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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Did you know?
Connecticut is home to the first hamburger, Polaroid camera, helicopter and color television.