June 19, 2008

Live Free or Die-=- my weekend in New England

Every year Harpoon Brewery hosts a "Brewery to Brewery" Bike Ride. Where those ambitious enough can do an organized ride from Harpoon in Boston, to Harpoon in Windsor, VT.

Lance has been doing it for about 7 years. They changed the route this year...And the poor lad had to ride 147 miles, with 6 of those being a constant incline.
I thought I could help out a bit by driving him up there and back. I would have an opportunity to explore a bit while he was doing the b to b ride.

We left Friday, thus missing the much anticipated Friday the Firkinteenth. This was definitely a bummer, but.... I had not spent anytime in Vermont in over 40 degree weather, so I was looking forward to it.

We stopped in Hartford on the way up and found a brew pub called "City Steam." The website describes it as a "spectacular" seven level building. Curious. I guess it gets more spectacular as your elevated. The building was an old department store. They even used some of the original railings as part of the rehab.
We just hung out by the bar, had a beer, chatted up the barkeep and ate dumplings.
I opted for a Porter, Lance got a French Farmhouse Ale. His was a bit too astringent for my liking. My porter wasn't bad. We got a few other samples as well. I think we agreed their IPA was the highlight. Amarillo Hops.

We stayed in Hudson at his pal Jamie's house over night. Jamie and Lance used to work at Harpoon together five years ago. He would leave first thing in the morning. I would poke around New England. I stopped by Lowell, Mass. Where Jack Kerouac hails from. I never got to the cool part of town. I drove through the main strip saw TJ MAX and Bed Bath and Beyond and decided it was time to get back on to 495. If I would have done a bit more research before stepping into the subaru, I would have found out that there is infact a memorial. And I could have swung by his old tavern. granted it was 9:30 in the morning..But I have a feeling his tavern was open even then.

I went up to Salem, NH where I visited with Mr and Mrs O'Reilly. Sly Fox brewmaster's parents. They were most kind. We sat on the deck, drank a cup of Joe, chatted Sly Fox (and Brian) and they sent me on my way with some Homemade Blackberry Jam.

I knew Lance wouldn't cross the finish line for about 10 hours. But I didn't want to be too far away (the oreillys lived just about two hours away from Windsor) SO I headed West on 89. I ran into a Liquor store right off the highway in NEw Hampshire. And I figured it was a sign I should by the biker some Bourbon. While I was there my eyes came across the greatest thing I have seen in quite some time (even greater than the site of the Liquor barn off the highway) a RoSHamBo 2005 Zin. Apparently there is a small batch winery in California that is called Roshambo. And for those of you who don't know I am a competitive rock paper scissors player. I finished 35 in Philadelphia in 2007. I called April Annie Smack Some Fanny, my RPS buddy and let her in on my great find. I bought not one, but two bottles....then off to Lebanon, NH to check out 7 Barrels Brew Pub.

There were a few regulars in there, sporting wifebeaters and talking homebrew. It was kinda cool. Everyone wanted to pitch in their two cents to me about what to drink at Harpoon. I didn't want to burst their bubble by letting them know I had sampled all the suds...so I just played along. I had the brown ale, followed by the Red Ale-=-=which might be their best seller. There was a bit o diacetyl in the Brown Ale, but I did enjoy the red. I got a cheese plate, that came out in a Do it yourself fashion with wrapped crackers and butter packets...

Just when I got settled in and felt part of the gang, it was time to head south to Windsor and greet a worn and torn Lance in Windsor.

He finished at a rate of about 14 mph. We drank and chatted until about Midnight and we set up 10. Lots of friendly folk.

The next day I went to explore a bit while Nature boy packed up our tent and car.

It the back of the Harpoon Brewery, there was a "path of life" Sculpture Garden-=-= "it tells the story of the great circle of life. Eighteen works of art symbolize our journey from birth to death and beyond." Admittance is five dollars. I guess people usually go in groups but I traveled out to the 10 acres by myself. It was a really lovely experience. It had rained the entire night prior, so the grass was a bit wet and the skies weren't too sunny. In years past, that is actually where everyone camps out, but since the storm hit, we camped under a tent in the front of Harpoon.
You start out at "Birth" and follow it along through life experiences. You even have the choice of taking the more "ambitious" route or the easy way. You develop confidence, seek out hope, spend time with your family, welcome your nieces and nephews, show gratitude for all life is bringing your way- then continue to walk towards the end, which in the garden is the new beginning, the rebirth. It was hard for me to do especially with Jay heavy on the mind. It was a week of dealing with some tough stuff. I think I went through my twenties rather invincible.
With the sudden loss of such a wonderful human being at way too young of an age, it really gets you thinking and feeling all sorts of stuff you are sometimes to caught up to do.

Here are some snapshots of the sculpture garden.

BirthHill of LearningHope


On the way home, we had stopped at this Breakfast spot, Stubb and Laura's for an outdoor Montecristo.
Here's the gang at the end of the weekend...

Three more and we could have had an outsiders shot....

coming up-=-
*Ithaca comes to Philly
*GasLight Tavern
*Sly Fox Sponsors Popped Music Fest
*Harrisburg Beer Fest
*South Philly Tap Room menu pics
*and more

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