Erin and I discussed a trip at the beginning of 2016 that involved a cross country road trip east that involved another visit to the lovely breweries in Burlington, VT and Portland, ME. In order to pull such an adventure off, we needed support from friends and family. They all pitched in appropriately and made it work.
Here was how it went.
We left Topeka, KS on Friday, June 10th and arrived in Bloomington, IN in the early evening.
Our mouths were salivating the entire trip for Big Red Wings at Yogi’s. We had been coveting these prize wings since the last time we had been there. To our dismay, they were no where near the quality that they used to be. However, the tap list did appease us, as I was able to have a Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout from the tap (for non-beer people, this is an extremely rare, albeit expensive, opportunity).
The 2016 NBA Finals were always in the background of our trip. On this evening, we were watching the fourth game of the finals, with the Warriors up 2 games to 1 on the Cavs. There was a break in action, so we went over to a new place in Bloomington that we have not been: The Tap. Alas, the Warriors won the fourth game taking a 3-1 lead on the series. We had lost all hope for poor LeBron at this point.
Day 2 in B-Town
We walked from our AirBnB on W. 4th St. to Runcible Spoon for breakfast. I enjoyed a Zombie Dust beer back with my bloody mary, since I saw no other opportunity in sight to enjoy such a beer. The fact that it was before 10 am did not bother me.
After getting some stamps at the Post Office, we walked to Hopscotch Coffee where we enjoyed some down time reading, writing, and relaxing. Hopscotch sits right along the B-Line trail in Bloomington, which is a walking, biking trail that goes through the entire town.
I went to graduate school with Chris Michelstetter, and had not seen him for a long time. He lives in Indianapolis and made the drive down to Bloomington to catch up. Erin and I walked over to Function Brewing to meet him, which is where we had lunch. It had a mathematical/engineering theme. My favorite beer name: Acute Blonde Ale. Erin and I picked up a Bloomington Ale Trail passport, and got our first stamp and a perfect to-do-list for the day.
All of us then walked down to Quaff On! This was the Bloomington branch of Big Woods Brewery out of Nashville, IN. They had Big Lebowski references everywhere, which met my approval. That was where we said goodbye to Chris, and made our journey through the IU campus, north to Bloomington Brewing Company.
The third stamp was made on our Ale Trail passport after ordering a pint, and then we walked west to Upland Brewing Company for our fourth and final stamp. By working our way through the passport, we were awarded an Ale Trail pint glass. Upland now has a place next door called The Wood Shop
(click the link for a cool picture). We also went there to try some of their sour and wood aged beers. Yummy!
It is hard to come to Bloomington and not visit Mother Bear’s Pizza. We hopped on the B-Line again, walked through downtown, and through Dunn’s Woods on the IU Campus. Mother Bears also had Zombie Dust, so we ordered that with our amazing pizza.
After all that walking, we were almost ready to call it a night. But not yet. We walked back through IU’s campus, killed some time downtown, and decided we probably should see if the Mo’ Fo’ wings at Scotty’s were still any good. So, we had a pint and some wings at Scotty’s. They, too, were not what they used to be. Having completely conquered Bloomington in our own little way, we walked back to our AirBnB and called it a night. Mapping our route using mapmyfitness.com, our total distance came to around 10 miles.
On Sunday, June 12th, we left Bloomington for New York, with a stop for a picnic in Goodale Park in Columbus, OH. As a way to save on the trip, we packed breakfast and lunch material.
We arrived close to Niagara Falls at a Springs-giving party where everyone got together and ate Thanksgiving food. Erin and I got some turkey, green bean casserole, stuffing, and some cranberry sauce to fill ourselves up.
We stayed the evening at Milleville Farms where Brian (my graduate school roommate), Kelly, and kids are staying with H & Mo (Brian’s folks) until they get their house built. They were nice enough to let us crash on an air mattress in the middle of their living room.
Traveling to Burlington, we stopped off at Seneca Falls to picnic and have wine (for a change) at Montezuma Winery. Before advancing, we detoured to the historical landmark of Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s house. She was a suffragette and a major player in that movement.
It was a long day of driving through upstate New York, but we finally crossed into Vermont via the Lake Champlain Bridge. You can see the Samuel de Champlain monument to the left of the bridge.
|Samuel de Champlain monument & the Lake Champlain Bridge
We dined at American Flatbread Burlington Hearth that evening after settling into our AirBnB. The Hearth is a favorite of ours in Burlington, with amazing pizza and delicious beer brewed by Zero Gravity.
We searched around at a few places to enjoy some Heady Topper, but all the restaurants were out (it was, in fact, a Monday). The Farmhouse was our last destination of the evening, where we were able to enjoy Lawson’s Finest Liquids Sips of Sunshine, Hill Farmstead’s Double Citra and Legitimacy from the tap.
That evening, we did some research and made a few calls to places to find out what we needed to do to get some Heady Topper to take home. It involved waiting in line for over an hour at one place, and just under an hour at another place. We took in quite a score with 3.5 cases (a little overkill in hindsight), and have much to enjoy and share with friends in the ensuing months.
|Pleepleus caught us stealing from his stash! (At the AirBnB)
After securing the stash of Heady Topper, we ate lunch at The Pine Street Deli
. To burn off the calories, we drove to Airport Park and hiked the Island Line Trail out to the marble causeway that leads to South Hero. The causeway part of the Island Line Trail is 5 km, so we didn’t walk the entire thing. Our walk ended up being 4.5 miles.
Our tour of Burlington after the walk included Queen City Brewery, Foam Brewers, Manhattan Pizza & Pub, and then dinner at The Farmhouse. Erin and I were very impressed with Foam Brewers, and think they will take off pretty easily.
|Foam Brewers. Can you find Pleepleus?
On our final day in Vermont, we made our own breakfast at the AirBnB, packed our lunches, and took a drive to Hill Farmstead Brewery near Greensboro. It is on a gravel road, and we took one wrong turn on our journey there. Hill Farmstead has been on our radar for a while now, as it is an elusive brewery that has 18 of their beers (as of 6/26/2016) in the Top 250 beer list on Beer Advocate
, but has very limited distribution. For the last several years, it has become a Beer Mecca for us. Erin finally organized this trip so we could make it happen.
|Enjoying the day at Hill Farmstead
In going back to Burlington, we had to make a quick stop in Waterbury at the Prohibition Pig for a few samples of their beer. That evening, we dined at a BYOB Vietnamese Restaurant called Pho Hong. Oddly, we didn’t bring our own beer. I ordered some Panang Curry hot enough to make me sweat. We called it an early night, and hung out at the AirBnB for our last night in Burlington. After all, we were exhausted.
The next morning, we had breakfast at Handy’s Lunch and scored a few cans of Lawson’s Liquids Sips of Sunshine up the road in Williston before driving to Rangeley, ME.
We arrived early to Aunt Nancy’s place (Camp Chinle) on Sandy River Ponds outside Rangeley. It was a beautiful day, so I snapped a few pictures. Apparently, we brought some good weather with us as it had been pretty awful up until that point.
|Sandy River Ponds
The first night, we stayed in and caught up with Aunt Nancy. She cooked us delicious pasta with caramelized veggies for dinner, and we stayed up late drinking wine while listening to loons.
Once we loaded up on breakfast the next day, we hit the Appalachian Trail for some mid-morning hiking. The entire hike out seemed like it was going uphill. But the reward was this beautiful view, and a return hike that was completely downhill (and faster).
We went into town for lunch at Parkside & Main with Aunt Nancy, and sat out on the deck to enjoy the day. Erin found a winter coat on sale next door that she couldn’t pass up, and I got my usual postcards to send to people.
Back at Camp Chinle, we put on our life jackets and got the kayaks ready for Erin’s first experience kayaking. She was very hesitant at first, but once on the lake, had a great time. We kayaked the entire perimeter of Sandy River Ponds and then some.
|Erin dominating the kayaking game
That evening, we started cracking ourselves up. We noticed that the only beer that we had to drink (because we were saving others for specific experiences later) was Heady Topper. So, we embraced the ridiculousness. “Damn… all we have to drink is Heady Topper…” This lead to the creation of the following meme.
We lit a fire in the chiminea, drank wine (yes, we eventually veered away from Heady Topper), and stayed up talking until midnight. The next morning, we took off for Portland. Many thanks to Nancy for being such a great host!
Several months ago, I contacted friends Kelly (graduate school roommate before Brian) & Eric, who reside in Portland. They had already booked a vacation during the time we would be there, but very kindly let us crash at their place. We don’t say no to these kind of offers, as we travel on a budget. Eric, who is also a beer connoisseur, gave us several suggestions on breweries to check out. He and Kelly also composed suggestions for dinner and breakfast.
We took all of their suggestions and made them into an itinerary.
First stop was in Freeport, which is just north of Portland, at Maine Beer Company. If we could have fast forwarded time by one week, we would have been there during their Dinner release (Dinner, as well as Lunch, are names of their best beers). We just had to settle for Lunch. In tasting all they had on tap, Erin and I agreed that we both enjoyed Another One a little better than Lunch.
We settled into Eric & Kelly’s place before having lunch at Pai Men Miyake, a Japanese ramen-noodle specialist, which was on top of the list of suggestions. By getting there for a late lunch, we could scratch off two of their dinner suggestions. We had yet to make up our mind for dinner.
We then went to Bunker Brewing, Foundation Brewing, and Austin Street Brewing Company for some samples. Epiphany from Foundation was pretty tasty. At this point it was time to begin Ubering or walking, so we dropped off the car at the house and began walking.
About 1 mile into our walk, we found ourselves at Bissell Brothers, which has some fantastic, award winning beers. Nothing Gold was our favorite here. Pleepleus, our traveling monkey, was our poster child for our brewery adventures in Portland.
I wasn’t that hungry yet, so we decided to walk to dinner instead of Uber. We walked 2.6 miles to Eventide Oyster Company, and enjoyed a variety of oysters, a lobster roll, and some curried lobster stew among a few other things. It was fantastic. We also enjoyed their Dirty, Dirty Martini.
After debating getting a cab or uber, we got impatient and started walking back. Taking the safer, more lit route, we walked 2.8 miles home for a total of 6.4 miles of walking around Portland that evening. We had a small fire in their firepit before heading to bed.
The Long Road Home
I remember waking in Portland that Sunday morning and thinking how it was nice to be heading home. Then it dawned on me that it would be Tuesday evening before we arrived back in Topeka. This is how Erin and I roll. Our destination for that Sunday was Milleville Farms again, with part of the Milleville clan in Sanborn, NY.
We stopped outside of Syracuse in Liverpool, NY at Sharkey’s Bar & Grill, where we met up with Jason Luscier, a friend and colleague we used to work with at Truman. It was great to catch up with him and hear how much he loves Syracuse. We hooked him up with one of our Heady Toppers.
|At Sharkey’s Bar & Grill in Liverpool with Jason Luscier
Game 7 of the NBA Finals had just started when we arrived at H & Mo’s. It was wonderful to experience the game and the beer with all these great people. Although someone in the room was down $100 at the end of the evening, everyone was happy with the outcome. LeBron and the Cavs came back from a 3-1 deficit against the Warriors, a team that had just achieved the best record in the NBA, to become the 2016 NBA champs.
On Monday, we headed to Jake (high school classmate of ’95) & Kathy’s place in Indianapolis. Erin had yet to meet Kathy, and both of us had yet to meet their sons Justin, and twins Robert and Nicholas. They were kind enough to take us in, feed us turkey burgers, and let us catch up with them and crash on a school night. We had a great visit with them while we watched the Cardinals beat the Cubs (they are Cubs fans, those poor souls).
The Bridge Tap House & Wine Bar in St. Louis broke up our drive on Tuesday. When we left St. Louis, it felt like Topeka was just a hop, skip, and a jump away compared with the driving we had been doing for 12 days. We arrived before 6 pm to a few cats that were very happy to see us. After 3691 miles of driving we were finally home.
Malcolm, our 2006 Suburu Outback, took us on this entire journey across the country. He was like Little Willy’s dog in the TV movie Stone Fox. Right before he got us all the way home, he burned out all his oil, overheated, and essentially died. We carried him across the finish line with tears in our eyes, for he gave us one helluva wonderful experience.