Seaside Point & Harkness Memorial State Park • June 26, 2017 • Written by Curtis & Jess
Curtis: It was our first full day in Connecticut. I had work in the morning, but like all first days, it was short and more administrative work than anything else. By the time I got home it was only mid afternoon. Naturally, we decided that we should go explore our new home a little bit and get out of our tiny hotel room. It only took a few minutes for me to find a couple letterboxes and interesting sites down by the coast, so we decided we would go for a sunset walk at Harkness Memorial State Park. Two things we look for when venturing out into new areas are places that are both free and dog friendly, and this met both requirements — Harkness Memorial is free on weekdays!
Seaside Point, Connecticut
We followed CT 213 as it meandered through residential neighborhoods. Before going to the park itself, we stopped at another historic site a bit further along the road: The Seaside. The Seaside was originally constructed in the 1930’s as a treatment center for children with tuberculosis. When advances in medicine reduced the need for TB retreats, the facility switched towards geriatric care briefly before ultimately functioning as a center for the mentally disabled. It operated in this final role until 1996 when it finally closed after decades of allegations of patient abuse. Today, the property and structure are in limbo, although I think the final verdict is that it will be turned into a state park. Regardless, visitors are allowed to come and walk around the property and view the sea and the remains of the buildings. It was a quiet night here and we enjoyed walking the grounds, even if we were unsuccessful in finding letterboxes.
Harkness Memorial State Park, New London, Connecticut
As sunset approached we got back in the car and headed a few miles back down CT 213 to Harkness Memorial State Park. Unlike The Seaside, Harkness was much more popular this evening, but not so much so that it was too crowded. There was still plenty of room to walk around without having people in every picture you took. The grounds and mansion were constructed during the Gilded Age and later given over to the state in the 1950’s. Like the other Gilded era sites we’ve seen, the gardens were absolutely beautiful. I especially enjoy the trellis and columns covered in ivy and grapes. While we don’t anticipate ever having the wealth to build such an estate, there are definitely elements that we hope to employ wherever we do end up living.
We wandered the grounds and enjoyed the refreshing sea breeze. I attempted (rather incorrectly) to guess the names of the islands that we saw off in Long Island Sound. The sun set, a bit further north than we expected, and we returned to our hotel.
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Jess: This may not be the most exciting place we’ve lived, but as always, we’re going to make the most of it. There may not be peaks like those we enjoyed in New York, but there is one thing that can easily keep us occupied this summer: the letterboxes. Despite being the third smallest state in the country, Connecticut boasts of over 7,000 letterboxes hidden — as of today, it has the second most boxes in one state (with Massachusetts currently leading). This alone should keep us busy! In other areas we’ve lived, Curtis would always suggest places to go or hikes to do based off of where letterboxes were hidden. Here, it’s better to pick attractions we want to visit and then narrow down boxes at that spot, because it’s almost guaranteed to have some! There are also some other “challenge” programs the state has set up that we’ll share about soon. And of course, this area has some interesting history that we’re discovering while visiting different historic sites! Living in a hotel room means that we’re close together whenever Curtis is home (which we love!) and it also encourages us to get out and go places more often, sometimes just for Charlotte’s sake. The first 2 weeks here have flown by so far, as we’ve been very busy both with work and play. We can’t wait to see how the rest of the summer will go!