Bryson is a master of the tangential rant. At one point in Little Dribbling he goes on about a lengthy article in the U.K. Times which caused him to stop reading newspapers altogether. In the offending series a young journalist travels to America to see how many outdated and ridiculous laws he can break. His goal is to get arrested in as many U.S. states as possible only it turns out that none of the laws he’s trying to break are real and he never once gets the attention of law enforcement. It is essentially a loss on all levels and seems to annoy its reader mainly due to a complete lack of research.
The state of the media is disastrous to say the least and I kind of felt like that when I got to Guilford. Upon my arrival in town I had a Homer Simpson Doh! moment thinking: Why in the world did I let a Facebook advertisement tell me where to go?
If Bill Bryson can’t rely on the Times how could I be so stupid as to trust a list that had been generated by a website called the Crazy Tourist and was written by someone who believes Yale University is in East Haven? I’ve already admitted to not knowing enough about my state but I do at least know that the home of one of our nation’s most prestigious college campuses is New Haven, not it’s lame duck cousin to the east!
Upon further inspection of this list I realized I didn’t even have anyone to blame for its multitude of mistakes because no one actually claims authorship of the article.
Granted Guilford is a cute wealthy seaside village with a nice little beach park and a town center with a row of overpriced restaurants, but that’s kind of it. Much of the coastline is blocked by gargantuan summer homes whose owners have way too much money and sense to occupy them during the winter so this time of year it was mostly empty.
If I hadn’t been in a rush to get home by afternoon I may have been able to experience the Henry Whitfield State Museum and the other houses that have been turned into historic sites but none of them opened until noon. Furthermore nothing I saw on the outsides made me feel like I was missing anything by not exploring the insides.
Guilford is the kind of town that still has a fairgrounds and is dotted with cedar sided houses that start off tan and fade over time to grey from the sun and the salty air. I noticed many homes that had been painted a slimy green color which can only be described as asparagus or pickle. Now I’m all for a green house but these had the budding distinction of looking like they were about to vomit, an oddly human characteristic for a house to exhibit.
Really all I did in Guilford was drag my pups around a tiny windy beach on a day that promised to be much warmer than it actually was. Then I got back in my car and drove around in circles for an hour thinking there must be more but there wasn’t. Guilford is probably much better in the summer and if you’re really rich.
One saving grace was Bishop’s Orchards, a farm market and winery with a wide selection of homemade goods from applesauce to ice cream. One thing I learned on my fall bike ride around New England is that every orchard makes cider donuts and in that department Bishop’s was on point.
Cider donuts make up for a lost adventure any day of the year. I ate so many during the month of October I was inflating the spare tire around my middle more than the tires on my bicycle. (Why must it be so hard to stay in shape once we’re pushing forty?) A break became necessary but everything eventually must come to an end. That donut break came to an abrupt halt at Bishop’s as I bought myself a three-pack and scarfed them down in one sitting before making my way back home.
Filled with sugar, carbs and fat I was gastronomically satisfied though a tad disappointed that my at-home-adventure started on such a mild note.