We have arrived in Connecticut & it is beautiful! The Seaport Campground is in full color & it is so pretty in here! And not many folks, as we seem to be behind the tourist season once again. We love Old Mystic! Sure wish we had a lot more time in this neck of the woods.
We started off our day by taking reader Peg Pinckard's advice & took the free, self-guided tour of the USS Nautilus, the first nuclear powered submarine in the world. Wow, it was so interesting. Who'd have thought I would ever be climbing down into a submarine, in Connecticut no less! Larry had a nice conversation with the 2 young men working the entrance. One had been on a sub for 5 years, the other 3 years. He asked them if they were claustrophobic & also if they enjoyed being on board. Response "not claustrophobic, it is a love-hate relationship, and yes we enjoy it!"
And so, today we learned that the propulsion system was a turning point in the history of nuclear and naval engineering and submersible craft. The Nautilus' keel was laid in Groton, CT at Electric Boat by President Truman on June 14, 1952. A year and a half later, on January 21, 1954, Mrs. Dwight Eisenhower crashed the traditional bottle of champagne across the bow and the ship slid into the Thames River.
On January 17, 1955, Commander Eugene P. Wilkinson took the Nautilus out to sea propelled by the nuclear reactor for the first time. As he sent the famous message "Underway on Nuclear Power," he probably did not fully realize the new era he had just help usher in.
The nuclear plant enabled the Nautilus to remain submerged for weeks, even months at a time. Prior to the advent of nuclear technology, submarines were powered by a combination of diesel engines and batteries. The diesels could only be run while the ship was on the surface. Battery power was necessary when submerged. Batteries only lasted so long, so submarines would need to surface from time to time and run the diesel engines to charge the batteries.
With a nuclear reactor, it was no longer necessary to surface and recharge batteries. Longer underwater runs were now possible. The Nautilus demonstrated this in 1958 when she sailed beneath the Arctic icepack to the North Pole. When the ship arrived, the crew broadcast the famous message "Nautilus 90 North."
Hundreds of nuclear submarines followed the Nautilus, slowly replacing the United States' fleet of diesel powered boats. She was decommissioned in 1980, and is now, of course, open to the public in Groton, Connecticut. How lucky for us! I highly recommend this as a must see if you are in the area. We can not believe this is free to the public. How nice...
By now it was 12:30 & we were starving. We already knew our lunch destination was to be Mystic Pizza. It's been more than a decade since the movie "Mystic Pizza" put a little pizza parlor in southeastern Connecticut on the map. Visitors to Mystic still flock to the restaurant, though, to catch a glimpse of movie memorabilia, to savor "a slice of heaven" and to wish fervently that their waitress will look just like Julia Roberts!
Well, I am happy to report that this pizza really is "a slice of heaven", as was the appetizer platter we ordered. The salads at the next table over looked wonderful as well. If you can't get to southeastern Connecticut, you can visit the Mystic Pizza Web site for information on ordering frozen pizzas by mail or finding the Mystic Pizza line of frozen pizzas in your local grocery store. We thoroughly enjoyed it!
As we were leaving Groton this afternoon, we noticed a banner across the road advertising a Regional Community play, "Murder at the Howard Johnson's", running for the next 3 days. I called for info & we are going to the 8pm show this evening. That should be fun!
After enjoying our pizza, we headed over to check out the Foxwood Casino. All I can say is "oh my goodness!" With it's 1400 rooms, 7,400 slot machines, 26 restaurants & six casinos, it is really something. I took some very nice pictures to share with you, but in order to keep this post a reasonable size, I will do a second post with this same date about this property. Enjoy...