Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Best Brown Ale


         Howdy folks, I have been a busy man since I've been back home in the Mitten.  After a much needed week of frisbee golfing at Stoney Creek, and a very green St. Patty's day, I started planning for my next few weeks before Alaska.  This week I gave dog sledding presentations to a few schools in the Oxford school district.  It felt good to talk about dogs again, and though I haven't run Iditarod or many races for that matter, it was fun to answer questions coming from 1st-5th graders.  When the little one's look up to you for what you do, it reminds you of when you were in their shoes, daydreaming of what your future would hold.  We often forget that we were once full of inspiration and boundless possibillities.  It was great to see that fresh view on life, not worrying about where there lives will take them. 
       I gave a day's worth of presentations, all with Tut and Ketza in Harness and booties while they "worked" the crowd for free head scratches.  The school was pleased with the show, so pleased in fact that I am booked for three more schools next week, sweet! I enjoy public speaking, and when it's dog sledding, I feel like there are so many comparrisons between mushing and the rest of life, it's great.
       As the Spring warmth approaches, I know soon I will be back in the great state of Alaska. I just got done with a phone interview for the Oxford newspaper, and telling the journalist my story really made me itchy to get out there and build some more great memories.  It was a year ago that I finished recording my first album, and here I am, a year later, writing a book and being interviewed about my life. It all seems like a dream, but when one is faced with challenge of new experiences, he defines himself in each slow moment.  I have never been more honest with myself and those around me.  I finally have figured out a rythym that works for me, and I'm going to jam this song out for a long time to come.
      Between frisbee golfing, editing beer photos, dog hikes, guitar, and heartworm tests, I have remained focused on my research.  I recently tasted the best beer I have had yet on the tour.  It was right here, in Michigan.  Now why in the heck did I travel 12,000 miles to find the best beer was right under my nose?! Well, those who know me know that even if I tasted that beer right before the trip, I wouldn't have stopped and been satisfied; I would have bought three mini kegs of it and stretched it over a couple laughs and States.  What beer, you ask, has been your favorite after tasting over 60 breweries beers?  Well, you know a few facts;  It is most likely a brown ale, it is in Michigan, and it has to beat Orlando Brew Co.'s nut brown ale by a lot considering it isn't "organic."  Ok, sorry, I got a little beer nerdy there, I apologize, It's just that the person whom this answer is intended for will enjoy the suspense and logical reasoning involved in my final decision.  OK....drum roll please...Out of every brown ale tasted, the most delectabley delicious draught was Bell's Best Brown Ale.  Murky like a stream in the fall decomposing bright orange and red sugar maples, this brew holds malty notes that smooth out almost immediately after swallowing, leaving your palate with a light nut aroma, but no weight.  And wow, it goes good with a late winter ice storm and nothing better to do than enjoy a cold one!

Monday, March 14, 2011

The longest lesson ever learned


       I feel as though my thoughts that once raced around my mind have slowly churned into a delicious memory sorbet.  The journey, well, the journey is only half over, or maybe it's yet to begin, or maybe it's happening right now.  Florida proved once again to be so fantastic.  The dogs were so excited to play with their doggy in law Bandit, a cattle dog, for a few weeks.  The weather was warm in sunny St. Augustine, upwards of eighty degrees for a bit, which for husky boys and husky dogs proves to be a tad uncomfortable at times.  But as any good dog musher will tell you, it is one's ability to adapt to his environment that defines his success.  Translating that to my situation meant dusting off my shorts from my pre dog sledding days and "furminating" Tut and Ketza under the big hot sun. 
       The deep south has this ability to control your thoughts.  It's just as acceptable for a man to go out and work hard all day, as it is to sunbathe with a cocktail and guitar on the beach down here.  I assure you all, I did plenty of both, but leaned attentively towards those bottomless pina coladas that Erin makes so well.  Combing the beach for shark's teeth, tasting salt from the fresh evaporated sea, and running my hands through the water table brought memories of college beach camping at Nordhouse Dunes back so vividly, I could almost hear the "Tweezer reprise" blasting from the ol' JVC kaboom box.  The oysters fresh and raw, the pelicans coordinating perfect flight paths, and the crisp mint in my mojito brought me towards a friend from the summer, a jack of all trades if you will.  Cape Canaveral for a night with a helicopter friend of mine proved eventful as we challenged Americans to understand a thick Brit-Aussie-Alaskan-Floridian accent.  A day in the life of Doug, which is a day worth a lifetime I assure you.  Thanks for the egg sandwich buddy, and of course for that much needed grill out on the patio.
       Erin came for a visit on the 5th, and after a successful weekend at the farmer's market PJ and Jaime had a barbecue that was more or less incredible.  We ate venison and morel stew, grilled chicken, and a 7 hour pork butt all day, pairing the three with I-10 IPA from Intuition Ale works.  Talk about doing it right, it couldn't have been a better day!  Sharing all of these memories with loved ones and new friends is what my life is about.  I have been so lucky on this trip, eating some of the best food from continental to coastal to international, as well as the hundreds of beers from each state east of the Mississippi.  I hope that I can revisit these wonderful homes in the future, but know that I have filled up my karma cup seeing them all in one short winter.  The strength I have gained from all of this is something I am just starting to see.  I can be all over Facebook, writing blogs, and singing songs, but at the end of the day I am most humble with myself.  I take very little for granted, and on a personal level always push myself to recognize that what I am doing most will never experience.  Through traveling and writing and playing, I am able to document this life of mine for my own mind, and at the end of the day, is important in maintaining my mental health.  So many struggle when they are stuck, and equally when they are set free.  You just have to go with the flow when you live like I do.  I knew I would be fine, no matter what the circumstance, and had the perseverance to trust in what I believed.  Anyone can do what I do, maybe not in a physical sense, but that's not "what I am doing."  I am challenging my readers to take a small step, one after another, no matter what the size.  A lyric that rings in my mind is "you'll never look up unless you start to move forward."  My first experience of this was when I was 13.  I crossed over from Webelos to Boy Scouts, and was on my first backpacking camp out, sometime in January.  I looked at my feet, or the peer's pace in front of mine, never taking in what I was doing.  When I had the opportunity to lead and be in front of the other scouts, I began to move fast.  The world unravelled before me as I stared farther and farther ahead, trusting my body to negotiate the trail as I hustled at a good clip.  My Scoutmaster, a legendary man, stopped me a ways down to share a thought.  He had a way, like mentors do, of letting me know that I had just learned a lot about myself, and that in life some people enjoy taking their time and soak in every second.  He told me that if I moved fast like I had been, I would tire out, and begin to look back at the ground again, losing sight of all I had learned and had yet to see.  It took me until about an hour ago to figure out what he meant.  I have moved fast, letting life pass me by, catching only the brightest butterflies, when all along the tiniest bee held the most beauty.  It took me 13 years to awaken to this ideology, and am thankful again for the support of all of "nets" there to catch me and set me free again. 
       Here I am back in Michigan, home sweet home.  I will be here for three weeks, catching up with my hometown buddies, and of course sampling my fair share of Jolly Pumpkin, Dragon mead, Founders, Bells, MCB, DBC, and several other breweries.  As I tie off the capsule of this winter, I look forward to my summer in Alaska running dogs in the most inspirational place I have ever lived.  I now will position my creative juices westward, awaiting any signs from the several magazines I am trying to get stories published in.  The storyteller in me has again been set free, and I enjoy my new life of love, in unison with the butterfly and the bee.


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