As Don’s shore duty comes to an end it is now officially time to bid farewell to New England. It is a bittersweet parting from an area that will forever hold a special place in my heart. I can honestly say that I love this area. I love the charm, character, stately New England homes, summers with low humidity, seaport villages, coastal towns and the feeling of security that comes from living in a small town. For the most part, I have enjoyed our time here and am grateful for the opportunity to call this area home for the past three years.
When we first moved to the area we rented a home in Mystic Connecticut. When our furniture showed up there was an issue with the washing machine. The repairman could not come right away so I had to make a trip to the laundry mat, something I desperately hate. I searched the internet to find a laundry mat and was happy to find one in the Mystic Village, just a couple miles from where we were living. The Mystic Village is comprised of multiple, touristy, specialty shops and looks very quaint, like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. At first I thought my navigator was mistaken when it led me to the address as the laundry mat was snuggled into the heart of all of those tiny shops. The place was as quaint inside as it was on the outside and the attendant cheerfully greeted me as I entered. The thing that sticks out most, as something I will never forget, is that there was a rack of shelves just inside the door and on these shelves was about thirty jugs of laundry detergent. Written on each jug was the name of the individual who owned it. They were not behind a counter or under lock and key. No, they were just sitting on the shelves, via an honor system, waiting for the owner to come in and pluck it up, do their laundry and return it to its resting place, giving them one less item to carry. I only had to visit that laundry mat twice but each time I truly felt as if I had taken a step back in time.
We lived within walking distance to Mystic Connecticut, a town made famous by the movie Mystic Pizza. Luckily we moved there before I was forced to go gluten free so I did get to partake of the pizza several times while we lived there. While the locals are split in regards to the taste, my husband and I really did enjoy the pizza and my mom, who is a self proclaimed pizza coinsurer, maintains to this day that it is the best pizza she has ever eaten.
Have you ever picked up a snow globe and peered inside to see the tiny, perfect town within? That is the impression that Mystic gave me. A perfect little snow globe town. It is surrounded by gorgeous old homes, some of which date back to the 1700’s. Most of these homes have plaques that give the age of the home as well as the family name and occupation of the original owner such as Ships Captain or Blacksmith. Some are painted vibrant bold colors that hold true to the New England history.
On the rise just beyond Mystic Pizza is an enormous old church, whose bells chime to mark the top of every hour. At any given time you can find tourists standing under the Mystic Pizza sign posing for a photo.
Lining Main Street on both sides are numerous specialty shops geared for both locals and tourist alike.
Without a doubt the focal part of the town is the draw bridge that goes up and down, multiple times throughout the day during the summer, to allow various boats and tall mask sailing vessels to pass through the channel. The bridge operator blares’ a horn, which never fails to scare some unsuspecting tourist, and all traffic foot and vehicle alike must pause for the duration of the lift. One thing that struck me about the draw bridge is how utterly quiet it is when raised and lowered. It has this massive counter weight system that allows it to operate virtually soundlessly. While the bridge is fun to watch and a must see when visiting the area, watching the large masted sailing ships pass effortlessly through the channel is reminiscent of an era long past and truly adds to the charm that Mystic Seaport is known for.
After spending a year in Mystic we decided the house we were renting was just not the right fit for us and moved to the nearby town of Westerly Rhode Island. Westerly may not be the tourist destination that Mystic is but we have enjoyed our time here and are glad we chose to finish out our time in New England in this safe, comfortable town.
Westerly is known for its beaches and with that comes beach traffic. We did not know when we rented our condo that we lived on one of the two main roads leading people to and from the beaches. It can be pretty vexing in the summertime but, for the most part, we have learned to pick and chose our route and the times we are traveling so really it has not been that troublesome.
The main thing we gained with making the move is piece of mind. With Don being away a great deal the past two years I have not had the stress of dealing with lawn maintenance or snow removal. I have had a nice new place to live with updated appliances and a swimming pool. The weather even cooperated enough for me to use the pool on occasion.
We have been lucky to have visited all of the surrounding areas while we have been stationed here. We traveled to Maine, to shop at LL Bean, toured the mega Yankee Candle store in Massachusetts, Walked the freedom trail in Boston and climbed onboard the USS Salam at the old Quincy shipyard, had incredible BBQ in Vermont, and visited the great city of New York on several occasions. Yes we are very lucky indeed.
Once again the Navy has taken us to places we may never have seen on our own. We are grateful for the time spent here and the people we have befriended along the way. With all that said, I know in my heart I am truly a southern girl and returning to Virginia yet again feels right.
Our furniture is once again loaded on a truck and heading down the highway and we will be following Friday morning. While we have loved our visit, it is time once again to hit the road. I was born a southern girl and it is time to go home…