An Old Seaport, Famous Pizza, and a Nuclear Sub

Trip Start Sep 07, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Seaport Campground
What I did
Mystic Pizza
USS Nautilus

Flag of United States  , Connecticut
Thursday, October 18, 2012

This will be a quick entry regarding our visit to Mystic, Connecticut. This was a two-night stay on our way to Philadelphia. We had not planned to go to Mystic, per se, but it turned out to have a few cool things about it.

We saw some beautiful fall colors and foliage on the drive down from New Hampshire, although we were a little early for the brilliant colors that make New England falls famous.

Mystic is famous for three things: the Mystic Seaport/Museum, the USS Nautilus Memorial, and the Mystic Pizza restaurant, featured in the 1988 Julia Roberts movie of the same name.

We stayed in the Seaport RV Campground, which was strangely enough, not very close to the Seaport, and not near the beach at all. But it was a decent, treed spot to spend a couple of days. They even held some trick-or-treating and Halloween events, which were fun for Wren. She won the costume contest and snagged a bunch of treats. Halloween itself was still two weeks away, and we would do our real trick-or-treating in Kentucky of all places.

Our first stop was at the Submarine Force Museum to check out the USS Nautilus Memorial. The Nautilus was the World's first nuclear-powered submarine, built in 1954, and decommissioned in the 1980s. The ship was named after Captain Nemo's vessel in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. They had on display a first edition copy of the book that was presented to the captain upon launch. I can tell you, as a book collector, that this edition of the book is worth quite a bit!

The nuclear power allowed the Nautilus to be the first submarine to traverse the North Pole completely submerged. We took an audio tour where we got to walk around the ship and had handheld radios that told us about parts of the ship. They only let you tour about 5% of the ship, probably for security reasons. The overwhelming impression I got of the ship was that it was built for dwarves. Like most submarines, the spaces and quarters are really tiny, to utilize space most efficiently. I would have gone crazy trying to live in the ship, being somewhat claustrophobic.

The next day, we took a drive and stroll through Mystic, which reminded me a lot of Bar Harbor - a lot of little boutiques and quaint shops. Not really my cup of tea, but I can see the appeal for some. One landmark I did recognize was Mystic Pizza, a pizza shop made famous in a Julia Roberts movie from 1988. We didn't try the pizza, but we did learn from the locals that there are actually two Mystic Pizza restaurants: one for the tourists, where they have the movie playing on a continuous loop, and then another, hidden away location where the locals can get their favorite pizza without mingling with obnoxious tourists or waiting in long lines.

The Mystic Seaport is a giant maritime museum, where they have a few replicas and reconstructions of old-time ships, as well as a living history 19th-century village. We didn't have time to tour the museum, but it looked interesting. The biggest downside was that the Seaport takes up a lot of the coastline, so if you just want to hang out on the seashore, it seems like you either have to pay the entry fee or leave town and find another spot.

Our last night in Mystic was a wild one. We had a vicious thunderstorm at about 3 am that knocked us around like a pinball and tore some branches off some of the campground's trees. The adventure continued when we packed up to leave, with an unfortunate series of events. First, Kat split her lip open trying to secure a tie-down on our trailer, when it sprung loose. (I only regret that I didn't have my camera ready!) Next, we discovered a bad taillight during our routine light-check as we hooked up the trailer. We installed a replacement bulb, but then I managed to break the connector for the light cover. So then we had to buy some cellophane and create our own taillight cover out of cellophane and duct tape. MacGuyver would be proud.

When we finally made our way out of town, I talked the girls into stopping by Foxwoods Casino Resort. Being a big poker geek, I knew that this was the site where the World Poker Open stop on the World Poker Tour is held. So we took a quick tour, and I snapped a few careful pics (casinos generally don't appreciate cameras). We were amazed to discover that the resort is like a huge indoor city. It is blocks long, and contains many shops, restaurants, a movie theater, a comedy club, and three casinos. It was pretty wild and over the top, but really fun to see. I tell myself that maybe someday I will be there to play in a World Poker Tour event, but we'll see what fate has in store.

Mystic was a nice, if unexpected, stop on our journey. Stay tuned for our next blog, from the City of Brotherly Love!

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