We got to Devil’s Hopyard a bit before lunchtime, so we decided to hike first and then eat. We had no idea where we were going or what the park actually entailed except that it had a waterfall. Then we found that there were several trails and perhaps some bears.
|Rhyming makes it less scary.|
The woods there offered the kind of quiet you find in horror movies when someone is about to be dead. Still, it was a Zen quiet. The ground was soft with a layer of composing leaves and other nature thingies that fall. The trees grew really tall really quickly. We found ourselves climbing steeper than expected hills. I stopped us after a few moments to look back. I wanted to make sure we didn’t get lost.
We encountered water and my brother put his hand in. It was cool. I followed suit. It was wet. We came across a swampy section, and with the balance of acrobats, we made it across several logs. Then we came across a swampier swamp. There was no crossing in our sneakers, so we turned back, encountering a slightly different path with inclines that measured maybe 45 degrees. “Lean back” became the motto so that “Tumbling Head Over Heels” did not.
|A place for fine dining|
I was like, “Are those hawks?”
He was like, “Look at the ones with the silver tips” and then “the others have the white across, see?” One of them was a turkey vulture and one of them was a black vulture and of those two, one of them was rare. Neither was a hawk. I need to brush up on my mad birding skillz.
We thanked him and then hit the bathrooms, which were inside. Score! No porta potty grossness!
|When you sit on the toilet, you can feel a breeze. Like from below.|
Then we went all around the castle and found Grand Central Station in addition to some paths down by the river, which I think was the Connecticut River. Because we were in Connecticut. We then climbed back up and around the other side of the castle and took a peek inside through the windows. The room we saw looked like a sunroom. The castle is closed on Tuesdays because of budget cuts. The gift shop was open though, and we learned there that Gillette is William Gillette who played Sherlock Holmes in some film at some time.
We decided that this park was not going to happen. We’d driven through and around and back and saw lots of trees on either side of the road, and that was good enough for us.
Onto the Arboretum! We parked at the first spot we could find in front of a trail map and started hiking the first trail we saw. The trails criss-crossed, orange over purple, purple over teal. We went onto the swamp walk, and this one was better than the first swamp we’d encountered because this had a wooden foot path built up in it. We had no idea how long it was or if it would end, but when we found the end, we couldn’t find the path we’d started to take, so we looped around to a different one. These paths were clearly marked even though the trails sort of morphed into each other.
On our way to the exit, we found that there was a whole other parking lot and some gardens that we’d missed. Having seen enough foliage for the dead, we headed to the diner.
Curley’s is a tiny down-home diner in the middle of large urban modernity. The second we walked in, we were like, this is the place for us. We ordered. I changed. The food was delicious. Then I panicked that we were at the wrong Curley’s because I didn’t see any writers there yet. Not that I knew what anyone in the group would look like. Then in came the host for the evening and then the poets flooded in. Ahh, now I was really at home.
|I clean up real good.|
We heard from several of the poets who read their own works or poems by other people they liked. I sat next to the owner of the diner who entertained me with tales of ancient Greece and then read a poem of mythic themes. On the other side of me was a wonderful German woman who read a Rothke poem. I usually don’t point out ethnicities, but the first thing the diner owner asked when I sat down was if I was Italian. So funny.
The night wound down a bit before 10 and then we hit the road home. From way out in Eastern Connecticut to closeby Stamford to Bayside to Long Island, through the woods, through the poems, through the diner and home: that’s how to do day tripping right.