April 17th- May 28th
Pottsville, PA is home to the famous Yuengling Brewery! This family owned brewery has been around for 190 years! The free tour is amazing and takes you down into the literal caves of the facility. Definitely worth the stop and free beer was an added bonus. From Pottsville we zigzagged our way back to New York to hike around Taughannock Falls State Park. Dreary weather (the perpetual theme of the northeast) but beautiful views. Up the next morning to head to Niagara Falls! It was FREEZING, but we drove over to the Canadian side for better views. Driving a creepy white van across the border is always interesting, driving a creepy white van across the boarder after Canada just legalized weed and the date is 4/20 is a recipe for getting searched. In our defense we never know what day it is, because we don’t really need to. So our 15 minute Canadian detour turned into a 2+ hour wait at customs. After our unexpected pitstop, we went to Buffalo, NY to Gabriel’s Gate restaurant to have some authentic buffalo wings! Holy chicken, those were amazing!
For Earth Day we used the HipCamp app to book a stay at an alpaca farm in Warren, Pennsylvania. Absolutely hilarious hanging out with two alpacas, one llama, a head butting goat, chickens, and a cat named Fudge Face who decided to sleep in our cabin all night. With a dozen farm fresh eggs in hand, we made our way from Pennsylvania and across Connecticut. A pizza stop at the famed Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana in New Haven, CT for pepperoni for Jason and white clam for me (their speciality). Two Roads Brewing Co in Stratford, CT is a stellar brewery with great beers, definitely worth the stop! From Connecticut we had a long drive out to Cape Cod, rainy and breezy but we made the most of the short time we had there. I could spend forever driving around in pursuit of ocean-weathered cedar shake homes! A spot Jason really wanted to see was Walden Pond, located in Concord, MA. Another rainy day, but to stand where Henry David Thoreau was inspired was pretty damn amazing.
“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.” -Henry David Thoreau
Looking on the map around Walden Pond we found Harold Parker State Forest. This is the name of Jason’s late grandpa, it was fun to driving through the forest and we stopped for a picnic. Unfortunately there was no camping, but we made the most of the day we had there. Another night, another brewery (or 2) stop. Tree House Brewing Co. came highly recommended as a must stop in Massachusettes. I will say the beer was excellent, but when I walk in and have to purchase a ticket for each beer I want to consume followed by waiting in a line and being herded like cattle to the bar, it doesn’t scream fun atmosphere to me. Redemption Rock Brewing Co was on the way back to our campsite (aka a Cabela’s parking lot) and that place was much more of our vibe. Cabela’s to White Mountain National Forest in Lincoln, New Hampshire. Spent the day at the Lincoln Public Library with a very friendly librarian who told us to check out Taco Tuesday at a local bar in town. Twist my arm! Well, Taco Tuesday turned out to be a “make your own” taco bar with ingredients that had been sitting out for God knows how long. Beer and pizza instead! The next day we headed to Greensboro, VT to check out Hill Farmstead Brewery. Exquisite country side brewery with world renowned farmhouse ales. We had a few then took a six pack to go, meanwhile the guy in front of us purchased enough beer to fill his entire trunk!
The drink and food tour continued the next day as we filled our bodies with delicious cheese from Cabot Creamery, toured the Ben & Jerrys ice cream facility with a bunch of ungrateful first graders, and ended the night at Prohibition Pig for stellar beer and food. On our way to Burlington,VT we stopped at The Alchemist Brewery! Every person we asked on the East Coast said we needed to go to this brewery. We sampled the famous Heady Topper beer, which was delicious. Side note, if you go to their brewery in Stowe,VT you can’t get a pint of beer. You can get a few samples of beer and purchase cans to take with you. Heady Topper is distributed around Vermont and it is definitely worth a try!
I fell in love with the town of Burlington, VT and have already looked at ticket prices to make a return trip from Des Moines! This college town is nestled right next to Lake Champlain making for beautiful lake views.
Their Church Street Marketplace was done by the same architect who created the Iowa City Ped Mall. Burlington and the surrounding town Winooski are a craft beer lovers dream! We are now the proud owners of the bumper sticker “Drink Winooski Beer!”
We checked out Four Quarters Brewery, Zero Gravity Craft Brewery, Citizen Cider, The Archives, and Foam Brewers. On our way out of town the next morning, we stopped at Penny Cluse cafe for a delightful breakfast! We drove north through the Champlain Islands and made our way to The Wild Center. Located in Tupper Lake, NY this place is filled with interactive animal exhibits as well as a suspended bridge above the trees, perfect place to spend an afternoon!
The Adirondacks are beautiful and tough to hike. Our attempt to hike Mt. Colden (12.8 miles and 3,000ft elevation gain) ended a little short due to SNOW but we had an entire alpine lake view to ourselves! Van issues with MichelVangelo’s rear gas tank meant we got to enjoy the Adirondacks for a little bit longer.
Beer in hand, we took a short hike to Copperas Pond. Surrounded by mountian views, we were given another beautiful sunset all to ourselves. It was eerily quiet except for the flapping of birds’ wings over the pond.
Back to Lincoln, NH to do our first overnight backpack hike to Greenleaf Hut! Started with a smile that quickly turned to frustration and tears. Below freezing temps, feet of snow, a very heavy backpack, lots of falls, many choice words, a tree branch to the face, and three hours later we made it the three miles to the hut! At one point I looked back at Jason with tears in my eyes, “I think we should have started with an easier hike for our first backpack trip!” He repeatedly reminded me that we could turn around and go camp in our van, but I was determined. As we got to the hut, a much needed apology to Jason for being frustrated and we were smiling again!
We set up our sleeping bags in our bunks, put on every single piece of clothing we brought, and sipped on hot water and red wine all night to try to get warm (temps were in the single digits in the mountains). A night of euchre with new friends followed by a cold night of attempted sleep, two adults with multiple layers and sleeping bags don’t fit very well into one twin bed.
Much better spirits the next morning as we hiked down the mountain, with snow falling on us the entire time. WE ******* DID IT!
Acadia National Park in Maine had been the one place I needed to see on the van trip, and it exceeded my expectations! We met with a ranger to get our park info essentials and he said, “this is a choose your own adventure park.” That couldn’t be more true as there are so many small hikes that you can combine to make it truly your own. Day one we hiked from camp to Sandy Beach, Beehive, and Gorham Mountain. The Beehive is not for people who are scared of heights, lots of narrow walkways while holding onto metal pegs literally on the side of a rock, but the views are amazing! One of the “must sees” is a sunrise at the top of Cadillac Mountain. It was extremely windy and cold but the 4:59a.m. sunrise was beautiful. From sunrise we were able to hit the Jordan Pond trail by 7a.m. Picturesque views of Jordan Pond with not a soul in sight, then we made our way up to Bubble Rock. Short and steep hike, but worth it for the views.
From Bubble Rock we hiked back down and crossed the road to hike up Pemetic Mountain, which required a bit of bouldering to get up to the ridgeline. Jason and I could not get over the views from up there, I highly recommend this grueling hike.
Relaxed back at camp in our hammock before heading back to Cadillac Mountain for a dip dinner (aka appetizers in the van and wine) and an amazing sunset. The next day we made our way into Bar Harbor to meet Jason’s parents who flew out to see us for Memorial Day weekend!
The last time we saw them was back in January, so lots of hugs and catching up to do! We showed them around Acadia NP and enjoyed popovers at Jordan Pond House. Checked into our hotel (hello, hot showers!) and enjoyed dinner in Bar Harbor.
On Friday, we caravaned to Portland, Maine with Jason’s parents to meet up with his brother Matt and his wife Shannon for the weekend. What better way to explore a city than by checking out breweries…lots and lots of breweries!
A few favorites: Rising Tide Brewing Company, Foundation Brewing Company, Lone Pine Brewing Company, and Root Wild Kombucha. Of course, we couldn’t visit Maine without endulging in lobster and lighthouses!
Tried a few different lobster rolls (I’d recommend having it warm and doused in garlic butter) and made our way to the Portland Head Lighthouse. It’s the oldest lighthouse in Maine, built in 1791.
Just before sunset, we hopped on Captain Catherine’s boat and cruised Casco Bay exploring Portland’s coastline via Airbnb Exeperiences. Highly recommend seeing Portland by boat, the nearby islands hold a lot of history. You may even get an epic sunset over the city skyline…
Thanks to Rich, Barb, Matt, and Shannon for visiting us! We left Portland with full hearts and full stomachs!