I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but bagels in Tennessee are sad, dense little things. They don't get the right kind of crispy on the outside, and the inside texture is all kinds of messed up. I've been told that it's due to differences in the water, which I believe because hey, it's got to be due to something, and that explanation seems as plausible as anything else. Whatever the case, we started our day today with a breakfast of genuine New York bagels:
I always like to have mine with olive cream cheese, if it's available. If it wasn't available, I could have left a suggestion:
but I just left a tip instead.
After breakfast we did a little bit of exploring on Sean's campus, where they have an osprey nest in their cell phone tower:
and a possibly haunted windmill:
where Tennessee Williams wrote a play to honor Jackson Pollock:
and where a little girl is rumored to have tumbled down the interior stairs to her death. Allegedly her spirit haunts the lighthouse to this day, but we didn't see her.
We did see something else super special, though.
As you may remember from "The Great Gatsby", Long Island was once the playground of the wealthy of New York City, and parts of it still are. The beaches were littered with the impressive mansions of the Gilded Age, and while some of them still stand, some are now empty husks falling to the bulldozers of developers or rotting slowly in the shadows of once fashionable communities. Sean knew someone who knew someone who could get us into one of them, as long as we promised not to tell where exactly it was or who let us in. After a bit of travel, a promise not to take any photos of the outside of the building, and some patient waiting by a back door, we went in and walked around.
For the most part, it was just empty rooms:
and we avoided the basement entirely, because I've seen that movie more than once. We did find a few odd things, like a closet full of letters:
and a chalk board on one of the upper floors where some kids were clearly trying to scare future visitors:
or some spirits of the damned were trying to warn us to run and hide.
The most amazing thing we found was in the formal dining room. We turned a corner, and boom:
Oh my God, look at that fireplace:
It's a little damaged, but they don't make things like that any more. Just seeing it, looking at the carvings and the workmanship, was worth the slightly creepy veil of secrecy involved in our house tour.
Just in case I was still creeped out, Sean decided that a few of us should go to Long Island Spirits for a sampling of their LIV, Long Island Vodka made from Long Island potatoes.
I had the unflavored:
and the espresso flavor:
The vodka was good, very smooth and lightly flavored, with barely any afterburn. I never drink vodka straight, and I could have sat and polished off the orange all by itself over ice.
I may have to figure out a way to get some of it to Tennessee.