Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Wisdom By Osmosis! (Or NOT!!)

Branford, Connecticut Village Green
May 11, 2012

We left Dover early Thursday morning bound for Branford, Connecticut and a visit to New Haven where we were looking forward to touring Yale University.  Long before Bill ever became a professor at a college, I'd always had a fascination for visiting college campuses.  Each is always unique in it's own way and most are well kept and just a beautiful place to walk around.  Would love to someday visit all the Ivy League schools and this trip will get us to Yale and Dartmouth.  Unfortunately, we had to pass up the chance to see Princeton.  Time was a factor as we had to navigate our way around New York City and we didn't want to be anywhere near that nightmare after 3 p.m., so we had to choose between Princeton and Trenton (the New Jersey State Capital).  Trenton won out as our main focus is visiting all the capital cities.  Princeton can wait for another time!

After leaving Trenton (read about the capitol visit here), we headed into NYC and made it through with only one REAAALLLLYYY close call in one of the tunnels in the Bronx.  Creeping along through the I-95 corridor communities watching the trains fly past us at twice the speed made me question the sanity of ANYONE who chooses to live here and has to drive.  We made it to Branford, CT  , a quaint little town just east and south of New Haven.  Having stayed in hotels the previous four nights, I was more than happy to finally be in a cute little cottage near the shoreline even if only for two nights!  Most of you know that we do have to plan these trips on a budget and one of the ways we save is by choosing accommodations with kitchens and preparing our own meals.  Healthy eating is very important to me and neither of us is interested in eating restaurant meals for 6-7 weeks.  Even if saving money weren't a factor, we'd still do our accommodations this way.   I find most of our vacation properties on www.vrbo.com and we've stayed in some of the most wonderful places through the years.  Here's a picture of our little house in Brandford (1) and the road directly in front of our house leading to the shore (2).

Friday morning, we were up and out pretty early excited to visit Yale, yet not quite sure what to expect.  Sadly, New Haven doesn't have the best of reputations and with Yale located in the midst of the city, we weren't certain where we'd park or how secure we'd feel.  Not to worry - we found parking in a funky little garage a couple of blocks from campus.  It was called the Neon Garage and its caretaker had decorated the inside of the garage with neon flamingos, fireflies, butterflies and anything else he could find.  It was quirky and different in a really fun sort of way!

We quickly found the Yale Visitor Center, decided against taking the guided tour (they usually move much too fast for us) and set out on our own with a very helpful campus walking tour brochure.  For the next three hours, we wondered around, mouths agape at the incredible architecture, rich history and amazing stories. To be totally honest, I haven't a clue how to adequately portray the experience for you.  Bill took so many pictures and each building is so unique, I couldn't possibly post enough to even give you a glimpse of how majestic the campus truly is.  As you'll see from the pictures I do choose, Bill photographed while I walked 10 feet in front of him reading from the brochure.  I laughed after seeing his pics as I am amazed I didn't fall on my face since it would appear I never took my nose out of that brochure!  But believe me, I did - I didn't miss a THING! 

Here's a link to Yale's website where you can read more if interested!   Knowing we can't possibly remember details about every place we visit, we try to take away one thing from each place that was new and interesting.  For both of us, the concept of Residential Colleges was something we found unique.  Before an incoming freshman arrives at Yale, they are assigned to one of 12 Residential Colleges where they will live, eat, play, etc for the four years they are at Yale.  Each residential college has its own mini-campus (enclosed and secure) and a full-time "Master" (who lives in the residential college with his/her own family) and "Dean" who also lives within the specific college and oversees academic life.  Students are randomly assigned to a residential college keeping the colleges of a manageable size, yet providing the diversity that supposedly represents the total Yale population.   We know that those who are admitted to Yale are a special lot, but they are still just kids when they arrive for undergraduate study and after having visited the campus and observing the greater New Haven area, this would be totally overwhelming to any kid arriving from NormalTown USA.  Our take on the Residential College concept is that it was ingenious!  It has been in place for more than 70 years.

Enjoy these pictures - I had a hard time choosing....................... (BTW, in this and ALL posts, any picture can be enlarged by clicking on it!)

Phelps Gate - Symbolic Entrance into Yale Campus.  

 Just inside Phelps Gate is the original enclosed "old campus."  The building to the left (Connecticut Hall) is the only original structure still standing exactly as it was built.  The statue near that building is of Nathan Hale (1773 Yale grad) who lived in this building as a student.  It now houses the English Department.
 The trademark and probably most recognizable symbol of Yale is this Carillon Tower.  Credit to Bill who found this great shot of the tower encased in the beautiful trees.
 We (as it should be) were not able to get inside any of the Residential Colleges, but each identified the "Master's House" just to the right of the gate. 
 This is the LIBRARY!  It was also one of the few buildings we were able to see inside.
 Entrance hall to the library - the circulation desk is at the far end.  The music library was at the end of the hall to the right and boasted its own separate security entrance.  Yale archives were also located in this building.
 Library courtyard!

We knew that Yale's graduation ceremonies were this coming weekend and it seems our visit was timed perfectly.  Finals had ended, students were moving out or already gone and the campus had an "empty" feel to it.  Because of that, I suspect security was much more relaxed and we were pretty much able to roam around as we wanted.  Unfortunately, the only buildings we were able to enter were the library and one of the smaller chapels which an employee (who we caught taking a smoke break) allowed us to see.  We made it into the Music Building, but were not allowed to see the Recital Hall!  Bill was much more tolerant of this than I was telling me quite emphatically that if he stopped working every time someone stopped by wanting to see the Performing Arts Center at his college, no one would ever get anything done.  I still wasn't satisfied - after all, it was US!  Aren't we special??  LOL!  I was disappointed, though.  Yale's choirs are unbelievable and after having listened to so many of their recordings, I really wanted to see their "home" auditorium.  

We were exhausted after all that walking (according to my pedometer, we'd walked close to six miles by the time we left Yale), we went back to Branford, rested a while (translate nap for Bill, surfing for me), then walked down the street to Lenny's Seafood.  We'd been told it was a not-to-miss institution in Branford.  My caesar salad topped with six of the largest grilled shrimp I've ever seen was delicious, but when they sat Bill's plate of fried oysters in front of him, we both just burst out laughing.  I have never in my life seen a plate piled so high!   I think we were just so enjoying the fun of the moment that we totally forgot to take a picture.  Bill ate until he could eat no more and still brought six giant oysters home for a later time.  He says there has to have been at least 15 on that plate!
 Lenny's Seafood - A Branford, CT Institution!

 After all those oysters, there was still room for Ashley's Ice Cream!

Our day ended with a brisk walk around the Branford Town Green (see picture at top of post) and our traditional visit to whatever local ice cream establishment we can find!  Ashley's Ice Cream did not disappoint!  

Up next...travel day to Bolton Landing, New York via State Capital #4 (on this trip), Hartford, Connecticut!  Stay tuned!



  1. Love this post because....my husband went to Yale, and he live at Trumball! I've only been to one reunion with him over the years back when I was pregnant, but I agree that it's a very impressive place. Amazing architecture. Apparently since I was there with Tom, they've redone many of the colleges. When we stayed at Trumball the one summer (at reunions you can actually stay in the colleges) there was no air conditioning, and it was boiling outside (and in!).

    The idea of visiting colleges and universities is great. We've done a little of that over the years when we've been in a place with a college. Since you're from the south, you've probably already seen Emory University in Atlanta. If not, it's definitely worth the time. Beautiful, and interesting history of its own. Two of my kids graduated from there and I worked at the Children's Hospital right there before I even met hubby.

    Obviously you struck a chord with me this morning - I could go on and on. :) Continue enjoying your current travels.

    1. Leslie, loved your feedback - thanks so much! As we walked the campus, we talked about how nice it would be to spend a little time with someone who went to Yale and lived there! It is just so completely opposite of the college surroundings/experience hubby and I both had. Funny you mentioned air conditioning as we talked about the fact that we saw no evidence of air conditioning units anywhere on campus. Obviously, window units or big central units would detract terribly from the overall beauty, but can't imagine it in the summer without it. Funny, out of the twelve residential cottages, Trumbull was the one I took the picture of!!

  2. Sounds like another good day, Sharon. Glad you enjoyed Yale. Looks like you were there at a good time... Beautiful pictures... Eating out gets hard on long trips.. The longest trip we have taken was 3 weeks --and I hated going from motel to motel to motel.. I personally like to travel to one specific place, find a cabin and stay there for several days! BUT--when you are trying to 'see the world' that's not an easy way to get to many places.

    Your seafood sounds great. Reminds me of the wonderful seafood we enjoy on the coast of North Carolina. There's a neat ice cream place in Calabash --but we're always too full after dinner to stop there. ha


  3. Thankyou so very much for letting us travel with you!!

  4. Did I tell you about the ice cream place in Bar Harbor? Yummy.

  5. I can't wait to see our area through your 'blog eyes!'
    Thanks for meeting us for brekkie today :D

  6. That was so much fun, I felt like I was there with you. I don't mind doing a little cooking while we are away from home - usually breakfast and snacks - I get so tired of eating out while on vacation and trying to find healthy menu options. I will have to check out that web site for renting private homes that is a great idea!

  7. You were so close! I'm looking forward to your pictures of Dartmouth. I spent my junior year there and it is the perfect New England campus to me. If you have time for a detour, please stop at Mount Holyoke. It is also a gorgeous campus. I'll be there next weekend for my 40th college reunion. So enjoying your trip. Thanks so much for your good wishes.