Greenpoint, October, 2015

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Other Quiet Coast

Topless Connecticut (Courtesy NY Times)
Sunday's New York Times featured a story called "On Connecticut's Quiet Coast." The writer particularly enthused about the towns of far eastern Connecticut, Noank, Mystic, and Stonington, calling them "as close to heaven as you get." As these are your correspondent's old stomping grounds, I'll use the next couple posts to fill in some of the more obscure corners of our near heaven.

Connecticut Road
(Linda Eckstein, All My Eyes)
Regular readers of Hog River Journal (inexplicably renamed Connecticut Explored) may remember a piece a few years back called "Coasting Out of the Seventies" (I actually titled it "Coasting Out the Seventies," but let it stand.) In it I described a pastime my father passed on to his sons and daughters. He called it "rolling." The idea was to find a long, more-or-less downhill stretch of quiet road, put the car in neutral, and let it roll as far as you could without having to stop or put it back in gear. It combined sport with cheapness. There were plenty of good runs but the very best one was in Ledyard--now home to Foxwoods Casinos, then home to not much: Avery Hill Road, an idyllic backroad connector that took us from the Submarine Base in Groton to Preston. Here's how I described it the HRJ piece:

What made it particularly great was that, unless you perfectly timed the point at which you took your foot off the gas and controlled the speed you were going, you would not have enough momentum to carry you through the stretch where the road leveled off between two fields and make it to the point where you started rolling downhill again.  You could try opening the door and pushing off with a foot—or two if you had a passenger—but, if you mistimed it completely, you had to concede defeat and put the car in gear. If, if you got it just right, you would creep along, nearly coming to a stop, before slowly, slowly picking up speed until you were flying again, using the brakes only at the stop sign where the road met Route 2A in the middle of Poquetanuck Village....  I can still picture the exact point in the stone wall at the top of the curve of the hill where you give it the gas one last time, throw it into neutral, and let it go.

The best coasting car of all was a 71 Dodge Demon. Talk about close to heaven!

(This post dedicated to James W. and James V., coasting scholars both.)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for reminding me of the great coasting hill on the way home from the Base!