Been jamming some travel recently, which is nice since I haven’t been in the mood much since my trip around the world. It’s nice that the excitement of the road is slowly stirring my soul once again.
I’ve also been venturing about New York City as often as I can since it only takes a couple minutes to get there and it’s only $5.50 round trip on the PATH (or $4.20 with the 10+ Trip SmartLink cards)
June 30: Montreal
Swung up to Montreal on a fairly uneventful car ride. Was pulled over for a going 75 in a 55 on the Taconic in Chatham, NY. I saw the cop but I didn’t really feel like slamming on the brakes because I was just doing the same speed as everyone else.
He pulls out behind me and throws the lights on. I look for a place to pull over and I can’t seem to find one. I have to slow down to a very slow speed on a two-way highway where people are driving at 75 miles an hour. There’s no shoulder. I slowly drive over the curb and onto the grass, still partially sticking out into the road. It’s unsafe and I end up scratching my bumper pretty badly in the process. The officer was nice. He tells me my PBA card is useless and writes me a 4-point ticket. He asked me if I had any questions. I say no and wish him a good day. He’s just doing what he’s told.
I hate speed limits. I hate speeding tickets. I hate everything that has to do with holding the world back from being efficient. It’s sad that we waste so much capital on enforcing systems that are designed to slow our progress. And it’s pathetic that the State of New York had to go through such measures to rob me. It’s the only speeding ticket I have ever got in my entire life. I think back to my time on the Autobahn and I quote it here because it makes me happy:
“Driving on the Autobahn is incredible… I’ve been cruising on the Autobahn between 90-100 mph, not pushing my little Opel past that. Even at that speed cars are passing me. It’s a beautiful thing.” – me
I’m sorry for quoting myself. I wasn’t originally planning on writing much here. I’ve lately been pretty disinterested in words. I was tempted to just throw some pictures up, but so far the words are flowing.
That was the original direction for this post three months ago. The standard rambling that I do accompanied with some pictures.
But things have changed quite a bit since then.
I’m not quite so sure how to finish this.
There are pictures that I want to post, but time has passed since they have been taken.
Back when I was deeply in love with someone who now won’t talk to me.
But so it goes in life and love.
There’s no closure.
You give your heart to someone and when things don’t work out there’s this weird thing you enter into.
Where you no longer talk.
And you no longer exist.
Because to do otherwise would be too logical and too painful.
And humans are emotional and love comfort above almost everything else.
You can take everything away from a person as long as you leave them comfortable.
Am I sad? I hope so. Sad just means you had something great.
There are a lot of opinions and a lot of feelings and a lot of things that I’m not sure I can entertain.
I followed my heart to this point in life and will continue to do so.
It’s the only way that I think is right.
At the expense of everything.
My heart guides me.
And so it will be.
So what about Montreal?
I could barely tell you.
Let’s have a look at the pictures.
The Notre Dame.
It’s a beautiful building. But at night it’s quite a site. Montreal does an amazing job with its lighting at night, and the Notre Dame is just one example.
Another is the BMO Bank of Montreal right across the street. If you were to spin the tripod around and shoot a picture, this is what you would see. Sure it’s just a bank, but on a night in Montreal it’s electric.
You may notice a lit up area above the bank. At several locations in old Montreal they play movies on the walls of buildings. The world is your theater.
There are some great bars and restaurants in old Montreal. And although it’s probably too touristy you should check it out.
Midnight passes and it’s Canada’s 150th birthday. Love to you. And love to all of Montreal which is celebrating it’s 375th year at the same time.
July 1: Montreal
I went to St-Viateur Bagel because I saw Anthony Bourdain do it. And if there’s one person set up to be as iconic to this time period as Ginsberg, Burroughs, and Kerouac were to the Beat Generation, it’s him. I’m sorry if that’s dismal but I just don’t see anyone else fitting the role better than him.
They don’t make bagel sandwiches there. You buy bagels, cream cheese, capers, and lox and make the bagel yourself. Thinking back I guess they even showed this in the show.
Back to the Notre Dame. It’s raining. It’s been raining.
Actually before we get to the Notre Dame I have to share a song I heard while I was waiting in the line to cross the border into Canada. It’s Trucs Styles by Bengale. There’s a lot of great music out this way, even on the old radio. I strongly recommend giving a listen to the radio out here if you’re road tripping through. Shout out to all the musicians out that way making great music that will never be heard by anyone.
Carrying on. Back into the gloomy clouds and rain. I was in Notre Dame about a decade earlier.
Actually. Let’s go back to before the border. Somewhere halfway through the middle of New York. Listening to some obscure radio station. Where I heard Wasted Days by Cloud Nothings. Props to you if you make it through the nine-minute track.
Ok. Take me to church. The Notre Dame is as amazing today as it was a decade ago. The colors and the lighting in this place is amazing. It’s almost completely cut out of wood.
It looks like a Disney princess castle or something.
Places of worship are too nice not to stop into.
Fleur-de-lis is a recurring symbol in my life.
Carvings and paint and light. Ultra on point. This stuff is easy to shoot.
After you see enough of this stuff head across the street to a place that sells tea.
And stroll the streets of old Montreal. I must admit not much of it looks this beautiful. It’s all covered with restaurants and tourist traps. But still, it’s nice and you should go.
On the way to Quebec City try going to Joe Beef because you saw Bourdain eat there too.
Drive through the fireworks.
But since you won’t be able to get a table, try sister restaurant Liverpool House.
And since you won’t be able to get into that either go to cousin restaurant Le Vin Papillon.
Ask the bar tender to bring you a tasting a their food because you trust his judgment and prepare to enjoy mostly vegetables that leave you shaking you head in anger that the glutinous Joe Beef had no open tables. Even ending the meal with a lobster won’t bring solace.
Drive to Quebec City.
July 2: Quebec City
At some point stroll over to good old Rue du Petit Champlain. Try to score a table at Le Lapin Saute. It’s a place I tried to eat at when I was last here but there were no available seats that night. Sure it’s the most touristy street ever but you can find good food here. Order the duck and rabbit platter. It has duck and rabbit prepared a whole bunch of ways, but the foie gras and rabbit rillettes are probably the best.
Seriously this street is packed with tourists in the summer. It’s a very different vibe from the freezing cold winter were it is only filled with locals.
Head up to the castle, or the Chateau Frontenac. You can get here via the funicular, which is a nice way to get up and down the hills. Go grab a drink at the bar. If you see the most beautiful drink being made I don’t recommend ordering one of those. It’s a gin and tonic.
Sigh. I’m talking too much. I didn’t think this would be the case but while the words flow…
Google best restaurants in Quebec City and go there. You might not have the chance to do this again. So you better do it right. The choice is Le Saint-Amour. It’s old school. Like really old school. But it’s French and it’s Quebec City and old French is perfect for the occasion.
I wanted to do a tasting menu but it doesn’t feel right.
So instead it’s foie gras five ways. Including foie gras creme brulee. You know. Creme brulee is a desert for old people. But I like it. And when it’s made of foie it couldn’t be better.
Also elk carpaccio.
Entrees are sea scallops and pork belly. And sweetbreads and shrimp. If you’ve never had sweetbreads you have to try them. They are one of life’s great luxuries.
Not sure where the sherry is but oh well.
On the way out you should probably take the car that valet offers to you. Just drive the thing down to hill and ditch when you get to the hotel. It’s about to pour in a couple minutes.
But of course you can’t steal someone’s car, even if it’s just for a drive down a hill. So decline and tell them it’s not your car. And walk. Out into the downpour.
Take cover in a touristy Italian restaurant where Budweiser is an import but you order it because America.
On the way back stroll down the winding roads messing about with the camera. Shoot some fire pictures.
And if you happen to be experiencing the world with the most beautiful woman you have ever seen in your life then make sure you work the camera as best as you can.
July 3: Burlington, VT
Have some more French food.
Shoot some more pictures.
Check out of old Quebec City and make your way out to Burlington, VT.
Stroll about the streets a bit of this heavenly place.
Go to The Farmhouse Tap & Grill because it’s the best. Grab some raw bar and some meat and cheese and some delicious beers. Listen to some hippie bros play some strings and sing some words.
Swing down to the water to check out the fireworks.
Then hop back in the car and drive all the way home in the middle of the night.
July 4: Tarrytown, NY
Sleep some more.
Then catch the fireworks one final time.
To complicate this even more I decided to write up that trip before I started the writeup for an earlier trip. So here’s that. It will be quick.
June 8: Cambridge, MA
Drive to Cambridge, MA. Why Cambridge? Because there’s an opportunity to work out this way.
Go to sleep because tomorrow starts early.
June 9: Boston, MA
Spend the day working and interviewing. Asking for piles of money so big that everyone involved in the situation is uncomfortable. That’s how it has to be done sometimes. Companies with a market cap in the hundreds of billions can afford it.
Then swing out to the heart of Boston.
Shoot some pictures.
Smile because all is well. Or maybe it’s not but you’re happy.
Check out the old sites. The Old North Church. The Paul Revere House. All of that stuff.
Stroll around the streets and shoot some more pictures.
You’re in Boston.
Grab some food at Neptune Oyster. They have a great scallop crudo. It was the best thing I had on the trip.
And there was some pretty good food. Like obligatory hot and cold lobster rolls. Oh and that hookup on that glass of sherry.
Afterwards stroll all around the city. Stroll around the wharf. Check out where they threw the tea into the water.
There’s great beer in this city. Stroll through Back Bay making your way back to the Fenway area. Stop into places and grab a pint at each one.
It might be packed because it’s commencement time.
It’s a different vibe from the day activities back in Cambridge. Where the mood was almost solemn. Because sometimes smart people don’t know how to party.
June 10: Boston, MA
Spend the morning grabbing another lobster roll. Take a bunch of pictures.
Then cut the trip short, swing back home, and make it home in time for a surprise birthday party.
So takeaways? I don’t really think there are any. There’s no closure in life (I think there might be). Let your heart guide you. Life. I have nothing but good things to say about the times where my heart directed me. Try to learn. Try to better yourself. The entire world is open to you. Love. Love always. Above everything thing go for love.
So my buddy Mikey and I decided to jam a quick road trip. It wasn’t as crazy as the 6,000 mile two week adventure we took the last time, but we still got out there and did our thing. The itinerary is pretty much as follows:
19-Nov Burlington, VT
20-Nov Ottawa, ON, CAN
21-Nov Quebec City, QC, CAN
22-Nov Jacques-Cartier National Park, QC, CAN
23-Nov Mount Washington, NH and Portland, ME
24-Nov Portsmouth, NH
25-Nov Tree House Brewing Company, MA
The route would allow us an average of five hours of driving per day with a lighter rest day in the middle of the trip. We had the option of still arriving home Thanksgiving morning if we wanted to stay anywhere a little longer. It let us see a good mixture of great cities and great nature.
19-Nov Burlington, VT
I get out of work at 5 and head up north to grab Mikey. The car is already packed with a cooler full of food as I went grocery shopping the night before. I also picked up a fresh vehicle registration on my lunch break, but you probably want to make sure all your documentation is up to date well ahead of time. When I get to Mikey’s place we toss two of his bags in the car, say our goodbyes and head off. We have a lot less packed for this trip than the last one, but we’re also starting to become pros at this. We know what to take and what not to take. I’ll include a list of the essentials here in case you are planning a similar trip:
Beef jerky (I like to buy this on the road to try new kinds)
Bag of clementines
Plastic utensils (especially spoons for yogurt)
1 roll paper towel
Save your shopping bags for gathering garbage
8 Chobani yogurts
1 or 2 hummus
Small bag carrots
Slices of cheese
Use your discretion. Feel free to add or remove items. Some of that stuff should definitely not be included (energy drinks, soda, gatorade) but most of it (nuts, bars, fruits, yogurt, hummus, etc.) provides some great advantages. Sure you save a couple bucks on meals (this list will cost you about $50 per person and really includes all you breakfast and lunch and occasional dinner), but the real advantages are time savings and ability to be flexible around your road trip schedule. Instead of sitting down to breakfast every day just grab a bar and a yogurt and get on your way. If you are in the middle of nowhere and are hungry just pull over and grab some hummus or make a sandwich. Depending on the weather you may want to keep the drinks in the cooler or out of it, and you may need to replace ice every day or every couple days.
Anyways, the car is packed up with goodies. The ride out to Burlington involves a bunch of rain, which gets pretty heavy at times. The temperature is plenty about freezing or else we would be looking at heavy snow.
We make it out to Burlington, Vermont at around 12:45 AM. We kind of want to grab a celebratory beverage and a bite to eat. We stop at The Vermont Pub & Brewery because it’s one of the few places still open. Food is closed but the bartender is nice enough to grab us some chips and salsa, which is all we were looking for at that hour. The beers are alright, but there are better beers to come.
We end up making friends with a group sitting next to us. They say they’re off to some place Red Square and invite us out. The town was quiet when we drove through it, and it’s still quiet as we’re walking through it. We get to this place, about a half hour until close, and it is jam-packed. There’s a lot of people dancing either to hip hop in the main room or electronic in a back room. Wasn’t really expecting this since it seemed so dead in town, but after such a long drive we figured we would dance the night away.
The place closes down for the night and we still don’t have a place to stay for the night. We wanted to jam a night in the car on this trip for old times’ sake, but the temperatures were supposed to be way too cold for that. Tonight the low is somewhere around 45, so we decided to give it a go. We find a 24-hour McDonald’s and knock out for the night.
20-Nov Ottawa, ON, CAN
The sleep is pretty uneventful. It wasn’t too cold and no one bothered us. I’ve slept in a parking lot of a 24 hour McDonald’s when I was in Europe and I’m 2/2 on not getting asked to leave from there. Seems like most places that are 24 hours like McDonald’s or Walmart (I think I’m 4/4 here) are fine for spending the night, especially if you can tuck yourself away in a good spot.
Morning arrives and we grab some McDonald’s breakfast. While most companies would probably be against you sleeping in your car on their property, it’s pretty beneficial to both parties, as I tend to buy things from the place I’m sleeping at and there are an infinite number of parking spots available during those overnight hours.
Before heading back into Burlington we decided to stop in Beverage Warehouse, which is a liquor store on the outskirts of Burlington. They are supposed to be receiving a shipment of Lawson’s Finest Liquids Sip of Sunshine IPA, which is a good IPA from Vermont. The whole route that we are driving through is filled with some highly rated beers, with the state of Vermont being one of the best. The delivery truck is late so Mikey decides to grab my camera and proceeds to take his first ever shot with a DSLR. It’s a pretty bad one, but it’s included here for historical value should he ever become a world class photographer lol.
Eventually the delivery truck comes and we grab a 4 pack of Lawson’s Sip, two of which I’m giving to my cousin, and one can a piece for Mikey and I. We also pick up a 4 pack that is part of some fundraiser. It includes 1 can each of some Vermont beers; the Alchemist’s Heady Topper (for a long time considered the #1 beer), another Lawson’s Sip, Fiddlehead Brewing’s Second Fiddle, and 14th Star Brewing’s Tribute. This fundraiser package also includes a $10 gift certificate for some place in town and $9 of the $20 package goes to charity so it’s an easy choice to pick that up.
After the score we head back to Burlington. We drive down to the Lake Champlain waterfront. It’s a pretty nice area to stroll the lake.
Since it’s almost lunchtime we stop in to The Farmhouse Tap & Grill. It’s supposed to have good beers and it certainly does. A flight of Hill Farmstead, one of the great Vermont breweries awaits. They have the Edward, Harlan, Citra, Dorothy, and Madness & Solitude. The Edward is an absurdly well-crafted American Pale Ale. It’s simple but just really really good. It’s hard to find simple beers that are that well made, as breweries tend to focus their efforts on the trendy more complex big dollar varieties like bourbon barrel aged stouts and double ipas. The Madness & Solitude was also exquisite. It’s their Ephraim beer (an already really highly rated and pretty rare Imperial IPA) that is aged in second and third use bourbon barrels. The Madness & Solitude is supposed to be the best beer, but that Edward really is a surprise. We try some other beers and the Ballast Point Rum Barrel Aged Victory At Sea ends up being our favorite on tap, which is in agreement with the bartender. We chat the bartender about our road trip and he says Portland, Maine is a great place. We hear this often throughout the trip.
After lunch is over we stroll about Burlington. The weather is pretty glorious for heading up and down Church Street. We stop in at Leunig’s Bistro & Lounge, which is a Parisian-style dining place. We spend our $10 gift certificate we picked up earlier in the day on an Alchemist Focal Banger (Heady Topper’s little brother usually only available at restaurants), a double espresso, and a duck pate. The server here also says Portland, Maine is a great place.
After this stop we stroll about looking for a restroom. We head into some restaurant and end up running into one of the girls that invited us out dancing the night before. It hasn’t even been 24 hours and we’re already started to feel like locals. She’s been here her whole life. I talk about Asbury Park and how it has a similar small city feeling to Burlington. Everyone knows everyone. You see each other everywhere. We sit down at their table and chat about the trip and what we’ve been up to. Before long it’s time for her to head to work, and probably time for us to head off to our next stop.
It’s only about a three and a half hour drive to Ottawa but we have to cross over the border. The line at the border is short. We get to the booth and the lady asks us the typical questions. We answer them. Doesn’t seem to be any problems. Then she tells us to pull ahead to some parking spot and holds on to our passports. It’s generally not a good sign when someone holds onto your identification. We have some border officials come out to our car. They tell us to sit out on a bench in the freezing cold. They take out and open all of the bags, the cooler, go through the entire car, and put everything back. I don’t have a jacket on because I wasn’t expecting this 20-minute search to drag on this long. They ask us some questions as they’re doing it and then tell us to go inside. We wait a little longer. Mikey gets called up to answer questions by himself. Then I get called up to answer questions by myself. Then we sit down for about another 20 minutes. Not really sure what the hold up is but eventually after about a total of an hour they tell us we are free to go. We hop in the car and zip off to Ottawa. Maybe going to Ottawa and Quebec City instead of Montreal was what set it off. Everyone we talked to kind of thought we were idiots for choosing to go to Ottawa over Montreal lol. Maybe I’ve been over the border at about a dozen different entrances and exits recently. Who knows.
We get to Ottawa and check into our hotel. It’s pretty cold out but we have things to see and do. After unpacking and relaxing for a bit, we stroll along Parliament Hill. The buildings here are enormous and beautiful. It must take several minutes to walk from one end of these buildings to the other end. We stop in and grab some pictures before venturing onwards.
We continue the walk and get to Byward Market. It’s an area to hang at with many bars and restaurants. The Market area has a very diverse mix of people. Young suits mix amongst more casual wear. We walk up and down all of the streets of the market looking for a place to grab dinner. Most of the places are charging cover, even to grab a bite to eat. We eventually stopped in at King Eddy Burgers. It’s a pretty cool spot that seems to be housing some locals for the night. The staff seems pretty cool and we probably should have chatted them up about recommendations for things to do since the Market area has a lot of pretty lame looking clubs. The bouncers make you wait in line in the freezing cold even if the inside if fairly empty to give the appearance that they are busy. Anywho, the burgers are pretty delicious but I’m kind of upset I didn’t order the fried chicken as it looks amazing coming out of the kitchen.
After dinner we head off to find some place to dance. Sitting in a car for several hours a day means you have to be out and about doing something active so we’re trying to jam dancing to get our cardio in for the trip. You can kind of tell based on who’s waiting on line what the vibe of the place will be. We decide on Tequila Jacks because the people in line seem our age and seem to be dressed pretty casually. We hop inside and do our thing. Dance until the night is over. Afterwards we make the long stroll back to the hotel in the freezing cold.
21-Nov Quebec City, QC, CAN
After the night of sleep we wake up deciding on what to do. There are a couple things we can check out in Ottawa but we’re both pretty pumped to zoom over to Quebec City. Quebec City is a place that I have wanted to go to for some time, but I never really had anyone who wanted to make the trip. It’s about as close to a European city as you can get on this side of the Atlantic. The drive over goes well. There is some farmland out here that makes you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere. It’s weird that you can have a place that you can mistake for France so close to a place you can mistake for Kentucky. I guess that’s just how Canada works sometimes. Here’s a shot of Mikey having one of his trademarked naps through the countryside.
We get to our hotel and unpack and relax for a bit. Since we are in the middle of French Canada, we decided to find a French place to grab some food at. According to the 2011 Canadian Census over 99% of people know the French language in this city, and about 62% speak exclusively French. That’s how French this place is. Everyone talks to you at first in French, but if you respond saying you only know English then everyone we ran into was nice and switched languages for us. The language is just magical to hear. Upon leaving the hotel to head to Old Quebec we heard a group of girls talking in French. I told Mikey, not remembering that they obviously knew English, that it sounded magical. They heard and turned around and laughed and I muttered “pardon, pardon,” which really should have been “je suis desole,” but all was well. They were heading into some place that was buzzing with people, either into the movies or a theater. I think they are playing Trainspotting or some rendition of it.
The walk to Old Quebec from our hotel was perfect. It’s amazing how well put together the town is. Everything is in the right place. The colors are just right. The fonts and the paint are perfect. The restaurants and bars have exactly the right people wearing exactly the right clothes and enjoying exactly the right foods and drinks. It almost feels like the whole city is under management by Disney or something. For example this is rue de Petit Champlain, that same street that our restaurant was on. It’s pretty much perfectly decorated for the holidays.
When we get to the restaurant we can’t get a seat. It’s a small French place that is booked for the night. It’s no worries as the reviews for several of the places in the area were highly rated. We can’t pull them up because our cell phones have been in airplane mode to avoid absurd roaming charges. Verizon charges $2.05/MB and $0.50 for every sent text message unless you enroll in a plan, which for three days wasn’t worth the hassle. Being disconnected is a great feeling so I don’t mind. No one can get in touch with me and I can’t reach out to anyone. We’re all just going to have to get through life on our own for the next couple days. We end up picking a place by judging the exterior of the restaurants along with the items on their menu.
Eventually we pick out Restaurant L’Echaude. The menu looks great. We get inside and this place is completely packed as well. Luckily we’re able to score two seats at the bar just as two people are leaving. Dinner ends up being great. Mikey goes with the steak tartar with red bell peppers and chorizo for appetizer (or entree as you call it in French) and the duck confit for main course. I opt for the foie gras mousse tartine with figs and nuts for appetizer and the black pudding, Jerusalem artichokes with garlic and sorrel and seared foie gras for the main course. All the dishes are excellent and we bounce back and forth between plates to have a try of everything.
At the time I had no idea what black pudding was, and there were many delicious sounding dishes that I could have ordered. I was on a foie kick and was in the mood to push myself a little and try something different. I wasn’t expecting it to be a brownie thing. The texture of this specific black pudding was very much like a fresh out of the over gooey brownie. The flavor of the pudding was dark and rich and earthy. In combination with all of the ingredients it was one of my favorite bites of the trip. It’s not until I get home and am talking to my mom that I realize that black pudding is blood sausage. It’s a dish made with pig’s blood. I kind of laughed and was pretty happy when I realized that. It made the flavor make so much sense. And while I’m not grossed out by a dish named blood sausage, I probably would have opted for the fish and mussel soup, rib eye steak, shrimp stuffed squid with squid ink risotto, or deer dishes over it, which would have been a shame.
Dinner wrapped up with some espresso, coffee that was lit on fire, and honey wine. I do have to say that the bartender really took care of us on the bill, so thanks for that. Coupled with the exchange rate and the discount we ended up paying a ridiculously low amount. It’s definitely an example that I see time and time again of locals really giving you respect if you give them the respect. We’re in a place where we don’t know the official language, and everyone loves us. I wouldn’t listen to anyone who had one bad experience on one specific occasion and then harps on it and makes such large generalizations. Often times I would probably find more of a fault with the person complaining than with the person who apparently caused the complaints.
Anywho, after dinner we venture off into the city. Across the cobblestone we go. Trying to dodge the wind and the cold, which is now the coldest we’ve had all trip. Past the many perfectly laid out little stores and restaurants. This city has a bridge running right through it and it is perfectly covered in street art.
Occasionally we pass someone talking in English and it just sounds so silly and out of place in this city. We head back to the hotel so that I can drop off my camera. We head to some bar off of a recommendation that is pretty empty, so we go inside to a little livelier one next door. We hang around for a moment before hitting the streets to stroll about again.
We stroll up and down the streets and the city looks quiet. The freezing wind is howling and we’re thinking of maybe heading back to the hotel. Eventually we find some place called Boudoir that has a pretty big crowd of people hanging outside of it. We hear some hip hop coming from it and head inside. After a coat check we realize there’s two floors of different music. Hip hop is upstairs so that’s where we stay. The crowd is pretty chill and we end up dancing the night away again. Wasn’t really planning dancing so much at the start of the trip but there’s only so much to do late at night. It’s the weekend and we need to get our exercise in. The dj is solid, and I barely have a minute to pause. He ends off on a couple Kanye joints, it’s hard not to vibe to “don’t let me get in my zone,” which is a phrase I’ve been vibing on lately. The great thing is I’m pretty sure I’m in my zone again, which is right where I want to be.
We shut the club down and head back to the hotel for a night of sleep.
22-Nov Jacques-Cartier National Park, QC, CAN
In the morning we head off to Jacques-Cartier National Park, which is a short drive from the city. While it’s officially a provincial park it is referred to as a national park, so I guess it’s size is somewhere in between. The weather looks a little worrisome with some snow on the ground and some snow falling, but we make our way through the park.
There are several times where it looks like we may have to turn around due to the weather and we have to drive at a crawl through the park. Although there are some hills which look like they may be a little challenging to get up on the return route, we have some extra weight in the car. There was definitely one point where I was ready to turn around, but in an effort to take on a little more risk in my life, I decided to throw a bit of caution to the snowy wind and proceed on for about ten more kilometers.
After a while, the slow pace and repetitive scenery of the park makes us turn around. We don’t really see anything of interest on the park map, but we may have missed some stuff because it was a pretty useless map. With a six hour drive to the Mount Washington area we decided to set off for the states.
There are a couple routes that can be taken back in to the US and I really wanted to hop onto Wi-Fi to confirm which was the fastest. So we stop at a gas station with a McDonald’s. A lot of people don’t know but you can use your gps on your phone without having your data on. But you have to set your route while you are connected to the internet. So for example, once we signed on to the Wi-Fi at McDonald’s and put Mount Washington into our gps and set the route, we would be completely fine with driving all the way there without having data on. You only need data to set the initial route. I used this method all the time when I was in Europe, and you can really get all the data you need by connecting to Wi-Fi when needed. If you really are taking a trip where you don’t want to worry about data at all then you can use an offline gps such as Navmii, but you will have to download huge maps beforehand. While it is not as good as something like Google Maps, it is not a bad backup to have stored on your phone.
Eventually we hit the border and are thinking about the fiasco we had trying to get into Canada. We’re prepared for the wait. The questions start. The officer opens the hatch and starts poking around. Apparently you aren’t allowed to bring citrus fruits into the US for whatever reason, so he grabs our half bag of clementines (he allows us to keep the bananas), and sends us on our way.
We realize that there isn’t anything to do in any of these towns around Mount Washington. It’s about 8:30 PM and our only hope was a bowling alley that closed at 9 PM. We decide to stay at a hotel in Gorham, which is at the top of the Mount Washington and White Mountain National Forest area. We spend the night eating sandwiches from the cooler, playing Magic the Gathering, and having a tasting of the Heady Topper, Lawson’s Sip, and Second Fiddle. The Heady really lives up to the hype. It’s one of those beers that you drink and just say “wow, this is a great beer.”
23-Nov Mount Washington, NH and Portland, ME
The day starts off with some granola bars and chobanis and we make our way to Mount Washington. I remember I used to always see those bumper stickers that said, “This car climbed Mount Washington.” I haven’t really seen those bumper stickers in a while, but I’m pretty pumped to take the drive up.
Nope. Apparently the tentative closing date for the road up Mount Washington was October 25, bummer.
You can still hike the mountain in the winter (if you dare), or you can register for some adventure trip, which was sold out for the year. Hiking is certainly not for everyone. There have been 150 fatalities on the mountain in the last 150 years, but only 3 of them have been from the auto road. The others were all people who greatly underestimated the power that even a 6,288 foot mountain possesses.
I didn’t think to check the closing date because you can get almost twice as high in places like Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado and only portions of that park close. There also was no snow on the mountains so it was a little annoying not being able to drive up but I guess that’s the difference between a place like New Hampshire and a place like Colorado.
Still, the Kancamagus Highway was open and would provide some nice views. We decided to take that drive, but before we can make it to the highway we see a beer store advertising over 400 beers so we decide to stop in. I grab a bottle of Shipyard 2012 Bourbon Barrel Aged Double ESB because stuff like this just isn’t available for pickup anywhere. There were 2,100 bottles of this beer ever made and it released in September 2012. In line at checkout I look up and I see Founders KBS sitting on the shelf, my favorite beer. I’m not sure what this is doing there, but I ask the man if he has it for sale. He says yes and I say I’ll take it. I would take all of it to be honest but Mikey and I decide that splitting a 4 pack is the right move. We want to leave some behind for other people who will be happy to see it randomly sitting on the shelf.
After adding to our beer collection we proceed to drive the Kancamagus Highway. We take it all the way to the top at the Kancamagus Pass before swinging back around. We get out to take a couple pictures and it’s easily the coldest weather we will face on the trip.
The biting cold wind makes you a useless human being within a few minutes. It’s amazing to see nature just destroy your body that quickly to the point where you get out for a couple minutes and you have to run back to the car because you literally start freezing.
After driving through the White Mountain National Forest we head out for a short and leisurely two hour drive to Portland, Maine. The first stop is actually a couple minutes outside of the city. We stop at Maine Beer Co and have a sampler of beer. There is no Maine Dinner around. I believe it was put out the month before. But the Maine Lunch is on tap, as well as the rest of the lineup. After splitting a pretzel and booking our hotel for the night we head off to the city. We unpack and rest up and head back out to the city.
I always thought the bars and restaurants in Portland would be a lot cooler from my memories when I was younger, and also form all of the positive opinion that people had in regards to the city. I’m not sure if it’s more of a place to visit in the summer season but the majority of places we walked into were sports bars filled with bros watching the Patriots game. Unfortunately the first place we went to, Novare Res, was closed. They have a pretty sweet looking beer menu. I was hoping to jam a five year old barrel aged Old Rasputin. Eventually we found ourselves at Central Provisions and decide to give it a try. We have some sea urchin, bone marrow, foie gras, octopus, swordfish, suckling pig, and finish with a key lime tart so all is well.
We ask the waitress how to avoid the sports bars and she says to check out Novare Res, which we say is closed. She says that’s a bummer because that was her plans after the shift gets out. She tells us to check out Portland Hunt & Alpine Club and so we head over. One of their options for their 11 PM happy hour is called the Service Industry Happy Meal, which is a Miller High Life and a shot of Fernet Branca. We end up running into some of the workers from Central Provisions and they give us some recommendations as to what to do for the next day. One of the recommendations is to check out Mackworth Island. The night comes to an end and we head off into the freezing cold for a brisk walk back to the hotel.
24-Nov Portsmouth, NH
The day starts and we try to find a place selling lobster. The original plan in Portland was to grab lobster but many of the places were closed for the season. We eventually find some place called Scarborough Fish & Lobster about 20 minutes south of Portland. Their menu is very simple. There are only a couple items available to order. I want to get a three pound hard shell lobster but there aren’t any available. The guys working say they come and go really quickly. We go with an order of steamers and a couple lobsters.
The food is delicious. I’ve wanted to eat Maine lobster since I last had it years ago to see if the taste is as good as I remember it. And it definitely is. The taste of fresh caught lobster is hard to beat. As we’re eating a couple lobstermen come in and drop off some fresh lobsters. One of the guys working shows me the three pounder that I wanted. Ha, so it goes sometimes. We eventually finish off with some chowder and set off for Mackworth Island.
Mackworth Island is a tiny island that takes about an hour to walk around with a very leisurely pace. It’s about 10 minutes from Portland and you can drive right onto it. As we are driving over the bridge to get there I immediately recognize it as a place I had been to when I was younger with my family. It’s weird because Mackworth Island is a place that I have been thinking about off and on for a while now. It’s one of those places that you’ve been to when you were younger but you can’t quite remember where it was. I always thought Mackworth Island was more north, closer to Acadia National Park. Either way we are about to arrive at the island and I’m pretty excited for a stroll down memory lane. The island is one of those places that I remember visiting with my family when I was younger. I miss those trips. I guess everyone is too busy to put work and life on hold to travel together again, but maybe some day it will happen.
The stroll about is a beautiful. It’s definitely a place where I would run if I lived in the area. It’s also a bit chilly but we’re doing it up.
It’s easy to spend time stopping with great views everywhere on the island.
Walking a little further will give you another great view.
And spinning around to walk back to the island you get this view.
The island definitely has some interesting vibes. I think fairies have lived on this island for a really long time. You can make little homes for them out of sticks and clamshells and such. The homes are nice to keep the fairies safe from the weather which can be pretty brutal up here. I remember my little sister and I found fairy wings on the ground here the last time we visited. I tried to put them in my pocket to save them but they were gone forever when I got back to the car.
There’s also a pet cemetery on the island and some other cool things to check out.
I loved the way this next shot came out. It’s sky reflecting on water and mud and rocks.
We catch the sun setting on the island and then head off because the cold is quickly coming in.
We decided to check out Allagash Brewing but we get there for 4:30 PM and apparently it closed at 4 PM on that day. We contemplate spending another night in Portland but decide to drive an hour south to Portsmouth, New Hampshire for the night. I message some girl from Tinder that plans are off and we are heading out of town. Tindering around has been a great way to get recommendations of what to see and do and having a local to hang with is a nice bonus.
The drive to Portsmouth is a fast one. Once you’re used to the pace of the road trip, hour long trips are a joke. They’re equivalent to a ten or fifteen minute drive from your old life.
We get to Portsmouth and check in to the Hampton Inn Portsmouth on 99 Durgin Lane. I specifically make note of this hotel because it was one of the greatest hotel deals I have ever had before. There was some sort of event going on with free food and drinks for all of the hotel guests. We arrive around 6 PM and the event ends at 6:30 PM. We toss our gear in the room and proceed downstairs for some food and drink, because why not. Over the next half hour we proceed to crush through 8 beers, 6 bowls of popcorn, 4 plates of homemade shells, and 2 bottles of water. All for the lovely price of $0 lol. During the time we chat the director of sales and the concierge and share stories and get some recommendations as to what to do in town.
After a little nap, or a long one, we venture off to town to stroll the streets. We hear Portsmouth Brewery and Thirsty Moose Tap House are two good places to check out. We stroll past both and head into the Thirsty Moose. It’s alright. Mostly a sports bar with tvs and a bunch of beer, a couple of which seem alright.
We squeeze out of there and stroll about the town some more. As we’re walking we approach a crosswalk with a police car sitting right on the corner. A huge truck pulls up and doesn’t let us cross. He blows through the sign without stopping. I look at the police car and kind of toss my hands up. He or she saw the whole thing though. After we cross the street the police car zips out to follow the truck and approaches the truck at a stop light down the street. About ten seconds pass. The bells of the North Church start ringing to signify midnight. Ten more seconds pass. Eventually the light turns green and as soon as the truck makes the left turn the police officer flips the lights on to pull him over. Mikey and I high five each other knowing the tough guy in the truck is probably getting a DUI and tickets for running a stop and not yielding to pedestrians.
Eventually we find ourselves at the Press Room. There’s some pretty good live music being played downstairs and it looks mostly like a typical pub would. We venture upstairs to check out what’s going on and the scene is totally different. There’s 4 player Mario Kart going down. Some kids are jamming some commander games of Magic the Gathering. The music is like weird 90s electronic. It’s an interesting spot. After assessing the situation Mikey decides to ask if he can be the 6th player for a game of Magic. One of the guys allows us to borrow a deck and we get to playing. The place closes at 1 AM but the workers let us stick around for a while to finish up the game. We’re not locals of Portsmouth but I guess we’re given a temporary local pass. After the game gets out we stroll back to the hotel for night.
25-Nov Tree House Brewing Company, MA
We check out of the hotel and head to the car to throw our gear in the car. While we’re packing up and eating breakfast out of the back of the car, the director of sales lady pulls up to start her next shift. She asks if we stole any beers for the road and we laugh and tell her no. She’s great. I ask for a hug before we go and give her about a twenty second super uncomfortable hug because I love doing that to people. I’ve never met someone who ever held a hug longer than me, true story.
The plan for the day is to swing by Tree House Brewing which is about a 2 hour drive in the direction of home. Stopping at Tree House would only add on about 20 minutes of additional driving so it seems like a good place to stop at on the way home.
When we get there the place is a zoo. There are cars up on down the road parked on neighbors’ lawns. The parking lot is completely booked. A huge line is hanging out on the shoulder of the road. It doesn’t look good but Mikey and I decided to get out and figure out what is going down. The huge line that is running along the road isn’t even the whole line. It’s just part of it. The line winds to the right around the brewery. Then it makes another right and continues on. And finally another right until it approaches a door to the brewery. Looking at a satellite image and estimating, it was a line about 700 feet long. About two and a third football field lengths. It’s two deep half the time. There are literally hundreds of people waiting in line, and I estimate it would take two to four hours of waiting to pick up some beer (these numbers were confirmed on social media later in the day via people who decided to wait). We finally find a worker and ask and he says there’s no tastings today and you can only buy cans and get growlers filled. The craft beer scene, a place where you wait in line to not drink. Tree House is a hot brewery right now. Their Good Morning stout just recently replaced Heady Topper as Beer Advocate’s #1 rated beer (Good Morning wasn’t even available that day). We’ve had enough top beers on the trip and have a great haul to bring home so we decided to get out of there instead of waiting the absurd amount of time to pick up beer. I can’t imagine the tasting room at Tree House will be able to stay open for long since the place was a zoo. The neighbors and local business probably will put a stop to that nonsense really quickly.
We have a four hour drive to Asbury Park and decide to just head home so that we will be back in time to spend the night out in Asbury. There aren’t too many interesting stops on the way so homeward bound we are. We run into a little traffic since it’s the night before Thanksgiving but all ends up going well. We get home, unpack the gear one last time and freshen up before venturing out into Asbury.
So yea, that’s about it for the write-up. Been a while getting this out, but I haven’t been in a rush lately. I wanted to just spend the time enjoying this trip and being in the moment instead of documenting it via the camera and the keyboard for you all. The pictures definitely could have been a lot better, but I wasn’t so focused on the photography on this trip. And I’m happy with the decision to experience the trip at the cost of getting this out late and not as beautifully as I might have wanted.
There should be enough footage from the trip to jam a video together. When I get it done I’ll release a little overview recap like I usually do. I still have to do one from the last trip I was on. But I’ve been waiting on microphones and learning video and audio software to make a couple original pieces to accompany the video. Probably will end up using both the songs from both videos for an album that I plan on making so I’m pumped to get to work on that. The plan for the time being is to pretty much lock myself in my house or the library or coffeehouses for the next bunch of time and just pour my soul into things that I really want to work on. The beers we brought back will be sitting in the fridge for some time (minus the hoppy ones).
They let me get back in my zone so that’s where I will be for some time.
I hope everything is going well with you and you are pouring your soul out into the universe as well.