Friday, March 18, 2016

Phil's 76th, continued

Woke up Friday after a disturbed night's sleep.  There's a lot of sound here in Stamford, in a hotel, even on the 4th floor.  And I didn't like the bed.  Thruway, city traffic, sirens, heater, refrigerator, etc.  And the curtains did not quite close so the light outside shone in your eyes in bed.

And worse yet, their "hotel breakfast" was even leaner than the standard hotel breakfast: no eggs, no yogurt, few pastries ... but they had waffles (not even make-your-own, just frozen) and toast.  The juice was watery and the coffee was not tasty.  Upstairs, the shower never really drained and there wasn't a fan in the bathroom.

But the scene out the window is entertaining.  There are several HUGE office buildings near here, a gas station across the street, several things that used to be suburban houses but now are split up into small apartments, a Taco Bell right outside with a constant stream of customers, and several characters, like the Finocchio Brothers in a large garbage truck.

After some breakfast, some bad coffee, and lots of blogging and uploading, we went down to the car and out for an excursion!  The weather was still mostly sunny, though windy like you wouldn't believe, and so we picked up 95 East (by the sign that says, "Yes! We can wash that!!" and the day laborer market) and drove back up the coast a bit to Sherwood Island State Park in Westport.  Here's the email I sent my siblings about it:

Sarah and Dave and I are currently in a hotel in Stamford, down here to see a couple of concerts in Port Chester (NY).  For an excursion today we went to Sherwood Island State Park ... just got back.

As some of you may remember, Mom used to take us toddlers (me and Sally at least) to Compo Beach, the Westport town beach, a long time ago.  My biggest memories of there are the long boardwalks and that every blue moon we'd get a frozen Milky Way for a snack ... probably split it between us.

Once in a while, Mom would want to mix it up and would take us to a beach in Fairfield, or to Sherwood Island State Park.  We probably didn't go there often because they charged a fee, though this is conjecture.

There is no fee in March, and there were just a few other people, and acres of Canada geese.  We parked at the main pavilion and navigated acres of picnic tables in various states of repair, into the main, modern pavilion itself.  There we saw part of their 9/11 Memorial.

This is a sculpture made out of salvaged, steel bits of the World Trade Towers, running over and around a listing on a steel plaque of all the people from Connecticut who died in the attacks.  The people's names were all in separate squares, followed by what their location was when they died, and what Connecticut town they were from.  I read them all and found a few from Westport.  It was incredibly moving and the most moving for me was seeing the squares of a young father and his 2-year old daughter from Greenwich who had been in one of the planes.

From there we went out to the point, where it must have been blowing over 35.  A couple of trawlers were right offshore, maybe doing something scientific but probably dragging(?) for oysters.  Off to our right was the Western corner of Westport and right behind that, Compo Beach,  There were lots of people over there, though I doubt Mom, Sally, and I were among them.

We couldn't see around the corner from there, and could not see the "new" yacht club, let alone the old one.  What we could see very clearly was the factory in Norwalk that's the backdrop of many of my memories of sailing around there ... it's still standing though maybe not operational.  We could also see Cockenoe (pronounced Ka-kee-nee) and the islands beyond it very clearly.  The day was overcast as I say, but there were sudden periods of sunshine and times when the fierce wind stopped, pausing for breath.  We could see way down Long Island to the West, and I told Dave that it probably extended as far as we could see, *again* as far out to the West.  He was gobsmacked.

What we were looking for out on the point was the other part of the 9/11 Memorial, what they call a "living" memorial.  I guess this means it involves plants.  The plants weren't thriving in March, but we got the idea.  The idea is that from there you can see the lower part of Manhattan when the weather is clear.  It was clear enough today.  On that bright September day, people gathered there to watch smoke coming up from the island, far, far away.  I'm sure this was preferable to watching it on TV.

After that we took the short trail around their salt marsh (Thruway and incredibly expensive homes in the background), and then combed the beach.  The tide was very low and still going out.  Seagulls surfed on the wind and dropped oysters on the rocks, ducks were floating right at the tideline looking for food, and the Canada geese were scavenging.  We'd seen several different varieties of oaks in the woods, and then beaches and pines on the shore.

I kept saying, I used to think this was normal.  I realized that for much of my life I'd been puzzled by this "normal" being missing.  I was convinced that the thin, tall black oaks we had in our woods in Westport when I was young and the beeches at my school in Fairfield were the standard kinds of trees one sees.  And that the cockles and fingernail shells and black periwinkles and oysters and small clams and mica-covered rocks were what you'd see on the shore.  When I didn't see these in the woods and beaches in the parts of the world I've frequented since then, something puzzling was missing.  Sarah was amazed by many of the small things we saw; she had no idea that this was normal!

We walked around for an hour or two and that was fine.  Got back on the Thruway and back to Stamford, off tonight for Port Chester and another concert!

So that was fun.  Did some more hanging around the hotel room after that, and then off to Port Chester and Kiosko!

Here are pictures!

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