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Destination Unknown 2010

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The end of May came up quick. I couldn’t believe that five weeks had passed since the Cape trip in April!

DU as it’s known in the troop is always fun. This was my 4th DU trip that I planned. Even though for weeks everyone kept pestering me, I kept it a big secret. After all it is Unknown, right?

With Adventure 2010 just the week before, I didn’t want to go as far as I have in the past. In 2009 we traveled 288 miles, in 2008 it was 400, 2007 was 200 miles and all were in NY. I pretty much had everyone convinced we were going someplace in NY, but where they had no clue and I wasn’t offering any! We did have a few parents who would not let their scout go unless they knew the destination, but that ended up being their loss as the tradition must continue!

We met at the temple around 5:30pm. Again we had a big group like in April. Bags and bikes plus 25 scouts and 6 adults for 4 days and 3 nights. After packing up the driving parents wanted to know where we were going. I shooed the parents away and hande out packets for the weekends worth of activities.

The campground was approx 90 miles away in North Stonington, CT – the KOA. There. We arrived around 7:30pm after a pretty short ride, checked in and set up camp in the over flow/safari field. But we were missing one parent towing one of the 3 trailers! Where was Mr. Beauregard? He pulled in about 45 minutes later having not gone too far off the beaten track!

We set up camp and all too soon snoring sounds were heard coming from the tents. Saturday was beautiful which was great as we had a full day of events to do. First was a tour of the Fort Trumbull museum and the fort itself. Again, even though everyone had detailed maps and directions and a GPS, we lost two vehicles on the way there and they eventually pulled in.

Fort Trumbull is in New London, CT on the Thames River. It has been rebuilt a few times and the first Coast Guard training school was there. During WWII there was a underwater research center there that developed the first sonobuoy and other underwater detection devices. The museum is fascinating as well as the fort and I highly recommend a visit if you are in the area of looking for a interesting day trip. Here’s the web site: http://www.ct.gov/dep/cwp/view.asp?A=2716&Q=325200

We had lunch on the grounds and then traveled up river along roads to the Submarine Force Museum and Submarine Nautilus in Groton, CT. I had set up a scavenger hunt with the museum for our scouts. The top two teams to get all the answers correct were to get ice cream for dessert after dinner that night. Before the hunt began we toured the Nautilus submarine which was very cool. The tour of the museum and scavenger hunt took about 90 minutes and was a lot of fun! It too is worth the visit: http://www.ussnautilus.org/

After the submarine museum we headed to Old Fort Griswald where a docent or guide gave us a tour of the grounds and told the story of the fort and how it was captured by Napolean. We toured the grounds, heard the stories, asked our questions and found it very interesting. http://www.fortgriswold.org/

After a interesting but tiring day, we headed back to camp where the scouts went swimming in the pool or relaxed or played ball. Some adults took naps while a few of us went to explore Stonington Point. It was just a spit of land surrounded by water where we watched a few boats and kayakers come in as well as a white bird (white egret?) work at catching it’s dinner. (see the photos). http://www.lisrc.uconn.edu/coastalaccess/site.asp?siteid=628

Sunday we took the bikes and headed to Wakefield, CT. We were to ride the William C. O’Niel Bike trail for a total of about 12 miles. This was a old rail line and passed some interesting scenery including a rooster greeting as everyone passed by. http://www.traillink.com/viewtrail.aspx?AcctID=6017744

We then had lunch and headed to Mystic Aquarium for the next stop. It was a pretty warm day and being next to the water animals was a cool way to spend a few hours. My favorite was the Beluga whale, others liked the sharks or penguins or other animals. It was a good stop. The aquarium certainly has improved a lot in the years since my last visit! We then went back to camp for dinner. http://www.mysticaquarium.org/

Monday came too quick. Breakfast was fast and easy, tear down and clean up next before leaving. No one wanted to go home yet and we weren’t going to. We had one more bike ride ahead of us. The Airline State Park Trail - South trail in Easthampton, CT. About 45 miles from the campground. (http://www.traillink.com/viewtrail.aspx?AcctID=6015441) This was to be a 15 mile ride round trip. I think the trail goes 22 miles each way for the more adventurous rider.

The airline trail boasted some amazing views from bridges and crossings and some interesting stories. A quote from part of the trail description: “Over the next 3 miles, you'll cross the Rapallo and Lyman Viaducts. Built in the 1870s, each spans more than a thousand feet, the latter soaring more than 150 feet above the valley floor. In 1913, crews reinforced the viaducts with rock and sediment to support heavier trains. Visible from trailside benches, the top corner of each span pokes out through the fill.

The onward trail soars over boisterous, rushing streams, smaller brooks, and the broad Blackledge River before crossing a causeway through Raymond Brook Marsh. Watch for signs of beaver. “

After the ride was over, lunch was had and we worked our way the 45 miles back to the temple and arrived around 3:30pm. It was a great weekend!

Yours in Scouting,

ASM Larry Krainson