Friday, December 30, 2011

Hold the rain in your heart my Moon


  The holidays are somewhere between too fast and too full.  I saved my biggest meal for Christmas day at my brothers in Cary.  We had an amazing spread of ham, pomegranate super salad, squash sumpthin, and pirogi's I made with Erin and Julie.  I can't forget my favorite homemade dish from my mom, cheesy potato casserole.  Oh, and my dad's homemade mushroom soup...oh and...the list goes on.  I love eating as much as I love a craft beer, but sometimes with both I tend to take them in fast without "savoring the moment."  Erin's Grandpa told me over Thanksgiving dinner to slow down and appreciate what I'm eating, not to indulge in the quantity.. I've been told this before with lots of things in my life, and if I do settle down and have what city folk call a "formal interview" this will be my comment on things I'm not great at.  I sum it up as how I teach sled dogs to eat.  I put it down, you scarf it up. It's that simple.  After you do this for six years you pick up a few habits.  Some of them teach you to have a sense of urgency, some teach you infinite patience.  It just blows my mind how fast and slow things happen.  If you're careful, you can watch life's mystery dance between your eyes, but lose focus for a split second, and it's gone.  It's thoughts like these that help keep my heart beating.  In search of it all, if for nothing more than to deliver one more powerfully packed red blood cell to management upstairs.
  I am setting sail in just two short weeks and plan on going to Kansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, and Arkansas before bunkering down in Florida with my brother. I am going to miss the life I've shared with Erin more than anything else, and already am looking forward to our first night away when I get back from Florida.  Something about true love that separates boys from us men.  I never thought love could be so complex, and so simple, like what I was rambling about above.  Anyway, she's the best, and makes me a better person every day, and is becoming a strong woman in my life.
  The farm, the basement, the upstairs room.  I have slept in three different and unique spots for the last two months.  One thing they have in common, a bed.  This is the first thing I will liberate myself from once I hit the road.  Like confinement to the common, I have let myself become used to electricity, running water, and beds once again, making the transition to living out of a car that much more difficult.  It will take a few days in the woods to rekindle and sharpen my skills and passion in that department.  Maybe a bottle of Stroh rum is in order also.
  I look forward to Abita brew co, in Abita springs, LA.  They have awesome beer and I'm sure that state will bring lots of emotion to my writing and eyeing.  I know that this first trip will also be relatively warm, or hot to Alaskans, so camping is essential to securing my spending money.  I know I chose to write a book about expensive beer, so no pity needed, ha.  The prices of gas are down a little, the air is warm, the dogs are ready for new scenery.  I am locked and loaded with new totes, organization skills, and a few extra little goodies to make the drive with.  I am patiently awaiting your recommendations on breweries in the states I'll be headed to  in a couple weeks.  I have researched a rough route, but am always up for an adventure.

p.s.-  You should all look at my mother's birthday present that I got for her!  Click Here to check out her new website for all her arts and crafts!  


Monday, December 19, 2011

Hold The Sun For Me, Old Friend.

       The words we speak are considered our truth.  Those who listen interpret carefully what we say and then onward it goes, like a game of telephone throughout our community and world.  I have found that as I get older I am defined by my truths by friends, family, and peers.  Yes, that's right, I almost wrote pears, but then I realized that if I'm writing a book about beer, I better double check my spelling, for an innocent passer by might think I'm writing about bears.. What I'm getting at is the root of my problem lately.  We are constantly proving to ourselves that what we are doing is right, or that the decisions made are defining on our lives.  I remember a time where experimentation, curiosity, and imagination were the tools for developing what I will become in the future. Well, that time is now.  And never more in my life do I feel like the power of all I have thought is honing in one an incredible time of my life.
       In two weeks I will embark on the last leg of my trip, 15 states left for me to tackle with a taste-tested tongue in search of the best beers yet.  Like any good traveler, I have researched where I will be heading, but leave the mystery in what I will find very much at the mercy of my "in the moment" way of living.  At times I will be overwhelmed with issues concerning strength of my vehicle, cash in my billfold, and warmth of my sleeping bag.  But at no time will I second guess what I'm doing and why I am doing it.  It's very much a "because it's there" frame of mind.
       I am skeptical that I will return to Alaska to brew beer, for communication has been a weak point in that venture.  Erin and I dream bigger than that now.  The reality of being farmers draws us closer to Virginia, where we both want to raise cattle, crops, and a family.  My wings are tired now, I've polished them for this upcoming journey like never before.  The organization factor and self determination is what will define my near future.  Planning is imperative, and as I sit down today and write as much as I can for my book, I know that when I'm camped out in the mountains of New Mexico, I will be able to soak up the sounds and give in to the beauty of life as it is intended to be.  I won't think about the weight or pressure, quite the opposite thoughts are necessary to cultivate defining ideas.
       The idea of choosing two microbreweries from each state and documenting it is conceivable, but actually getting there and not being just a tourist is what I am seeking.  I want to feel Geronimo's presence as I ride into the dawning of a new day, while He holds the morning light just long enough for me to finish what I've started.  I am hopeful the culture of past civilizations teaches me that what I'm after is what I've been searching for all along, and now that I've found true love, I believe that success and happiness are the keys needed to unlock the doors of a future of family, safety, and security.
       I wish you all the happiest of holidays and safe travels of your loved ones so that you may listen to Christmas songs until you can't stand it, and drink so much eggnog that your hide the belt until after the New Year.  Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for the beginning of my last stand for brewers, beer lovers, and travelers alike.  I have found the reward of a craft beer in the place it is brewed to be sublime, and I encourage you all to drink local, live local, and give local.  Happy Holidays!

Oh, and before I forget!  If you are in Alabama,Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, or surrounding states please check out our new website for sled dog presentations.  I am offering an assembly geared towards teaching children about the joys of dog sledding!  Pass along to teachers and parents please!  Sled Dog Assembly  Thank you so much, this is how I'm hoping to help fund my travels, but as always you can click on that widdle bitty Donate icon and help too!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Creative Farming

       We had such a great weekend.  After polishing off the 60 minute IPA from Dogfishhead, it was time to plan out a date with Erin.  We had plans to go to a small acreage farm seminar on Saturday in Asheboro.  Erin has entertained the thought of farming goats for quite some time now, and we thought going to a seminar might turn that spark into a flame.  But before all of that,I had to set up the date of all dates. Friday, after spending a few days with my parents in Cary, I headed towards Burlington with a dress shirt, new haircut, and a clean shaved face.  This was a big step for ol' Joe folks, for the last time I bought a dress shirt, I was applying for CVS/Pharmacy back in high school.  All dressed up, Erin and I hopped in the Ranger and drove to a dog park just south of Greensboro and let the doggies play around with the chuck-it and a frisbee. Tuckered out, the dogs and gang headed to the hotel to get ready for dinner.  Saffron Indian cuisine in Greensboro offered a great menu, including my favorite Palak Paneer.  Erin ordered the thali with some wine, and other than the loud southern gentleman, the experience was exceptional; not to mention a pint of hearty guiness.  Bellies full, we headed to the festival of the lights downtown with a super secret activity in mind.  Street vendors, music, dancing,and cool temperatures set up the ambiance of Christmas, a long awaited feeling that erin and I both love.  Passing through it all quickly, I searched for the ice skating rink, North Carolina's largest outdoor rink, just north of the city park.  Excited and nervous, we laced up and skated the night away.  The perfect date ended tired and sore, awaiting the next days activities in Asheboro.
       The business seminar was fun, educational, and full of idealists.  I got talking to a guy Ron about home brewing and growing hops, and he pointed me to some very helpful local resources.  I am chomping at the bit to start home brewing myself, and need to take advantage of this time that I'm in one spot long enough to brew.  Erin got helpful tips for career paths and farming plans, and off we went after a six hour lecture.  I think that farming is something we both will be good at, and will definitely fit into our lives later down the road.  If any of you have great tips for a beginner, please email me at
       I want to say thank you to those of you who have emailed me this week with brewery recommendations and your stories about traveling and drinking good beer.  It is  these stories that motivate me and make me feel just plain good about what I'm doing.
       This upcoming Saturday and Sunday Erin and I will be at the Raleigh Flea Market selling our prints from our travels, mostly in Alaska and hawaii.  So come on down and find our booth, we'd love to share stories and try and sell you some of our photography!  Have a great week, and remember to be as active as you can now, because cookie season is just around the corner!