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!