Here piggy piggy piggy!! Wooly piggy that is!!

Fuggles, one of the many Wooly pigs
wooly piglets…not so wooly yet

 

It’s winter in Ohio…what does that mean…50 degrees and rain today (Saturday) with snow predicted for Monday…As the saying goes, If you don’t like the weather in Ohio, just wait a few minutes it’ll change.

The plan for the day? A trip to Wooly Pig Farm Brewery near Fresno, Ohio.

https://www.woolypigfarmbrewery.com/

View from the road to the brewery.

 

Wooly Pig Farm Brewery sits in the hills of Coshocton County. The brewery is located in a beautiful location.  I mean seriously, it’s very pretty now and it’s the dead of winter…that means nothing but dead grass and trees with no leaves.  I can’t wait to see what the place looks like once the weather breaks.  The brewery has only been open about six weeks.  As we drove up the gravel road we saw the brew-house and taproom on our left.  It’s a quaint little location from the outside with quite a bit of parking.  I am sure that the large parking area will be necessary once the weather breaks and the tourism season kicks in here in Ohio.  Everyone knows that when you are touring Amish country, you need beer…and wine…but we are just enjoying beer today.

The story behind Wooly Pig is pretty cool.  Kevin Ely is a former brewer at Uinta brewing in Salt Lake City, UT…their loss is our gain.  I found Kevin to be very personable and willing to talk about the brewery and what has gone into getting this endeavor off of the ground.

Chatting about the brewery with the Brewmaster, Kevin Ely

His wife Jael, grew up less than a mile from the site of Wooly Pig Farm Brewery.  She and her family have a been a part of the brewery since day one.  Jael is the mother to Astrid and Soren who we met on our trip.  Astrid was very informative regarding the wooly pigs…especially Fuggles…apparently, he doesn’t like to be petted as we were warned not to put our hands in his enclosure.  She also introduced us to a bunch of young piglets that are not wooly…yet…this brewery is a true family affair.  Jael Malenke, a biologist-turned-businesswoman and mother of Astrid and Soren.
Aaron Malenke, a farmer and fix-it-man, and his wife Lauren Malenke, a large animal veterinarian.
Todd Malenke, a blacksmith artist and carpenter, and Patti Malenke, museum curator and grandma extraordinaire.
Nate Malenke, a blacksmith knife-maker, and his wife Lucy Bryan Malenke, a writer and college professor.
It takes a great team to make great beer, and this team is united by love for each other, dedication to the land, and a shared quest for the next great brew.  They are definitely working towards the next great brew.

A tasting flight of 4 beers offered at Wooly Pig Farm Brewery

I ordered a flight of four tasters…Schwarzbier, IPL Eins, Fruited Gose and their Baltic Porter.  All of the beers were very good.

The Schwarzbier had hints of coffee and chocolate as well as an underlying smoke flavor.  I rated this a 4 on untappd.  The IPL Eins was very good, I tend to like IPA’s so I figured their India Pale Lager would be right up my alley.  The flavors of the Galaxy, Citra and Azacca hops were subtle and tasty in this lager.  This will be a great beer to drink on the patio this summer.  It seems very tropical to me.  I also gave this a 4 on untappd.  The Fruited Gose is a typical sour beer.  I like sour beers but they are not at the top of my list as far as drinking them on a regular basis.  I only gave this a 3.75 but that is biased as it isn’t my favorite style of beer…the last beer that I tried was the Baltic Porter, another good beer.

Taproom at Wooly Pig Farm Brewery

I am sure that there are many more trips to Wooly Pig Farm Brewery in my future.  They make solid good beer and it’s a fun place to go and visit.  Once the weather breaks here in Ohio and things dry out a bit, it will be a great to pay Kevin and Jael a visit and try more of their beers.  If you have a bit of time to kill and want to go for a “ride in the country”, I strongly suggest a trip to Wooly Pig Farm Brewery.  You will not be disappointed.

 

Two wooly pigs
The brewhouse at Wooly Pig Farm Brewery

 

 

Coming Soon

 

Next up, a trip to Fort Lauderdale and the Caribbean with stops at Funky Buddha, Lauderale Brewing and Pirate Republic in Nassau, Bahamas!!!

https://funkybuddhabrewery.com/

https://lauderale.co/

http://www.piraterepublicbahamas.com/

I’m really looking forward to the trip…checking out some breweries and going on a Caribbean cruise…how bad can it be???

https://www.royalcaribbean.com/

traveling on Allure of the Seas from Royal Caribbean!!!

 

 

Day 3-I should’ve made a left turn at Albquerque

Today was a day to sleep in…we were up by 0700 (which is sleeping in for me)…the fortunate news this morning is that there were no earthquakes…and the hostage situation has been resolved so it is safe to be outside.
We decided to have our breakfast at the “best” breakfast spot on Route 66.  http://www.kixon66.com/

Kix on 66 is your typical diner on Route 66.  Julie decided to try the Springfield Mexican Scramble; which is Chorizo, scrambled eggs and cheese, served with hash browns and a flour tortilla.  I had the Vega Green Chile omelet which is an omelet with chopped green chili and house made sausage, topped with green sauce and melted cheddar cheese.  The food is fantastic but very inexpensive.  The atmosphere of the diner is kitschy just like you would expect on Route 66.  There is also a gift shop that has all of your Route 66 souvenirs that you may need.  We passed on the souvenirs as we figured we would be coming across many more gift shops on this trip.

We strolled back across Main Street/Route 66, and checked out of the Roadrunner Lodge.  http://www.roadrunnerlodge.com/   Loaded up the car and headed west.  Of course, that meant driving the length of Main Street in Tucumcari.  This allowed us to see all of the art deco style hotels and signage in the town as well as a couple of famous landmarks and sculptures.  Our first stop, Santa Fe, on the oldest alignment of Route 66, dating back to 1926.  This was a 175 mile detour off of I40 to get up to Santa Fe.  It was beautiful countryside with lots of mountains and very little traffic.

An old Café along Route 66

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another motel along Route 66

 

We arrived in Santa Fe around lunchtime.  Little did we know…it was a weekend that the “square” was closed and there was a festival going on.  The festival was packed…and by packed, I mean you can’t move packed.  We parked in one of the public parking lots and started meandering the streets of Santa Fe.  By streets, I mean roadways as narrow as an alley in most towns.

The Square in Santa Fe, NM on old Route 66

 

The first order of business was to find someplace to get a cold drink…in other words…a cold beer.  🙂  We strolled through the streets looking for a “place” that looked like it might have good food and cold beer.  After a trek through town we happened upon Atrisco Café and Bar.  This seemed like the place to be, the place was packed….we were seated at the back of the bar overlooking a balcony over the street.  It was nice to sit in the open air after all of the time in the car.  We ordered a couple of beers; a La Cumbre Elevated IPA for me and a Santa Fe Pale Ale for Julie.  The La Cumbre Elevated IPA really brought it.  Talk about hops…this beer has it.  I love hops, always have and hopefully always will.  This was a mix of flavors, grapefruit, resiny, grassy…in other words delicious.  The Santa Fe Pale Ale was also very good.  Julie isn’t a hophead like I am but I am slowly converting her.  It’s a process.  When I started dating her about 19 years ago, she thought that Amstel light was good beer.  Thank God she got over that pretty quickly or this relationship would’ve never made it.  I can put up with a lot of things, but “liking” bad beer isn’t one of those things.

Lunch consisted of chicken enchiladas for me and pork burrito for Julie.  The food was delicious and fairly priced.  Portions were not too large.  We enjoyed lunch and the sights and sounds around us then moved on.

We strolled through all of the booths at the market looking at the local wares that were being sold including a huge; I mean HUGE pink flamingo made from scrap metal.  This thing was about 7 feet tall and painted bright pink.  If money was not problem, I would’ve purchased this thing on the spot and had it delivered to my Dad.  He hates pink flamingos!!!  I have enjoyed many years of messing with him in regards to his aversion of pink flamingos.  One time I purchased several pink flamingo lawn sprinklers that had flapping wings when the water was turned on…stuck them in the yard and turned the sprinkler on so that they would see them when they turned the corner after an 8 hour drive home from Chicago.  Another time, I purchases as much pink flamingo “stuff” as I could find and placed it all over the house.  This turned into a competition between me and my parents…every year for many years I received a pink flamingo Christmas ornament.  That has faded for now but someday I hope to revive it with something like the giant flamingo that I saw in Santa Fe.

Julie was partial to the buffalo, not the Flamingo

A couple of hours later we decided to move on to Flagstaff where we would be spending the next couple of days…on the way to Flagstaff we were going by a couple of places that I really wanted to stop at but with the daylight waning, I felt that it was best to backtrack and go to these places the following day…the trip to Flagstaff was fairly uneventful…other than driving into the blinding sunset on the freeway headed directly west…now that was a fun time…I honestly thought that my retinas were fried by the time we got to the hotel in Flagstaff…another motel that we didn’t have a reservation for…an old 1960’s Howard Johnson…for about $69 per night…and the best part…there was a restaurant attached to the motel that ranks in the top 10 restaurants in Flagstaff on Trip Advisor.  Time for dinner and then turn in for another night…

San Miguel Church, oldest church in the United States
San Miguel Church
The oldest home in the US
a former resident of the oldest home in the US.
Something is wrong.
Instagram token error.
Load More

 

Cars, Cadillacs and a Roadrunner on Route 66.

Ughhhhh…How can it be time to get up and get moving?? I feel like I have been in a car for almost 16 hours and 900 miles…oh that’s right; that’s exactly what I did yesterday.
Speaking of yesterday; where did that day go? We started in NE Ohio and we are now in SW Missouri…and what is that God awful shaking and noise in our hotel?  An earthquake, a 5.8 magnitude quake to be exact.  I can’t believe that we experienced an earthquake in Joplin, Missouri! Of course, we had no idea what it was.  We don’t have earthquakes on a frequent basis in Ohio.

Shake map from the earthquake in Pawnee, Oklahoma
Shake map from the earthquake in Pawnee, Oklahoma

 

Apparently Julie thought that I was doing jumping jacks in the hotel room while she was getting her shower.  If I was doing jumping jacks, the people below us would be complaining about the noise…as it was, nobody realized what was going on…seriously, the thought of me doing jumping jacks makes me nauseated.

I reassured her repeatedly that I wasn’t doing anything but watching the news.  The earthquake occurred in Pawnee, Oklahoma; about 150 miles from Joplin; but was felt as far away as South Dakota and Southern Texas.  I was certainly hoping that this wasn’t an omen of things to come on our trip across Route 66.  Ok, Ok, enough about the earthquake…

We are…on the road again…(isn’t that a song?).  Day 2 is just beginning…our first destination for the day is Kansas…the only portion of the Route that we drove in its entirety…of course, the length of Route 66 in Kansas is only a bit over eleven miles so that isn’t really saying much.

Our first stop for the day was Galena, Kansas.  Galena is a quaint little town just across the Missouri border.  The first thing that we come across on the route on day 2 is a small gas station…that has Cars characters on the parking lot around the gas station…I have to be honest, I haven’t seen any of the Cars movies so I am pretty much in the dark as to what the heck I am looking at…however, our friends John and Angie have a 6 year old.  I’m sure that Ian will be able to help us out with the characters.

I would agree, it is a “Happy Place”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the characters from Cars.

My wife hanging out in front of a gas station…what am I going to do with this woman???

Time to move on from Galena…remember, you are just seeing some of the things that we saw at each stop.  This blog would be 100’s of pages long if I talked about or showed you pics of everything that we saw along the way.

Our next stop is Commerce, Oklahoma.  Apparently Commerce is the home of Mickey Mantle, the Commerce Comet is one of his nicknames.  Mickey played his entire career with the New York Yankees.  Mantle was arguably the greatest offensive threat of any center fielder in baseball history.  Mickey was names after Mickey Cochrane, a Hall of Fame catcher.  Obviously, his father was a big baseball fan.  Mickey never believed that he was going to live a long healthy life so it was well known that he spent quite a bit of time drinking…Mantle’s entire family including his wife and son both went to rehab for alcohol addiction and urged Mickey to do the same.  Shortly after Mickey completed treatment, his son Billy, died of cardiac problems brought on by years of substance abuse.  Mantle received a liver transplant at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, on June 8, 1995. His liver was severely damaged by alcohol-induced cirrhosis, as well as hepatitis C. Prior to the operation, doctors also discovered he had inoperable liver cancer known as an undifferentiated hepatocellular carcinoma, further necessitating a transplant.  In July, he had recovered enough to deliver a press conference at Baylor, and noted that many fans had looked to him as a role model. “This is a role model: Don’t be like me”, a frail Mantle said. He also established the Mickey Mantle Foundation to raise awareness for organ donations. Soon, he was back in the hospital, where it was found that his cancer was rapidly spreading throughout his body.

Commerce, Oklahoma…home of Mickey Mantle

 

The tallest Route 66 sign that we had found on the trip.

Oklahoma has a lot of Route 66 but it is mostly overlaid by interstate so we would be spending the next couple of hours on Interstates 44 and 40.  Our next stop was going to be a little “ghost town” called Texola on the border of Texas and Oklahoma.

Texola seemed like a good place to stop for lunch…little did we realize that driving across Oklahoma is almost as boring as driving across Indiana and Illinois…with the exception of the “Largest McDonalds” in the world that straddles I44, there really wasn’t much to see.  We drove and drove…1PM arrived, still not to Texola, 2PM arrived and we were still not to Texola but I refused to stop anywhere but Texola…low and behold we finally made it…around 230PM.  It was a bit late for lunch but this is where we were stopping…as I reminded Julie, we still had a lot of traveling to do because we were hoping to make it to Tucumcari, NM as our stop for the night on day 2.

A rebuilt gas station on Route 66 in Commerce
The restored Coleman Theater on Route 66.
We drove on part of the original road bed of Route 66 which was barely wider than my car…

This part of Route 66 was just outside of Texola.  Texola was a bit disappointing.  It was supposed to be a ghost town with an active bar and some abandoned buildings.  The hope was to stop at the bar and have a cold beer prior to exploring the ruins of the ghost town.  The bar was closed so it just ended up being a picnic with some water and a bit of exploring of the few buildings that were still standing…one of which was a regional jail during the Indian era in Oklahoma…and there were more “Cars” here…by now, I am wondering how in the hell did all of the “Cars” character cars got placed along the route…remember, we saw the first ones in Galena, Kansas earlier that morning and we were now on the Oklahoma/Texas border.

The bar and another “Cars” character in Texola
A sign on the bar in Texola

And, like the sign says, there is not other place like this.  🙂

Our view at lunch, the regional jail in Texola.
The bank in Texola…not sure that there’s any money left.

We are finally back in the car and are heading west again…we drive across the panhandle of Texas with our next stop not far away…the Cadillac Ranch just outside of Amarillo.

Standing along Route 66 west of Amarillo, Texas, Cadillac Ranch was invented and built by a group of art-hippies imported from San Francisco. They called themselves The Ant Farm, and their silent partner was Amarillo billionaire Stanley Marsh 3. He wanted a piece of public art that would baffle the locals, and the hippies came up with a tribute to the evolution of the Cadillac tail fin. Ten Caddies were driven into one of Stanley Marsh 3’s fields, then half-buried, nose-down, in the dirt (supposedly at the same angle as the Great Pyramid of Giza). They faced west in a line, from the 1949 Club Sedan to the 1963 Sedan de Ville, their tail fins held high for all to see on the empty Texas panhandle.

That was in 1974. People would stop along the highway, walk out to view the cars — then deface them or rip off pieces as souvenirs. Stanley Marsh 3 and The Ant Farm were tolerant of this public deconstruction of their art — although it doomed the tail fins — and eventually came to encourage it. Decades have passed. The Cadillacs have now been in the ground as art longer than they were on the road as cars. They are stripped to their battered frames, splattered in day-glo paint splooge, barely recognizable as automobiles. Yet Cadillac Ranch is more popular than ever. It’s become a ritual site for those who travel The Mother Road. The smell of spray paint hits you from a hundred yards away; the sound of voices chattering in French, German, and UK English makes this one of the most polyglot places between the UN and Las Vegas.

As we exited our car to cross the field of sorghum that surrounded the cars the smell of spray paint was everywhere…and the cars in the field were absolutely dripping with it.

Approaching the cars from the road
Julie posing on the windy plains of Texas…getting ready to “tag” the Cadillac planted in the dirt.
Our bit of paint on one of the Cadillacs…I’m sure it was covered before the end of the day.
There is paint everywhere and you are urged to leave your can for others to use.
Nothing is sacred…did the State of Texas really think that this sign would work???

Back in the car and heading west…what is that awful smell????I’m from Ohio so I am quite familiar with the smell of manure but this is the worst that I have ever smelled in my life…along the road is a cattle processing area with thousands and thousands of cattle and all of the smells that go with it…I picked the speed up to get as far away as I could from this place….I was really hoping that the wind was not coming from the east of the next hour of the trip was going to be all but unbearable from the cattle smell…luckily, the wind was not a west wind and we had smooth sailing and clear air after about 10 minutes.

I need to remind everyone, we did almost 900 miles on day 1, this was day 2 and we were quickly approaching the midpoint of Route 66.  We would be stopping there for a few quick pics and an ice cream at the MidPoint Café…well that’s what we thought we would do…the MidPoint Cafe’ was closed so we just got some pictures.

Well we made it halfway but didn’t get any ice cream since the Café was closed.

It’s ok that the MidPoint Café  http://route66midpointcafe.com/ was closed…we needed to make some time if we were going to get to Tucumcari, New Mexico and find a room…remember, no reservations for us…we arrive at a destination and start looking for a room…the main thing is that the room is clean and there are no bedbugs…http://bedbugregistry.com/ is our friend.  Adrian, Texas where the MidPoint Café is located is only about 60 miles from Tucumcari…an easy drive after the amount of time that we have spent on the road. (just found out that the MidPoint Café is for sale)

After about 50 minutes we arrive on the outskirts of Tucumcari, NM.  It is exactly what I would expect in a tourist town along Route 66…many hotels that have neon signs advertising the best rooms, best rates, etc.  We also saw a few that appeared deserted and were for sale…man, I wish I had some money to invest in a business like this.  I can imagine all of the interesting people that you would meet on a daily basis as they make the trek across the Mother Road.

The sign for the Roadrunner Lodge in Tucumcari, NM
The owner of the Roadrunner Lodge will pick you up at the airport in his vehicle…talk about a cool ride.
there are shops like this spread along the length of Route 66.

We stopped at a little place called the Roadrunner Lodge.

The Roadrunner Lodge sign

http://www.roadrunnerlodge.com/

I highly recommend that you stay at the Roadrunner Lodge if you are ever out that way.  The rooms were immaculate, the rates were acceptable and the staff was very attentive…they even gave us a quarter for the first 15 minutes on the magic fingers bed in our room…did I forget to mention, all of the rooms are decorated with décor from the 1960’s?  It is a fun place to stay.  You won’t regret it at all.

After checking in we ventured to Del’s Restaurant for dinner…finally time for a couple of craft beers with dinner…well, no it isn’t.  The closest thing that they have to craft beer is Sam Adams so that’s what I had.  The food was fantastic and the service was very good.  You have to stop in the gift shop at the front of the restaurant…you never know what you might pick up there.   http://www.delsrestaurant.com/

After dinner, we decided to take a walk along the main street which was Route 66 to check out the neon signs for all of the businesses along the road…unfortunately, the sleepy little town of Tucumcari had a hostage situation going on just a couple of blocks from our hotel so we went back to the hotel and relaxed before turning in for the night and trying out the “magic fingers” bed in the room…it’s funny; as a kid I always thought that the “vibrating” beds in the hotels were really cool…this time, I found it sort of annoying…boy do I hope that I’m not getting old…  Day two has ended.  We have traveled over 1400 miles in two days…it’s time to turn in…tomorrow will be another day on the road.

 

 

 

Day 1-861 miles…or “will we ever get to Joplin”?

Almost a year ago, I made mention to my wonderful wife Julie, that I wanted to make a “trip” across the country. We’ve talked about this type of adventure in the past but always said it would be a good trip to take when we are “old”. Mind you, I’m on the downhill slide to 55 and Julie is 52 years old. I don’t feel that either of us acts as though we’re in the midst of middle age.
What is middle age???? To me, middle age is nothing more than a chronology of your life. Most people view it as a mile marker that you reach during your lifetime…I personally view it as a bunch of bunk. I have a lot of living left to do and really don’t care what my chronological age is.
Back to my wonderful wife. Why is she a wonderful wife??? Because she humors me in my endeavors; whether it be purchasing a “drone” so that I can take aerial photos (did that),

http://www.dji.com/

Here is the "drone".
Here is the “drone”.

building a bar from scratch with no written plans…all of the details of the bar residing in my head (did that) or planning a trip somewhere in the United States of America.

My wonderful wife and the bar that I built.
My wonderful wife and the bar that I built.

After some discussion we decided to start the planning process for this trip. First off, we needed a destination…funny thing here; our destination was Dover, Ohio…you know, Home!!! The question was which way were we going to go? North, South, East or West? We decided upon Southwest…driving across Route 66 to California. We also decided that we were not going to be the “purist” Route 66 travelers. We were going to pick up the “Mother Road” in St. Louis, not in Chicago, where the Route starts. We have been on portions of the Route in Chicago and didn’t want to add a minimum of 8 hours to the trip driving to Chicago from Dover.  We also aren’t staying strictly to Route 66 since much of it is impassable with a car and some of it is no longer in existence.
Ok, so now we have a plan…when do we want to go? We needed decent weather. We didn’t want to encounter snow on this journey and we didn’t want it as hot as Hades in the Mojave. September 2016 sounded good. This left us about 10 months to plan for the trip.
Time passed…Christmas 2016 rolled around and surprise of surprises, Julie purchased me books and maps for the trip that would help us with the planning process. Books that described things to see on Route 66, places to eat along Route 66 and places to stay on Route 66.
Time to throw that first monkey wrench into the plan. I explained to Julie that we wouldn’t be making reservations anywhere along the Route. We would drive until we feel we have seen enough or until the hypnotism of the road takes its toll and its time to stop instead of pushing too hard and causing an accident. The look of horror on her face told me what she thought of this plan. Let me say this about Julie, she is spontaneous but she likes to plan…I know…that doesn’t make sense, but if you know my wife you would understand…her idea of spontaneity tends to be of the type where she wakes up, says lets go to Columbus for the night…gets on the PC and makes reservations for the weekend. Not having reservations and a set destination is pretty much a foreign concept to her.
Of course, there’s also the “scourge” of bedbugs in hotels across the country and the last thing that we wanted to do was suffer from the bites of these little bastards or bring them home to our house in Ohio…(I need to say, this is more my concern than Julies) so I checked into a website called bedbugregistry.com. That way we could check to see if there are any reports of bedbugs at the hotel that we decide to stop at…if there are reports of bedbugs, then we move on to the next hotel.

Months go by, we periodically “plan” on things that we want to see along the route…we change those plans…we decide on other things to see…we figure out very quickly that we will not be able to do all that we want to do in a two week time frame…time to start paring down the list of “must-see” items… 🙁  Unfortunately, two weeks off is the most that either of us can swing as we work as managers in our respected fields…Nursing for Julie and Safety for me…

September 2nd at 5AM
September 2nd at 5AM

The departure date finally arrives…it’s 5AM on September 2nd, 2016 and we’re in the driveway, the car is loaded with our luggage, the drone, (you just never know if you will need it) and a couple of sleeping bags in the event that we can’t find a hotel to sleep in…(that made for an interesting discussion with Julie).  We also have a cooler with lunch meat…as a cost savings measure we decided that we wouldn’t purchase lunch on the road but would instead stop and eat in rest areas, picnic areas, etc…

We pose for the obligatory selfie with my newly purchased “selfie stick” so that we can post our time of departure on our respective Social Media platforms…FB, Twitter, etc…(if you purchase a selfie stick, make sure that you purchase one with a Bluetooth connection and a button that is not attached to the stick), and we are off!

I won’t bore you with the details of the drive across Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.  Let’s just say that driving across farm country for 9 hours can be a bit boring.  Unless of course you have some strange fetish for corn and soybeans…then this drive would be like heaven.

Our first change on the trip was arriving quickly.  We were going to stop at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.  While perusing the internet on her smartphone we discovered that the park surrounding the Arch is under reconstruction, if you were planning on going up in the Arch you needed to purchase tickets ahead of time instead of arriving and walking to the ticket booth in the park.  There were limited numbers available…OK, scratch the Gateway Arch…we will take pictures as we drive by…oh and scratch going to any breweries in St. Louis.  We decided to drive to Joplin, Missouri since we wouldn’t be making a stop in St. Louis.

Crossing the Mississippi River on our way west.
Crossing the Mississippi River on our way west.
A view of the Gateway Arch from the interstate.
A view of the Gateway Arch from the interstate.

Prior to Joplin we are planning a stop at the Route 66 Park and Museum https://mostateparks.com/park/route-66-state-park just outside St. Louis in Eureka, Missouri.  That’s exactly what we did.  It’s a cool place to get some history regarding the Mother Road.  The Museum has some really cool neon that, at one time or another, was along the Route.  They also have the obligatory gift shop (the first of many that we stopped at in 14 days).

Neon Phillips 66 sign
Neon Phillips 66 sign
An old Route 66 Lounge sign
An old Route 66 Lounge sign
Julie at the Route 66 sign at Route 66 State Park in Eureka, Missouri
Julie at the Route 66 sign at Route 66 State Park in Eureka, Missouri

 

remnants of a bridge on Route 66
remnants of a bridge on Route 66
Sylvan Beach Neon
Sylvan Beach Neon

 

 

 

 

 

 

OK, so the trip just got real!!!  We’re officially at/on Route 66.  Needless to say, our energy and adrenaline is high.  I reassure Julie that we can make it to Joplin with little trouble…after all, I used to live there back in 1984.  I know my way around.

We continue on our way with stops here and there along the route.  When we get to Springfield we get off of Interstate 44 to take a large section of the remaining Route 66 into Joplin.  The sun is beginning to set but I again reassure my wife that everything is OK…I used to live in the area…I know my way around.  We see some really cool stuff including an old gas station,

A Phillips 66 gas station on the original Route 66 between Springfield and Carthage, MO
A Phillips 66 gas station on the original Route 66 between Springfield and Carthage, MO

 

 

 

 

 

the old Route 66 Drive-In located in Carthage,

Route 66 Drive-In in Carthage, Missouri
Route 66 Drive-In in Carthage, Missouri

 

 

 

 

http://66drivein.com/

and the giant Praying Hands in Webb City, Missouri.

Giant Praying Hands, Webb City, MO
Giant Praying Hands, Webb City, MO

We’re now moving on to Joplin.  Webb City, is just outside of Joplin.  We’ve been on the road for hours and hours…approximately 15 hours so far but we are just minutes away from town.  Julie gets on her phone, finds an inexpensive hotel on 32nd Street, does the online reservation and we are on our way.  I know exactly where I’m going (hahaha now that’s a joke).  I haven’t been to this town in 31 years…things may’ve changed a bit but that’s ok.  I know that I can make it to the hotel.  All I have to do is get to Rangeline Road which is just beyond the airport make a left and go south until I reach 32nd street.  What I didn’t take into account was that several years ago there was a devastating tornado that rolled through Joplin.  This tornado changed the entire look of the city…I had no idea where I was…time to call on trusty On-Star to send directions to the vehicle.  (I recommend a good GPS or a service like On-Star when making this kind of trip.)

Finally after 15 1/2 hours and 861 miles we roll into the parking lot.  I need to mention, we still haven’t eaten dinner…and Julie tends to get a bit “hangry”.  As luck would have it, there was an Applebee’s right across the street.  I was hungry and thirsty…it was a long but exciting day and it was just day one of 14.

As a part of the trip, we decided that we would do two things whenever possible…eat at local restaurants and drink local brews.  We were too tired to find a local restaurant and Applebee’s was convenient.  We ordered our drinks…beers from Boulevard Brewing in Kansas City (as close to local as you will get in Joplin).  I had a Tank #7 Farmhouse Ale, beginning with a big surge of fruity aromatics and grapefruit-hoppy notes, the flavor of this complex, straw-colored ale tapers off to a peppery, dry finish.  Julie had a Unfiltered Wheat beer.  Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat Beer is a lively, refreshing ale with a natural citrusy flavor and distinctive cloudy appearance.  It is one of Boulevard Brewery’s best selling beers.   We drank our beers and ate our meals in utter exhaustion then shuffled to the car for the long drive across the street to the hotel.

http://www.boulevard.com/age-verify/?r=http://www.boulevard.com

Ohhh yea, Rangeline Road that I couldn’t find was just a block from my hotel…I should’ve just continued driving around…I would’ve located it eventually.  Honestly though, Joplin has come a long way since I lived in the area.  I am happy that they have recovered from the devastating tornado.

We sat in the hotel room and discussed plans for the next day…essentially, heading southwest towards New Mexico then went to bed…anyone that says spending the day driving is not tiring is full of crap…Just Sayin!!!!

Something is wrong.
Instagram token error.
Load More

 

Please use the comment section for any questions that you may have regarding this part of our journey.  Please add any comments that you have about our trip.  I am always anxious to hear from my readers!

Thanks,

Rick

 

 

 

Get Your Kicks…On Route 66 and other byways across the USA

Route 66, USA
Route 66, USA

In just under two weeks, my wonderful wife and I leave for the west coast and back.  The plans are to pick up Route 66 at St. Louis and then work our way west.

Preparations have begun…although, there are no reservations and no real destination other than the West Coast.

I plan on posting photos and comments as permitted during the crossing.  I have quite a few breweries along the route…wish us luck!!!

Something is wrong.
Instagram token error.
Load More

Feelin Froggy

2016-07-30 (2)
Hoppin Frog Tasting Room

 

Another weekend in Ohio…that means another visit to a brewery.

This time our visit is to Hoppin’ Frog in Akron.  Hoppin’ Frog is a small brewery located in what looks like a storage area if you are driving by it.  The brewery and the tasting room sit on the same side of the gravel parking lot at opposite ends of the building…the building being a brick warehouse type of building.

Hoppin’ Frog brewery was established in 2006 by owner and established brewmaster Fred Karm.  Fred has won multiple awards at the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup.  Fred creates beers that are not for the faint of heart.  With Ohio raising the max abv. level for beer, I expect that Fred will be creating some high alcohol beers that compare to the likes of Avery and Dogfish Head.

Hoppin’ Frog opened their tasting room in 2013.  The tasting room was a welcome addition to the brewery.  The menu typically only has 10-14 items on it with the focus being on quality.  The menu also varies by season.  I recommend the fish tacos with a Turbo

Shandy or the Karminator Cuban sandwich with a Karminator Dopplebock.

http://www.hoppinfrog.com/

https://www.facebook.com/hoppinfrog/?fref=ts

 

Be sure to check out the tasting room website for special events.  One of my favorite events during the summer months is Shandy Saturdays!  There are always “guest taps” too.  From breweries like 3-Floyds, Stone, etc…

https://www.instagram.com/beerandaletraveler/

 

Drinking a Hoppin' Frog IPA

wow...boozy goodness in this beer!!
wow…boozy goodness in this beer!!

http://www.hoppinfrog.com/tasting-room

 

 

The US Virgin Islands…it’s not all about the Rum!!!!

Villa Calypso Blu...it looks like a beautiful night for a swim.
Villa Calypso Blu…it looks like a beautiful night for a swim.

It’s that time of year…time that I head to the USVI…oh, that’s right…I’m writing this from my cold, winter home in Ohio.  My parents are in the Virgin Islands soaking up the sun, enjoying the pool (except for my dad…he doesn’t like the pool).  Seriously, he doesn’t ever get in the pool!  Oh, and he was a Marine!!  How in the hell does one become a Marine and not get in the water?  Seriously, he will not, I mean WILL NOT get into the pool…he sits poolside and does a great imitation of a rotisserie while sitting in his chair and getting an even tan though…it’s actually pretty comical watching him rotate his chair 45 degrees about every 15 minutes while dripping sweat on the book that he is reading and struggling with an ice cold beer from St. John Brewers.

Dad. doing his rotisserie imitation in St. Thomas, USVI
Dad. doing his rotisserie imitation in St. Thomas, USVI
Poolside at Villa Calypso Blu
Poolside at Villa Calypso Blu
Enjoying a Tropical Mango Ale from St. John Brewers
Enjoying a Tropical Mango Ale from St. John Brewers

When we go to the Virgin Islands we stay at Villa Calypso Blu on St. Thomas overlooking Morningstar Beach.  It’s a wonderful place to stay and watch the cruise ships come into and leave Charlotte Amalie harbor.

http://calypsoblu.com/

http://www.virginislandsthisweek.com/articles/10-best-things-to-do-in-st-thomas.html

 

A cruise ship leaving Charlotte Amalie Harbor
A cruise ship leaving Charlotte Amalie Harbor
Leaving the island...
Leaving the island…

When most people come to the Virgin Islands, it’s all about the rum….don’t get me wrong, I like rum and it’s cheaper than water on the Island but I prefer beer. While I’m on St. Thomas I prefer to partake in the delicious ales offered by St. John Brewers.  You can pick up their beer at the local Cost U Less…this is the equivalent of Sam’s Club on St. Thomas only on a much smaller scale.  The only drawback to buying your St. John Brewers beer at Cost U Less is that you have to purchase it by the case…oh wait, that’s not a drawback…that’s a great thing!!!

Julie at the St. John Brewers Taproom
Julie at the St. John Brewers Taproom

some of the assortment of beer available from St. John Brewers

 

While purchasing St. John’s Brewers beer at Cost U Less serves the purpose, it’s best to visit the taproom and restaurant on St. John…another island of the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Julie and I typically take the ferry to St. John out of Red Hook.  It’s only about a 20 minute ride by boat to St. John…once you arrive on St. John take a short walk to Mongoose Junction where you will find some souvenir shopping as well as a few upscale shops and some restaurants.  St. John Brewers taproom is on the 2nd floor.

If you are staying long enough to eat lunch or dinner I recommend the Caribbean Jerked Chicken Sandwich or the Fish tacos.  You have to make sure that you wash it down with an Island Hoppin IPA or the Tropical Mango Ale.

http://www.stjohnbrewers.com/

ahhhh....cold beer...
ahhhh….cold beer…

When you are ready to move on, stumble…err…stroll through all of the shops…you will be sure to find that “unique” item that you just have to take home from the Caribbean…for example, my wife was making a purchase in one of the local gift shops and the clerk informed her that if she purchased $15.00 worth or merchandise that she would get a free St. John calendar.  What she neglected to tell her was that it was a calendar that would outdate in 3 months…just a little thing to remind you that it is a tourist destination so be on the lookout.

If you like to hike, swim or snorkel, then St. John is the place for you…almost the entire island is a National Park…all of the beaches are soft sand and the water is always warm.  I have included a link below to direct you to a site that gives you things to do:

http://www.visitusvi.com/todo/stjohn

When the time comes that you need to catch the ferry back to Red Hook or Charlotte Amalie make sure that you stop off at High Tide Bar and Seafood Grill…High Tide Bar and Seafood Grill is just that, a bar and grill that is located just above the high tide line.  High Tide Bar and Seafood Grill has great wait staff and off course a nice selection of the local beer.

There are typically a few locals hanging out looking to charter their boats for tours around the island…usually you have the ability to haggle a bit on the price.  If you can take a boat ride around the island with a few stops at some areas for snorkeling, I highly recommend it.

http://www.hightidevi.com/

Enjoying another cold drink at High Tide Bar and Grill
Enjoying another cold drink at High Tide Bar and Grill

 

 

 

 

 

View of the High Tide Bar and Seafood Grill from the beach
Open air drinks on the beach!!!

P.S.  Don’t be surprised if you have visitors while you are enjoying the islands…

just paying a visit to one of the local watering holes.
just paying a visit to one of the local watering holes.
one of the locals
one of the locals…I hear they taste like chicken

 

It’s a Great Lakes Christmas Ale

It’s that time of the year again…you know…the time of the year when He knows if you have been naughty or if you’ve been nice…I personally prefer the “naughty” type; you know black leather and stilettos naughty…

black leather

oh wait, that’s a tale for a different blog. This blog’s about beer; Christmas  ale or beer…

Let me start by saying, I’m not a fan of sugar and cinnamon rims on my beer glass but it seems this is the way that most bars, pubs and breweries insist on serving their Christmas ales…I find most often, that it’s the lovely ladies in the bar that are drinking Christmas Ale with a sugar and cinnamon rim on their glass, plus the occasional metro-sexual, of course, anytime that I have this wonderful Christmas Ale in the house, I have to pour it with a sugar and cinnamon rim for my beautiful wife.  I find the flavor from the cinnamon and sugar rim overpowers the flavors that are brewed into the beer…something that I don’t ever want to do.  I want to enjoy the nuances of the flavors actually brewed into the beer, not added afterward.

Julie's Christmas Ale with the sugar and cinnamon rim.
Julie’s Christmas Ale with the sugar and cinnamon rim.

 

 

I know, saying Christmas isn’t necessarily P.C. in this day and age but I refuse to go to “Holiday” instead of Christmas and fortunately, it looks as though one of the first craft breweries in Ohio is doing the same thing.  Their ale is not a “Holiday” ale, it’s Christmas Ale, plain and simple.

Back in the late 1980’s, brothers Patrick and Daniel Conway opened their operations in the Ohio City neighborhood.  The odds were not great that this would be a profitable endeavor but the brothers surrounded themselves with knowledgeable and passionate people who wanted to see the brothers produce a superb selection of craft beer available to the populace of Cleveland and the great state of Ohio.  What brewery was this???  Why Great Lakes Brewing Company, of course.

GLBC

Great Lakes Brewing Company in Cleveland, Ohio is one of those breweries who is not caving in to political correctness…their Christmas Ale is just that…Christmas Ale!!  Let me say, GLBC does a fantastic job of producing a quality Christmas Ale year after year.  GLBC only produces their Christmas Ale for 8 weeks during the holiday season.  It’s the second highest selling beer that is brewed by Great Lakes.  Most of the Christmas Ale never makes it out of the Cleveland area.  I know people that will wait in line to purchase Christmas Ale on the first day of availability at the brewery as well as at the local supermarkets when it goes on the shelves.  The Christmas Ale is that good!!!  If you ever get the chance, you definitely need to visit the brewery and drink it fresh from the tap…if that isn’t an option run…don’t walk…to your nearest bar, supermarket, pub, local corner market, friend with a great beer selection, drive-thru…wherever you can get a taste of this delicious Christmas Ale.  I guarantee that you won’t regret it and you will be a convert…someone that makes sure to purchase at least a case of this delectable ale every Christmas.

Christmas at Rick and Julie's
Christmas at Rick and Julie’s

I know that the Christmas Holiday is now passed but with some perseverance you can still locate Christmas Ale.  You may have to put a few miles on your car, truck or bike but it will be worth it.  I recommend that you put a six-pack aside so that you can celebrate Christmas in July properly…by quaffing a few Christmas Ales.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  May 2016 be your best year yet.

Hilton Head and Savannah 2012 176

 

Make sure to follow Great Lakes Brewing Company Facebook and Twitter.

https://www.facebook.com/greatlakesbrewingco/?fref=ts&ref=br_tf

https://www.greatlakesbrewing.com/

For other resources about beer, I have included a couple of links to twitter accounts for All About Beer and Beer Advocate:

Make sure to comment on my blog…I am always open to suggestions…this is certainly a work in progress…I’m sure that this blog will evolve as time passes.

 

 

 

Foggy Brews

Over the years I’ve made many trips to the West Coast…home of the California style IPA.  It is my opinion that the best beers in the country come from California.

All of those trips have been to the Northern California area (San Francisco Bay area and environs).  I haven’t been fortunate enough to make it to Nirvana for beer drinkers (San Diego) as of this posting.

My wife Julie and I have made numerous trips to Northern California…she goes for the wine and I go for the beer and the wine and the scenery and the beer.  Did I mention, I go for the beer???

Our first trip to the Bay Area lead us to Half Moon Bay home of the Mavericks and Half Moon Bay Microbrewery.  Half Moon Bay is a quaint little town about 30 miles to the south and west of San Francisco.

First off…what is a Maverick???  Mavericks are huge waves that people come to surf…It is an invitational event with only 24 pre-selected contestants…when notification goes out, the invitees have only 48 hours to get to Half Moon Bay to surf these huge waves, and by huge, I mean 50 to 60 foot waves.  I’ve posted a link to a YouTube video below that shows people surfing these monster waves.

As you can see from the video, this isn’t for the faint of heart…I’m not a surfer but have seen many people surfing off of Pillar Point and Half Moon Bay.

On to Half Moon Bay Microbrewery; in their words…a place where beer matters.  Half Moon Bay is located just up the road from the location where the Mavericks are surfed…they always have at least 10 of their beers on tap piped directly from the brewery to the bar.  The brewmaster is always creating new beers.  If you make it out, make sure you ask about the ever-changing seasonal list of brews.  I highly recommend the Full Swing IPA for all of you hopheads out there…if you tend to like the lighter side of beer then go for the Amber Ale.

When it comes to the food…everything, and I mean everything is top notch!!!  A few of my favorite items from the menu include grilled artichokes, the Seafood Duo which is Yucatán Ceviche and Ahi tuna poke. Served with housemade tropical salsa, fried wontons and tortilla chips.  Sandwiches include a Kobe Brew Burger, Pesto and Chevre Chicken Sandwich, and for those that prefer a vegan sandwich, I would recommend the Gardein; a Vegan blend of soy, pea proteins, and ancient grains with sautéed mushrooms and onions on a whole wheat bun.  As far as entrees I always go for the Prawns and Chips or the Baja Tacos.

There is also an extensive wine list and a full bar for those that choose not to partake in the local brews.

If the weather permits, I recommend sitting outside on their patio.  There are fire pits and heaters spread throughout if it’s a bit chilly.  What could be better than sitting on a patio listening to the waves crash, checking out the view of the marina and Pillar Point and drinking a good beer???  Unless of course there’s live entertainment on the patio…that’s always a good time too!  I highly recommend that you make the trip to the Bay area…this is just one brewery in the area, my favorite since it was the first brewery that I visited in Northern California.  HMB Brewing will always be near and dear to my heart.

Enjoy the views!!!

california 2008 3 010 california 2008 3 020

Julie and I at Half Moon Bay Marina.

http://www.hmbbrewingco.com/

https://www.facebook.com/hmb.brewing?fref=ts&ref=br_tf

Make sure to follow Half Moon Bay Brewing company on Facebook and Twitter!