Today was a big day for us here at America in 100 Days. Today was Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum Day. We woke up with a bounce in our step and huge smiles on our faces. We’re all huge classic rock fans so this was the one museum we planned on dedicating a whole day to.
We wanted to eat before getting to the Rock Hall so we wouldn’t have to think about it while we were there and Tom mentioned that he had heard of a place called Slyman’s. He said we had to swing by for their famous corned beef sandwich so we followed his lead.
When we arrived there was a line out the door so we hopped in and waited. Eventually we figured out it was just for take out so we squeezed past everyone and a thirty-something round waitress showed us to a table along the wall right near the counter. Joey and I ordered Reubens and Tom opted for one of the famous corned beef sandwiches.
We all finished these gargantuan sandwiches but do you see the size of that thing? We definitely did not have to worry about being hungry after stuffing ourselves with these babies. This was the first and last meal for any of us all day long. After that we loosened our belts and headed for the Rock Hall. We were all super excited.
Arriving at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is almost as thrilling as seeing all of the things inside. It is huge and oddly shaped with large windows and sky lights. Sirius Satellite Radio broadcasts from the top floor and the music emanates across the large circular brick patio outside. We pulled up with our faces pressed to the windows happily staring at the building and parked across the street. I popped quarters into the meter as fast as my hands could manage and we all but ran across the street (after looking both ways) toward the large glass doors leading to the lobby.
The building is bright and open inside. The first floor stretched out in front of us and our eyes darted between huge wildly painted guitars near the ticket counter and a section of The Wall with characters on top looking down at us from the floor above. I ran over to the gift shop for a post card and then we took the escalator down to the ground floor.
We descended the stairs and came face to face with a round glass case filled with guitars from various artists, most notably to us were a few from Jerry Garcia (shown here). Along the back wall were a motorcycle of Bon Jovi’s and another of Billy Joel’s. Large portraits of Aretha Franklin, Mick Jagger and several other artists pulled us towards a hallway leading into the main exhibit room, but before we went too far in we hopped in line for a short film called the Mystery Train.
Mystery Train was a compilation of pictures, video, music and narration showing and telling the history of rock and roll. The film took us from gospel in the cotton fields of southern plantations to blues and the early days of country. Rock-a-Billy broke the mold and lead the way for Elvis to shake up the scene then The Beatles turned the whole genre on its head.
Photo © Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
After the film we headed out all the more excited to see all the exhibits that filled the bottom floor and came first to a section in the room with large cases cut into the wall. These cases were filled with time capsule items like stage costumes, concert posters, records, band contracts and pictures that lead us through the progression of Rock. We wandered down the row looking into cases devoted to Motown and the Punk scene in London and the US. We walked by a case dedicated to the sixties and seventies and another for rap. There were videos above each case showing scenes from the era and artists performing. We each wandered slowly through this section and then spread out across the rest of the floor.
A whole section in the corner was devoted to The Rolling Stones with several of Mick Jagger’s stage outfits and the band’s travel case covered in witty bumper stickers. There was also a corner display with Jimi Hendrix’s stage outfits and a wall full of his boyhood doodles on the backs of grammar worksheets. In another corner there was a picture of Jim Morrison’s gravestone covered in graffiti and beer cans as well as pages of his notebook with song lyrics scribbled across them.
Photo © Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
I made my way slowly around the room and bumped into Joey. He told me to check out the middle of the room next where there was a raised platform filled with mannequins wearing famous stage clothing from George Clinton, David Bowie, Stevie Nicks and a ton of other artists. Joey was a fan of tie-dye footie pajamas and I couldn’t get over George Clinton’s long fur coat and giant top hat.
This bottom level is really the heart of the museum, everything you want to look at is down here. The three of us took our time wandering around really enjoying seeing everything there was to see, but there is so much cool stuff there listing it in my post wouldn’t do it justice. If you get the chance to come here don’t miss it. We had to pull ourselves away after two hours of wandering around so that we had time to see everything else.
Photo © Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
One after another we jumped on the escalator and headed to the first floor. The large section of The Wall we had seen from the lobby loomed over us and a large balloon school master with a hideous face leaned over it. On the other side a letter written by Roger Waters detailed the mental anguish he had gone through which lead him to write the rock opera and “Pink” sat in an arm chair watching TV. On our way to the next floor Tom spotted the statues from Division Bell (also Pink Floyd) standing off to the side, and was extremely impressed. He made sure I mentioned it.
The next few floors had display cases with Rolling Stone Magazines and another had a whole section devoted to Allen Freed who was instrumental in the early days of Rock and Roll. We kept going up until we got to the floor with the actual Hall of Fame and watched a little bit of a video showing the inductees music videos and the year they were inducted. Exiting the video room leads you down The Hall of Fame which is literally a hallway. One wall is a long black board with neon yellow signatures of the inductees and crucial members of their management.
Photo © Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
Up near the top of the building we saw the radio station where the Sirius Radio DJ was working her magic and on the very top level there is a small room. This room is the Rock Hall's main changing exhibit space. Up there now is a display devoted to Bruce Springsteen called "From Asbury Park to the Promised Land: The Life and Music of Bruce Springsteen." The room was filled with blown up pictures of his notebooks covered with song lyrics, several of his guitars, concert posters even a pair of his jeans.
After a long satisfying day here we had seen all that The Rock Hall had to offer so made our way to the exit. We walked off towards the car and the music flowing from the building called after us reminding us to plan a visit again someday.
Now, as it happens today wasn’t just Rock Hall day, it was also the expected arrival day of our Featured Guest Traveler and Tom’s special lady, Bern. We were on the way to meet her in Pittsburgh but she wasn’t due to arrive until later that night so we had some free time to do some exploring. We decided to head over to the Cleveland Botanical Garden to have a nice walk.
We pulled open the large glass doors and were met with smells of earth and flowers. We headed outside and wandered around all different types of gardens. The flowers were beautiful and cascading waterfalls splashed into little pools while the pathway lead us under wooden arches. There was a bride and her bridesmaids getting photographed in one so we tiptoed around them and headed onward.
The Great Lakes Brewing Company wasn’t too far away so we zipped over for a quick tour. It was by far the most interesting tour we have had so far. They showed us all different facets of brewing from the inside of the mash tuns to under some of the barrels and the pellets of hops they use. In Ohio there’s a law that says you can’t give away alcohol for free so we paid a quarter for each taste we had. The names of the beers all have some kind of tie back to the brewery or the town, like their Burning River Pale Ale, which is named for the Cuyahoga River which was so polluted it burst into flames on June 22, 1969. We had a great time here in Cleveland. It was a packed but very satisfying day. We hopped in the car and headed on down the road to meet up with Bern and get ready for a full day ahead of us in Pittsburgh.Until next time America.-Sarah
Ready for some easy listening? Sit back and delight in the musical stylings of Bob Lovelace on guitar, harmonica and vocals, playing "Ticket to Ride" by the Beatles and "City of New Orleans," made famous by Arlo Guthrie. This is from day 14
, on our way out of Maine. Enjoy!
A few days before our arrival in Buffalo, N.Y., Joey sat beside me in the front of the car, pondering our arrival in this upstate city. If Buffalo is famous for anything I our minds, it’s the creation of one of the world’s most prolific members of the bar food family – Buffalo wings. These savory morsels can be found anywhere from Pizza Hut to your local sub shop, and their hot, spicy satisfaction has flowed through my digestive tract on more than a few occasions, and we felt it necessary to express our gratitude to this town in memorable fashion.
Joey’s idea was immaculate – eat wings for breakfast, lunch and dinner in Buffalo. As soon as the words left his mouth I was on board, which at that point meant Sarah’s opinion didn’t matter. Sorry Sarah.
So we strode bravely into Buffalo to take on their finest. A slightly late start brought us into town a little later than we’d planned – around noon – but by definition, breakfast can never come too late in the day; it’s simply the first meal after you wake up. One’s overnight fast is being broken, hence the word breakfast. Your English lesson for the day – that’ll be $500.
Breakfast was enjoyed courtesy of Buffalo’s Best Pizza & Wings, where we ordered the first wings of the day and had to wait for the fryers to heat up. We each ordered ten wings of different styles – I got hot, Sarah got Sicilian and Joey got honey BBQ.
Every breakfast should be like this. The wings were very large, larger than I’m typically accustomed to finding around Philadelphia. Joey was quick to thank the steroid-treated, genetically-engineered chickens whose wings we were presently enjoying. I was also intrigued and impressed by the stark grill marks on the wings, which, complemented by the fry cooking, made for some mighty delicious wingies. And each of our orders of ten were actually eleven, which was a nice touch by the cook.
While our stomachs churned through our first meal, we moved our bodies into the car and down the road some 30 or 45 minutes to Niagara Falls, along the U.S.-Canada border. Don’t fret – we had no intention of crossing over for any reason. We didn’t spend several planning meetings coming up with a clever moniker like America in 100 Days, only to wander into Canada for even a smidgen of those 100 days. They’re not even a real country, anyway. Seriously though, pulling into town, we eased ourselves into a parallel parking spot to elude the pains of $10 lot parking and walked a short distance to the Maid of the Mist. This is an awesome boat company that offers some striking views of the falls from an observation deck way up top, and then takes those sensational views to a whole new level once you’ve descended to the dock and boarded the ship.
The complimentary ponchos came in handy, to say the least, as we scuttled to the front of the ship and leaned over the railing eagerly toward the falls. The boat flied up quickly, and as we left the dock our captain began muttering incoherently over the loudspeaker in multiple languages. More importantly, the ship began to move toward the falls and left me a chance for some extreme snapshots.
The falls are considerably more intense at the bottom, a lesson I learned while the boat drifted fearlessly into the raging waters ahead. Shielding my camera, hat and glasses from certain peril, I held on tightly to the railing as rushes of water and mist beat against our faces. The boat sailed directly into the sheer whiteout at full steam, its efforts constantly rejected by the powerful cascading waters. This was easily the most physically exhilarating activity we’ve engaged in thus far, well worth the admission price and then some.
My heavy trigger finger kept us in the area for about fifty more photos before heading back to the car – with plenty of time remaining on our meter – to return to Buffalo for lunch. This delicious meal would be enjoyed at none other than Duff’s Famous Wings on Sheridan Drive. Though it’s not the originator of the Buffalo wing, this place is fairly well-known in its own right, so we tucked in to evaluate.
I immediately got the sense that living within regular visiting of Duff’s would be a terrible idea for a weak-willed fellow like yours truly. I can eat just about anything without packing on extra weight, and believe me, I try. But there’ll be a time in my life when that’s not the case, when I’ll have to watch my cholesterol intake and stupid crap like that. And I guarantee that when that time comes, I’ll be just as much a fan of restaurants with a huge bar, dozens of TVs, a video game room and wings in about fifteen different flavors, as I am now.
For that reason, Duff’s would be the end of me. We ordered a combo off the menu, which came with twenty wings, a heaping basket of cheese fries and a pitcher of whatever we wanted from the tap (Sam Summer, please). The back of our waitress’s shirt read, “Medium is hot, medium hot is very hot, hot is very, very hot,” so we went with hot for half our wings and a specialty flavor for the rest called Chiavetta. The hot was very hot but not suicidal, drowned in a thick red sauce and served in a wooden bowl (shown here). The Chiavetta wings had some kind of delicious dry rub on them, catapulting them to the top of my rating card for the day.
After another pitcher and a few rounds at a hunting game in the arcade, we dragged ourselves out the door and back into the car. The weather was so soggy that any outdoor activities would be a terrible idea, so with our stomachs near their breaking point, the next stop was none other than the world-famous Anchor Bar, where Buffalo wings were born decades ago.
We got a table and nursed a pitcher of Labatt Blue (simply due to our proximity to the border) while the last round of wings crawled through our digestive systems. The room filled up quickly, and our waitress told us to wave her down whenever we wanted food. It took a while. But when we finally mustered up the courage, our eyes fell on the spicy BBQ wings and, at Joey’s insistence, the Suicidal wings. The former were phenomenal, and the latter were extremely hot, as advertised, thanks to a healthy layering of crushed red and black pepper.
Apparently we’d ended up with some great seats, which we discovered upon the arrival of the night’s musical act at the piano directly next to our table. A gentleman in a fantastic suit took the microphone to sing some old Sinatra and Martin tunes, which he did very well, before taking a quick break to walk around the room and ask everyone where they were from. The majority of responses were out of state, lending a sort of clarity to the touristy nature of this particular establishment.
Though our original plan was to spend the night, we wanted nothing more than to forget about Buffalo and the delicious, shameful gorging we’d just put ourselves through. Once in the car, we looked for a hotel around the halfway point in Erie, Pa., only to find it considerably more expensive than driving all the way to Cleveland. Priceline gave us an incredible room at the Hyatt Regency downtown for a mere $50. We got there late and nobody was up and about, so I snapped a bunch of photos in the main concourse in complete solitude.
It was a ridiculous day from start to finish. Something tells me Cleveland would be just as fun.
Joey, Tom and I did a little prep for our up and coming California wine tour while we were in New York State. Did you know that Keuka Lake as well as Seneca Lake are home to two beautiful wine trails in this great state? This stop was officially surprise number one for this traveler! I can already hear the sharp taken-aback gasps from some of you- I am young with little money to spend and less knowledge about wine so let me apologize for my ignorance and we’ll progress on with the story.
I woke up at Bill’s house to Joey coming in the bedroom door saying something about pancakes. The wafting smell of crispy bacon pushed past him and I was up and on my way downstairs before I knew it. Thanks Mrs. Bustin! All the food you made us was amazing!
The weather was on the chilly side and it was supposed to rain any minute so we decided to nix Joey’s idea of getting onto Lake Ontario by way of any boat that would take us. Instead we opted to make our way toward Rochester by driving to some of the wineries on the Keuka Wine Trail. The scenery on the way up to each of the wineries was breath taking. The wineries are not too far from each other and most were high up on a hill looking down on perfectly lined rows of wooden stakes and an amazing expanse of trees beyond that. Inside each winery there were large windows so that the scenery could be drunk up as eagerly as the wine and each had a friendly bartender who told us interesting facts about the different selections they were pouring us (for instance what we would smell, what subtle flavors we would taste and what stronger tastes would linger in certain parts of the tongue).
Stop one for our official day of tasting was at Pleasant Valley Wine Company. We pulled in because of the name and got out of the car to the sight of a beautifully manicured front walk. We headed in the large wooden doors and were met by an employee who told us to guide ourselves around the museum and then head to the free tasting bar. The museum occupied half of a dimly lit room and the tasting bar was on the other side with two or three bartenders at the ready. We made our way around the museum and looked into the glass cases which held various metals and bottles, then headed to the bar side of the room. We were given a choice of five from a long list which broke the types down by red or white and sweet or dry (as each of the wineries did). I tried their Sparkling Burgundy, The MILLENNIUM Brut Champagne, Chardonnay, Seneca Harbor Foundry White, and finished with the Rose Petal Riesling. The bartender provided me with a useful bit of information regarding the wine list. Since I know little about wine as it is, it was cool to begin my education during an impromptu winery tour. What I learned is that the R.S. percentage on the side of the bottle is there to indicate how much residual sugar is in the wine. The more sugar, the sweeter the wine. I really enjoy dry wines and now I know how to tell by looking at the bottle if I’ll enjoy it. I especially enjoyed the Chardonnay here and made a mental note as we headed off toward our second stop, the Bully Hill Vineyards.
Right away when we walked into the Bully Hill Vineyards we knew this place had a different style than the last. The room was bright and there was a happily chatty bartender at the long bar in the middle of the room. He handed me a brochure which he had unfolded all the way to show a colorful display of the wines you could taste. This winery poured you what they chose so we stood by and listened to his fast paced schpiel about what wine was first and what we should look for while tasting it.
We tried the Chardonel which is made from a grape that was developed by Cornell University- our second taste of a grape strain developed by Cornell and our second type of grape! I wrote down that it was very good- it left a refreshing clean dry feeling in your mouth after a sip. Second up was a Cabernet Franc which I had tried the day before as well. I know I like Cabernet Sauvignon but up until yesterday I had never heard of any other kind of Cabernet- now with this new introduction I’ll feel like a pro the next time I go to pick out a bottle of wine.
Third up on the list was the Farmer’s Market Rose which the bartender told us was a good base for barbeque sauce. How weird I thought to myself, but tried it and it was pretty good; it was a dry red. After this tasting we tried Traminette which was a sweet white I had never heard of before. Tom enjoyed this one and the bartender cracked a joke about this being their “yes!” wine meaning after your date drinks a glass of this white you’ll be saying “yes!” because it makes the magic happen. After this pour the bartender’s father joined him behind the bar and the two began a hilarious routine. Sometimes they spoke congruently and sometimes listening to them was like watching a ping pong match; they bounced back and forth one speaking then the next huge smiles on their faces the whole time. After the general sillyness got a little less silly we were given two more pours, the Banty Red and the Sweet Walter Rose- Tom enjoyed these sweet finales most and after saying our goodbyes to the bartender and the other wine tasters we headed on down the road.
Stop number three on our tasting tour was at Heron Hill. Now, some of you (mom) may be wondering “who was driving during all of this drinking?” Good question. We here at America in 100 Days take our safety seriously as well as the law. On top of each bar counter there were black buckets with interesting lids. The lid covered the top of the bucket, but there was a down slope to the middle and a drain in the center. Joey, our day’s designated driver, chose to spit the wine rather than swallow it (there’s a joke in here somewhere, but I’m a lady) and so we were safe responsible drivers thanks entirely to Mr. Salvucci Jr.
So at stop number three Joey followed his two happy tripmates up another beautifully manicured walk to the Heron Hill Winery. The view from the tasting room was incredible even though they were having work done on the ground right near the building. This winery seemed like it was at the very top of the hill looking down the gentle slopes at everyone else. It was quiet, we were the only visitors while we were here, but the bartender struck up a conversation with us about our trip and mentioned that he and his dad did similar vacations on motorcycles. We asked if he and the other bartenders went out together and he said they did meet up here and there but what’s most fun is when someone turns 21. They rent a limo and drive around to the different wineries with their friends. There’s a ringing endorsement for this area- that sounds pretty nice!
Here, at Heron Hill, we were given a list of what we would try but there were others on the list we could request as well if we wanted to try them instead. Since I was pretty sure I hate sweet wines and love dry wines my glass was five times full with dry wines. I tried the Eclipse White which the bartender told me would pair well with spicy foods. Next I tried the Classic Chardonnay Unoaked followed by the Game Bird Blush which was made up of a Cab Franc and a Riesling. Forth I tried the Eclipse Red then the Game Bird Red (notice a pattern?) and finished it all off with the Classic Cabernet Franc. After we were done here we skipped off down the hill and made our way to stop four- Dr. Konstantin Frank Wines. This place was kind of weird when compared to the others. As we walked up the road to the door I was busy taking pictures of flowers, expecting I could walk around the corner where the boys had just disappeared and walk into the winery. When I rounded the corner both boys were standing outside, Tom’s hands were on his hips. We were supposed to stand outside until we were called and Tom was pretty sure we had been waiting long enough to consider leaving for the next place. A quiet blonde man opened the door and led us to a bar where he poured us our five sips without much conversation or description and after that we headed on our merry way.Stop five for us was down a dirt path which led us to a dirt parking lot facing an old barn. This was the Stever Hill Winery. We got out sort of looking around for any indication of anyone who worked there and then tried the door. It was locked so we decided this winery wasn’t open today but as we turned to get back in the car a small boy came running out of the house across from the barn.
“My dad’s coming right out if y’all want to wait.” He peered at us from behind his large glasses and from under his camouflage hat which sat high on his forehead. We nodded and thanked him and he scampered off to tell his dad we were staying for taste of the family wine. A man came out of the house after the boy and opened the barn door for us after a quick nod of salutation.
He got behind the bar, gave us each a piece of paper and had us mark down which five wines we wanted to try. I picked the Chardonnay- No Oak, the Colonial White, the Cooper’s Pink, the Cabernet Franc and the Merlot. Tom enjoyed the Colonial White which was a sweeter white, and we decided to buy a bottle for our campsite later that night.
We resolved to swing by one more winery so we piled back in the car and Joey took us further down the road to stop six- Hunt Country Vineyards. The bar room here was the brightest of any we had been in yet, but that just may have been a result of the sun setting and beaming its final rays right inside the window frame. The bartender here was professional and friendly; we each marked a paper with our five choices and she didn’t let our glass stay empty long. I had a red called Meritage here which we had tried at Glenora Wine Cellars the day before and had liked so much there that we bought Joey’s dad a bottle for Father’s Day, so needless to say I enjoyed it again. I also enjoyed their Pinot Gris which I believe is my first glass of Pinot Gris and I loved their Chardonnay. All in all it was a delicious day for the three of us and we all remarked as we were leaving how much more educated we were on which wines we can appreciate. We’re ready for you now, Napa and Sonoma!
Until next time America.
Having grown somewhat weary of sleeping in tents beneath rain showers, we arose Tuesday in good spirits after an overnight stay at the Econo Lodge in Ithaca. This was the beginning of what will surely prove to be a long relationship with William Shatner and Priceline, whose assistance landed us a better-than-decent, two-bed room for about $45. Still more expensive than camping, but certainly more comfortable, given the rainy weather we’d been experiencing. Our (my, as the driver) first move was a mandatory trip to nearby Cornell University. The deadhead in me would not allow a visit to Ithaca to transpire without at least a snapshot at historic Barton Hall, site of one ever-so-famous Grateful Dead concert back on May 8, 1977. Give it a listen, the Scarlet Begonias will make your teeth chatter. Venturing further southwest brought us to Corning, where our appetites called out to us and led us to an unassuming little spot called DeClemente’s. There wasn’t much of a crowd, and Joey wanted to shoot for a $20 lunch between the three of us. It came out a little over, with splendid results. I got some sort of corned beef and pastrami masterpiece, as did Sarah, and Joey had a bowl of hearty tomato soup. As it happens, this region is responsible for the creation of Thousand Island dressing, which graced the bread on my sandwich and made me smile all throughout the meal. Smart people, these New Yorkers. All lunched up and ready to go, we bopped a few blocks over to what sounded like an extremely intriguing attraction, the Corning Museum of Glass. Joey came along, of course, but was noticeably indifferent, expecting some hole in the wall, family-owned museum the size of a dining room. That is, until I mentioned that this is the largest glass museum in the world.
Boy howdy. This was no hole in the wall. This museum was brilliant, spacious, and seemed to go on forever. A gift shop like none I’ve ever seen before gave way to an endless exhibit space, winding through rooms and around a tremendous hallway filled with contemporary works, as well as glass specimens from all over the world and hundreds, even thousands of years old - most of which were in remarkably good condition, given their age.
Let me say, some of the most wildly colorful, intricate and absorbing artwork I’ve ever seen lay between these walls. Click on the photos below to see some of what we saw – as you can tell, this was one terrifically photogenic museum.
After we’d explored the stationary exhibits, we wandered into a seating area, where a group of visitors had collected to watch a live glass blowing demonstration.
One guy did most of the work, carefully heating and shaping the molten glass while another fellow talked the audience through the process. A few well-placed cameras gave us views from within the oven and overhead, and when the duo had completed their impressive glass receptacle, they (cautiously) smashed it to be reused in the next demonstration. Pretty cool stuff.
After we explored the rest of the building exhaustively, we walked out the door and weren’t quite sure what to do. That was a tough act to follow. But after a short spell of brainstorming, we decided that the best use of our time would be in wine country. In a post-“Sideways” society, Napa and Sonoma Valleys have moved to the forefront of commonly recognizable wine-producing regions of America. But as I’ve recently learned, dozens of wineries await eagerly along the banks of the Finger Lakes. Today we found ourselves near beautiful Seneca Lake (shown here), so we looked up the closest to our present location and made tracks. Our timing offered us a minimal amount of time to devote to the upstate New York wineries on this particular day, arriving at the Castel Grisch winery at about 4:15. We went in and enjoyed wine flights for $1 a pop, tying ourselves up until almost 5:00, which is closing time for most wineries around here. But our server informed us of a few places up the lake that stay open slightly later, so it was onward and northward for us. We bopped up to Glenora Wine Cellars, wherein the staff informed us that their tastings would go on for several more hours that night. I must admit, I’ve never been too much of a wine guy, due in part to a nasty case of acid reflux disease. Wine (especially dry) leaves me with some godawful heartburn almost without fail. So I concentrated on samples of sweeter wines, which I was quickly able to identify based on each wine’s percentage of residual sugars (%RS). Just as beers are measured in IBUs (International Bitterness Units), dry wines like Cab Sav or Chardonnay usually register in the %0-%2RS, and sweeter wines like Riesling or Gewurztraminer end up higher. Try to say it three times fast – Gewurztraminer.
As we left, Joey got off his cell phone with the news that our good friend Bill (Dolla Bill, to his friends) was expecting our arrival at his house, and that his family would be serving us steak, baby back ribs and chicken – if that was okay (!). Of course it was more than okay, so we drove south to Sayre, Pa., just minutes past the N.Y. border.
Here’s Bill. Bill was our fellow collegian at Susquehanna, two years behind us but light years ahead of most anybody I know. Just that day, Bill had nailed a job interview and secured himself some gainful employment, having just graduated a few weeks before. And even better, he’s getting featured on America in 100 Days. What a lucky guy.
... Aaand here's a shot of one of the most satisfying meals I've ever eaten in my life. Bill's parents cooked up a storm and ate with us on the deck, watching as I gradually slipped into a state of food-induced lethargy.
We digested as we sat around an artfully crafted fire in Bill's backyard, enjoying the night and talking about college. Bill's lovely lady friend, Emily, joined us for a spell before we called it a night, sleeping snugly on fold-out couches.
Thanks to Bill and his family, and frankly, to everyone else along the way who contributed to our enjoying such a fantastic day. How much more of this can we handle?
We woke up in Adirondack Park and Tom and I decided to shower while Sarah prepared breakfast. There was a short wait for the four showers at the camp’s small shower area, and the water was cold. I have taken cold showers before: Sarah and I had taken an ice cold shower one morning in Bensalem when our hot water heater crapped out on us for a night. This wasn’t as cold (probably halfway between room temperature and ice cold), but it certainly wasn’t pleasant after two nights of camping, mosquito bites, and none of the niceties that we are used to. I showered. Tom said he washed his hair first and then gave himself a “sponge bath.”
Sarah’s hot eggs were an amazing contrast to the shower. Put in a tin bread baking pan with diced ham and last night’s onions and peppers and set by the fire, these culinary masterpieces were on par with the finest French cuisine (just like our meal the night before.) Cheese sticks were wrapped in foil and placed next to the eggs in the fire. Also excellent, and only one was burnt.
We packed up our trio of tents (including the big netted one that eventually saved us from the mosquitoes) and set off for a day with nothing in particular planned, left open for whatever we might encounter. After two days in the wilderness, it was decided that blogging in an internet café or some other establishment would be the answer. Tom found an internet Irish pub called Kitty Hoynes, Sarah and I quickly agreed and we were off.
Sarah ordered French onion soup but was brought cheddar bacon, proving once and for all that everything in life happens for a reason. Tom got a traditional Irish Sausage, Bangers, with beans in tomato sauce, and mashed potatoes. We all shared both things and about an hour of eating and blogging (and a round of their twenty (20) ounce “pints,” of course) later decided that I would order a Reuben - also excellent.
The cheers from the next room, where a soccer game was going on, livened up the atmosphere. We had a whole room to ourselves most of the time we were there, and shared it with a crying baby for the rest of the time; this didn’t seem to bother Sarah and I, but Tom was particularly annoyed. Being a former server, crying babies really seem to set him off for some reason.
After two nights worth of rain and mosquito bites (I have about 30) it was no problem convincing Tom and Sarah that it was time to try Priceline, which worked out very well except for the eleven dollar service charge they tack on to the end (include it as part of the bid, you sneaks.) We asked for a two-star hotel for thirty five bucks (forty six with service charge) in Ithaca and were pleased that it found and booked one immediately. We finished up and hit the road; Tom was our designated driver. Once in the hotel, we continued to blog the evening away.
I awoke early in Burlington, packing up my soggy camping gear and shoving it back into our still overstuffed vehicle. I got myself ready to leave before my two companions had, so I scurried down to the beach for a few shots of beautiful Lake Champlain.
We left our campsite and made the short drive back into town, parking and walking down to the water, to the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center
. This center has been a public attraction since 2003, boasting dozens of aquatic and amphibious creatures in a colorful, modern setting. It's also the first LEED
certified Green Building in the state, setting a Burlington standard for environmental awareness.
We had a lot of fun running around this place, which was thankfully light on the underfoot children traffic on this particular day. The exhibits were geared in large part toward a younger audience, but only to the point that a younger audience would be able to understand them - still perfectly accessible for an older crowd like we three.
The busiest area was around the museum's temporary exhibit, "WIND: Power and Play," which centered around wind power and its uses in today's society as a source of clean energy. I took some photographic strides, using the handy-dandy "aquarium" setting on my camera and leaving with some pretty impressive shots of fish, turtles, and these little frog guys who were nice enough to pose for us.
Practically next door to the aquarium awaited our lunch at the Skinny Pancake
, a creperie with a busy outdoor seating section and a wildly eclectic assortment of crepe creations. There was a short wait for our food, which threw me off my game a little - to the point that I completely forgot to take any photos of our food before we had wolfed down every single bite. Trust me, they looked great and tasted even better.
Next on the ol' agender was a visit to one of the east coast's foremost craft breweries, the Magic Hat Brewing Company
. As a young drinker in Philadelphia, I was always extremely gratified whenever a bottle of delicious Magic Hat made its way into my hands. So as I'm sure you can imagine, this stop was a must-do, probably one of the biggest reasons I wanted to come to Burlington in the first place.
The grungy, rusty exterior was merely a front, as the interior was pretty sharp for a factory. The main entrance brought us directly into the shop, and on the far end of the room was the bar (shown here). Two bartenders handed out free samples of any kind of beer we wanted, from their Circus Boy Hefeweisen to their sensational HI.P.A., in tiny, shot glass sized receptacles. We tried a few beers (all of which I had tasted and enjoyed before), and wandered through the brewery on a self-guided tour.
The brewery did offer a guided tour, about a half hour after we arrived - but quite frankly we didn't feel the need to have the brewing process explained to us for the third time in about as many days. So once we'd gotten a good look inside, snapped some photos and loaded up on three growlers of beer (64 oz. each), fresh from the tap, we turned tail and hit the highway.
As we drove south toward the Adirondack Park Preserve, the clouds loomed over us in a rather haunting fashion. The rain wasn't quite with us yet, but we were fairly certain that we'd encounter something unpleasant as the night progressed.
We'd flipped through my handy dandy Frommer's campground guide
and discovered a gushing review for a spot by Lake George, called Lake George Escape Camping Resort
. Apparently, given the time of year we came to town, there were a minimal amount of vacationers present, and the campground still had all of its decorations from Mardi Gras up. As always, Joey was happy to oblige.
The second we exited the vehicle, we were absolutely swarmed by the most aggressive bunch of mosquitoes that I've ever encountered. It wasn't five minutes before we were slapping ourselves in the face and screaming bloody murder - necessitating the maiden voyage of the Coleman GeoSport Tent
. This lovely device shielded us very well from the thousands of bloodthirty savages in the air around us, especially after we picked up some bug spray to further deter the little buggers.
Once we got settled, we realized how incredibly well we had set ourselves up. Before the rain hit we were able to build a fire, let it turn to embers and cooked an unbelievable meal of sausage, pierogies, rice, veggies and mouthwatering beer from the tap at the Magic Hat factory. By the end, Sarah's place in the culinary history books had been further solidified, and we were as satisfied as three campers could ever be.
Soon enough, the rain came down for the second night in a row, but who cares? If anything, it helped to drown out Joey's insufferable snoring somewhat.
This is the life. More on how much better I'm living than you are, coming very soon.
Clearly, all this activity (and our colossal campfire meal) put Sarah to bed. But Joey is an unapologetic opportunist. When he heard the words “Jazz Festival” escape the lips of the fellow earlier that day in the gas station, his ears pricked up, his eyes brightened and he made no effort to hide his ever-broadening smile.
So with Sarah snugly and soundly nestled into her sleeping bag, and with twinkle-toes Joey determined to get back into town for a reggae show he’d caught a whisper of, I was left with the question of whether to stay down for the count, or drum up that extra little bit of energy needed to get back on my feet.
What I’m coming to learn about Joey is that, while his stubbornness and blind ambition have no doubt launched the beginning of my first ulcer, there are times when Joey’s right. As much as it pains me to admit it, it’s true. And one of my greatest challenges at this point in my life, is making the determination of when to listen to him and when not to. Tonight I really didn’t want to go anywhere, or do anything – it was raining, we were full, and I was plum tuckered. But I knew he was probably right this time.
Without Sarah, we saddled up and drove the mere mile or so into town and parked on College Street. The streets were pretty busy with foot traffic, which may or may not have been a regular occurrence for summers in Burlington. But most people were coming from the bottom of the hill, so we wandered downhill until we heard music off in the distance.
A walk through a waterside park led us to a massive tent, pulsating with light and sound and protected by two security guards with a gate. Joey and I began to walk into the venue, and one of the guards stopped us, said hello, and asked if we wanted to see the show. We nodded, he paused for only a second, and beckoned us in. Apparently there had been a $22 cover earlier in the night, which he seemed to be waiving for Joey and me.
I’m not a huge reggae fan. Of course everybody loves Bob Marley and the wondrous music he gave to the world. But I’ve heard a considerable amount of abrasive, cacophonic sounds calling themselves reggae that I just didn’t do it for me.
But one should never underestimate the power of the live music experience. This place was wall to wall with people dancing. The lights blasted greens and yellows into the crowd, with blues and reds shining over a stage filled with performers. The band on stage was Culture, a reggae act dating back as far as 1976 who really knew how to put on a show.
This energy in this place was unreal. Any memory of fatigue left my body with a flush of heat in its stead. The beat shook the ground beneath our feet and the crowd varied between swaying and leaping out of their skin, depending on who you were standing near. This band was electric and the audience ate it up, even in what were clearly the waning moments of the show.
Sadly, it wasn’t 15 minutes from our arrival before the band said their thanks, and the horde of dancing bohemians surrounding us began to simmer back down to earth and disperse. I thanked the guard on the way out for not charging us, since it would have been the shortest $22 concert of my entire life. But as 15-minute reggae concerts go, I don’t think I’ll ever match this one.
As much fun as this quick jaunt was, this does not lend Joey any more credibility than before. I’m simply patting myself on the back for knowing when to go along with one of his hare-brained schemes. And unless the ulcer kills me, I’m sure it’ll happen again fairly soon.
Point A- Athens, Maine to Point B- Burlington, Vermont on lovely Route 2; we took so many pictures of the scenery we were driving by, someone after awhile said there was nothing better than this and we all soundly agreed.
We started the day by heading to the Farmers Market where my uncle played guitar and sang, and Jason and Lindsey, Brighton’s Farm Interns, sold organic lettuce, spinach and granola.
After a few hours we finally tore ourselves away and on my aunt’s suggestion drove down to Burlington, Vermont on scenic route 2. What a drive! All the car windows were down and three cameras were sticking out snapping away as we passed by full headed green leaved trees and fields that went on and on reaching up towards clouds that formed any shape you could set in your mind.
After a couple hours we set Mrs. Wellington (my GPS) to the Ben and Jerry’s Factory and pointed our nose toward the chocolate cream scent on the horizon. When we arrived we were shuttled into an eager group of tourists and were shown the giant silver vats of cream, sugar and milk and learned how the magic happens.
At the end of the tour we were given a sample of Whirled Peace and went out to see the ice cream grave yard. We saw cunningly rhymed tombstones explaining what caused some of these iconic flavors to die.
After Ben and Jerry’s we headed to the Burlington Earth Clock which was kind of a cross between Stonehenge and a huge sun dial. We parked by a tiny strip of beach and walked down to the water. I took my sandals off and enjoyed my first toe dip of the summer. We walked up a grassy incline to the large stone slabs set in a perfect circle and took beautiful pictures of the ocean and sail boats passing by between the stones. There was something strange in the air here though, we all noticed it right away… small floating puffs of dandelion seeds or some sort of thing which closely resembles dandelion seeds lazily drifted by on unseen currents of air and hung almost motionless like snow suspended in a photograph.
We wandered around the clock and eventually made our way towards a local campsite to set our tents up before the night stole the light from the sky and we were left up the creek as it were. On the way into town we stopped at a small convenience store/ deli and the clerk ringing up our order struck up a conversation. Wouldn’t you know it, we happened to roll into town on the second to last day of a Jazz Festival! We’ve had some pretty great luck on this trip so far and this was just another item on the list. We quickly made our way in the direction our helpful clerk pointed and soon heard the soft sounds of jazz down the street.
There was one group of four men under a tent on the outside porch of a nice looking restaurant and a few steps down the brick walk from them were a man and woman, the man played the sax and the woman sat beside him and sang. A small girl twirled herself and watched her skirt flutter in the breeze she made. Finally at the end of the road there was a street performer balancing on his tight rope in his socks and then on a unicycle followed by a handstand high up in the air on a metal beam. Joey took a good long video you can all look forward to and we all headed back to our campsite. I left the boys to the tent preparations and got to cooking up the buffalo meat and making a salad as soon as we arrived (thanks guys!).
In the end it rained, but the weather graciously held out until after dinner and began at a decent hour when we were all snug in our sleeping bags sprawled out on the ground and happy to listen to the gentle pitter patter of rain drops on the nylon roofs above our heads…all snug that is until Joey talked Tom into going to the reggae festival… but that’s another story.
This is the life. Until next time America.
(written and posted from Buffalo, N.Y. en route to Cleveland, Ohio)
Here are three videos from New England. The first is our experience whale-watching in P-town:
Next is a video taken right after whale watching, also in P-town. Here is our sand dune tour:
Last is a sped up video from Boston to Maine. It shows the urban to rural transition well. If you don't feel like watching the whole thing, feel free to mess around with the video status bar and watch snippets to get the idea. The most surprising thing for me was how much more the highway rolled with the hills in the northern states.
Don't forget, I love feedback. I know what I like, but I have no idea what you like, so leave lots of comments. More videos coming soon!