We spent last week “moochdocking” or “driveway surfing” at my brother’s house in Connecticut. Had he and his family been home, we would have stayed in our RV, drawing electricity from their house (while constantly flipping their breakers and blowing their fuses), and filling our water tank with their garden hose. But, since they were heading off to Disney World for a vacation, we parked Barney in the driveway and stayed in their house all week. We won’t lie: staying in a nice spacious house again was pretty sweet!
With access to a garage and my brother’s extensive supply of tools and home improvement stuff, Kevin completed several RV projects that would have been more difficult to manage at a campground. The most important one was installing a surge protector. Assuming it does what it’s supposed to do, it will save poor Barney from getting deep fried if there’s a sudden spike or drop in voltage at a campground. (If you’re an RVer and want to know more about installing this device, check out this post by our friends Mike and Kathy at LifeRebooted.net. They actually write articles that are helpful for RVers, while I just write self-indulgent nonsense.)
After the main projects were done, we headed down to Groton, Connecticut where the first nuclear powered submarine is on display.
The Nautilus, built by Electric Boat, launched in 1954. Before Nautilus, submarines were powered by diesel-electric engines. By the 1950’s nuclear power was becoming a popular alternative energy source and the Navy decided to try using it to power its submarines. Nuclear powered engines allow submarines to travel farther and faster under water because they don’t require a constant supply of fresh air. All of that sounds great, of course, but imagine being on that first crew: You’re on a submarine, which is basically a tin can death trap to begin with, and now, the bosses want to put a nuclear power source ONBOARD with you. For the first time EVER!!! Isn’t that great??? Really… what could go wrong???
People are nuts. I mean, just look at this sign:
This sign was on a table in front of a canvas bag that apparently contained items necessary to fix leaks in submarine components. Oddly enough, they didn’t show you what was in the canvas bag.
In any case, thankfully, all went well and now nuclear power is a standard source of propulsion for submarines. In fact, things went so well for Nautilus that, in 1958, it became the first submarine to traverse the North Pole. (I wonder how much duct tape they took on that trip….)
The Nautilus was decommissioned in 1980 and can now be found in Groton as part of the Submarine Force Museum. Admission to the museum is free and includes an audio tour of the Nautilus.
While visiting my native state, I also linked up with some old friends from high school. In addition to catching up on the last unmentionable number of years, I was able to pick up some great restaurant recommendations. Our favorite was Republic, located in Bloomfield, Connecticut. We ended up sitting at the bar for some excellent people watching, fantastic food, and inventive cocktails.
We also happened to stumble upon Jem’s Gardens, a great little roadside ice cream stand located in South Windsor, Connecticut. With their welcoming backyard, patrons can enjoy snacks and sundaes in a little slice of summer heaven.
We spent our last full day of moochdocking away from our temporary home base. Rather than knocking things off our to-do list like the grown adults we claim to be, we headed out for a fun filled day at Six Flags New England. To say the rides were not for the faint of heart would be an understatement.
The craziest one we went on was called “Goliath Towers.” It may as well have been called: “Have you thought about your own mortality lately?”
See the tall towers? When you start the ride, the coaster train is hoisted up, from the back, all the way up the first tower. Like this:
As a rider, you’re suspended, face down, hanging 200 feet up in the air at a 90 degree angle with the pavement. You can feel all of your body weight on the harness. And as you’re hanging there, you think, “I wonder if the manufacturer subcontracted this harness device out to the lowest bidder, like usual?”
After trying to remember what the hell prompted you to get on this ride in the first place, and while considering the fact that you are not, in fact, 14 anymore, the coaster drops and you go flying through the maze at 65 miles per hour, upside down, inside out… who the hell knows? Eventually, the coaster goes up the second tower, and you find yourself staring at the pretty blue sky wondering why you can’t make good choices like other people your age….. Just as you start to think “We should be at an art museum or the symphony or something…” the ride drops again and reverses the whole course. Eventually the insanity ends and you try to play off the fact that you can barely walk a straight line (because you have an honest-to-god concussion) and you start thinking “Maybe the tea-cup ride would be more our speed.”
Man, we’re dumb….
In any case, other than the occasional abject terror involved in our visit, we really did have a great time.
And just like that, the week was done! We officially declared ourselves “moochdocking professionals,” packed up, and moved to a campground. We’ll stick around here for another week to spend time with my family (and get over our whiplash) before heading on up to Massachusetts.