Don’t Miss the Charm of Connecticut

IMG_7023The late afternoon sunlight gave the salt marshes a golden glow and we took a deep breath of the briny air coming in through the open car window. We pulled into the parking lot behind City Hall and jumped out to catch the sunset from the floating dock. A fishing boat slowly glided up the channel with the day’s catch and the gulls followed closely, hoping for a sample or two.

It’s a common view among the small coastal towns that dot the Connecticut shoreline and yet each of these New England gems offers its own unique charm. An afternoon drive along US 1 will be the highlight of your summer.

Madison
For your mind, visit RJ Julia Booksellers in Madison’s picture-perfect downtown. Step through the door and back in time. In a technological age where e-readers are everywhere, there’s just something magical about stepping into a real live bookshop with shopkeepers who are friendly and passionate about words. Offering over 300 events per year, RJ Julia connects authors and readers and inspiration abounds.

For your body, Willoughby’s Coffee & Tea is a few steps down Main Street’s sidewalk. Inside, you can find delicious treats and a great selection of coffee drinks to enjoy in the café. Better yet, Willoughby’s offers an unbelievable variety of serious coffees and teas from around the world to buy by the pound and brew at home whenever you like. On a beautiful day, sit at one of the sidewalk tables and soak in the sunshine and small town life.

IMG_7024For your soul, drive across town to Hammonasset Beach State Park. Stay for a weekend in the campground or stay for the day on the two-mile stretch of beach. Visit the nature center to learn about the history and ecosystem of the area. Hike some of the bluffs for beautiful views of the rocky coastline. Watch the Ospreys swooping and soaring across the wetlands. Walk the sand hunting sea glass. Just pick a spot and let the surf soothe your soul.

Clinton
For your mind, stop in at Cindy Stevens Fine Art. Browse the gorgeous paintings and be swept away by local New England scenery. Chat with the artist and get the behind-the-scenes story of some of her paintings. Feeling inspired? Get back in touch with your own creative side and attend an art class or a paint night. The gallery offers a variety of events for grown-ups and for the kids in your lives.

IMG_7025For your body, there is no more iconic spot than the practically-world-famous Lobster Landing. Open seasonally for lunch and dinner, Lobster Landing is perched on the harbor and offers outdoor seating and a BYOB policy. A sunset, a cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc, and a steaming lobster roll at a harborside picnic table is all you need for the perfect dinner on the shoreline.

 

For your soul, head back over to Main Street and don’t you dare leave town before you find yourself climbing up on a bar stool at Scottish Dave’s Pub. There are no strangers at the only Scottish pub in Connecticut. Well, not for long anyway. On any given evening, you can chat with a group of 20-somethings with an impressive appreciation for classic rock or a couple in their 80s who can tell you stories that are impossible to tell whether it’s fact or fiction and that makes it all the better. If you’ve timed it right, you can catch traditional Celtic music or maybe even a ballad from Dave himself. Either way, you’ll leave feeling like you’ve been a part of something pretty special.

 

Essex
For your mind, head just a bit inland and catch a ride on the Essex Steam Train and Riverboat. Get whisked away into the past as you chug along old tracks through the scenic woods and across picturesque wetlands. Sit on the right side of the car for the best river views. Then board a riverboat and float away down the Connecticut River. See eagles nesting and get a good look at Gillette Castle high on the cliff. The narrators tell you stories that will both educate and entertain.

 

For your body, take a walk down Main Street and just soak in the beauty of stately historical homes and beautiful gardens lined with picket fences. Be sure to look for the plaques fastened to the home fronts that reveal the year in which the house was built. You’ll find homes approaching 300 years old! Walk through the park and enjoy the peaceful shade of the enormous trees. Maybe you’ll catch a film crew taking advantage of the quintessential New England charm of Essex.

 

For your soul, spend a night at America’s oldest continuously operated inn. The Griswold Inn, affectionately known as The Gris to its faithful patrons, is a living piece of history that opened its doors in 1776. Have dinner in one of the dining rooms where you can almost see the sailors and soldiers sharing dreams of independence. After an incredibly delicious meal, make your way into the Tap Room for a rollicking night of singing along to all the classics. Be sure to say hi to Bobby, my favorite regular. You’ll find this older gentleman standing by the fireplace, holding his beer, and dancing with the young ladies. When the last song is sung, head upstairs to one of the beautifully appointed guest rooms. Don’t pass up a chance to immerse yourself in history and luxury.

 

Connecticut may not have the reputation of a popular tourist destination, but that’s just what makes it one of the best choices. Plan a trip to explore and get away from it all. Connecticut may be small but it has so much to offer for your body, mind, and soul.

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Home Is Wherever I’m with You

 

Home is a fluid term.

It has meant so many different things to us over the years.

Whenever I smell salt air or hear seagulls, I feel at home. Those are some of my earliest memories from a childhood spent in a tiny coastal Florida town.

Home also meant Tallahassee. And for at least a decade, it meant the little blue house with the red front door. The place where we learned to adult and brought babies home and navigated some of the most brutal and some of the most beautiful times of our lives.

But then we moved and before we knew it, Atlanta felt like home. Our growing family bonded over a shared adventure. Parents and kids alike were on equal footing as we all faced new routines, new places, making new friends.

Home was our little rental house where Abby took her first steps and the big kids learned to ride bikes. Where I learned how far I could push my sleep-deprived body and where I also learned how to ask for help. Finally.

Home is the “unicorn house” we found together. Our answered prayer, a house that checked off so many boxes for an incredible bargain courtesy of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

home is wherever i'm with you

Home.

The one thing connecting all these places?

My people.

The grubby hands. The smiling eyes. The fussing and the laughing and the singing from the next room.

The smell of freshly washed toddler hair. The bear hugs from arms that are somewhere between man and boy. The gentle tugs of my hair while little fingers practice new braiding techniques.

This.

This is what home will always be.

And this is what we take with us. It is not limited to buildings or towns. And that’s a good thing. Because we are about to blow out the traditional limits of what home means.

In just three weeks, we will pack up a summer’s worth of daily life and begin a thousand-mile drive. Jake accepted a 13-week assignment as a travel nurse for Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital in Connecticut.

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Our inner gypsies are thrilled. We cannot wait to see and explore and do. We are already planning adventures in New York City, Boston, Plymouth, Montreal, Philadelphia, Washington, and so many places in between!

The inner Type A control freak is completely overwhelmed. Our calendar is insanely full before we leave.

Oh. And we don’t actually technically really have a place to live just yet. Cue absolute stress meltdown.

Remember that bit up there about me learning how to ask for help?

Well, friends, this is me asking for help.

Know anyone in the New Haven area who’d like to bring in some summer income on a garage apartment or an attic or a basement or a camper or a boat or a van down by the river? We’re nonsmokers. No pets with us. (April will be at summer camp with Nana and PopPop.)

We’re friendly people. I mean–we’re absolutely crazy–but we’re sweet. =)

Comment or email with any leads! If your tip leads to us finding a place to live, I’ll give you a handpainted wooden sign of your choice from my Etsy shop, Haven Creek!

home is wherever i'm with youSo, friends? We’re really doing this! We’re taking this show on the road. If you’re in the New England area, let me know. If you know of any awesome roadside stops between Atlanta and Connecticut, let me know that, too.

If you would like to follow along on our adventure, be sure to follow my Facebook and Instagram. I cannot even begin to imagine the ups and downs this summer will bring us.

I hope you’ll join us on our journey!