Tag Archives: CT.

My Colonial States Trip Part 18

18 Mar

A Slice of Life

 Bill Lites

Bill Small Red Plane


I wanted to save plenty of time for visiting the Submarine Force Library & Museum in Groton, CT before they closed. This museum is the only submarine museum operated by the U.S. Navy and is the home of the USS Nautilus (SSN-571), the first nuclear powered submarine in the world.  



The museum also was a replica of the first submarine ever used in combat, David Bushnell’s Turtle, built in 1775; a WWII HA-8 Japanese Midget submarine and the Navy’s USS X-1 research submarine that was initially designed to operate using a special closed-loop hydrogen peroxide system to generate the oxygen the submarine’s diesel engine needed to operate while the ship was submerged.



I was impressed with the 50 foot model of the USS Gato (SS-212), first of that class of submarine built by the U.S. Navy (thus carrying the class name) and was one of the typical classes of over 250 submarines built and used by the Navy during WWII. This beautifully detailed cut-away model shows all the different parts of the submarine, from bow to stern, were the crew lived and worked.



Next I drove up the coast a few miles to visit the Mystic Seaport Museum in Mystic, CT advertised as the largest maritime museum in the world. The museum is located on 17 acres just south of I-95 on the Mystic River and was the first living maritime museum in the United States (1929). The museum re-creates a 19th century seafaring village, with its historic sailing ships, boats and over 60 period structures that have been carefully restored. I was impressed with one of their main attractions, the last surviving whaling ship, the Charles W. Morgan.



Since I was close to the town of Mystic, and I had looked them up on the internet as part of my trip research, I decided to try another lobster roll at the Ancient Mariner Restaurant in downtown Mystic. To my surprise, the town was in the middle of celebrating “Pirate Invasion Day” with people all over town (and in the restaurants) dressed up in Pirate costumes, running around looking for their next item in their Scavenger Hunt (or Geo Cache), and having a wonderful time, as the rain had finally let up. Then it was on up the road to the motel in Warwick, RI for a well-deserved rest after a 375 mile drive in the rain.



The next day was Sunday and I had planned to have a late breakfast and then attend the 11:00 service at the First Baptist Church in America in Providence, RI which was founded by Roger Williams in 1638. Williams had founded Providence in 1636 and had conducted church services in his home until 1638. For the next 60 years the congregation met outside, when the weather was nice, or in homes. The first service held in the current church building was in 1775 when the building was completed. Well, when I got to Providence some organization was having a 5-K Run right thru the area, and all the streets around the church were blocked off and the traffic was re-routed for blocks.



I finally gave up trying to get to the church, and headed for the Quonset Air Museum in North Kingston, RI where I found a small one-hanger museum with some unusual aircraft, not far from the Martha’s Vineyard Ferry landing. All of their aircraft were on static display, and not in what I would call beautifully restored condition. The guy behind the counter was very friendly and he told me all about the museum’s operations, after which we discussed our military service experiences at some length.





—–To Be Continued—–


My Colonial States Trip~Part 17

11 Mar

A Slice of Life
 Bill Lites

My friends from Boston and New York had advised me not to use the George Washington Bridge if I could help it, but that’s the way “Greta” took me on my way back to the west to visit the Aviation Hall of Fame in Teterboro, NJ. So, it was across the Throgs Neck Bridge, thru the Bronx, over the Hudson River on the G.W. Bridge to the museum. As it turned out, it must have been my lucky day for that crossing, because that trip was pretty much of a breeze and I made it to the museum in good time. This museum, located at the Teterboro Airport, displays historic aircraft and spacecraft equipment, artifacts and photographs along with a model aircraft collection, honoring the many New Jersey men and women who have helped make the aviation industry what it is today. There is a room filled with medallions honoring the over 160 inductees to date.

I woke up to rain the next morning. Up until now the weather had been perfect and I had just assumed it would be the same for the whole trip. Silly me. What was I thinking? Well, it rained that entire day as I sloshed my way toward Connecticut. I figured “Greta” would have routed me back across the G.W. Bridge and up I-95 to Bridgeport, CT before turning north. But I wasn’t ready to try my luck getting across the G.W. Bridge again, especially during the morning rush-hour traffic in the rain. So, I decided to take the northern route, using the Garden State Parkway, and then crossing the Hudson River at the Tappenzee Bridge. Well, wouldn’t you know, I missed the exit for the bridge. I stopped at a service center and asked how to get back to the bridge exit and the guy said, “Just take the next exit and do a “U” turn.” Right! It was 20 miles to the next exit and it ended up taking me 30 minutes and another 30 miles back to the bridge exit (all this in the pouring down rain).


I finally made it to the right exit, across the Tappenzee Bridge, then thru Danbury and Hartford, CT to the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks, CT. That ended up taking 1-½ hours longer than I had planned. What a waste of time that was! The museum displays over 60 beautifully restored aircraft and related artifacts/equipment in three hangers. As I followed a group into the B-29 hanger, I overheard someone say that the small group was honoring their 95 year old uncle who had been a navigator in B-29s during WWII. The elderly gentleman was overwhelmed by the occasion and the size of the aircraft. I heard him say, “I don’t remember it being so big!” What a nice thing for a family to do for their uncle. While I was in the area, I had planned to visit the American Museum of Aviation in Stafford Springs, CT but I discovered that visiting the museum was by appointment only. I was behind schedule anyway, so I just headed south to my next stop, at the New London Customhouse in New London, CT which is operated by the New England Maritime Association. This turned out to be a very small museum, so I didn’t spend much time there.


—–To Be Continued—–

%d bloggers like this: