Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Juice was worth The Squeeze

Mile: 10,033

       I hoofed it down to St. Augustine to Pj and Jaime's in about nine hours.  The transition from foggy mountain tops of Appalachia to the flatlands of Florida were dramatic, and also breathtaking.  To have made it all the way around the Eastern Untied States and end up where I first bunkered down back in November amazes me.  My brother has been selling Sorbet (SeaCow Confections) at Intuition Ale Works in Jacksonville, FL.  What a great combination of what we are both doing.  Though our "sorbet stout" was about 40% good, with improvement should be the next best thing.  The brewery has a good following of mug members, but what I've enjoyed is sipping on a very cold beer in the warm spring sun that beckons me to close the lid on this winter's work, and prepare for my summer season in Alaska.  I will be mushing sled dogs at the historic Sheep Creek in Juneau, where I worked back on 2007.  This is my favorite camp, with an abundance of memories had, but now will be where new memories are formed while overlooking several waterfalls and mountains.  After visiting Intuition, my grand total of breweries visited so far on the trip is right around 50, but that is only a fraction of the beers I have sampled from the East.  Total number of beers from different breweries totals around 250, all recorded neatly in my expandable folder(those who know me, owning a folder is a huge step).  I can say that I have developed a taste for certain hops and as well as a taste for different yeasts used in the brewing process. With 25 more states to go next fall, I will have a much better tongue for the challenging western states.
       I am very thankful for those of you who have read my blog, donated cash, worn one of my crocheted hats, and listened to my album.  I think about you all while I'm driving in the Ford, which has around 140,000 miles on her now, and feel lucky and blessed to have a solid following.
       Back to Florida. Pj and I spent a few days fishing, reeling in Drum and other fish that are tasty.  We also have all been biking and running, as Jaime and I prepare for our 5k today at her park.  I have ran before, and haven't really enjoyed it all that much, but now that my mind is at ease with the first half of my book finished, I felt it necessary to get back into shape after all those pudgy porters I drank up in Maine to stay warm!  The dogs enjoy the Florida sun, though they do tire out quickly.  We are in the NE side of the state, so we have some very mild nights perfect for dog walks and fetching.
       It's only a week now till erin gets into town, and along with all the fun we will have together, I have a busy week ahead.  Tomorrow I will drive down to Orlando to see Alex and Naomi while they treat their children to that amusement park that is nearby.  Then over to Cape Canaveral to see Doug, a buddy who flew helicopter tours in Skagway last summer.  To meet up with someone in Florida that you worked with in Alaska is a true testament to something, maybe friendship, but those who know Doug, know that he is just the guy to drink a couple cold one's with and shoot the breeze.  Then I'll drive back up to Augy just in time to help PJ spin sorbet, and prepare for a weekend of selling at the Brewery and the local Farmer's market.  Though I have acclimated quickly to warm weather, I cannot wait to be in the pocket of South East Alaska, my true home.
       If anyone is interested in sending me artwork for my book, I am now phasing towards the stories of my book, as well as design.  With 50 breweries in my back pocket, I will be trying to get my idea published as well as organized in the next year.  I have several ideas, but encourage all to send me theirs at .  Stay tuned for some great posts in the upcoming weeks, it's gonna get crazy around here as I prepare for Alaska.  But most important, please visit and follow my good friend Matt Hayashida on his 1,000 mile run to Nome, Ak.  All competitors are true athletes, but this race is all about the dogs and one man's destiny, Go Team Rubicon!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Going To Carolina in My Mind

       I must admit I have been hooked on The Yukon Quest.  The 1,000 miled sled dog race from Whitehorse, YT, to Fairbanks, AK takes place the first Saturday in February.  I'm not interested in following many sports, but as an aspiring dog musher, this year has been the year to follow the YQ.  Last night, Valentines Day, I eagerly and sometimes frantically checked the live tracker radar as well as the Quests Facebook page until three in the morning.  Some craziness went down, as it does when you take a team of 14 dogs into the Yukon in hopes of racing for 12 days.  This evening the winner will pull into Fairbanks, with more stories about survival than any Everest expedition.  This sport keeps blood pumping as it stands as the greatest race on Earth.  To think that the Idiatrod is only a couple of weeks away keeps my blood pumping for sure.
       I have been in Boone, NC since the first of Feb.  Erin and I have been hiking with the dogs, taking lots of pictures, and driving along the Blueridge parkway whenever we get a chance.  I feel like my mind is finally coming into its own as I begin to head down to Florida tomorrow.  I am so fortunate to have great people in my life, it seems that whenever you are high or low, those closest know just what to say to keep you on track.  It's nice too to have self confidence, I learned way back when I started playing live music that you HAVE to be your biggest fan.  You must believe in what you are singing, playing, and feeling.  Without that, you are just another wondering soul.  I get caught up sometimes and this trip had really given me a chance to find who I am and what goals I want to accomplish.  Though I haven't played as much live music lately as I would like to to stay fresh, I have gained all this experience in just living life.  The best songs are those drawn from life's mysteries and realiizations.  I am trying to dance on the mountain where these two ideas meet. 
       I have been planning my next visit to my brother in Florida's, St. Augustine.  I visited them about three months ago, and have gradually basktracked my entire trip down towards them again.  I love that I am able to see family this winter.  My brothers have been spread out, like me, for some years now.  I get a chance to watch my nephews grow, and also see both of my brothers become successful at what they love doing too.  It is a tough time in my life to think about settling down.  There is so much I want to see and experience, and after traveling around half of the United States, I feel no need to stop and bunker down.  I would love to eventually have a house, farm, chickens, pigs, goats, dogs, and watermelons, but I also want to find the perfect spot to have all those things.  It's funny that this book about beer has turned into such a life force in what I am doing.  I am able to promote local growth and sustainability by bringing information about local breweries to the people that live close to them.  I am suggessting so many good beers to people that didn't even know there was something better than Budweiser out there.  The truth is that these huge macrbreweries snuff out the craft brewers, or offer them lucrative deals.  It's just like any business, but when you have tasted the beers that I have, you will agree that there is something special about drinking a frosty beverage that was brewed from local ingredients shipped to your favorite watering hole with very little travel and energy.  That is a good thing!  As the trend for local bought, local grown foods increase, we will see more and more microbreweries becoming successfull.  You should be proud to drink beer in your hometown, it's a very noble and smart thing to do.  It may cost a buck more, but what your spending at the pub your saving in miles the beer travels to get to your lips, which results in a lower environmental impact.  I'm not converting you all to hippies here, I'm telling you that if you want to see our children grow up in a world that is submerged in marketing campaigns and attractive themes, then order your oranges from florida and salmon from Alaska. This book is all about community!
       I am super excited to head to Orlando Brewing Co. again.  Their beer has been on my mind since November, and cannot wait to drink me some of that Brown Ale.  I must admit North Carolina has some great breweries, and I will miss that a lot when I leave.  But as you all know by now, I'll be back in North Carolina soon enough..
The plan after Florida is to drive westward to Alabama, then up to Indiana and Illinois.  These three will put my total at 27 states this winter, a good start on next year's road trip.  I am on the fence on wether I will drive out to Alaska this summer.  It would be nice to say I road tripped for six months and 14,000 miles, but I need to make sure the Ol' Red will make the journey.  The truck has been running great, and I just vaccumed and duck taped about three dogs worth of hair outta her.  It's nice to travel clean, especially when you're headed south into the heat.  I find that Alaskan winters are forgiving in the sense that you layer up so much, you can't smell your armpits.  Now that it's warming up, I am re-learning what it means to be hygenic.  haha, maybe not, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Eternal Optimist

       Couldn't be happier with the last week.  I have had an outstanding time traveling from New Hampshire through up state New York.  I conquered the sickness, which when it's below zero takes its toll, and pounded down some incredible north east beers.  The journey began when I left the Red Roof Inn, in all of her pet friendly glory, to Burlington, VT.  The drive wasn't more than maybe five hours, and I prepared to visit a most anticipated brewery just south of Burlington, those who enjoy good beer will look it up and agree:-)  I also tried out some Ben and Jerry's, Phish Food, and walked around town for an hour or two.  My plan was to jump on a ferry about twenty miles north and head over to Plattsburgh, NY to stay with a good friend Adam that I ran sled dog tours with in Juneau, Alaska back in 2008.  After walking the dogs around and sampling Magic Hat, we boarded the rig, and off we went.  The 10 minute ride was fast, finding nine dollars and 50 cents after seeing the cash only sign was much longer.  Arriving into overcast Plattsburgh, I met up with Adam for what was going to be a grand four day adventure. 
       After a bottle of #9, we hiked with the dogs on a nice 3 mile hike behind his house.  The dogs were going bonkers in the fresh snow, I hadn't seen that since Virginia, and was happy to have them stretch out.  The next day we drove down to Glens Falls and sampled a brewery called Davidson Brothers.  We talked with the Manager, after he saw us taking pictures, and quickly cleared up the confusion as to why we were doing so.  He thought we were documenting a food problem or something, and I was like, "no man, I'm just taking pictures of the foam of the beer for a book I'm writing."  Probably thought I was being a smart ass, good stuff Micah.  After a talk with the owner, Rick, who claimed that he would "gladly finish any beer that we didn't like, for free," we met the brewer in the big room. Adam and I had a nice tour of a small true microbrewery and even got to see some fresh pressed hops ready for action.  The more I get tours of breweries, the more I understand the different scales that they operate under.  After a couple more pints, we payed an outrageous bill for two guys, then set off back home to eat some grilled cheese and soup. 
       The next morning we headed through the Adirondack mountains towards Lake Placid.  The beer was delicious, and we got some insight into what is being called a "Black IPA."  It curled my lip a little when I heard about a an IPA brewed almost exactly like a porter, but wasn't a porter, but may not be a get the idea, it's like breeding a rabbit and a cow together so you can get a cold drink after a hoppy run.  Though it sounds awesome, it just doesn't work that way.  So now the actual classification, or so I am told, is American Dark Lager.  This opens up the realm of what actually classifies a certain beer according to the great brew gods in the sky.  Either way, my favorite beer was the Frostbite, or Lake Placid IPA.  Super awesome, delicious, and the sampler was served on a hearty piece of pine with holes cut in it for the glasses.  That's a great way to get a mountain man like me to look at the beer!  Next stop Saranac Lake, the dogs ran around for a bit near a raging river, and we checked out the Ice Castle being built for winter carnival in a few days.  The final destination was South Colton, NY to attend the annual beach party that Adam's parents throw in their pull barn/shop/work area/beach front property.
       The whole vibe was awesome.  Great folks, amazing stories, snow falling, debauchery at its finest, and Busch light.  Though much of my book is about beer, the other half is about stories that define my life.  I could have written two books after this weekend, seriously.  The night of the party, I played two sets, from Bob Marley, to Johnny Cash, to originals, to iinevitably drunken banter.  It was a hoot as loved ones tossed each other into a kiddie pool in front of the stage, and my stomach got a real workout from the pounds of dips, meatballs, lil' smokies, and again, Busch light.  Thanks to The Crosley's for having me for a couple days, I will remember those two nights for the rest of my life!
       So how does a guy like me "one-up" that experience?  I hopped in my car Sunday morning at 7am and drove eight hundred and some miles to Boone, NC.  I must admit I had no real reason to stop seeing as I had driven most of I-81 a month or so before, so after fourteen hours, I made it safely to Erin's for the most legendary surprise visit and girlfriend of mine had ever received.  Making her think I was all alone camping in Pennsylvania farm country, I told her I was about to knock on some one's closed diner to see if they could spare a meal for a white boy, when "knock, knock," there I was.  I don't recommend driving fourteen hours for someone unless you're really trying to tell them something, or you have no other couch to sleep on.  I am a lucky guy, and believe that as an eternal optimist, everything will fall, fall right into place.
       Here I am, in North Carolina once again, but now I have traveled to 23 states, with Indiana and Illinois as my last two for the winter.  I have succeeded in my winter goals, and now will prepare several odds and ends for my book.  Now that I have so much information gathered and recorded into my computer, it is time to start thinking about contacting publishers, quoting self-publishing prices, and getting a few computer nerds together to help me come up with something presentable to investors.  The following weeks before I return to Alaska for the summer I will bring you not only great beer info on Indiana and Illinois and Michigan, but will slowly transition my writing styles as I will not have much to chat about in the way of beer and traveling like I have been.  I will slowly add in more of my Alaskan experiences as I too am a musician at heart, and want to incorporate all angles of my life with listeners, readers, and thinkers.  Talk to you all next week, enjoy the snow, sun, brews, and news!