27 & 28/50: Connecticut & Rhode Island

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One of the things I love about this road trip is that when I see a sign for something interesting or random, I have the freedom to pull over and explore. There are often times where I’m led to what seems like a dead end. Other things I am pleasantly surprised. I have taken countless detours for beaches, trails, and waterfalls. And then there’s random things like the Pez visitor centre. As I was driving through Connecticut, I saw it listed as one of the attractions in Orange, CT off the freeway. I decided it fit into those random things one ought to do on roadtrips. They had the largest pez dispenser in the world, the largest pez dispenser collection. There were a lot of families there and then there was me playing pez bingo as I walked around (I even won a free Pez dispenser- whoop whoop).

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This trip has been filled with many grand sites. From stunning waterfalls to awe-inspiring canyons to oceans, mountains and forests. In the midst of the grandness of it all, it can be easy to miss the small joys as well. If you had the choice between the Grand Canyon and the Pez visitor centre, I’m guessing you might choose the Grand Canyon (unless you’re a diehard Pez collector of course). Yet the combination of both of these places have distinct memories in my trip and they play important parts. We often cast aside the “small” or ordinary things, missing their significance altogether. And yet each of these moments are woven into my tapestry of memories. Each plays a part in my journey and also in forming who I am. We often look to the big things or big decisions in life and yet it’s often the incremental decisions or moments that make the biggest difference over time.

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Connecticut also had some lovely lakes and a great boardwalk to walk alongside the ocean. If you had asked me previous to this trip, I don’t think I would have listed Connecticut as one of the states that touches the Atlantic Ocean. Then again, I’m pretty sure there’s a lot about many of the states I’ve visited that I had no clue about before. Each has a rich history and stories of its own to tell.

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Next stop was Newport, Rhode Island. Newport is well known for its mansions that were the height of the ‘Gilded Age’ in the late 1800’s, early 1900’s. The term was used by Mark Twain in reference to the thin gold plating that could cover up scores of issues and problems underneath. I toured a couple of the mansions, enjoyed the cliff walk and the beach. As I went to the mansions, what was fascinating to me was all the stories they held. The audio tours were rife with stories, sharing tales of those who owned the house and those who served in the houses as well.

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At one mansion, it talked about how the lady of the house had a summer party budget, because these were important in their social society. In today’s currency, the equivalency of this budget would be 12 million dollars for summer parties- crazy! Reading the stories of the parties was interesting because they definitely went all out. I was struck by how easy it would be to get caught up in the social trappings of competition and status and trying to prove one’s worth through lavish parties and ornate furnishings and decorations. It’s easy to read about their histories and judge them and yet as humans, we still participate in similar trappings, just in other forms. The family histories of these places is always amazing because many of them contributed significantly to society. They left interesting legacies in their stories. My imagination continues to think of all the stories that remain untold. It is such a rich heritage to share our stories with one another, to hold stories for others and to share them. Our stories in themselves become a legacy to treasure and to inspire hope and life.

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