Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Tippencansset & Other Places 12/16/2019

When you're off for jury duty, and they end up not needing jurors.

Woody Hill Management Area, Westerly...never been down here before, thought I'd check if the roads were open for hunting season but I guess not :)

Exploring a bit off of Weekapaug...guess I didn't take a pic at the end of the parking area where the sand trail starts.

Bailey Mill / Tippencansset / Old Voluntown Road. I remember vividly first coming through here 40+ years with mom & dad.

Been a few years (and during a dry summer) since last time I was through. I'm not worried about the depth or getting stuck since I know the bottom is firm...just this is pretty deep to see where the boulders are.

Indeed, towards the end my right front wheel dropped enough part of my though immediately, "Maybe I do need a snorkel kit..."

Tippencansset Pond

I really do remember being 8 years old or so coming down this hill in wild-eyed wonder:

I believe that's a Cherokee XJ that didn't make it. Didn't get out for a positive ID

One thing I'm amazed at when I went and looked up the 1934 Aerial photos...much of this road was still active farms and not abandoned / taken over for state forests. Would have expected it sooner for the CCC projects; then again it may be that they had and the farms hadn't overgrown yet. The online assessor records don't contain a valid sale date so :shrug:

On the way home, I believe this is Gallup Homestead Road. I need to come back here when my knee is doing better with my good camera -- it is an old Witch Hazel distillery.

I remember reading about it in the Norwich Bulletin in the 80s (maybe 70s? I read the newspaper pretty young :).

Nice article about the harvesting on the RI/CT borderlands from the ProJo: with an archive here.

And another about a fourth-generation family in Sterling, archived here.

Oh, that big puddle? Guess I did drop down pretty good -- didn't notice this till I got home. The surge of water & ice bent the license plate :D

Going to work the next morning.

Natchaug 12/15/2019

Not off roading when it's forest roads that are (mostly) maintained.

I say mostly maintained because this is emblematic of Connecticut DEEP and the land of almost right. They didn't blow the leaves out of the gutters this year. I've witnessed them doing this in the past -- it's just a large PTO driven leaf blower on a tractor.

So you get this -- water coming onto the roadway which will cause erosion. I'd half expect if someone in the department in Connecticut that is charged with both picnic tables and regulating telephone rates (I'm not making that up) to react by writing a memo that gates should be installed to exclude the public to prevent erosion.

Fayette Wright Road, Fayette Wright being listed in the Holstein-Freisan Directory of 1913.
Turns out, with a bit more research, Wright of Pomfret, Conn. was a State Senator (at a time I believe they also acted as County Commissioners); a delegate to the 1920 Republican National Convention; and served on the Board of Parks & Forests from about 1922-27. This road was built by the CCC and no doubt named in his honor.

It is not like they don't do work at all...nice new culvert installed, with modern-ish guard rail (looks like re-used from the scenic guard rails formerly used along Route 169 and replaced after 20 years because of premature rusting that mainly looked like it was occuring on the ends that bent to the ground to form reverse "cow catchers" to try and keep vehicles on the road).

I'm not joking about the gates...this road was opened out to Route 44 through 1989 and closed during the made-up financial crisis of 1990 when Weicker was pushing through the income tax and closed visible facilities whenever possible. Used to use it regularly when working for the state parks in summer to go get fuel at the Natchaug maintenance shop. The 44 side is now blocked with boulders, and this gate is closed during mud season. (And I don't even mind too much closing the roads during mud; although I'd like it if they left the roads open when it was hard-frozen ground with snow over it.)

The road between Kingsbury & Morey Road having had new culverts and new gravel & grading following (I presume after!) logging to remove gypsy moth damage.

Update: You can still see the "remains" of this old farm where King Road comes into Fayette Wright (if that is the proper name for this northern section) as a more cleared area in the forest and a cemetery. This 1934 aerial photo you can also see the old road leading to Fay Road which is on my list to go down during a dry spell -- it looks like it may get a bit muddier than I like to go down. BUT, the key item is...what the heck are the structures I highlighted? That may take some exploring if my knees ever heal up enough to try. Part of my thought little fish ponds for a hatchery, but I don't think there is enough fresh water flowing up there to support that.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Rise of Skywalker

My full review to (probably) follow...but for now:

4, 1, 2, Clone Wars, 3, Rebels, Rogue, ignore Han (not a bad movie, just unnecessary), 5, 6, 7, drink heavily while cursing Rian Johnson 8, then 9.

My review:

It's not a ...bad movie.

It's just...meh.

There's been a number of Marvel movies I watched, then downloaded the crappy handheld pirate copies to watch again...sometimes even going a second time to the theater just trying to digest what happened.

No such feeling with Rise of Skywalker. It's just...fine. Perfectly fine. Not great. Not oh-my-God-watch-it.

So we have canon-as-canon comes that ships can enter hyperspace and be tracked. Somehow. Fett, Falcon, Bespin. Empire arrived before the Falcon.

Last of the Jedi treated hyperspace tracking as some incredibly complex new technology, requiring a large Star Destroyer to pull off the math involved.

Rise of Skywalker opens with "hyperspace skipping" or whatever they call it jumping from place to place in hot pursuit as no big deal, everyday happening.

We won't even discuss just pointing a ship and using it as a hyperspace speed missle to destroy a Dreadnought...while the Death Star needed this very precise shot on a small vulnerability because I guess no one thought they could just take one of innumerable freighters, juice up its hyperdrive, and point it at and make the jump.

Yes there are sounds in outer space...because a movie would be very boring (or exceptionally difficult to make really engaging) without them. That's a necessary bit of theater. Last of the Jedi opens with...gravity dependent bombs being "dropped" in outer space?

I'm jumping between the two movies because it's emblematic; they are a jumbled up hot mess that don't make sense given past movies.

Marvel, with some "meh" movies here and there (looking at you, Captain Marvel), has built a coherent universe and at least makes reasonable excuses when retro-conning changes.

Rian Johnson didn't make bold decisions in Last of the Jedi, he made a mess that is even larger in its failure when you watch Rise of Skywalker and realize a good 30+ minutes could have been trimmed from this film and moved there...and useless plots in Jedi removed.

Leah undergoing full Jedi training? Sure would have explained the Mary Poppins moment without it making "Wow, hey wait, how come she is so sensitive? Is she another magical being like Rey & Finn who just pick up the weapons of a Jedi are instantly capable of effectively fighting with them without years of training?"

The reveal of Palpatine? In the opening scroll? Come on, he could've been revealed as the last scene of Jedi and set the hook for the next movie.

It was OK movie making. It was bad story telling.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

You Never Seen Such A Girl

When the George Weston mansion in Plainfield burned a few years back, it raised the question -- who was George Weston?

He built the mansion in 1929, but as I recall from previous research (which I apparently didn't blog), he had relatives in and visited Plainfield well before then.

He made his money as a mid-level popular author of his day.

I found this novel of his: You Never Saw Such A Girl which is largely centered around "East Mountain" which seems to be a fictionalized version of Ekonk Hill. The nearest main town is Plainfield, with mentions of Jewett City and as I recall other local towns. There is also an about three day journey by camper-truck (in 1919!) to Newport.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Radio Links & Planning

New England Repeater Directory:

Icom ID-4100A

COMET-NCG SBB-5 w/folding hinge antenna (or NMO mount as appropriate)

Still need some form of antenna mount for hood. In black.

And mount for head.

And mic mount (but probably from these guys:

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Jeeping on Pearl Harbor Day....

But first...toy...err, tools of the week -- X Bull traction boards. I don't anticipate using them much, and while the MaxTrax reviews say they take more abuse they're also four times the price o_O.

On call this week, really don't feel like lugging two backpacks, and wanted to have my good camera in case I found anything cool...took a bit to figure out how to "fit" my MacBook into the bag :)

First hot cocoa refill from the thermos when I got to Voluntown.

Second refill at Charlestown Town Beach...I've probably passed within 300' of this spot a hundred times over the years, but mostly when it was busy during the season heading towards the Breachway. Holy fuck!

Holy cow, look at how blue the water at the breachway is!

Same pond, but from the East Beach parking lot...and still amazing blue.

...and Quonochontaug while I'm in the neighborhood.

Hey wait, I've never seen this gate open before. I'm thinking they may just open it for hunting season.

...and then I see the gate on Route 138 open for maybe the first time in 15 or 20 years? Like closing the entrance to Natchaug on 44, it's one of the stupid things DEP has done over the years reducing public access because best I can tell they barely tolerate the public actually using them and figure less access means an easier job patrolling.

I came around and came in from the Green Falls Campground way to make sure the gate was open on both sides. I was surprised the road was in as good shape as it was (which may be partly from the closed gates) given how long it's been mostly closed.

And on the way home through the main unit of Pachaug...Trail II I think. I wish they'd clear a few more hilltops for scenic, road accessible vistas. ...and then I see the gate on Route 138 open for maybe the first time in 15 or 20 years? Like closing the entrance to Natchaug on 44, it's one of the stupid things DEP has done over the years reducing public access because best I can tell they barely tolerate the public actually using them and figure less access means an easier job patrolling.

I came around and came in from the Green Falls Campground way to make sure the gate was open on both sides. I was surprised the road was in as good shape as it was (which may be partly from the closed gates) given how long it's been mostly closed.

Let's call it Mission 8 for the shoreline, and unplanned Missions 9 for Burlingame and 10 for Green Falls / Pachaug.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Jeep Mission #7: The Silos

This one is full of nostalgia for me -- lived in the 2nd to the last house on the dirt road leading here from 16 to 25(?) years old.

Had permission from Mr. Gluck to shoot my air guns on his land, then later got Kate Rukstella's permission to shoot firearms down on her land. Used to be a very popular party spot in town with a regular stream of traffic; until the early 90s there was another exit out to Wauregan Road in Canterbury, but they put a mobile home there foreclosing that exit.

Early 2000s the town gated off the two roads leading here, but they have since been either removed or left open again. While I know from another dispute (over hauling gravel down Maynard Road) from the early 90s, the town attorney believes town highways in Connecticut can be legally gated...I suspect they can not be locked if you really follow the law back in time. At least New Hampshire refers to this practice as "subject to gates and bars" which is intended to keep livestock in -- not people or their vehicles out (and very similar to the description in James Herriot's novels of having to get out and open multiple gates on the way to clients isolated homesteads in Yorkshire).

Have to enter one of the upper cornfields and go around the windrow now.

Here's where the road used to come into the fields. The bridge further down had washed in the Hurricane of '38, the town road was passable to this point in the late 80s and completely overgrown until almost the brook.

The impending doom -- I don't even mind the gravel mining provided the topsoil is returned afterwards. There was a historical cemetery on the line between the former Gluck and Rukstella properties that I'm not sure was respected. But the crying shame is the plan is to take 300+ acres and industrialize it as a solar field -- fencing out wildlife, fencing out people, making it effectively unavailable certainly through our lifetimes. Farmland / working land preservation should be about keeping these open spaces for benefit of all, not some greenwashing enabled by misguided environmentalist sheep (the same types of folks in character if not actual person who were protesting against nuclear power back when that was the only practical technology that could have moved the carbon curve downwards when George H. W. Bush included climate change on his campaign plank).

Where the old path after the road used to go amazes me the old gravel has completely grown into grass, and this section totatlly grown in. To the left of this grown in section was a 8' x 32' concrete pool built back in the 1930s. My understanding is the first Rukstella came from Long Island and bought the entire farm which would have been quite large by the standards of the day.

The barns by the silos burned in the early 60s. Kate told me the silos were new enough no one wanted to attempt to tear them down. I believe the farmhouse burned in the early 70s. Kate's husband Rocky inherited the lower field, his brother Peter(?) got the upper farm and continued to milk for a number of years with the cows just living outside.

The lower field.

I'm not positive, but I think this is where the old trail to the campsite by Blackwell's Brook was. I took Kate down here in the mid/late 90s (pretty sure it was in my '96 S-10). She hadn't been down in many years and wanted to take a look.

When Rawson's purchased it, they initially developed access over Rukstela Road from the Beecher Road side. This is the fixed up road in that section.

They seem to have since switched over to using predominantly a new road out to Wauregan Road they built partly over the old trail that went that way.

My nemesis.

Last time I had to ask for help getting unstucked, I was 17 and went in to check out smoke (the dump was burning their brush pile)...made it over the brook, didn't make it back. Had to walk home, Dad called Tom Herriot, Tom was glad he hadn't taken delivery of his new pickup yet when he came down and give me a pull.

The road was washed out at the time, you can see how much higher it is now that then.

Back at the top, the old road growing in. The concrete blocks came in with the town gates came down.

35 minutes, 4.7 miles, and no need for 4wd :/