This is the day where things got real. We said goodbye to the comfort and ease of hotels and hello to the many ups and downs of tent camping.
We had a couple stops to make on our way to set up camp. This was, on paper, our least intensive driving day of the whole trip, with less than 2 hours of travel time.
Our first stop was a place called Gillette Castle State Park in East Haddam, CT. It’s the former home of an actor named William Gillette who designed the home himself. Obviously, the property is now owned by the state.
One thing we are trying to take advantage of right now is our kids still being young. Many places don’t charge admission for kids five and under. Gillette Castle State Park is one of those places. Our family of five was able to tour the castle for $12! Not too bad.
The castle itself is a marvel of engineering, especially considering the lack of technology available when it was built in the early 1900’s.
The views of the Connecticut River weren’t too shabby either!
We ate a picnic lunch at the park and then were off to our next destination; the Submarine Force Museum in Groton, CT.
It was a windy and unseasonably chilly day, so we were thankful to tour the museum inside. Parts of the museum were designed with young kids in mind, which we are always grateful for.
The boys were able to sit in “the drivers seat” of a submarine, with all the buttons and instruments around them. They were also able to look through a periscope from inside the building and could see our van sitting in the parking lot.
I feel like the boys just kind of played along with us while we went from room to room looking at models of old submarines and torpedoes. They knew what they wanted to do and we knew what they wanted to do.
Go in the actual submarine!
I have to say, it was a fairly eye-opening experience for us all. It didn’t take us long to decide we wouldn’t make it long as a naval submarine crew member. I wouldn’t consider myself overly claustrophobic but I felt myself going into panic mode every once in a while during the tour.
One thing we enjoyed was being able to go at our own pace as it was a self-guided tour.
After leaving the museum we decided it was best to head straight to the campground to get started setting up camp. This also took us into Rhode Island!!
We had a low key dinner planned so we could focus on the tent and adjusting to staying at a campsite.
Everything seemed to be going as planned. We got the tent up in a relatively short amount of time. The pizza did well in the electric skillet. The boys were having fun playing around the campsite.
It was getting chilly and with the light fading we decided to call it a night. We all entered the tent and that’s when it happened.
Shannon uttered the words most feared by any and all tent campers.
“The air mattress is flat.”
The first thought that ran through my head was, “She’s joking. Hahaha. Good one Shannon. This is a brand new air mattress and we tested it the night before leaving for this trip. There’s no way it can be flat.”
I quickly realized she wasn’t joking and then came to the realization it wasn’t just a small leak. While Shannon is getting the boys ready for bed I try to locate the source of the leak.
After checking the entire bottom seam with no luck, Carter comes over and points to a spot on the mattress and says, “There it is”.
Again, the first thought that ran through my head, “Listen here son, I’ve scoured this mattress for the last 10 minutes and you think you can just come over and………..oh, you were right. There’s the hole.”
We patch up the hole, which you’re supposed to let sit for 4 hours before using the mattress, and try to get to some rest. For some added insurance we threw a couple pieces of duct tape over the patch.
Approximately an hour and a half after going to bed we realize the patch/duct tape combo isn’t working. We are practically laying on the ground.
We end up having to pump up the air mattress every couple hours throughout the night. Trust me when I say that we’ve never been happier to see daybreak in our entire lives!!
This day was another first for us. This was our first day having a “home base”, if you will. One of the lessons we learned from last summer’s trip was that we never wanted to camp for just one night again. Every campsite we booked this year was for at least two nights.
Today was a day for exploring the coast of Rhode Island and particularly the Newport area.
After the night we just had, we decided to sleep in a bit. By the time we arrived in Newport it was nearly lunch time. Our first stop was Fort Adams State Park. Let me first say that we have loved driving through all the neat harbor towns in Connecticut and Rhode Island.
We didn’t end up touring the fort because we thought the boys might not handle an hour and 15 minutes’ worth of walking and listening. We spent a good portion of our time trying to explain what a fort was. Once they understood that, they wanted to know why we weren’t at war. Fun times!!
With no easy access places for a picnic lunch we headed to Brenton Point State Park and ate a breezy picnic lunch right on the ocean. There was a wide open field where the boys could run and play some kind of a game called cheetah and gazelle.
After naps, because everything revolves around naps, we made our way down the scenic Ocean Avenue. The portion of the road just past Brenton Point was our favorite.
Next we got to experience the Cliff Walk. Thankfully it’s not as dangerous as it sounds. It’s a walkway that sets up high above the rocky cliffs of the ocean and also provides a nice view of the Bellevue Avenue mansions.
I’m still trying to figure out, at what point does a large house turn into a mansion?
Before heading out of the area we decided to check out the Beavertail Lighthouse in Jamestown, just to the west of Newport. We were glad we did!
At this point it was getting later in the day and our final task before returning to our campsite was to pick out a new air mattress. Time will tell if we made a good choice!!