I didn’t stay long in Connecticut this trip, because I intend to come through for longer later on, but coming north from New York I stopped off for the night in Hartford and stayed at a Cabella’s lot, which was actually lovely and quiet and well organized. I’d never actually been inside one of these stores before, mainly because we don’t have any I’m aware of nearby my home, and I was overwhelmed at the range of outdoors products they offer. And the indoor waterfall and aquarium was crazy.

In the morning I found a park by the river on Google Maps and hoped it wasn’t sketchy. I’ve heard from many friends that Hartford has decent parts, bad parts, and worse parts, but hell if I know which are which. Riverside Park seemed very nice and clean and was almost empty when I arrived aside from a few dog walkers, rowers, and groundskeepers. Compared to the park I stopped in to look up directions while getting gas in Waterbury this was pretty stellar. Made some delicious eggs and tea, then took a walk along the river and watched a train go by rights as I was wondering ‘Hmm, could this still be active or is that part of the trail?’

Visited the Mark Twain house after breakfast. They had some exhibits in the visitor center which told me more about Twain’s life than did the tour guide, but the real highlight was the house interior. No photos are allowed indoors but it is spectacularly designed. The exterior architecture captures Clemens beloved riverboats, and the interior features a plant room, the most beautiful bee wallpaper, Tiffany co. designed spaces, Arab inspired ceiling designs, and gorgeous, intentional details at every turn.

Later in the day I drove north to Springfield, MA to go to a giant agricultural fair named the Eastern States Exposition, but better known as the Big E. I’d been to the Big E years ago when my friend Pam’s parents still lived up there, so I decided I had to make her super jealous by going again now. It has the usual animal exhibits and competitions, adorable chicks hatching, fair rides, fried everything, games, etc. The thing that sets this fair apart is the building featuring local goods and foods from each of the New England states.

And man was it delicious. I spent pretty much the whole day eating free samples, and trying to decide which of the many state-specific fare to spend my limited budget and stomach space on. After much perusing I got some tiny doughnuts, a Maine baked potato and a blueberry beer from… New Hampshire? I don’t actually remember. But it was good. The day I visited happened to be Connecticut day, so there was a parade of Connecticut-y themed things and I chatted up some uniformed old dudes and learned more about Connecticut than I needed to from them, which I promptly forgot. I also got to watch a timbersports demo, and went on the Ferris Wheel solo. I did chat with many people who recommended food options and took photos for me, and sometimes hopped in.

That night an ex-DC friend graciously let me stay and showed me around his super bougie small town, complete with old white lady shoppes, a lacrosse store, and manicured ginormo homes. Pretty sweet place to grow up. I also got to wash out the grease stain on my jeans, a souvenir from my baked potato yumminess oozing out unexpectedly. Aside from getting to catch up with my rarely seen friend, this was the best gift of all.

The next morning, off through Mass and NH to Maine. Northward bound!

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