Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Getting Thin and Famous Along Mystic's Seafarers Trail

Bailey and I embark on the Mystic Seafarers Trail
Face it—famous people have an easier time getting work, published or promoting their cause. If you’re thin on top of it, then you can live longer to enjoy it!

After 50 years of dieting (I was a fat kid too), I have to concede that my old classmate was right when she answered my question at a high school reunion on how she stayed so thin: “You can’t eat anything and you have to exercise all of the time.”

And the secret to becoming famous? Now that truly is a secret! Not being athletic or otherwise talented, I have often resorted to the antics of Lucy Ricardo when trying to sneak into Ricky’s nightclub act. In one "I Love Lucy" episode, however, she got Ricky to agree to feature her if she could squeeze into the small costume of a performer who had quit. Lucy starved, exercised and steamed herself down to that size. Could that be the answer for me?

To find out, I’m about to launch my latest strategy for getting thin and famous—but it will be a lot more fun than Lucy's weight loss regimen! I will walk and write about the Mystic Seafarers Trail—a path I designed to include “The 7 Wonders of Mystic.” It will begin where Amelia Earhart got married in Noank and include Mystic Pizza; the haunts and homes of famous sea captains and their vessels, including the oldest whaleship in the world, the Charles W. Morgan, featured in several films and where stowaways, amputations, floggings, and burials at sea took place; Mystic drawbridge; Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration, where the discoverer of the grave of the R.M.S. Titanic, Dr. Robert Ballard, keeps his home office; and Olde Mistick Village, where Gloria, the cranky, arthritic goose has been reigning over the duck pond for decades. The trail moves south to what I call “The Hanging Gardens of Enders Island” located at the St. Edmund’s Retreat Center, where relics such as the withered arm of Saint Edmund, who preached for the Sixth Crusade, are displayed. Then eastward to Stonington, where the discoverer of Antarctica lived and where vastly out-gunned citizens fought off an attack by the British in the War of 1812.

I will not walk this 10-mile trail all in one day. This trip will involve daily treks back and forth from my home or car. My sidekick in this venture will be my faithful walking companion, my beagle/basset hound, Bailey— a true publicity hound who is already famous. He’s been featured in print and online newspapers, and in a commercial (he is the handsome dog to your left).

When I’m done covering my initial planned route, if I’m still not as thin and famous as my hound, I’ll lengthen the Seafarer’s Trail further west to the hidden tunnel at Fort Griswold in Groton, where traitor Benedict Arnold led British forces to victory during the burning of New London, and further east to include a beer tasting at the Cottrell Brewing Co. in Pawcatuck. Perhaps I will also walk north to the wineries buried in the countryside.

Why do I have all of this time to leisurely journey through Mystic Country? When Jim was transferred here last year from New York, I left a job that I loved in campus communication at a college and began working as a freelance publicist and writer, giving me ample, perhaps too ample, time to walk my hound down several side streets to delve into the back stories of the area. Seeing how much fun I’m having, many have asked me, “When are you going to get a real job?”

Good question—so I have set a deadline. If I’m not thin and famous by September, enough to be cast as an extra in the next major motion picture due to be filmed here (starring Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carell), then I will focus my energies into getting a "real" job—and leave the uncovering of Mystic’s secrets to someone else!

Have any tips?

If you have tips on how to get thin and famous, or want to see a particular point of interest covered on my trail, please share them in "Comments" below. To read earlier attempts, some successful, at getting thin and famous (well, at least published), read earlier posts on my blog, “How to Get Thin and Famous” at:


I wrote the following for my book, "The Mystic Seafarer's Trail," but it will not be included when it's published. I'm putting here just so I don't have to feel sad about cutting it. There are some additonal details here:


I finally decided to stop waiting to find a friend with a sailboat and take matters into my own hands. I would have to think of my own stunt to get publicity.

I thought about the documentary Super Size Me, where a guy ate nothing but fast food for a month and gained more than 20 pounds. If I got fatter, would that make headlines? I doubted it. 

If being fat was what prevented me from getting featured (and therefore discovered) in that casino commercial, and why the Weather Channel did all it could video around me, then I needed to get serious about getting thin.

Learning  that “Hope Springs,” the Meryl Streep movie to be filmed in the Mystic area, would hold a casting call for extras soon (August 2011), I just had to get down to a weight I could declare on an application form. 

Perhaps I could kill two birds with one stone—lose weight and find an epic adventure by walking the entire Mystic Seafarers Trail I designed that ran between Stonington to Noank. In hopes of getting the world interested, I planned to blog along the way.  


Blog post:

August 3, 2011

Face it—famous people have an easier time getting their work published or promoting their cause. From where I sit on my couch watching TV and eating bon bons, most of those famous folks are thin.

After 50 years of dieting (I was a chubby kid too), I have to concede that my old classmate was right when she answered my question at a high school reunion on how she stayed so thin: “You can’t eat anything and you have to exercise all of the time.”

So, I’m about to launch my latest strategy for getting thin and famous. I will walk and write about my self-designed Mystic Seafarer’s Trail. It stretches between where Amelia Earhart got married in Noank, past Mystic Pizza, the haunts and homes of famous sea captains, and on toward Stonington, where the discoverer of Antarctica lived.

I will not walk this several-mile trail in one day. This trip will involve daily treks back and forth from my home or car. My sidekick in this venture will be my faithful walking companion, my beagle/basset hound, Bailey.


Blog Post:

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Bailey and I just trekked eight miles round trip to “The Hanging Gardens of Enders Island” on my quest to get thin and famous along the Mystic Seafarer’s Trail.

That part of the trail took me through Masons Island, where I heard Meryl Streep’s parents once lived. I had hoped Streep would happen to be there, spot us, and think we’d be perfect as extras in her upcoming film.

With a bottle of water, cell phone and wallet in my knapsack, Bailey and I left our house near the Mystic-Noank Library and headed toward downtown Mystic. Along the way, we passed the usual crowd getting photographed under the Mystic Pizza sign and crossed over the Mystic drawbridge to Mystic River Park, where we saw the usual lunch-time dog-walking gang sitting together on a park bench including the little, fluffy blind dog who got to the park by being pushed in a stroller by her mistress. 

Then Bailey pulled me toward Riverdog Kayak Rental, where a lazy greyhound, Jordon, sat in a tent at the end of Cottrell St with his owners who handed out doggy treats. After pampering Bailey, and hearing of my quest to get thin and famous along my route, Pete suggested: “Maybe you can get famous by getting lost and having a search and rescue team go out looking for you.”

I wasn’t that desperate to get famous, but it did remind me that another way to get known in Mystic was for Bailey to discover a body along the Seafarer’s Trail. We would be sure to look for one among the dock pilings along our route.

Heading up Washington St, we came to Bailey’s favorite Mystic store, the pet shop called Stonington Feeds. Co-owner Genevieve showed Bailey the latest in tasty snacks--bovine trachea.

Seeing the repulsed look on my face, Genevieve said, “Oh, don’t worry, we only sell organically fed bovine body parts.” That’s not exactly what was disgusting me as Bailey grabbed the very human-looking mummified trachea, which meant I knew I had to watch him chew it on my living room floor. As Genevieve continued the tour of other doggy treats including duck’s feet and cow hooves, Peaches, the store cockatoo, started screeching. Genevieve assured me nothing was wrong with him, he was just upset he wasn’t the center of attention at the moment. When Bailey caught sight of Genevieve’s old cat stretching lazily over a large bag of organic dog kibble, it was all I could do to hold him back from chasing her. Time to leave if I wanted to save my strength for the rest of our journey.

Heading north on Route 1, I came across the Denison Burying Ground, a family plot dating back to 1698. The Denisons were among the first settlers in the Mystic area in the mid-1600s. Always looking for an interesting dead person to meet, Bailey and I walked among the stones. Suddenly, I saw a headstone that possibly explains why so many places in the Mystic area are named after the Denisons—because there were so many Denisons! This grave marker told of Jane, the widow of Mr. George Denison, who died in 1829 -- “At the time of her death, her children and their descendants were 350.”

The Denison Homestead Museum in Mystic was built in 1717 and has been continuously owned for three centuries by the same family. I got a real sense of Mystic’s personal history when I saw the Revolutionary War cloak found in its attic hanging in the bedroom closet, and could imagine the wrath of little Annie B. Denison’s mother in 1873 when she discovered her daughter had etched her name on the lower level window pane with a diamond ring.

From the Denison Burying Ground where Bailey and I stood, I couldn’t help but see the roadside restaurant Sea Swirl, which overlooked Pequotsepos Cove. It was an awfully long walk to Enders Island. Bailey rested while I fortified myself with fried clam strips. Maybe I should shoot for getting “Fat and Famous” along the trail?

The two-mile trip south on Masons Island Road revealed no dead bodies unless you count how I almost became one. On three separate occasions, a dog was off leash and came charging toward us, and along several stretches, there was hardly any shoulder to walk on, making us a target for cars. I gave a panting Bailey all our water, leaving me a bit parched—it never occurred to me that I could perish from thirst along this route.

It was all worth it, however, when we got to Enders Island and St. Edmund’s Retreat Center. I visited the three-sided seaside chapel open to Fisher’s Island Sound, where the altar holds hand-written prayers of the worried or heartbroken. Some of the words to God were so personal and moving, I felt like I was standing on holy ground. I figured if the prayers were only folded in half with a sea shell holding them down, they were fair game for my eyes. I added my own prayers to those I read. If a prayer was tightly bound up, I didn’t open it. Eventually someone comes in and clears them off the altar to make room for new prayers. 

After rocking in a chair inside a gazebo overlooking the Sound with Bailey resting at my feet, it was time to go home.

People along the way back to our house felt sorry for Bailey and offered him water, but no one offered me any. Next time, I will buy that doggy fanny pack I saw at the Stonington Feeds Pet Shop--let Bailey carry his own water!

Since no one from the film crew of Meryl Streep’s movie, Hope Springs, sighted us and asked us to work as extras, I would just have to rely on making a good impression at the open casting call. It was only days away now, and yet, I had many pounds to go.


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