PORTLAND, ME

We made it to the other Portland! Long we have talked about how fun it would be to visit the far away Portland, and we finally had our chance. We were not disappointed.

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After having a great time in Portsmouth, we loaded up and headed north along the coast to Portland. It was a beautiful Maine summer day to be on the ocean, and the views out the window were spectacular. We would our way through many small towns and villages, all of them boasting the best lobster and seafood. These small towns were quite the challenge in our large bus, I did have one minor incident that left some glass on the sidewalk. We were coming through a narrow intersection, and while concentrating closely to avoid the car in the left turn lane I got too close to the sidewalk and clipped a telephone pole with one of the giant mirrors. It shattered with a loud pop, startling both of us. Fortunately there were no pedestrians in the area and no physical damage done to the phone pole. I just left broken mirror pieces and my crumbled ego on the ground. At least it was the less important mirror out of the group, and it being missing doesn’t hinder driving at all.

We soon reached the outskirts of Portland and found the large Cabela’s store to park at. They also offer unofficial overnight parking for campers, and since we hadn’t found a better option we decided to settle down for the night. After putting together a quick meal we jumped on the little motorcycle and headed into downtown. Just a short 10 minute ride and we were at the Portland waterfront. It was a perfect evening to be out walking, and all the restaurants and bars were packed. We had a lot of fun exploring along all of the old  wharfs, watching the beautiful boats come in and out of the harbor.

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While we walked along the old streets looking at all the interesting buildings I got a text from my older sister Heidie, she had seen our pictures on Facebook and was surprised to learn that we were all the way up in Portland. Heidie told me that she had a good friend who lived there and would be happy to have us over for the evening. She put me in touch with Tom, and he invited us to bring the bus over to his place just a few minutes from the Old Port area. We were so excited to have a great place to park in the city! Tom and his family live in a beautiful old home, with a nice big curbside to park along. We even got to plug in our power cord to the outlet in the garage. So much better than staying out at the Cabela’s! Tom and Amy were great hosts, opening their home to us and giving us advice on what to see in town. It was so nice to meet them, thanks again guys! After we got settled Lindsey and I decided to walk a couple blocks down the road and check out an interesting bar we had seen called the Great Lost Bear. GLB was a great little divey bar, with a huge selection of local draft beer. The decor was fun and the bartender was very friendly. We had a nice time enjoying some Allagash White and chatting with a few locals. Everyone can tell we aren’t from this area and are always fascinated to hear about our trip so far. It is fun to share stories with others who are interested.

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Tom an Amy’s beautiful 100 year old home

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Great Lost Bear

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The next morning we unloaded our bicycles and aired up the tires to head back down to the Old Port. Lindsey and I aren’t very experienced cyclists, but we enjoy getting out and riding when we can. We try to make ourselves use them frequently to get some much needed exercise, but when we have a motorcycle at our disposal the bicycles stay dormant far too long. We did have a great time riding along the Back Cove Trail and through the city. We found our way back to the waterfront and spent some more time walking through the streets looking in the window’s of all the stores. When we found The Holy Donut we couldn’t resist going in to get some breakfast sweets. They make their doughnuts using mashed potatoes in the dough, it makes for dense and moist doughnuts, which are very delicious.

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Once we had seen as much as we could in one morning we pedaled back to the bus, said goodbye to Tom, and drove up the road a couple miles to the Allagash Brewery. Allagash is a belgian style brewery. They are unusual because they use wild yeasts and old barrel aging techniques to add character to their delicious beers. My favorite is the Belgian White, a zesty wheat ale with a perfect amount of coriander and orange peel added. We took the tour of their great new facility, it is so nice to see a company start small and grow in popularity. The tour ended in the barrel room where our guide shared several samples with us. It was a great time, it took a lot of willpower for me to leave without buying a case of the Witbier. Easily one of the best I have had on this trip so far.

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Lindsey and I agreed that this city is quite similar to Portland, Oregon. The craft beer scene is huge, the restaurant and food selection is vast, and the neighborhoods full of old homes are so great to walk through. We couldn’t decide if our favorite thing about it is the number of breweries or the number of handmade ice cream shops! This could easily be home for us, although I am not sure how many winters we would want to endure. It would definitely be worth a trip back to spend more time enjoying the local food and surrounding area.

Saying goodbye to Allagash and Portland we continued up the road, heading to our next overnight stop at a winery in Unity, Maine. We were just turning onto the interstate when we noticed a young guy hitchhiking on the ramp, he looked like a nice guy and we decided it was time to return some of the kindness we have been experiencing so we stopped and he jumped aboard. Connor was impressed with the bus and thought it was fun to ride in. He was a really nice younger guy, he spends the summers working on various farms around Maine and was on his way back to the one he currently works at. Unfortunately it is too loud up front by the engine to talk much while we are underway, but Lindsey and Connor had a nice time chatting while sitting at the dinette. It was fun to have another passenger for a little while, and it was nice to help out another traveler.

We slowly worked our way up the state, twisting through countless narrow farm roads, attracting stares and waves in every little town we passed through. In the late afternoon we arrived at our stop for the night in Unity, at the Younity Winery, where we met our host Clem. Clem is an eccentric guy who loves making wine, and it was a pleasure to spend a couple hours talking with him about the process and walking through his grapes and small winery. He was happy to share tastes of all his unique wines with us, including some very interesting fruit wines. He describes his wine not as a product, but as an experience. It really is, and every bottle has a story behind it. Some of his batches include cranberries, rhubarb, and one especially intriguing one: pumpkin. We enjoyed listening to Clem’s colorful stories and also learning a little about the history of the area. Also interesting is that he is a fellow North Westerner who fell in love with Maine some years ago. Clem provided us with a beautiful parking space for the night, on a hill overlooking the surrounding farms and old houses.

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Maine is a beautiful state, and it has been a pleasure to drive through. We are on our way into Canada now, but will be coming back through Maine in a few days to spend more time.

PORTSMOUTH, NH

Our New Hampshire adventure continued as we headed out of the mountains and over towards the coastline. Since the first days of planning this trip we have been talking about visiting Portsmouth, and I am so glad we did. It is a beautiful city on the seacoast, full of historic buildings, great food, craft beer, and a lively nightlife. We parked outside of town, just over the Maine border in Kittery, in the big parking lot behind the Trading Post store (giant outdoor store). As we pulled around the back of the building to find a parking spot we cruised by a couple other RV’s parked along the far end of the lot. Being the curious and friendly travelers we are, after parking the bus we moseyed over to say hello. We met two of the nicest retired couples, they loved the bus and had lots of questions and suggestions for the rest of our New England travels. They were all from Vermont and upstate New York, so they had plenty of advice for the rest of our time here. We chatted with them for a while and of course we ended up with a bottle of fresh Vermont maple syrup from their family sugar house. Meeting wonderful people like them is a big part of what makes this trip so much fun.

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Starting off the day with some farm fresh eggs

Earlier in the day, before we reached our parking space for the night, we wanted to stop at the Smuttynose Brewery and check it out. Smuttynose is just outside Portsmouth, on an old farm they recently bought. The brewing facility is brand new, and is so beautiful. The entire building is an amazing mixture of classic New England farm style and modern sustainable technology. Lindsey and I rolled into the parking lot in the bus and had the attention of everyone in sight. It’s not everyday you see a big ass antique Blue Bird bus come gliding into the lot and park in the back. We had just set the brakes and were putting together a quick lunch before going into the brewery when we noticed one of the employees walking toward us across the tarmac. We were worried that he was going to ask us to move or leave,  but we were pleasantly surprised when he popped his head in the front door and told us how much he loved the bus. Of course we invited him in, and showed him around our little space. Ben introduced himself as the head tour host at Smuttynose, and shared stories with us about his own experience traveling the country in an RV with his wife. He was so accommodating, when he found out we were going to make lunch before heading inside he offered us some beer, and of course we didn’t turn him down. He disappeared into the building and returned a minute later with two big cups full of their latest specialty beer, a Farmhouse Ale, that they were just releasing that afternoon. It was the nicest way to be greeted! After we had a quick lunch we headed into the building and were waiting in the store for the next tour to start when Ben found us again. He had us follow him out into the brewery, and gave us our own personal tour of the facility. We spent at at least an hour getting the full rundown of their brewing and packaging process. We even got to climb up into the walkways looking into the giant vessels where the brewing takes place. We felt so important as we hiked around the tall catwalk, way above the rest of the crowd down below. At the end of our tour Ben set us up with their other hosts at the tasting counter, and had them take extra special care of us. Lindsey and I had a great time visiting with them and trying all of their outstanding brews. The staff was so friendly and excited to hear about our traveling adventures, it was an amazing experience. When we finally pulled ourselves away from the tasting counter we were in the store picking out a couple souvenirs to take with us when Ben found us once more, this time offering up a big bottle of the Farmhouse Ale on the house, saying it was a gift for our trip. I can’t express how great our experience was there, the staff was so nice and all the special treatment really made for an amazing time. Smuttynose isn’t very easy to find out west, but the beer is incredible and well worth the search.

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Getting the rundown on the brewing process at Smutty

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Peeking into the giant brewing vessels

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Enjoying the tasting counter and the awesome Smuttynose employees

 

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Showing off my awesome Smutty shirt

 

After our time at Smutty we headed out to find our parking space for the night. Since Kittery is just over the border from New Hampshire it was a great chance to take the motorcycle into Portsmouth for the evening to check it out. We never realized that it was such a lively city, as we rode down the main drag there were a ton of people out and about dressed for a night out on the town. Eventually we found ourselves at the Portsmouth Brewery, the sister company to Smuttynose. It was a busy restaurant, but we managed to find a space in the back where we could setup our computers and do some blogging and research for the next leg of our trip. When we were at Smutty earlier in the day they gave us some free beer voucher cards to use at Portsmouth Brewery, so we definitely used those to our advantage. We had a great time at the brewery and seeing the city at night was very interesting. Heading back over the border into Maine for the night was so pretty, with all the lights on in Portsmouth and the bridge all lit up. We made it back to our bus and had a great nights sleep.

The next morning we packed up the bus and drove back into Portsmouth, we had found a large church parking lot just outside the downtown area to park in for part of the day. We left the bus along the back edge of the lot and hiked into town. The first place we stopped once we got into town was Don Gorvett’s art studio where he makes amazing wood block relief prints. Lindsey and I were so in love with the artwork, if we had a bigger budget for the trip we definitely would have ended up with a couple large prints to take home. Since our budget is very small, we settled for a couple of postcards to remember the place by. We spent the rest of the morning enjoying the sights and sounds of the city, walking along the bay, and loving the historic buildings and architecture. Of course we stopped in at the Portsmouth Brewery again to use up some more of the free drink cards we had. Portsmouth was such an enjoyable little city, it would be a great place to visit again in the future. Maybe one day we will be lucky enough to come back through and experience it again.

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Don’s studio

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Portsmouth Brewing

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ALSTEAD, NH

New Hampshire has been in the back of my mind for quite a while now, it is such an intriguing state and we are both so excited to finally be here.  I had even thought seriously about moving here for a while, that’s how much I enjoy their attitude. Their state motto “Live Free Or Die” says it all; compared to the rest of New England, New Hampshire is a haven for live and let live type folks. So far in our visit we have learned about how vigorously the locals try to keep it that way.

After leaving our last spot just outside Hartford we traveled up into the NE corner of Connecticut and spent a night camped at Fort Hills Farm. Fort Hills was an awesome place to stay, it is a 1200 acre, 500 head organic dairy farm, with their own milk label (The Farmers Cow) and fresh made ice cream. Needless to say we definitely enjoyed consuming more ice cream than we should have. Kristin, the owner, was an excellent host, letting us park in the field for the night and chatting with us about the farm history and operation.

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We left Fort Hills Thursday morning, pointing the bus north and heading for Alstead. We really wanted to visit Boston, but after spending time in DC and New York we were done with the big cities for a while.  Since New England states are all fairly small we have really had to adjust our trip planning. What looks like a 4-5 hour drive on the map might only take 2 hours in the bus, which is sure nice compared to driving through Florida where you have to drive 6 hours to get anywhere. Rolling through all the small towns we really enjoyed seeing all the old historic buildings and beautiful scenery.  New Hampshire is a very pretty state.

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Winding through some narrow back roads up into the hills we managed to find our next destination, Jon and Christy’s beautiful property hiding back at the end of a long gravel drive. We also found them through the Boondockers Welcome website, which we have been using with great success so far. They are very friendly hosts and enjoyed seeing our bus, as well as showing us around their place and sharing stories about their own RV travels.  It was so fun to watch their chickens wandering the yard constantly pecking and making happy chicken noises. We actually ended up with a few cartons of fresh eggs since they have more than they can use, we were happy to bring them aboard. Lindsey and I really enjoyed sitting around the campfire with them into the wee hours of the morning, telling stories and enjoying a couple bottles of their home grown and home made hard apple cider. Part of their income comes from their metal sign business, using a CNC plasma cutter they design and cut out all sorts of decorative signs and machine parts. They surprised us with a custom made sign of our New Oregon Trail logo! Such an amazing gift, it is a better souvenir than we could have found anywhere else. If you are ever in the market for custom signs or shooting targets look them up!  You can find their work at www.metalmazing.com.

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Since we were camped here for a couple days, we rolled the motorcycle off the carrier and went for a little ride through the beautiful, winding back roads eventually leading us to Keene, NH. Keene is a great little town, we had a lot of fun walking around and enjoying the beautiful old buildings and great weather. We enjoyed taking a break at Brewbakers, the local bread bakery and coffee shop. Next we headed to the market down the road to load up on some groceries for the night. While we were relaxing at Brewbakers using their wifi, Lindsey noticed a location tag for a place close by called Belgian Mare Brewery. We were immediately interested, especially since we hadn’t seen it come up in any other searches of the area. After looking at their Facebook page we discovered that they were right along the little road we were taking to get back to Jon and Christy’s place, so of course we had to stop in on our way back to the bus.

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We found the awesome wood fired brewery hiding back from the road on Tim and Tracey’s farm, and immediately loved it. The brewing operation and store is housed in a small hand built barn, with trellised hops growing out front and chickens pecking around outside. We found Tim (the owner, operator, and head brewer) hanging out in the tasting room and spent the next two hours sharing stories with him and his wife, and learning about how the wood fired brewing process works. We really enjoyed tasting a few of his fine beers, as well as meeting Aggie, the big Belgian draft horse that the brewery is named after. Finding this small, off grid brewery and its awesome owner was a great end to our day exploring in New Hampshire. After we said our goodbyes we saddled up on the little Yamaha and headed back home, to enjoy a nice chilly night sleeping in our awesome bus.

NEW YORK CITY, NY

Our trip to New York City actually started in Connecticut. After the car show, we needed a new place to go for the night, and we managed to arrange some last minute plans with a wonderful couple we met through Boondockers Welcome. Boondockers Welcome is a website that connects RV travel enthusiasts to provide free overnight parking (usually no hookups, sometimes called dry camping or boondocking). So that is how we landed in Bolton and met Chris and Cheri.

Bolton is a little town outside of Hartford, CT. Our hosts live on a beautiful lake and they spoiled us by inviting us to use their kayaks and unwind on their lakefront deck. After a relaxing morning on the lake, we took the motorcycle into Hartford to get lunch and check out the city. We really enjoyed our time there, and even got to join in on a BBQ dinner with the neighbors.

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Meanwhile, we’d been plotting an escape to NYC, but hadn’t nailed down a plan. There just wasn’t a good place for us to park outside the city, and all the campgrounds were full or over $80 a night. Chris suggested we just leave our bus at their place and take the Greyhound bus into NYC. He even went so far as to give us a ride to the bus station in Hartford. So we booked a room for the night at the Sohotel and said a temporary goodbye to our little home.

We made it into the city just in time for breakfast, so after walking through Times Square, we made our way to a bagel shop (duh). Once our faces were stuffed with bagels and lox, our next stop was the Empire State Building. On the way, we walked through Grand Central Station, which was very impressive. We got to the Empire State at a good time, because it wasn’t terribly busy. I’m glad we went, because even though everyone has experienced the scenery through movies, the view was breathtaking. Standing up there makes all the other buildings look like they’re built out of legos.

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We meandered south through town to find our hotel and soon after, dinner. Our Connecticut host, Chris, had told us to keep our eyes open for celebrities in that part of town, and I hadn’t thought much of it. But that’s exactly what happened. As Steven and I were hiking down the street I walked right into Adam Levine, just as he came out of a doorway and was quickly ushered into his Escalade. Famous people! So exciting.

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After dinner we found what we were really looking for: 124 Old Rabbit Club. Recommended to us by some guy back at our favorite brewery in Florida, the Rabbit Club is a discreet basement bar in the West Village. Hidden underneath a sea of college town nonsense, the Old Rabbit Club is serving up fine Belgian beers and very loud punk music. What seems like a strange combination is a perfect storm, and we love the little hideaway that it is. This is our kind of bar.

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On Tuesday morning, we went in search of our next very important New York breakfast: doughnuts! As luck would have it, a very trendy and fancy doughnut shop was only a short walk from our hotel room. They. Were. So. Good. Enter Doughnut Plant, where the filled doughnuts are square and the small doughnuts are referred to as “dough seeds”. We had maybe more than is recommended…

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Tuesday was also the day we had to have a go at the Subway system, which seemed a lot easier than it really was. We fumbled our way through it and are thankful we don’t have to deal with that sort of thing on a daily basis back home. I’m sure we looked like total tourists and made of ourselves, but hey we are tourists and I suppose we are fools when it comes to commuting through NYC. Of course we had to catch the Statue of Liberty while we were in town, but we really didn’t want to pay money just to stand in line all day. So at the advice of a friend, we instead took the Staten Island ferry for free, which is a nice twenty-minute journey and gives you a great view of the statue as well as the rest of the Manhattan waterfront.

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Next stop was a bakery in Brooklyn. Seems like a lot of nerdy foodie things I’ve read about New York are in Brooklyn, so we had to go. I recalled an article in the NY Times about artisan bread and a bakery named Bien Cuit, which translates to “well done” and reflects the head baker’s European style of achieving a deep golden hue in his baked goods. We managed to get two loaves stuffed into our backpacks to enjoy later. We went next door to Konditori for coffee, purely because I wanted to see an adorable bear drawn in my foam. They did not disappoint.

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Lunch was really fun because we got a little more than we expected when we chose an Italian pizza spot around the corner. Not only was the food amazing, but the Italy-Uraguay World Cup game happened to be on at the same time. I think we were the only non-sports fans in the restaurant, which wasn’t too busy except for the group of Italians sitting on the edge of their seats, white knuckling it and yelling at the TV in Italian. Our server did a great job, considering the obvious distraction and as soon as he would check on us, he was back over by the screen, watching intensely. This was the same game where one Italian player got bit on the shoulder, and boy was it fun to be in an Italian crowd for that moment. We happily devoured our pizza and made our way out toward the Brooklyn Bridge.

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The bridge was a beautiful walk back to Manhattan. On our way back to the bus station, we happened to walk right past the Classic Car Club. We had just met two gentlemen from the rental service at GFest, where they showed up with the coveted E30 M3 and a sleek Porsche. We didn’t see our new friends there, but we stopped in for some photos.

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The only real hiccup we had in New York City was missing our bus. With the help of a taxi, we made it to the station with plenty of time, only to be directed by the staff to the wrong bus terminal. The thing with the Port Authority bus station is that it is made up of several buildings and a ridiculous amount of bus terminals. As we waited for the Peter Pan bus to Hartford at Gate 15, our actual bus was already embarking from gate 83. By the time we figured it out, we were only four minutes too late. Damn. Luckily, the nice lady at the desk took pity on us and changed our tickets over to the next bus for no extra charge. In the end, we still made it back to Bolton that night where we were reunited with our bus. It’s funny to think that after only spending 2 ½ weeks in our vehicle, it has come to feel like home.

WASHINGTON, D.C.

When we left North Carolina, we had to get out of our dreamy, sleepy small town mode and into the big city mindset. Our bus, however, got to unwind in the woods while we went out to play. Taking advantage of our State Park system, we set up camp at a surprisingly green and low key park in Maryland, a mile hike away from the Metro rail station and 12 miles out of D.C. I recommend Greenbelt Park to anyone wanting to see the Capital on a budget.

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What I don’t strongly recommend is trying to tour the national monuments and museums during summer break. Lots of crowds and lots of waiting in lines that wrap around the block. We would have spent more time doing the touristy stuff if not for the multitudes that were doing the same thing. We enjoyed going up into the Washington Monument, which is way more impressive in person than in photos. The other stop we made time for was the Holocaust Memorial Museum. Sobering and astonishing, we were reminded of things taken for granted, and learned some new facts about the war as well. We got our exercise that day, walking around to see the World War II Memorial fountain, the Lincoln Memorial and a peek at the White House. I was surprised that the White House didn’t seem as grandiose as portrayed in film.

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View of the Lincoln Memorial from the WA Monument

View of the Lincoln Memorial from the Washington Monument

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I was also a little dismayed at the city in general. I expected our nation’s Capital to be a bit more polished. But even if the city’s not polished, a lot of the people definitely are. The attire, even at the bars, served as a constant reminder that we are no where near the Northwest. It’s all suit and tie instead of jeans and flannels. Here’s some shots from a cool motorcycle themed tap room near Chinatown, which quickly filled up with some business savvy folks after 5 o’clock.

IMG_7168IMG_7159IMG_7167With three nights spent at the campground, this was our longest stay anywhere yet. The down time was really nice and gave us a chance to accomplish some important things, like reorganizing our home and cooking full meals. Plus some general relaxation thrown in.

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After a long day dealing with the crowds and the heat, we were ready to do some dining. Tuesday evening we made our way over to Right Proper Brewing in the Shaw neighborhood. They had great food and drink, a wonderful bartender named Eric and the best mural I’ve ever encountered.

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IMG_7119We also took the advice of a friendly local at the Right Proper bar and headed to Pizzeria Paradiso in Dupont Circle on Wednesday for lunch. Dupont Circle was a nice area, it seemed far away from the sweaty crowds on the National Mall.  The circle itself was home to some picnics and locals catching a break in the shade, while the surrounding area housed many cafes, restaurants, and book stores. We had some of the best pizza of our lives at Paradiso, and loved the very expansive beer selection. I’ll just leave this here:

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D.C. was a very enjoyable stop on our trip, full of interesting places and people. It was a great experience to visit our nation’s Capital, and a chance to see the bad and good of the city.

CARRBORO, NC

Through a random BBQ lunch, we learned that our landlord’s fiance’s parents live in Carrboro (next to Chapel Hill) and love entertaining guests. Lucky for us, they were willing to put us up for a night and let us park the bus in the neighborhood. I’ll just say they have “guest quarters” (a small apartment that would rival many fine hotel rooms) that they built next to the house and that it was very gracious of them to offer their place to us. I could have spent a lot of time there, alas, we only had one night. We did greatly enjoy visiting the Weaver Street Market, which, for you North-Westerners, is a mirror image of New Seasons, except a co-op. We enjoyed a healthy dinner there and took the chance to restock our provisions for the next couple days. Basically, I was rejoicing to find a place like that, and it furthered the idea that North Carolina is the east coast version of Oregon. Because it really is.

Obviously, we had to check out the local brewery. It’s called Steel String, and they had some great choices. We especially liked their wheat beers. We shared a flight before we walked the block and a half back to our home for the night.

IMG_7022 IMG_7026 IMG_7029Our hosts were so generous, they sent us off with a sack lunch. THEY MADE US LUNCH. Can’t emphasize enough how wonderful they are. And Carrboro is a very charming little college town, if you are ever in the area. There are also some restaurants that sounded great, but we weren’t around long enough to enjoy them. We were there long enough to enjoy the free town wifi and some local brew. Just our style.

 

ASHEVILLE, NC

We’d been looking forward to a stop in Asheville since we started planning this trip. Everyone we talked to had nothing but praises for the city, and we knew it would be a bit like home. The drive in from Tennessee was incredible, as we wound our way slowly up the Smoky Mountains and the air got cooler and cooler. We rolled into a small town just up the road, where we parked outside a friend’s hobby car shop. He was very generous in letting us stay there and hook up to electricity, and he even welded us a makeshift exhaust turndown to keep soot off our motorcycle. Steven had fun talking shop and checking out his current projects.

The next morning, we geared up and hopped on the bike for our excursion into Asheville. We knew we were running on fumes from the last trip, but thought we could make it to the gas station down the road. Of course, we ran out of fuel a couple of miles away. We coasted for a while, but pretty soon we were pushing it along the side of the road. Fortunately for us, a friendly local (as it seems there are many) offered a ride to the station. Steven jumped in his truck and was back in a few minutes with a can of fuel. As I waited, I took in the scenery and was also asked by another local if I needed anything. This experience only further prompted our love of the area. After topping our tank it was a smooth ride into town.

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Coincidentally, there was a festival going on that weekend, right on the hillside next to us. It’s called the Firefly Gathering, and it was a weekend-long camp out with a very full and varied schedule of workshops and classes, all having to do with living off the Earth/primitive skills/sustainable living. It was funny when we arrived to see the event organizers staring at our bus, sure that we were there for the event. And we definitely looked the part! We were approached several times that weekend, with concern for our event registration and our “illegal” parking spot. We assured them we were allowed to park there by the shop tenant and also “We’re not part of the group, what is it all about?”. But everyone was very friendly and invited us to join in on the fun, which we would have been interested in had we more time to spend in the area. The class on solar energy wouldn’t have hurt our dry camping ambitions.

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Asheville is similar to Portland, Oregon as everyone has told us. It’s just a lot smaller, sort of like the equivalent of the Alberta Arts District and Mississippi Ave. Lots of art, beer, food, and community spirit. The icing on the cake is it’s beautiful location in the mountains. We enjoyed wandering around town, found delicious lunch at a place called Farm Burger (shocking choice for us, I know), and took some time to sample the local craft beer scene. The variety of beer was great, everything from belgian styles to “West coast style” IPAs to sours and wild ales. There is something for everyone in Asheville. We were fortunate to be there on the day of Burial Beer’s one year anniversary, so we picked up a 750mL of their special release Aged Saison to savor at another time.

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A locavore’s haven

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Downstairs at Wicked Weed

Wicked Weed Brewing Co.

Wicked Weed Brewing Co.

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The basement at Thirsty Monk

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Double D's Coffee Bus

Double D’s Coffee Bus

Wild Ale flight at Burial

Wild Ale flight at Burial

We loved the beer, but I couldn’t leave Asheville without trying their chocolate, either. I discovered French Broad Chocolate Lounge via Joy the Baker, and was eager to try it. My hot chocolate, infused with rose water, cardamom and chopped pistaschios, certainly did not disappoint.

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We were a little sad to leave this place, and I think even more sad to leave the fresh mountain air. It was a good reminder of what’s near to our hearts.