Janet and I aren't what you would call spontaneous people. Part of this comes from the fact that we've spent the last ten years without a car (except for a 6 month period in Slippery Rock, PA)... so for us to go anywhere, it took a significant amount of planning. We would have to rent a car, time the trip so we could get the car back to the rental place exactly 24 hours (or a multiple of 24 hours) after we picked it up so we wouldn't be charged for another day's worth of rental... and then figure out how to get both to the rental place and then get back from the rental place after we were finished. Needless to say, making an impromptu road trip was practically impossible.

However, now that we own a car, we have the flexibility to go wherever we want to go, whenever we want to go. But since we haven't had a car before, we really had no idea of where we would ever want to go. Basically, we've been using the car like we would use the bus in San Francisco: I use it to get to work, we drive to the supermarket and to run errands, but we never considered taking any out of the way trips.

Yesterday, our goal was to go to Marshalls (a clothing store) to look for work clothes and to stop at Home Depot for one of those Garden Weasels so we could get rid of the weeds that are encroaching on our pepper plants. So we got on 84 East heading towards Manchester, figuring that we would be home within an hour or two. As we passed through Downtown Hartford, we saw a sign for Foxwoods Casino, one of the two Indian Casinos located in Connecticut. Foxwoods is purported to be the largest casino in the world, with all the amenities and glitz of a Las Vegas resort. I asked Janet if she was up for a road trip, she said "why not" and we were off to Ledyard to the casino.

Foxwoods is nestled in the middle of the woods near the Connecticut Shore, about 45 minutes from Hartford. We thought we were going the wrong way because the highway portion of Rt 2 ended, and we were driving through the outskirts of Norwich before we saw the sign that stated Foxwoods Casino Guests, Next Left. We made the turn and saw it: a massive putty-colored hotel complex planted smack-dab in the middle of a deep-green forest. Following the signs, we parked and jumped on a shuttle bus for the five minute drive to the casino lobby.

As casinos go, Foxwoods is sort of bland. Not a lot of neon, no five-cent video poker machines and too much natural light. The Las Vegas casino owners know that the last thing someone wants to see when they're dropping money into a slot machine is the beautiful sun setting over the wooded hills of Southeastern Connecticut. They want to see scantily clad women bringing free drinks and twenty-five cent hot dogs. Gamblers don't want to be reminded that there is an outside world.

Plus, on top of it all, the slot machines were completely jam packed. We couldn't even find a quarter slot machine that was free. We left a half of an hour after we arrived, deciding that we were better off not waiting in the smoke filled casino for a free slot machine.

When we returned to the car, we looked at the area map that we got from the information booth. We had no idea that we were so close to Noank, the home of Abbot's Lobster in the Rough, so we decided that since we had come all of the way out to the shore, we might as well take the 20 minute drive to get some clam chowder and a couple of lobsters.

This story continues in The Hostile Gourmet's review of Abbot's Lobster in the Rough and then concludes in the 8/1/99 entry of the Barfly Chronicles.