours in advance. Special River Cruises may take place during the week. Go to Events for details.

Children 3 & under ride free
Adult Round Trip – $10.00
Children & Active Military Round Trip – $5.00
Adult All Day – $15.00
Children & Active Military All Day $10.00 ​
Season Pass – $50.00 (pick up at the boat or online) – All rides, All days, All season
For ticket purchases, tours, private charters, weather, parking, directions and more details, go to our boat operator’s site.

All tickets and Season Passes may be purchased online or with cash or credit card on the Water Taxi.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

USS Nautilus: Submarine tour and Museum - Groton, Connecticut

I don't know about you, but I love playing tourist in my home front.  I am always amazed (and embarrassed) when people come to visit with their list of "must-see-sights" and how many of them I really haven't even been to.  Mark Twain House What?  Monument Where? 

 I have lived in New England my whole life (minus my two-year stint in Utah), and lived in Connecticut for about 15 years.  For years I have made the drive down I-95, crossing the Thames River to see the small black sign welcoming you to the city of Groton, announcing that you are officially in the "Submarine Capital of the World".  Like any local, I never paid much attention to the sign, acknowledging that we have General Dynamics/Electric Boat, and that subs are the name of the game in this neck of the woods.  

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A day at the Belmont Stakes

If you follow the blog, you probably know by now that I am a horse person. If not, welcome to today's revelation and post about horse racing. Although my love for horses has brought me to a lot of horse shows and horse related events, I have never been to any of the bigger horse races (excluding watching a quick race at Saratoga in New York about 6 years back). 

Belmont Park

As far as horse races go here in the states, the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes are the biggies, all with the three races for three year old thoroughbreds that make up the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing. To have a Triple Crown Winner, you need the same horse to win all three races in one season- this feat being one of the greatest accomplishments in thoroughbred horse racing.

The Belmont is held 5 weeks after the Kentucky Derby, and 3 weeks after the Preakness Stakes. I knew the Kentucky Derby was obviously in Kentucky, and assumed the other famous horse races that make up the Triple Crown were somewhere far far away as well. Little did I know that the last, longest and toughest race of the Triple Crown Series, the "Test of the Champion" and "Run for the Carnations", was held right here in the northeast- on Long Island. Jump in the car and in about a 2 hour drive, you can be trackside watching the Belmont Stakes.

Clubhouse Seats 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Girls Trip to NYC Day 2: Brooklyn Bridge, 9/11 Memorial & Central Park

Day 2 of our Girls Trip to NYC proved to be drier than the first.  While the sun never really came out for too long, it finally stopped raining.  Second day I had planned for us to take the subway down to Brooklyn, find these rainbow bagels Amanda spoke about, head to the Brooklyn area/Park right by the bridge to get this picture below (my favorite view of the city!) and then walk the Brooklyn bridge back over to Manhattan (you can read my entire post about walking the Brooklyn Bridge here).  

View of Manhattan from Brooklyn

After the bridge, we would head to the 9/11 Memorial and than catch the subway or a cab up to Central Park.  In Central Park we had a few sculptures to stop and see (Amanda's request) and the boathouse and the bridge (KW request). After ALL that, we would head back to Connecticut and then eventually to Point Judith, Rhode Island to catch a ferry to Block Island.  Planes, trains, automobiles and ferries was the name of the game today. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Girls Trip to NYC - Day 1: Broadway, High Line, Chelsea Market

New York City and I have a weird love/hate relationship.  I always loved that New York City had so much to do, was so easy to get to, and has an abundance of amazing food.  But I always hated how crowded, often dirty, and expensive the city could be.  Before Salt Lake City, Katie and cities were like oil and water...we just didn't jibe.  When Amanda mentioned wanting to head into the City on her trip to the Northeast, I was a little torn.  First, cities were never my thing and I wanted to show her New England, not New York City.  But how do you fly to the Northeast and not spend a day (or two) in the Big Apple?

Amanda coaxed me into talk of New York City with the idea of going to see a show on Broadway, something I am embarrassed to say I have never done.  Phantom at the Opera has been playing in New York City since 1988 and for about $100 we could see this famous show at the famous Majestic Theatre in Manhattan.  With the show settled, we decided to plan a few other highlights for NYC.  Amanda had a "wish list" which included The High Line, a walk through Central Park, going to the top of Rockefeller Center, seeing the lights of Times Square, walking the Brooklyn Bridge and seeing the Statue of Liberty.  Thankfully we were able to do most of these things despite some awful unlucky weather and a shortage of time.

As much as I was originally hesitant about spending two days in the city, I left pleasantly surprised and excited to return.  I think my two years spent living downtown in Salt Lake City gave me a new appreciation for the hustle and bustle and offerings of our cities.  I learned to embrace public transportation, chaos, and crowds.  NYC was not the dirty bustling city I remembered visiting several times in the past.  For starters, the rain kept the crowds at bay and Google Maps made navigating the subway system so (SO) easy.  Lastly, the endless list of things to do in the city kept us more than busy despite the weather.  New York, I gave you a second chance and you surprised me.