Picture of hartford We spent about a week in Connecticut on this trip. There were a couple different purposes. One of them was to do some genealogy research on Melanie's family. Another was to judge barbeque at the Norwalk Oyster Festival. Also, we just wanted to visit some sites in Connecticut that we hadn't been to before. We had been to Hartford quite a few times before but this was our base for the first portion of the trip. That's the old state capitol in the center of the picture, dwarfed by the modern skyscrapers.
Picture of new_london This is the skyline of New London as seen from across the river in Groton. New London is a useful transport hub if you can manage to get into town from the I-95 access ramps. Once there however there doesn't seem to be a whole lot to do other than take ferries out to the islands.
Picture of newlondon_graveyard Above town, with a lovely view of the I-95 access ramps is this oddly named cemetery. Technically I suppose just about every town has one of these, they probably just don't name it such.
Picture of stonington It's a given that going to Mystic on Labor Day weekend is a horrible idea. We tried it anyway and verified that it is in fact a horrible idea. We couldn't even park anywhere in the town limits so we spent our time in Stonington instead. We already intended to come to Stonington for research reasons but found it to be a very lovely little town. The center of town is now located on a small peninsula. There are a few shops and restaurants and while it is lightly touristy it doesn't come to close to Mystic, which means you can still visit on Labor Day.
Picture of gillette_castle Gillette Castle sits on a bluff overlooking the Connecticut River in the center of the state. This is most likely the strangest attraction in Connecticut. It was built by the actor William Gillette who had become famous portraying Sherlock Holmes in the early 20th century. He was also the sort of eccentric guy who would build this.
Picture of door_lock Gillette Castle has a variety of quirks. One of the most notable is that Gillette designed a complex lock mechanism for every door and window in the home. Each of them is different. Some of the furniture is equally unusual and there are some pleasant hiking trails around the grounds.
Picture of norwalk_harbor We spent the end of this trip in Norwalk because that's where the Norwalk Oyster Festival is located. In particular it sprawls across a large open area at the head of Norwalk harbor. Norwalk hosts New England-style barbeque competitions as well as Kansas City-style, a Memphis-style whole hog category and several taster's choice options for random festival goers. To the average non-competition barbeque reader, that just means there is a whole lot of cooking going on here.
Picture of oyster_festival As festivals go, this one is quite entertaining. A lot of the barbeque competitions we judge at are literally just a cooking competition. They're all open to the public but there isn't much to do. The Oyster Festival has a large midway, a craft fair, music stages and some pirates. Everything seems to have pirates these days. The one odd thing is that oysters are not really the focus of this festival, other than the name. You have to hunt around a bit to even find them.

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