Yale University Tour, Newport Mansions and Old Fashioned Soda

July 22-31, 2019 — It’s been over six weeks since we left Wisconsin and embarked on our summer whirlwind tour of New England. We have been to many interesting places, witnessed beautiful scenery and met great new friends. 

During this time we’ve also knowingly missed or passed up just as many fascinating stops. It’s not possible to see everything and go everywhere without suffering total burnout and exhaustion. We could easily repeat the exact same route another time and see completely different sights and be just as enthused. 

Understanding the realities of not “doing and seeing it all” is a major hurdle that travelers face. Once you are comfortable with this and able to accept it then you can begin to relax and go about the business of enjoying the journey and not just the destination. 

Also important is knowing when it is time to stop and take time to unwind. After six busy weeks with only a few sporadic down days we were ready to be stationary for a week. We still did some exploring during this time in the car but not having to pack up and move the RV for seven whole days was very nice. 

We did entertain the thought of seeking out a campground with electricity for air conditioning during our stationary week but decided against that in favor of staying at the Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, Connecticut. The casino allows free overnight parking, has great views of the Thames River, allows generator use for air conditioning, allows propane grills, offers free shuttles to the casino and frequently patrols the lot for security. We enjoyed a great stay at Mohegan Sun and would not hesitate to return. 

All stays this week were free with one night each at a Boondockers Welcome host site, a Cracker Barrel and a Harvest Hosts location and seven nights at a casino. Follow along below for a pictorial of the discoveries we made during this last part of July. 

Mile Driven - RV
Miles Driven - Car

The Cliff Walk in Newport, Rhode Island is a 3.5 miles scenic path along the rugged New England coast with views of the Atlantic Ocean, beaches and the famous Newport Mansions. Much of the Cliff Walk is paved and easily accessible but a few sections are over rocky terrain with cliff drops of over 70 feet. It’s a great spot to get in a few steps while feasting on the beauty of Rhode Island. 

The Breakers in Newport, Rhode Island served as a summer “cottage” for the Cornelius Vanderbilt II family during the late 19th century. The five level, 70 room mansion that was typically only used for six weeks in July and August contains 62,482 feet of living area, equivalent to a combined square footage of 368 motorhomes like our Thor Vegas. Yikes that’s a big “cottage”!

Street lines in Bristol, Rhode Island are painted red, white and blue instead of the traditional yellow and white. The city, nicknamed “America’s most patriotic town”, is home to the oldest continuously celebrated Independence Day festivities in the United States with the first one being in 1777. The celebration begins each year on June 14, Flag Day, and ends on July 4 with the oldest known annual parade in the country, an event that draws over 200,000 people to Bristol. 

The Rhode Island State House is located in downtown Providence, RI. The building features the fourth largest self-supporting marble dome in the world, after St. Peter’s Basilica, the Minnesota State Capitol, and the Taj Mahal. 

Our Boondockers Welcome host site nestled in the woods in Dartmouth, Massachusetts. While at this location three very rare devastating EF-1 tornadoes hit the Cape Cod cities of Barnstable, Yarmouth and Harwich causing much destruction of this beautiful area. Luckily no one was seriously injured during the storms but many residents and tourists were left without power. We had just left the Cape Cod area two days prior to the storms and moved to Dartmouth which is only a short distance away across Buzzards Bay as the crow flies. We did endure severe weather as well but thankfully no tornado activity occurred. 

We found free overnight parking in Rhode Island to be very limited with only a Cracker Barrel and a Harvest Hosts winery as viable options. The Cracker Barrel in Coventry was closer to our route and since we had never spent the night at one nor eaten there before we thought we’d give it a try. The manager and staff were very friendly and welcoming, parking was ample and food was good. A win all around!

What a great view overlooking the Thames River from the RV lot at the Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, Connecticut! It was the perfect setting for some R & R before heading out on the next phase of our summer circle tour of the east coast. Overnight parking at Mohegan Sun is free with a permit from the casino security personnel. The lot is frequently patrolled and complimentary shuttle service from the lot to the casino is provided. 

Yale University, a private Ivy League research university, is located in New Haven, Connecticut. It was founded in 1701 making it the third-oldest higher education institution in the United States and one of nine Colonial Colleges chartered before the American Revolution. Notable graduates of the university include 31 living billionaires, 247 Rhodes Scholars, 19 U.S. Supreme Court Justices, and five U.S. Presidents – William Howard Taft, Gerald Ford, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. The University offers free guided tours daily from the visitor center. Highlights of the student-led tours are the Sterling Memorial Library which resembles a European Gothic cathedral and the Beinecke Rare Book Manuscript Library which has a windowless facade that is constructed of translucent veined marble and granite. On sunny days such as the one during our visit the marble transmits filtered daylight in a subtle amble glow to the interior of the building.

The United States Submarine Force Museum is located in Groton, Connecticut along the Thames River. This free museum contains 33,000 artifacts including the USS Nautilus, the first nuclear-powered submarine in the world. 

What to do on an afternoon when the “feels like” temperature soars over 100° and you are dry camping? Hit up the local library where there is A/C, WiFi and plenty to read. Hopefully the sweltering weather is long behind us and we can enjoy our remaining New England tour a bit more comfortably. 

The Connecticut State Capitol is located near Bushnell Park in Hartford. The building was completed in 1878 at a cost of over 2.5 million dollars, 2.5 times more than the original budget of 1 million dollars. The costs increased greatly due to the building contractor’s extensive elaboration of the original plan. 

Sherman F. Avery began making soda in a red barn on Corbin Avenue in New Britain, Connecticut during the summer of 1904 using real cane sugar and quality ingredients. Popular flavors in the early days were Cream, Birch Beer, Root Beer and Ginger Ale. Today, Avery’s soda is one of the oldest soda bottling companies in New England and their soda is still made in the same red barn. The company offers tours of their facility and for a nominal fee you can mix your recipe of flavors into a personalized soda. What a fun, interesting stop!

What a great week with the perfect mix of exploring and down time. Stay tuned for next week as we make our way north and east to upstate New York where we plan to visit orchards, farms and vineyards. See you then!

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2 thoughts on “Yale University Tour, Newport Mansions and Old Fashioned Soda”

  1. Ron and Barbara

    Wow, that was a busy week for someone who said they were unwinding! Glad you made it to Newport and the cliff walk. It’s a great area. Looks like you had a month of seeing New England colleges. Next time your up we’ll go paaak the caah in Haaavyd Yaaaad and hang our there. Looking forward to you new adventures.

    1. Lol it only looked like we were busy. We would love to go visit Haaavyd Yaaaad next time we’re in the area. We’re looking forward to meeting up with you guys again whether it be on the road or in New England.

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