Sunday, November 29, 2015

Unconventional Thanksgiving in Connecticut

Just so you know... if you leave on Tuesday and head to the East Coast thinking you will avoid traffic for Thanksgiving.... WRONG! 10 hour drive + rest stops does not equal 17 hours.

When a hotel tells me that they have a mini-kitchenette, I expect a little refrigerator, a microwave, and a sink. When they tell me that they have plates and silverware, I didn't expect one paper plate and 2 sets of plasticware. --->

We spent some time with family on Wednesday after Tuesday's grueling drive through traffic jams and construction zones. And the Mass-hole drivers were particularly bad during this trip.

We were staying in Mystic, north of Chris' mom and dad's old house. The ocean was beautiful. We thought about going to the aquarium, but didn't get there this time. We did visit Stonington Beach in Connecticut and found a lighthouse.

We looked for more light houses that day. We went to Fenwick Beach to see if we could get to the Old Saybrook Lighthouse. Can you see it? Just kidding...

We visited a few of the places in Old Saybrook that Chris remembered as a child. There was a great pizza place full of moving trains (at the current Amtrak station). There was a miniature Dock & Dine. He worked there as a teenager.

 We visited Chris' father's grave and cleaned up the headstone a bit. We need to have it reset and add his mom's name to it. She died and was cremated in 2006.

 We woke up Thanksgiving Day with no family plans, but we did make plans to see the final Hunger Games film at 10 am. We bought our tickets ahead. Apparently there was no need to do so... empty theater. SCORE! That doesn't happen in OH-IO. But we were so happy about it. No annoying other people...

We went to Ruby Tuesday for lunch. Who knew they were open for Thanksgiving? And, again, no one else was there. I'm not sure if the entire state of Connecticut was elsewhere, but we were enjoying the quiet. 

We took a driving trip to Rhode Island in search of another lighthouse. This time it was Watch Hill Lighthouse. The walking path took us through some beautiful houses. I have never really thought about living near the ocean... until I saw THIS! I can't imagine having a lighthouse view outside of my back window. Unbelievable!

 Then to top off the Christopher-memories-of-childhood tour, we went to Rocky Neck Beach and State Park in Connecticut. A train track runs right through it. Chris remembers many childhood days here.

I stood on this piece of rock for a long time. I watched the birds drop the shells and scoop out the goodies.
And, of course, I love the old WPA buildings.

Friday was our trip to Paterson, New Jersey, to meet my genealogy client. Before we met her, we wanted to see if we could find the family home of the Kinnanes. William Kinnane, Chris' great grandfather, came to America from Ireland in the 1870s and settled in Paterson, working in the textile mills.

We found the house on Liberty where Chris' grandfather, Richard Kinnane was born. Richard grew up here and worked in the textile mills also.

We went a few blocks down the road and found...


The Paterson Great Falls National Park.
I can't believe that his family lived so close to this magnificent location. We saw the old power plant that produced enough energy for the industry of the time.

 Chris walked across the bridge. (See the red dot?) I was afraid to do it.

 And then we went a block away and found the textile section of town.

Our final stop was in Chris' birthplace, Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. We have been looking for his grandparents' burial place for years.

When it comes to genealogy and family lore, you can't assume anything. Chris' mom told both of us for years that her father (Richard Kinnane) was buried in a Catholic Cemetery in Paterson, NJ. And she told us that he was buried on the perimeter of the cemetery-- outside the fence-- because he was such a lapsed Catholic and an S.O.B. that the church refused to bury him in the actual cemetery. So, of course, Chris and I have traipsed through about a dozen Catholic cemeteries in Paterson, NJ, in search of a headstone. She also told us that her father died of a massive coronary when she was 16 years old, so we had his death at 1941.

While in Stroudsburg, we were looking for Chris' grandmother, Elizabeth Kinnane, who later married George Lee. Chris has very fond memories of Pop Pop Lee arriving on the train from PA to Hartford and spending time with him when he was a boy. In finding Pop Pop Lee and his grandmother's graves in Pennsylvania, look what else we discovered...

There is Richard Kinnane!
Not a Catholic Cemetery.
Not the perimeter.
Not buried outside the fence.
And not dead in 1941.
It just goes to show... sometimes you can't even believe your own momma!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Georgia in November-- No sunglasses needed

Sometimes rain is good. It's soothing when you sleep. But, a lot of rain is a challenge on vacation. At least for this trip, it stopped raining while we were unloading the van, and it stopped when we loaded to leave. At least that's something!

We decided to avoid I-75 at any cost, but that also means no more Chipotle at that Man O' War exit in Lexington, Kentucky. The drive through WV, VA, NC, and SC was really beautiful. Most of the fall colors were still around. And the rest stops are much cleaner. And the welcome centers have more pamphlets than this girl could ever read. Score!

We stayed at Ft. Yargo State Park. It's about halfway in between Atlanta and Athens. We had been there earlier this year and really liked it. It's very calm and quiet-- two things that we need sometimes.

Zoo Atlanta is a beautiful zoo, even in the rain. It's not flat (for those who need the arthritis report), but it's in a lush garden setting and has some unique animals. Top of the list-- lots of pandas! This year Chris and Rachel went behind-the-scenes to feed the pandas. They were thrilled with that. If you go to zoos or aquariums, try behind-the-scene tours once in awhile. I have never been disappointed.

Looking for a park that was unsaturated was a challenge. We headed towards Athens for the day, and both parks we went to were more than 70% under water. But we did see an unusually placed clown on a trash can in the first park office where we stopped. Maps of the park, attractions, disc golf, and this...

and a beautiful nature center at Sandy Creek. We couldn't see anything else there. All roads and trails in the park were saturated.

We found Bear Hollow Zoo in Athens. It was correctly advertised. There was a bear. It was in a hollow. And there wasn't much else there, but it was very pretty in the rain.

We stumbled upon a place for lunch in Athens called Grit. It was an odd confluence of hairy-legged women, organic vegan food, and 70s music. I haven't heard that many Bee Gees' songs in a long time. All was good until Chris discovered that his steak sandwich wasn't going to be real steak. But he was a champ and ate it anyway. Outside of Grit, we saw a very strange thing....

I'm not sure if this is a common thing in Athens, but we were a little bit surprised. And we also thought that drunk students on High Street during football season might perpetrate evil with something like this.

There were some other odd occurrences that I cannot explain.
And this fashion statement of fabric remnants from a blanket I was making and Chris' flashlight headband... all converged on a 20-year-old in a panda shirt.

Stone Mountain, Georgia, was beautiful. We spent a foggy and rainy afternoon there. I laughed out loud on the tram car when the tour guide said, "This carving is of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Harrison Davis." I'm pretty sure that Jefferson Davis is wondering who Harrison is. There is a walk from the top of the mountain down to the bottom. It's a couple of miles and I thought about it for a minute. But then my wiser self thought about rain + incline + me and didn't do it. I would love to hike that someday. I was wearing sensible shoes, unlike every foreign tourist I saw.

We wanted to visit the Puppetry Museum, but it was under renovation. Doesn't that sound like fun!?

We did visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Site. That was magnificent. I know that I rave on about parks and particularly our national parks, but this site was truly amazing. The displays, the history, the video and photograph gallery, and the Ebenezer Baptist Church were moving. Please go there if you ever have reason to be in Atlanta.

The "new" Ebenezer Baptist Church on the site was the only disappointment. When I saw the "black lives matter" sign in the window, it seemed out-of-place with King's message.

And I am always amazed when there is a major traffic problem... and it's the last hour of the trip. Thanks, Zanesville!