Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Perfect Pint

       Hungover.  But not from too much beer.  I have consumed about as much as a sled dog running Iditarod the last week, and finally am getting back into my own.  From the famous Pawelek mushroom soup to incredible delectables sprinkled with...well..more sprinkles, the New Year will ring in a few extra sit-ups on my end.  I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday, I spent the last week at my bro's outside of Raleigh watching the snow fall like it has been everywhere else in the Country.  From Magic Hat, to He'Brew, to Natty Greene's, to Park Village(go Jeremy), the overwhelming holiday selection of beers has been outstanding.  Don't think I haven't been at the very least "researching" during the holidays.  Though my new job is tough, I still have to squeeze in a few tastings while visiting with family and friends!  I really enjoyed Sierra Nevada's Celebration Ale, and I suggest you try one.  It is virtually everywhere, and has a crisp taste to it, but also some hoppiness to ring in the New Year.  Wasn't a huge fan of the Heineken Dark, though it did go well with Sebastiano's Pizza in Davidson,NC.
       I spent Christmas with the fam, played Lego's with my nephews, and played in the snow with my dogs.  Jammed out to the new Kid Rock album(kick ass), and got to see Brad, my best friend from Michigan.  I traveled from Cary to Mooresville, spent the day with Brad betting money we didn't have on pool(standard routine since age 15) and caught up on life.  He lives in CO now, and I cannot wait to tour breweries with him next winter.  That night was spent playing poker with his girlfriend and Brother, who does the slow role for about 20 minutes, then hustles your chips like a pro.  At least Brad and I think we're good for that first twenty.   Back to Cary, then over to Burlington we drove(me and the pups) to spend some time with Erin and her family.  The dogs have the whole basement to themselves are very thankful to sleep inside for a few days!  The Carolina snow has just about melted, but we did get a chance to take the hounds out to the park for a day of Frisbee golf fun.  I can't believe I'm about to admit this, but it is the first time ever that I walked around a Frisbee golf course and did not throw one Frisbee.  It wasn't cold, there was no one there, I have no excuse.  Sorry Adam!  Either way, "frolfer's" tend to be very dog friendly and since I wanted the dogs to run around off-leash, I knew this territory was safe.  Last night I played a show in Greensboro, at the Flatiron Bar.  Everyone was very kind and all, but you know it's gonna be a good night when the first creature to welcome you in is a nine year old dog who's just "makin' the rounds."  Thanks to everyone there for a great time, Erin and I had so much fun. 
       I plan on conquering the remaining 9 or ten states on my list after the New Year, then back out to Alaska for a Summer of Mushing sled dogs in Juneau,AK.  My first stop will be Maryland, then off to Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, then a camp out somewhere in New Hampshire or Maine. 
       Thank all of you for your gracious donations, they have helped me out in so many ways, and help make this trip possible for me and my dogs.  Have the best NYE ever, and if you have any good camping suggestions for the North East, please let me know, I'm always up for an adventure.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Almost Heaven


       The Nation's Capital was great.  My musher buddy let me and the dogs crash for three nights, all while his girlfriend was studying for med. school exams.  Minutes from downtown Washington, Sean and I traveled and did the typical site seeing that we all did when we were young.  We popped our heads into the Capitol Brewing Company for a sampler of some really well made brews.  I highly suggest you stop in if you have the chance; the mixture of Christmas songs and brass stills is a must see!  Though the traffic was unbelievable I managed to escape the city in a snowstorm that lasted until I got out to Woodstock, VA.
       Woodstock is a quaint little town along I-81, and has a great camping site in the National Forest just west of the highway.  Climbing up to the Virginia/West Virginia border, I was tucked into the mountains for a two day camp out with the pooches.  The next two days were filled with wood gathering, hiking, and even lots of campfire guitar sessions.  The temp was around 10-15 at night, which made for very fast and not so intricate playing.  I did however record some new songs on my iPod, and as soon as I figure it out, I will post recordings on the blog of my music, yay!  I ate tons of food, experimented with corn beef hash and beer(delicious), and watched Tut and Ketza run mile after mile after squirrels.  After not seeing a soul for two days, I packed up my tent and sleeping bag, cleaned up the site, and headed 20 miles south to New Market, VA to spend the weekend with Erin and her Family on their farm.     
       The amount of history in Virginia is amazing.  Civil war camps, old forts, battlegrounds, you name it.  I was lucky enough to be on a fifth generation farm of about 500 or so acres just outside of town.  They had thousands of chickens, a couple hundred cattle, and bale upon bale of hay.  We rode four wheelers, keeping up with Tut when we could, and took a beautiful drive around town to a covered wood bridge from 1892.  This area is another great stop along my journey, and want to thank Erin's family for having me, and for suggesting the Blue Mountain Brewery outside of Afton, Virginia.
       So now I eagerly await the holidays, and am stocked with Magic Hat, Blue Mountain Brew co., and Yuengling to help keep the family sane!  I am currently in Cary, NC at my brother Jeremy's, getting ready to surprise my mother and father with my visit.  They think I am in Connecticut blowing them off for the holidays.  Hopefully my stocking will be extra full this year. 
       So in the upcoming entries, I am introducing audio clips with music and more rambling for y'all to enjoy.  I am about half way through the Winter, and have nine States to go.  If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me or post on the blog, I am very pleased with the amount of traffic the blog is receiving, and I couldn't even do this trip without your support, so THANK YOU! 
       I also want to thank those of you who have donated to me.  It is very expensive traveling around the States, and even though I have camped out 24 of the 56 days I've been on the road, it does cost a lot to maintain this whole operation and keep it running smoothly.  The money you donate will go towards publishing my book, which is going to be spendy, but all the money I earn in the Summer in Alaska is what supports this trip currently.  So thank you again to past, current, and future donations, they will help me accomplish one of my many life goals.  I also want to plug my crocheted hats.  If you want something physical for your donation, I will send you a Joey P. crocheted hat for $15, I'll even ship it for free!  Just click the Donate button at the top of the page, and I'll get your shipping address from there!  Happy Holidays everyone, and please have a great week and be safe!


Saturday, December 11, 2010

With Freedom Comes Responsibility


Wow what a great week!  I left Boone on Wednesday and camped outside of Radford, VA.  I spent the night talking with Mike at The River Brewing Company, he's the brewer of some real good beer.  After sampling the brews, I rode out to my absolute least favorite campsite ever.  It's not the cold that got me, I've been a winter camper since I was 13, running around the woods in Boy Scouts and building snow shelters.  This site, more or less an out of season RV park, was right along the beautiful New River, and conveniently 100 feet from I-81.  It was super loud all night, but the cold helped me crash out quick, knowing that I had a long drive the next day helped too.
       I awoke to a 10 degree morning, which for Virginia seemed a little cold, and hit the highway towards Roanoke.  After grabbing a cold one at Big Daddy's Brewery on the house, I jumped across Jefferson National Forest towards Fayetville, WV.
       Fayetville is known as the coolest small town, according to someone somewhere...I went to Pies and Pints, a great pizza shop that serves local beer.  The bartender was a seasonal worker like myself, and had done some river guiding around town in the summers.  We talked for a couple of hours, and decided to camp out at Roger's campground.  The camprground overlooked the New River Gorge, which I was lucky enough to check out earlier in the day from a lookout profiling the New River Bridge.  A true masterpiece, and the perfect light, helped to highlight the areas natural and man made structures.  Fayetville is know for climbing and rafting, but not this time of year, it's too damn cold!
       Roger was kind-hearted, helped me get set up at my campsite, and was on his way.  I payed five bucks, which was much better than in season prices(usually you pay $6 a person, and 50 cents a paw).  I trucked down to the local bar, and had a few Bud's with the locals.  We had a blast, talking about philosophizin' and Socrates and working with your hands.  I feel confident that the more I travel, the more I see what it takes to be a modern Man in America.  People are generally nice, and if you connect with them, they will open up to you.  Treat others like you want to be treated mentality will take the common, or uncommon traveler, very far.
       I'm big on Kharma too.  I don't ever keep tabs on what I've done or what others have done for me, I just live by a few travelers' laws and know that if I do a good turn daily, it will come back and save me when I need it most.
       So now I am with Alex, one of my best friends, in Fort Belvoir in Virginia.  He and his friends, all in the Service, whether it be Marines or Army, have shown me a great time.  Any preconceived notions you have about Military should be laid to rest when you meet any of these extraordinary Humans.  I had conversations like I would with any twenty-something guy, but knowing that these soldiers have been on the front line literally fighting for my freedom, I had a new found admiration for all Service men and women.  Alex and his buddies just finished a round of courses for the NGA, and were celebrating last night at the Base's bowling alley.  We drank Yuengling pitchers, bowled terribly, and talked excessively.  I heard stories that made me laugh, but more importantly, stories that made me think very hard about what is going on in the "war world."  Not only am I impressed with the perceptiveness of these soldiers, thinking steps ahead, and all that stuff, but their ability to seperate a life of fighting for freedom, and a normal life with kids and dogs and mortgages. These thoughts are still very new in my mind, and I had to right them down immediately to have it fresh.  I guess what I want to tell you in this blog post is that you cannot simply judge someone without giving them a chance.  Whether it's a complete stranger that in another life leads squads of soldiers in and out of run down buildings tossing frag grenades to clear out the enemy in 115 degree weather while dehydrated and longing for his bi-weekly shower, or Roger helping you set your tent up in the woods, because the pine bedding is softer and if it snows my tent won't get snow on it.  People are great, our souls all seek something superb.  During this holiday season as we all get together, share a story with a stranger, let them into your life.  And for the love of God, if you meet a red head with two huskies, offer him a place to stay for the night,  he's been camping out for several nights and needs a break from the Campbell's Chunky and the cold hard ground!! 

~Here is DC until next week, then heading up towards Maine~


Monday, December 6, 2010

Goodbye North Carolina..for now!

Mile: 3,564

       So I found myself tucked into the Blueridge Mountains for a little over a week now.  I have enjoyed several tasty local brews, some of which I will give an honorable mention.  As far as my current location, and past geographical predisposition, I call North Carolina the "South."  Now you wouldn't expect there to be much else than moonshine and mandolins down here, but three breweries stand out so far on my trip, and Highlands Brewing Company out of Asheville is one.  With a wide variety and great cardboard sixer boxes, the true spirit of liberal Asheville comes out in every drop.  As a dark beer lover, I must recommend the Black Mocha Stout.  It is crisp, bright, and very passive when going down.  A good stout has a bite, but isn't hoppy like an IPA...But you know that, you're as much as an expert as I am!
       So Erin, myself, and the dogs have traveled across the Blueridge Parkway several days catching the sunrise, and often the sunset, as Winter beckons to Boone, NC.  King Tut, my four year old rescue(dog), is in his prime and is loving the open road as much as his master.  It is rare for a dog to live the life of Tut, and now that the snow is flying, he has been stretching out like a trapeze artist across the red and white tent.  I feel very blessed to have two great dogs while on my journey.  They have been a true companion as I crash at carious National Forests and friends houses.  I do want to throw a shout out to everyone that's taken me in so far, without you this trip would still happen, but surely be spent outside camping and showing up to breweries like a red headed hobo.  Being given a chance to reconnect with old friends, as well as meet new ones, has given me the energy on those lonely cold nights to be thankful for all the love in my life...
       Wednesday is my take off date.  I am traveling north to West Virginia, where I will visit the New River Gorge bridge, a  highly suggested stop along the way.  I will meander to Virginia, then to our Nations Capital next weekend to see two very close friends, both of which fight for our I wills also spend some time with a dog musher friend who took to biking tourists around in DC for a while.  As the cold and Christmas approach, I find that I connect with those of you who are away from your families.  Sometimes it's nice to be away exploring, and other times you long for family just the same.  I think it is important to balance both, just like everything else in this amazing world.
       Tonight I will celebrate to all those friends and family.  We are headed to the Boone Saloon for live music, local beer, and last call.  I hope you all have a great week, and I will be packing my blog with tons of great information on the next four states' breweries.  Stay tuned for shows I will be playing near you on my music page to the right, as well as pictures of Beanies for sale on my Facebook page.  I am an artist, and encourage you to find it in you to promote all artists locally to ensure that future generations can use their creative energies to make this world a healthier, happier place!


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bourbon Barrel Buddies


Florida was great. I spent some much needed time with my brother and his wife. We went fishing quite a bit, and I had the opportunity to go kayaking with some great guys on a creek that feeds into the St.Johns River. Tasting local fish and paddling through remote creeks are a fantastic way to take in any state's beauty. I was gifted a beautiful banjo from my brother, and have been pickin' and rollin' ever since.
It has been a truely amazing journey thus far. I left Florida earlier this week, and drove around nine hours to Topsail Beach in Eastern North Carolina. I spent the Holiday with my long time friends the Breckner's right on the beach. Tut and Ketza had a blast running mach 5 up and down the beach chasing bird, after bird, after bird. It's amazing to watch the sea life this time of year, with so many birds traveling south, you see more than you would expect with the colder temperatures. Speaking of temperature, and introducing beer into the conversation, I have found so many great websites and articles on beer and temperatures at which they should be sipped at. Of course it is all dependent on personal preference, but sometimes it takes following a guideline once or twice to decide what tastes better at what temp. I enjoy a nice IPA around 68 degrees, or room temp. It brings out all those bitter hops and aromatic blends. The colder it is, the easier it is to procure other attributes, but when your drinking a hoppy brew, you should do it justice by sampling it at a warmer degree. Light beers, like lagers and hefe's taste better colder. Bringing out that light carbonation that gives it little bursts of flavor upon drinking makes for fruity or sometimes oaky libations irresistable.
Back to Turkey day weekend. We drank a beautiful bottle of Macallan's 12 accompanied by a cigar, and discussed the various breweries like the Kentucky Brewery in Lexington. They barrel age an ale in bourbon barrels, bringing out a distinct oakiness that reminds you of the south. A whiskey bite with a smooth finish, incredible. The weekend flew by like I'm sure it did for most, and I packed up the circus show and headed to Emerald Isle to pick up a traveling companion to accompany me back through North Carloina before I head to West Virginia. After a quick visit with her family, and ten turkey sandwhiches later, we were off to Burlington before the next night in Boone. Those of you looking to stretch out a bit should consider western North Carolina. There are endless hikes, waterfalls, and breweries scattered about and most are within just a few hours from one another.
As the weather becomes cooler, I feel like I am feeling normal again. Normal is wearing Xtra Tuffs and wool socks, a nice down jacket, and a very hot cup of Joe, no pun intended...ha...ha...hmm..
The next month of the journey I will spend learning about eastern ales, and will spend time in West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. I have some great friends in these parts and look forward to sharing a few cold ones with them. If you are at all interested in purchasing a Joey P. hand made crocheted beanie, or trading me a hat for a couch and some water for the dogs, please e-mail me at I will see you guys in a few, now I am off to go hiking with Tut and Ketza, happy holidays!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

East Coast Post

One week from today I will be leaving St. Augustine for the second leg of my trip this winter. I have visited some outstanding breweries in the midwest, and am excited to see what the Old World has to offer. Some of the Nations oldest pubs are in my near future, and I look forward to any and all experiences that come my way. I have high expectations that the next 2 months will be filled with twists and turns as the road to Maine becomes shorter. As each beer makes me smarter, wiser, and more palate-knowledgeable, I assure you readers that the blog posts I have written so far have been somewhat constructed, and thought out. As a writer, well , more of as a story-teller, I encourage the metaphoric curve ball. If everything was planned out to perfection, this trip would go smoothly, efficiently, and timely. Coincidentally that is too much like a job to me, and for the time being, and for the sake of the book you're going to buy, you wouldn't like anything I wrote that was too planned out.
As a musician, I find that the best lyrics I incorporate into my guitar playing are words right off of my mind. If I just say what I want to say, I have said it. No planning, just a gasoline guitar fueling my fire. So with that said, you should expect creative blogs that will cover my journey so that when you purchase "APWATW" you will be able to look back at the blog and find the day I was at the brewery that your drinking a beer at, with your dog. My choices of breweries are limited to a few things, but please understand that is my goal to provide local beer information for traveling folks like yourself, as well as a few funny stories to keep on your coffee table for years to come.
I am now going to add the total miles driven at the beginning of each post, so that you can see how close together we all are....or maybe it will inspire you to take a weekend getaway to another microbrewery other than your hometown favorite. I am already certain that there is a better beer out there, and I sure as hell plan on finding it.


PS- I have added two new links to my blog. One is my Facebook music page, which many of you have seen. It has links to my entire album, "Alaskan Afternoon" recorded Winter 2010. I also have added a donation link if you're at all interested in helping me fund this journey of journey's to reconnect old friendships, meet great new folks, and accomplish my goal of 100 breweries in 50 United States!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

4,000 miles from Home.

In the midst of my fraternal retreat, I was able to visit the Orlando Brewing Company in, you guessed it, Orlando, Florida. My brother PJ, his wife Jaime, and myself headed down today to sample an all organic selection of beer. It is true, organic tastes better. There were 12 beers that we sampled in all, and I must say they were all unique and very tasty. The brewery has a choir practice, which consisted of a 5 piece set of stringed instruments, a drum, and a mouth harp. There was no singing, but you could pick out a few familiar tunes as the crowd watched a few pet dogs wrestle in front of the bar. Good beer, good music, good dogs, and good company. These are MY elements, and when all four align, you know you've done something right.
So as I plan my winter, I have to look at what I've already accomplished. I have been to Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennesee, North carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. 17 more states are on the menu, and 34 more breweries. I am nearly a third of the way threw my first winters' travels, and am confronted with my next decision. I have thought long and hard about it, those who know me know that this isn't something I usually do, and am happy to announce to the world that I will be traveling north and east this winter, all the way to Maine, and then head back to Michigan in mid March as I plan for my summer. I originally was heading out west and was going to drive up to Alaska for my Summer season, but now that I am here I feel very strong that a westward trip is most essential for the Winter of 2011.
So now I am planning my trip through the some of the oldest breweries and pubs in America, and my "beerdar" has to be fine tuned for the belgian brews and the lagers. I enjoy dark beer, hoppy beer, and creative beer. Well, now that I've written that, you could say that I just love beer in general.
"APWATW" wouldn't be possible if things went smoothly and were planned out to a tee. When you travel, it is what you do when things go wrong that defines an experience. My stories include dog sledding at 50 below in Alaska all the way to playing my first punk rock show in the attic of a mansion's gatehouse.
So now I encourage those of you East of Ohio and north of Florida to recommend some breweries that you enjoy, and I will consider them for my book. Until next post, Yukon Ho!


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Forever Fall

I have chased the colors for nearly two months now, from Skagway, Alaska to St.Augustine, Florida. I seemed to be counting the days of rain, which could be counted on one hand, against the days of cool breezes and cloudless skies. This has been the setting for me as I embark on my journey across the United States. My traveling mind has set a few roots down here as I plan for the second leg of my journey/ Since my start in Michigan about two weeks ago, I have headed south, meandering about the Country frequenting old friends couches, which have been just as comfortable as the old stories dusted off for a special occasion. This is how I have been, and through the years have become. I love to tell stories of all magnitudes. When I was a young Boy Scout, I thrived to hear what others had done and seen. Now I find myself gaining true value from my past decisions and opportunities.
The book that I am creating holds stories from my life that aren't different from many of you. I hold the reigns, and sometimes let the horse sniff out the trail. And what some would call careless or ill-prepared,I call a right to define ones self. As a dog musher, I quickly became keen to reading all of nature's signs; a broken twig, an approaching storm, or a suggestive silence. This perception of the moment makes clear what thoughts are needed when traveling in any fashion. I always wanted to be a cowboy, galloping the vast West, living off the land and living to tell about it. The energy that I am trying to convey in each story derives from a real emotion, like the one you get when you smell the brisk fall air, and the distant sound of geese flying in formation.
The oldest city in the nation, cold for this time of year, welcomes me to my brother and sister's home. Michigan to Florida, 8 states in total, 15 breweries. I'm still waiting for that 16th, choosing two per state is considered by some a travesty. With all of the local craft beers fizzing up, it can be damn tough to pick two, or three...or four. But this is only in part what my book is about. The stories, 100 in total, and 100 microbreweries visited, is about communicating. When I see someone and talk to the in person, the experience is so unique, almost a historic notion in this day and age. It seems easy to connect online, on the phone, or by the pony. A drifter, gypsy, nomad, or viking searches the unknown, not fearing what lurks immediately in front. They care more for the experience of living now, reading or conversing a situation to its full potential. It's almost like giving up and letting nature carry you. I'm not suggesting you go to a grateful dead reunion show, I'm just saying that it's ok to give up every once and a while and re-center your inner "Jerry."
As I prepare for my next 8 state adventure, I hope to live fully, knowing that friends whom I have visited will keep pushing on in their successes and endeavors. The true meaning of any published work of art is to evoke emotion, and that's exactly what I am in search of. Alaska is currently 4,000 miles away from me. I don't think you could convince anyone else that it seems closer than ever during this 40 degree Floridian frost.. see you soon. `

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Welcome one and all!

Hey there!

My name is Joe and those of you who know me know that I love travelling. I began exploring at a young age growing up in Michigan camping with Boy Scouts, as well as the occassional midnight stroll. My passion for movement and adventure really began to grow once I started a venture in Jackson, Wyoming almost five years ago. I learned to to "mush" Alaskan Huskies. These sled dogs were definitive in how I learned to become one with nature, and also to trust something so completetly that love was the result.
Now I don't want to get too far off of what this first post is supposed to be about. Currently North Carolina is home, well at least until tomorrow, then South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. A book was conceived by my mind early last summer, well, actually late June. I had gone through what some would call a life changing experience, and life threw a couple curve balls my direction. Luckily, I spent my pre-teens as a catcher of the local Y team and consider myself well to do in that department. You see, how we determine greatness in my group of friends is simple; conceive ridiculous idea, execute said idea. I may not be the best at the things I do, but nonetheless I try them to my best ability. That is what this book I am writing is about.
I am writing a compilation of stories from my own life, as well as highlighting two micro breweries in each of the 50 states. This blog was created so that you can see what happens to a 26 year old, who doesnt show up to work until April 1st, and has two Alaskan huskies as partners on this expedition across the United States.
So here's the breakdown for the dream I am embarking upon! I will visit two microbrews in each of the 50 United Sates, chosen solely on where me and the dogs end up. Friends houses will occasionally be close to the brewery, other times, I'll stop by the essentials to document true American taste! This blog is designed to let friends and family keep up on my travels, as well as to prove that social networking is more than internet communication. I have made many friends across the Country, most from my seasonal job in South East Alaska, where I am Assistant Manager of a glacier sled dog operation from April-September. Cruise ships bring tourists to us, and we give them a 2 mile sled dog ride across one of the many glaciers in the Juneau Icefield. I will get more into this in the book.
The other part of the book is dedicated to short stories that I have written based on my life experiences. Now, I have seen and done some weird stuff. I simply want to provide the reader,you, with some funny stories while you're reading a book about beer. I love telling stories, I love drinking beer, and for some reason it took me till now to figure out how to travel around and write about both.
Another hobby of mine is music. I play acoustic guitar in the woods, at coffee shops, on top of mountains, and inside smoky buildings. I have played live for 11 years now, and find no greater high than playing in front of a crowd. I will use all of these elements of my creative side to enhance the reader or listeners experience while on this journey.
Well, that is enough for now, thanks for reading, and I will continue to improve the format of these posts, when applicable. Have an amazing day.