About a month ago one of my cousin’s texted me “Come North.” I must have been in the mood for a trip, because I texted my brother to see if he was interested in a road trip with me. Less than 12 hours later I had my tickets to Philadelphia, and hotel reservations.
An easy flight from Atlanta to Philly, and we hit the road. Bro was in charge of the route and stops along the way. I should mention he’s also an amazing homebrewer, and I have learned to like beer more than I thought I would. An easy drive up the NJ Turnpike, over the George Washington Bridge, and onto I-95. We spent 13 years growing up in southeastern CT, so it was a familiar route. As much as things have changed, I was still able to tap the memory bank for people, places and events.
Our first official stop was at Trillium Brewing Co. We were at their second location, not the one in Boston. This was a quick run in, purchase, go stop. It looks like a really fun place, and I definitely want to go back and really experience the tasting room, and the beers. Next stop was Bissell Brothers in Portland, ME. We had spent the day listening to a particular US Senate confirmation hearing, so I insisted we taste something. The tasting room staff were friendly and very helpful. She gave us some suggestions for other breweries to consider, and some good ideas for food along our way.
We set out in search of food as it was nearing 8:00PM. By the time we reached our first choice, their kitchen had closed for the evening. They pointed us toward another tap room/pub whose kitchen was open later. While it was open later, it was only open until 9:30, and it was already later than that. Google searches ensued as we looked for options at our final destination for the night. We found one restaurant with a kitchen open until 10:30. I called at just after 10PM to confirm, and placed our order by phone. Our food was delivered to our table when we arrived, and it was just what we needed. They had a good selection of beer on tap, which we enjoyed with our salads and pizza. Next stop, our hotel for the night and some sleep. We had an ocean view room, which was a nice treat to see when we woke up Friday morning. I knew I was near the water Thursday night because I could smell it, but it was too dark to see just how close we were. We learned later the QM2 had been moored in the harbor earlier in the week. I am glad we avoided the throng of cruise ship tourists.
A very short drive, and we enjoyed a visit with family I haven’t seen in several years. We took a walk down to the waterfront on the north end of town and explored a bit before heading back to the house and enjoying an afternoon nap. We went out for dinner, where I thoroughly enjoyed a Maine lobster. I couldn’t visit Maine and leave without having one. Prices are a bit higher than they were 36 years ago, but the lobster is still as good!
After dinner we indulged in the traditional family card game, and I went to bed happy as I did not lose. I didn’t win, but I didn’t lose, either. A restful night’s sleep, a yummy bowl of oatmeal and cup of coffee in the morning, and we were off.
Our first stop Saturday was in Freeport, Maine. Home of L.L. Bean main store and the Maine Beer Company. Bro asked me on Thursday to check when the release of ‘Dinner’ was. He thought it was coming up, but likely in another week or two. He was very happy to find out it was Saturday Sept 29, and even happier when I was able to purchase a ticket so we could get a case. So we backtracked just a little bit, expected a huge line, and were very pleasantly surprised to find very few people there. We shared a bottle later Saturday night, and it was absolutely worth the trip. One of the best beers I have had.
We began heading west toward Vermont. The fall foliage was a bit more colorful through western Maine and New Hampshire. In another week it will be stunning. We made a little detour to Franconia Notch, NH and drove through/around the Presidential Mountain Range. I reminisced about the times we drove to the top of Mt. Washington, and how much fun it was to get the sign on the bumper that said “This car climbed Mt. Washington.” We also stopped for a photo at the former location of Old Man in the Mountain. There was an outcropping of rock at the top of mountain that looked like a man’s profile. Despite efforts to save it, it feel several years ago. New Hampshire still has some of the prettiest scenery in the US, in my opinion. Especially in the fall.
We stopped at Hills Farmstead Brewing and The Alchemist in Stowe. Both were purchase only stops, sample later. We passed a few others that Bro recommended, but time was of the essence as we were meeting family for dinner. The Alchemist is a fun, funky place, and definitely somewhere to return to.
A quick stop for some maple syrup, then on to Burlington. We had time to check in to our hotel before heading to dinner, and the sun was just starting to set. The farms in Vermont are so pretty.
A fabulous dinner, a great visit with family, and a round of CAH with the cousin who sent the text that started the trip. After breakfast and final ‘see you soon’ to our aunt and uncle, we headed south on VT Route 7. Of course, it wouldn’t be proper to not stop at a brewery. A stop at Foley Bros Brewing, a few more beers added to the trunk of the car, and we were off to our last family visit of the trip. We traveled Route 7 many times as kids – traveling to/from VT for family visits, and during summer vacation when we would spend a few weeks without the parents bouncing between relatives and being carefree.
We hit the road back to Philly around 3PM. Weekend traffic was a bit heavier than we’d hoped, but we pulled into the driveway at Bro’s about 9:30PM. I got to enjoy some of his incredible homebrew before calling it a night.
…and here it is a month later and I realized I hadn’t published this post. I guess that’s what happens when life is crazy busy! But here it is. It was a much needed trip on so many levels – a reminder that making time, even if brief, to spend with family is always wonderful, and that travel is good for the soul. Almost time to start the count down for the next trip. I have some fun ones planned, especially in January!