East Coast Adventure Part I: The Fun Stuff

Grand Central. Speaking of which, have you read the newly-released “Grand Central?”

My East Coast adventure started as soon as I walked off the plane in Connecticut. After a red-eye flight with a connection in Detroit and rocking bed head from trying to sleep sitting up, I was reunited with my dad who had flown in a week earlier for work.

There was no need to go to the hotel. Who knew that I was wearing the same thing I was wearing the day before? And for that reason the sightseeing started instantly.

Our travels took us from Connecticut to New York City, back to Connecticut with a finale in Mystic. I’m breaking the trip down to two posts: The Fun Stuff and The Food Stuff, because there was a lot of both. Here are the highlights (from most amazing to amazing):

1. Two words. Idina Menzel. Or, Adele Dazeem. Live! This was my second visit to New York City. The first was in 2006 where I saw Chicago on Broadway. With the opportunity to see a Broadway and vocal star live, there was no contest of which show I chose when my dad asked me what I wanted to see.

My new favorite show.

If/Then is the story of a woman (Menzel) whose life plays out in two different scenarios based on the decisions she makes. I’ve been impressed with Menzel’s robust pipes since she starred as Maureen in “Rent,” but was absolutely blown away by the power of her voice and presence live.

It’s not often you see a Broadway show interrupted by technical difficulties. Unfortunately during the saddest number of the show the set was having some issues and production was halted for a few minutes. Once the show resumed, Menzel handled the mishap with sass and had the audience cheering during her ad libs. Her fellow actor had a hard time continuing on because he was even caught off guard with laughter.

I ordered the soundtrack online during intermission and have been listening to it in my car every day since I returned home.

2. Another two words. Katherine Hepburn. I just so happened to be in town the same time the Katherine Hepburn Dressed for Stage and Screen exhibit was at the Connecticut Historical Society.

Me and Kate. Black and white for a dramatic effect. Is it working?

Kate’s personal collection of stage costumes from her stage and film career that spanned six decades was given to Kent State University. The collection has been at the Hartford museum since April.

What makes it extra special is the fact that Hepburn’s hometown is Hartford and the exhibit was viewed as a “coming home.”

Her unique sense of style was on display along with photos and movie posters. Glamorous gowns, size zero pants and stage costumes were all on display. And it was amazing.

3. This time three words. Mark Twain House. After visiting the Kate exhibit we dashed over to the Mark Twain House to walk through the historical landmark where the author lived and worked from 1874 to 1891. Unfortunately photos were not allowed so I’m writing strictly from memory, which isn’t difficult because it was definitely memorable.

The house where Mark Twain lived and worked. Pretty cool.

Our tour was led by a spunky boarding school teenager home for the summer and working her first job. The “historical interpreter in training” does so many of these tours every day, you can tell she jazzes it up not just for the paid visitors, but for her sanity as well.


“This is the bed where Mark Twain died. Pretty cool. [Pause to allow the historical nugget to sink in] And this German beer stein…”

And on it went. I was bummed to learn only 40 percent of what’s inside the house is actually authentic to the family, but the Downton Abbey fan in me was very interested in the upstairs, downstairs dynamic of the house.

4. Again, three words. ESPN The Picnic. My dad is an employee of ESPN, which is based in Bristol. Part of the reason I traveled to the East Coast was to be my dad’s plus-one for the annual family picnic. ESPN rents out local amusement park, Lake Compounce, which fun fact, is the oldest amusement park in the country.

Dad and me outside Lake Compounce after a day of food and fun.

The day was hot and we stayed cool in the shade eating snacks, lots of them. The daylong event wrapped up with a BBQ of ribs, chicken and burgers, and ice cream sandwiches, and cookies, and…

It was a great experience to meet some of my dad’s coworkers, ride the Ferris wheel and take selfies with the Heisman Trophy (true story).

5. The finale is just one word. Mystic. My dad has lived and worked in Connecticut for some time off and on, and has seen a lot of the tourist hot spots. So he asked me how I wanted to spend our last day in town. I chose a spot I had never been to, but was intrigued by the idea of a historic coastal town.

On deck of the Charles W. Morgan, America’s oldest whaling ship still afloat. Pretty historical.

Mystic Seaport is the largest maritime museum in the world. A tour of the museum includes walking on foot through a 19th-century village and on board of historic whaling ships. The history lover in me was disappointed to learn all of the historical buildings included in the museum are all transplants, but it was still fascinating history.

A visit to Mystic wouldn’t be complete without stopping to take a photo outside Mystic Pizza, the setting for the 1988 Julia Roberts film of the same name. Unfortunately we didn’t eat a slice because I was still full from our seafood lunch (see following post).

Plenty of pizza, but sadly no Julia Roberts.

Did you know?

Connecticut is home to the first hamburger, Polaroid camera, helicopter and color television.


What I’m Reading Wednesday

This post will most definitely contain spoiler alerts because I want to try to get to the bottom of Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell.

So for those71LkLmxqgjL who have yet to read this Young Adult New York Times Bestseller, please stop reading this and pick up the book!

This novel was the latest selection among the YA-loving gals in my book club. Based on the number of holds ahead of me at the public library, I knew going into it there was something special about this one.

For starters, it’s set in the ’80s, and as a product of that era I was instantly a fan.

Then there’s the author, who not only has a unique name, but also a unique writing style.

Eleanor & Park, the teenage dramatic tale of two misfits who champion for their love despite high school bullies and a dangerous home life for Eleanor. Reading through the two characters’ perspectives I had a ball of anxiety growing larger by each page waiting for the ticking time bomb to explode with an emotional climax that would leave me stunned and unable to forgive Rainbow.

But the emotional climax turned out to not be as severe as I thought (anyone else think something worse was on the horizon??).

And all 325 pages lead up to the very last sentence.

Just three words long.

I read the last sentence and was so happy because in my hopeful mind I had no doubt Eleanor had written I love you for the first time to Park. No doubt. After Park said it to her so many times, always with no I love you too response.

And then I talked with my fellow book clubber Marlisa (who actually chose this book), who said, “But you don’t know.”


My Eleanor and Park 1986 universe was shifted and I don’t know what to believe anymore!

So I’m asking the masses. What do you think Eleanor’s postcard to Park said?

I’m tempted to live out the Fault in our Stars and write to Rainbow pleading her to share what those words are. But then I remember I’m 30 years old and that’s creepy.

I read in a Goodreads interview that Rainbow said the words were “happy and hopeful,” so I’m holding out hope Eleanor and Park fight against everything and end up together in the very end.

Eleanor & Park is the last YA novel I’ll read for a while. I’ve already surpassed my annual quota these last few months.

So Eleanor & Park fans, what do you think the postcard said?

What I’m Reading Wednesday

Sarah Sundin’s Wings of the Nightingale series wraps up beautifully with the finale, In Perfect Time (released Aug. 1). World War II-era fans will appreciate Sundin’s attention to detail from Lt. Roger Cooper piloting a C-47 in enemy territory to Lt. Kay Jobson’s role as an Army Air Force flight nurse.

Sundin’s latest series centers around a trio of flight nurses who become friends and find love while serving during the war. After touching briefly on Kay’s character in the previous two novels, In Perfect Time delves deep into a past in which she was constantly put down and disappointed by her father.

Kay runs away to a life of servitude as a nurse and freedom from her cruel family. But Kay believes she’s in control juggling multiple boyfriends, never letting a relationship develop further than dating.

Meanwhile, Roger has also escaped a past that disappointed him and left him to believe he was of little value.In-Perfect-TimeThe two broken people find the encouragement and love in each other, but life goals and misconceptions keep them apart and fighting against God’s will for their lives.

While the story focuses on Roger and Kay’s relationship, the novel is also rich in historical detail. Sundin writes of the 802nd Medical Air Evacuation Transport Squadron, as well as an incident based on the true account of 26 flight nurses and medics of the 807th MAETS who crash-landed in Nazi-occupied Albania in late 1943. Sundin aimed to highlight some of the unsung heroes of World War II.

Sundin has stopped by A Writer’s Purpose a few times the last couple of years to promote past novels. Check out this Q and A after the release of the first novel of the Wings of Nightingale series, With Every Letter.

Sundin is celebrating the release of In Perfect Time with a fun giveaway. Check it out!

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for the review copy of In Perfect Time. For more information about Sundin, visit her website.