2011 Vacation: Third and Fourth Days

We began the third day by backtracking a couple of miles to New London, CT, to see the USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear submarine.  There is a VERY nice museum in New London to the submarine force.  We had intended to spend a half hour there, but we ended up staying 90 minutes.  The story of the Nautilus is fascinating.  I wonder if we have the same drive as a nation to accomplish great things like building the first nuclear submarine or putting men on the moon anymore.  It seems to me that when a country stops striving for great things it is on the path to mediocrity and merely a footnote in history.

Us in front of the USS Nautilus
Us in front of the USS Nautilus

After visiting the Nautilus, we took a quick spin through the grounds of the Coast Guard Academy.  It is a beautiful campus, but there is no visitor center.  Other than driving through the campus and identifying different buildings from the guide map, there really wasn’t anything to do there.

Candy and the kids on a water taxi ride to Fort Adams
Candy and the kids on a water taxi ride to Fort Adams

We then headed to Newport, RI.  This is where lots of rich people have their mansions.  As a result, prices were crazy expensive, making New York City seem pretty inexpensive.  After taking out a second mortgage to park, we took a water taxi to Fort Adams past all kinds of yachts with more square footage than the barracks at West Point.

Interior parade ground of Ft. Adams
Interior parade ground of Ft. Adams

Ft. Adams, built by Brigadier General Totten, is the largest fortification ever built in North America with the most sophisticated land defenses ever built here as well.  Forts McHenry, Sumpter, and Ticonderoga would all fit in the interior parade ground — at the same time — and still leave room for a large number of troop tents.  Ft. Adams was built after the War of 1812 as one of 40 or so fortifications built from Maine to Florida to ensure that never again would a foreign power be capable of attacking the United States.  You can only enter the fort on a guided tour.  The guide reminded us of Gilbert Gottfried, the actor, but he was very informative.

A 24-lb gun in one of Ft. Adams' casemates
A 24-lb gun in one of Ft. Adams' casemates

After visiting Ft. Adams we took a bus to the start of what is called “the cliff walk.”  It is a trail along the ocean.  Some of the going is difficult; other parts are easy.  The cliff walk runs behind many of the huge mansions for which Newport is famous.

Tom and Sam on part of the cliff walk
Tom and Sam on part of the cliff walk
The back side of one of the mansions
The back side of one of the mansions

It seems that many of these mansions are beyond the means of many of the rich folks to maintain.  Some have been developed as condominiums.  Others are now open for tours — at $15 each.  No thanks.  While some of the architecture was quite impressive, I didn’t have a lot of interest in seeing how the other half lives.

Illicit dinner outside a grocery store
Illicit dinner outside a grocery store

We completed the cliff walk late in the day and were quite hungry.  After the $4 hotdogs earlier in the day we were looking for something both quick and inexpensive.  We stopped at a grocery store and bought some prepared sandwiches.  We found a small coffee shop with exterior seating that was closed, so we illicitly staked out one of their tables for our “picnic” dinner.  We completed our day in Newport, RI, with a walk along Thames street to look in shops of stuff we don’t need.  I came close to buying a “bobble head” Robbie the Robot, but resisted.  The lessons of all the junk jettisoning we did on our recent move from Aberdeen to Severn were still to fresh in our minds.  We then drove to the Naval War College to stay in Navy Lodging — an adventure in and of itself — for the night.

A view of the Cape Cod Canal
A view of the Cape Cod Canal

Leaving Newport we eventually crossed the Cape Cod Canal.  This is widest canal in the US built at sea level.  It is this canal which designates the boundary between Cape Cod and the rest of Massachusetts.   We stopped briefly to put our hands in the water and then continued to Sandwich, MA, where we played miniature golf.

Sandwich Miniature Golf
Sandwich Miniature Golf

After some a little shopping in Sandwich we drove some back roads to Hyannis, MA, and eventually on to Orleans, MA.  Orleans is about the last built-up area prior to entering the part of Cape Cod which is largely nature preserve and beaches.

The Cove
The Cove

Candy found a place called the Cove, which is a nice mom-and-pop hotel in Orleans.  The room is large and clean.  We are right on the beach, but the hotel also has a heated outdoor pool.  (The kids like to play on the beach, but they prefer to swim in pools.)  We played miniature golf at Cape Escape Mini Golf in Orleans until the sky opened up and a boat with pairs of animals floated by.  We had had a large, Italian lunch in Sandwich, so we all had salads at Wendy’s for dinner while waiting for the rain to abate.  Then we finished our game and went back to the hotel for the night.

Tomorrow we’ll spend the day exploring and hiking the lower cape and perhaps spend some time on a beach.