Have You Driven North Branford Lately?

Aaaaaaand WE’RE BACK!
Missed us? Yeah, we were on hiatus while we both worked on solo projects. Don’t worry, there are no plans to disband. (But let’s be honest, if we did, Emme would be the Kelly Rowland to my Beyonce Knowles.) Anyway, once upon a time, two incredibly brilliant and sexy ladies took a trip to North Branford…
Wiki Me
As you loyal readers know, the OneSixNine girls love looking up towns on Wikipedia, where we learn things like that North Branford is a Town in New Haven County with a population just short of 14,000 spanning 26.6 square miles. One of the town’s most notable residents is former 7th Heaven star Adam LaVorgna.  Also, the North Branford High School baseball team is the official high school baseball team of OneSixNine. (That’s not on Wikipedia… yet.)
See Something

Accompanied by the OneSixNine entourage, we went to check out the amusement and recreation options at  The Connecticut Sportsplex.  Unfortunately, the only competition OneSixNine entourage members ever excelled at was Academic Decathlon, so we stayed away from the Connecticut Sportsplex activities involving,  well, sports.  We went in for one of their specials – The Laser Tag Fun Pack – which is two rounds of laser tag, 20 arcade tokens, and free soda at the concessions area, all for the low, low price of $13.

We really got down to business when it came to spending our 20 arcade tokens. While the Family Fun center doesn’t have a ton of arcade games (it’s no Smiles Entertainment Center, a/k/a The Entertainment Center Formerly Known As Milford Amusement) it’s certainly got enough to keep you busy while you’re waiting for your turn at laser tag.

The Scene at the Family Fun Center

Wack-a-Mole, anyone?

The Deal or No Deal machine, in a perpetual state of "No Deal."

Of course, the best part of a visit to any place with Skeeball and Push-A-Coin is the fervent, irrational pursuit of tickets for the purpose of winning low quality toys. Entourage member Jay was on a mission to win us a new friend to accompany us while OneSixNining. Her name is Dora, she is inflatable, and we understand she is quite the adventuress.

Dor-ahh the Explor-ahh or Dorer the Explorer, depending on which accent Emme is using.

The Prize Counter

Do Something

Just so you all know, I am a Laser Tag connoisseur.  Just hand me a Nerf blaster and set me loose in an old warehouse filled with mirrors and old tires covered in fluorescent paint? You must not know ’bout me. However, I am pleased to report that the Connecticut Sportsplex laser tag is high quality. It has accurate guns and a big, well-maintained, two-level arena.  A+

Now, if you’re not a laser tag person, and are looking for something more along the lines of a hybrid of jai alai and bumper cars, the Connecticut Sportsplex has the activity for you! “Cyber Sport (TM) combines a sporting experience with a highly maneuverable vehicle that adults and kids love to play.”  It’s also the favorite activity of Americans who want to make fools of themselves.

Even getting in the cars is tough for us

Eat Something

After the Sportsplex, we went to dinner at Abate where the service is friendly,  the chicken is lemony,  the pasta is delicious and Dora was almost left behind.

We learned that Abate took first place in the North Branford Pizza War. Abate defeated Amato’s, Bella Lisa, Bobby’s, Lomonaco’s, Lombardi’s, Oregano’s, Slice and Giovanni’s. Not participating in the war was Luigi’s Antimilitarist Apizza, which was granted status as a conscientious objector.

Drink Something

After Abate’s we headed over to Doody’s Totoket Inn, conveniently located near Abate’s. Doody’s is a pretty nice little divey bar. The clientele seemed nice and politely tolerated a bunch of people hanging out with an inflatable Dora the Explorer.

Talk to Someone

I have to give props to Emme, she actually chatted up some folks at Doody’s and learned all about the scene there. Me? I just sat there and talked to Dora. She taught me how to say “cerveza” and told me all about her journey to the Purple Planet. Que emocionante!

Lessons in Connecticuting:

  1. Unlike our Clinton journey, we learned that there’s not much to do in North Branford any time of the year, with the exception of the Potato and Corn Festival.  Yep, you read that right.
  2. Talking to strangers is much easier in dive bars than it is on the street.  Did you know that Doody’s is a family restaurant, owned by at least 3 generations of Doodys?
  3. Surprisngly enough, a restaurant can be named after feces and still be successful.
  4. Elle likes to think that being Beyonce makes her the cooler blogger, but obviously she’s forgotten the Nelly and Kelly hit “Dilemma.”
  5. Having a local as a guide is super convenient.  Having a sportsplex is even more convenient.  Having a professional explorer is the most convenient.

Remember that time…

…. we had a blog and we used to post stuff on it? Man, that was great.

We’re not dead, we swear. There will be more towns up here soon.

Pour House’s Greatest Honor

Looks like the mystery of Elle and Emme’s true identities is just too great for some people to pass up.  The lovely folks over at the Pour House in Hartford have graced us with their greatest honor… On February 1, 2010, it is officially Elle & Emme Night!  Which, as I understand it, is like being given the key to the city.   This puts us on par with Terrell Owens (Buffalo, NY), Shaquille O’Neal (Miami, FL), Sonny Perdue (Franklin Springs, GA), Glenn Beck (Mount Vernon, WA), and Saddam Hussein (Detroit, MI).  So, like, it’s a really grand honor.

Now obviously our Pour House friends don’t understand the whole anonymous blogging thing, and we’re curious as to whether they’ll serve us free drinks if we show up with ID’s saying ______ and _________.*  So if YOUR name is Elle or Emme, we double recommend that you come, and bring your friends, cause then at least you’ll get free drinks.

So we’d love for you to come join us and meet our Twitter friends, the Pour House staff, on February 1.  Yes, it’s a Monday.  No, we don’t care that you have work the next day.  See you there?  Emme promises to show off her accidental Canadian accent by saying “Pour House” a lot.

*Names omitted to protect the innocent.

New Year’s Resolution: See More Towns!

We kicked off 2010 in Connecticut’s own North Branford — in which of the 169 did you choose to start the first day of the rest of your life?

Our resolutions?

  1. Find something fun to do in Clinton.
  2. See 160 more towns.
  3. Don’t allow the state to declare any new municipalities and screw up our blog name.
  4. See every tribal sovereignty located within Connecticut.
  5. Have actual conversations with people.
  6. Show that Guy Who has No Respect for Oscar-Winner Art Carney who’s boss.

Any other suggestions for us?

Clintons of Fun?

As you diligent readers know, Emme and I have put the Bluefish Capital of Connecticut on Colbertsian notice. How is it possible that the former summer home of beloved children’s author/illustrator Dr. Seuss could get our collective Irish up? It’s easy – Clinton now has the distinction of being the only town that we have had to TWICE drudge our exceedingly busy and important selves to in order to give it a proper OneSixNining.  The fact that we couldn’t properly evaluate a town of 16 square miles of land (13 thousand people!) in one day is a problem, considering that we later schooled North Branford in just a few hours and that has 25 square miles of land.  We also are totally awesome at looking up towns on wikipedia.  In case you didn’t already know that.

See Something

Clinton: Day 1 was Black Friday. We thought we’d kick off the Christmas shopping season by checking out the scene at the Clinton Crossing Premium Outlets. Emme and I would be lying if we said we were Clinton Crossing newbies.  I mean, we’re not shopaholics or anything, but I’m starting to get to know some of the staff at the J.Crew store. Black Friday is a special day in the retailverse, however, and I’ve never seen Clinton Crossing so busy. Deal-hunters were out in full force ready to get their hands on the legendary brands, abundant selection and real savings.

Great deals!

The line at Coach.

Do Something

Of course, Emme and I weren’t there just to observe the Black Friday shoppers. You can’t expect us to visit a premium outlet mall and not partake.  We, too, perused the “abundant selection” and made some purchases at J. Crew. Stores we also love include Banana Republic, the Nike store, Coach and Polo Ralph Lauren. Stores we elected to pass by include Dress Barn, Dress Barn Woman, Juicy Couture and the Crocs store.

Some of the stores at Clinton Crossing

Saks outlet all decked out for the holidays

Eat Something

After the outlets we headed over to Hanami, a Japanese restaurant on Route 1. If you want to know what we had, well, you can just screw off. It was a month ago. Stop expecting so much from us, okay? I can tell you we weren’t disappointed. It was a nice place.  Interruption by Emme:  I know that I had the sushi — super yum!  Our dining companion had something soup-based.  I forget what Elle had.  But it was all totally tasty, and the waitress was very prompt and friendly.  Recommend!

Drink Something

After Hanami we made our way to the center of Clinton to The Coffee Break. Alas, The Coffee Break (and it appears, almost all of Clinton) was closed. It wasn’t a huge surprise as it was after 6:00 the day after a holiday. Emme and I decided we’d return to Clinton at a later date to drink something and talk to someone.

Fast forward about three weeks. (During this time, Emme and Elle survived a Nor’Easter, were shocked by the relevations of Tiger Woods’s extramarital affairs, and completely lost track of what is going on in the health care debate.) Now older, wiser, and possibly facing higher taxes on our Cadillac health care plans, we returned to Clinton at 3:00 the Wednesday before Christmas. And what did we find? The Coffee Break – closed. Again. Malone’s Sandwich and Coffee House? Closed. Some other place we saw that I forgot the name of? Closed. Determined, we drove along Route 1 in search of someplace to “Drink Something.” Seeing an ironically snow-covered sign for a place called Beach Donut Shop, we stopped there, thinking we might be able to score a coffee.

Emme has informed me that this photo is funny

Turns out Beach Donut (not to be confused with “Donut Beach,” the tastiest of the unmade Frankie and Annette movies) focuses more on bulk rather than individual donut sales. A cafe it is not. Plus, you walk in and you’re pretty much in the middle of the donut-making action. We did snag a couple of their very yummy products but it was, in Emme’s words, “the most awkward donut-buying experience of my life. And I’ve bought A LOT of donuts.”  (Note from Emme: I grew up in a place called The Colonial Do-Nut Shop.  Proof of its existence circa 1983?  The place still doesn’t have a website and is closed on Sundays.  But anyways, Colonial made all their donuts by hand in the store, and clearly Beach Donut does the same thing, the difference being that Colonial is quaint and friendly, and Beach Donut is full of racks and on hipstered-out young teen trying the punk thing a few years too late.)

Ultimately, were able to get beverages at Dunkin’ Donuts, a small coffee and pastry shop on Route 81. You may have heard of it. Dunkin’ Donuts is a truly innovative patisserie. While most cafes cater to faux intellectuals, aspiring screenwriters and procrastinating graduate students (“Come, hipster, have an organic, fair trade coffee. Listen to this wonderful Joni Mitchell CD. Stay awhile. Have another coffee. Converse loudly about politics with all the wisdom and insight only a casual reading of The New Haven Advocate can provide”) this is not the scene at at Dunkin’ Donuts, coffee shop of the proletariat, whose interior charmingly proclaims “When you are finished, kindly return to your UPS route.”  (Elle’s apt description of Dunks has forced me (Emme) to add this GREAT link from a 2007 Boston Phoenix article about the Dunkin brand — a must-read for Dunkin’ devotees).

As I stepped up to the lovely rose and pumpkin-colored counter and began asking questions of the barista, I got the impression that he was not well versed in the authentic espresso method. No matter, I’m not so pretentious as to believe one must be an alumnus of a qualified Italian bar man school to make an acceptable caffelatte. I ordered a medium (coffee sizes in English? How droll!) iced caramel latte and was impressed by the both the quality and size of the drink. I wound up disposing of half of my “medium,” but carefully, so I did not spill it on myself and drown.

In short, Dunkin’ Donuts is far and away the best coffee shop in Clinton…if you’re in Clinton past 2:30 PM.

Talk To Someone

We’re getting better at this one, we swear. We did chat a little bit with the young employee at Beach Donut (again, not “Donut Beach”). At one point we asked him if we were still in Clinton or if we had crossed over into Westbrook. He wasn’t entirely sure. Maybe we aren’t missing out on much by not talking to people on these outings.

Lessons in Connecticuting
  1. Shoreline towns are not good late-fall-early-winter destinations.  Emme’s other life is in a beach community, so she should have known better, but whatever.  Clinton, you have a giant supermall.  You should have one coffee shop that ISN’T Dunks be open after 2:30.  On a weekend. Furthermore, many CT towns have a town green.  In most of these towns, outside the green you can find a bunch of chain stores and not much else.  This is absolutely true for Clinton.
  2. We’re not closed-minded; we’d love to see the inside of the Coffee Break and find out if Malone’s sandwiches are the best in town.  If you’re reading this, proprietors, we accept your invitations for some free samples and will gladly update this entry.  But it better be free.  We spent all our money on gas driving to Clinton.  TWICE.
  3. We really shouldn’t have to talk to someone in every town.  The Beach Donut kid didn’t even know where he worked.  I don’t know which this reflects more poorly on — Beach Donuts, their employees, or Clinton’s memorability.
  4. Splitting a town into two visits isn’t the terrible idea we thought it would be, and I’m glad Elle didn’t try to lie to you and pretend we did it all in one day.  Cause she thought about lying to you, you know.
  5. Everything good in life comes from Massachusetts.  Dunkin Donuts, the only place we could find a beverage in Clinton, is a Mass-based company.  Meaning that we should abandon OneSixNine and reconsider ThreeFiveOne.  Obviously this is Emme writing.  But I’m just saying, Clinton did not do a whole lot to sell me on the wonders of Connecticut.

All I Want(ed) For Christmas

Since Santa failed to bring me the space age weaponry I wanted for Christmas, I guess I’ll have to be a little more proactive and get it myself…. it’s time for laser tag!   Join us today at the Connecticut Sportsplex with a gaggle of Elle’s New Haven County friends as we experience the off-season in North Branford.  I say off-season because, so far, the only noteworthy event is the town’s annual Roasted Corn and Baked Potato Festival held in August.  No, I didn’t make that up.

Happy Holidays From Emme & Elle

This year, Governor Rell decided against paper cards and sent her holiday greetings via the internet’s many tubes. The e-cards, she says, are environmentally friendly, save taxpayer money and reach more residents of Connecticut. We think this is a great idea and are going to follow the Governor’s lead. However, we are going to do even better than merely saving money and saving the planet – Emme and I are also going to save our valuable time. Instead of spending hours agonizing over what to do for our holiday card, we’re just going to use Jodi’s.

Season’s Greetings From OneSixNine!