Medford

Tonight’s installments is brought to you by The Bell's Bourbon Barrel Aged Black Note Stout.

Medford

I awoke in Portland recommitted to doing something Portland — even possibly considering staying another night. Pounded coffee, packed up, checked out and hit the streets. As I found out the day before the Portland Art museum was only a few blocks away so thought I’d spend a couple hours there — wait out the morning traffic and then head out. But it was so gorgeous out couldn’t justify a museum having spent so much time in a car the past 2 weeks. The 1 thing I forgot to bring with me was the battery charger for the Nikon so having been forced to now go buy one did. Circled around on the way down to the camera shop and came upon the Farmers Market and what seemed to be the Portland Farmers Market Marching Band featuring the Portland Baton Twirling Grannies and it was fantastic.

As planned, in an attempt to take a little break from pavement pounding before turning east, split the drive to San Francisco into 2 trips. Turns out about 1/2 way is Ashland which was told is a lovely little town. However their Shakespeare festival had just started and so wasn’t gambling on vacant or not vacant. So stopped in what a very large part of me would be the ‘sleepy’ little town of Medford. I mean come the fuck on, how can a town called Medford NOT be ‘sleepy’. This would not be the case. Yah it appeared to be precisely the ‘sleepy’ little place, it’s place on the map might suggest and as the closed down car dealership on the way in would suggest. As Google maps steered me around came across a strip club (hilariously called The Office) directly across the street from a Billairds Hall — which flashes of my being beaten for being a shark’n out-o-towner immediately flashed through my head.

I found my hotel, unpacked and headed out. Circled around the very small, very dated 1-2 story downtown weaving around and came across BeerWorks. A bar/bottle shop hilariously close to my hotel though hadn’t initially passed it on my way out. It was packed and perfectly placed beside a pizzraia/subshop. So stuck my head in for a pint and a Chicken Alfredo sub. There was  pretty rowdy group which initially assumed by the time of the day/week was a potential bachelor party or going-away, work party. I mean these guys were getting it down at 5-6. I asked the bartender what was going on and what those guys were drinking and when — what I would come to find was — the owner walked buy to open another bottle the bartender told him I was asking what they were drinking. The owner ordered me to get an empty glass and come find out.

Turns out this was a 2nd annual bar bottle share where people — both directly and indirectly invited — from all over the state and country had come together to share some of the beer worlds most coveted, sought after broiled brilliance. This is were I insist I hadn’t set out on this trip simply to drink beer AND that I had indeed planned on hitting a few of the country’s, cities better establishments to meet some people and have a few pints that normally aren’t available in NYC. Or on the East Coast for that matter. I mean what else am I going to do at night. Sit in a hotel room and type a bunch of rubbish about driving around the country and sitting in a hotel room? Back to the beer. Turns out a retired Goose Island representative had flown down a small selection from his personal cellar. In short cellared, 2, 3, 4 year old bottles of some of the most sought out beer in the world was sitting in this tiny little place with a group of some of the nicest, oddest people from all over the country I could have never imagined happening into. And oddly they were really happy to have a New Yorker wonder in. 2 of the guys in fact had either married or were dating a woman from New Jersey. 1 of the guys spent his adolescence visiting a summer camp in North Carolina. It was a most unexpected night. Thankfully it was an early night.

Boise

As I'd planned spent most of the morning on my way out of Yellow Stone stopping and photographing the Gibbon river and falls. Which as the morning went on became quite popular. The drive between the Boise and Yellow Stone was spectacularly boring with only The Craters of The Moon National Monument and Preserve.

I got into Boise later than anticipated which wouldn't be too big a deal as there was little going on. Coincidentally Boise has a Knitting Factory which is a music club/bar that not only began in NYC but is now home-based in my Williamsburg. Sadly no shows during the week.

I checked into the Safari Inn and did a load of laundry and hit the hot tub while my clothes were in the dryer. Between the day hiking up and down the sides of the canyon and the time in the car my shoulders were killing me and the bubbles couldn't have been better timed. Showered an hit 10 Barrel Brewing for dinner a short walk from the hotel. I had no idea what to expect in Boise. An old close friend's mother told me it was one of her favorite places. Though only saw a little bit of the downtown could see why. 10 Barrel was packed and buzzing. I had the Apocalypse IPA and a salmon salad. Afterwards walked around a bit and ended up sticking my head into a oddly shaped corner pub called Bar Gernika where I wished I'd had dinner as they serve Basque. What is Basque? Basque food is stewy, doughy, lamby fair that came from Spain/France belonging to the Basque people. And apparently a whole lotta them ended up in Boise where they also have a Basque festival which was only a few weeks earlier. The flyers were still up as a matter of fact. No kidding, Basque. That's some sweet, sweet, regional funness. So I had a pint and learned all about the Basque from the bartender and cook who hilariously were both transplants themselves.

Having logged some hot tub time and carrying a full belly back to the room opted to put off my Boise/Yellow Stone posts until morning which came too soon.

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St. Louis

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My 3rd day was a big one encompassing 4 states. I woke up in Cleveland determined to make up a little time by pushing through to St. Louis (skipping Chicago) and hopefully — with the slight time difference — making it in time to catch a Cardinals game. I also hoped to swing by the famous 3 Floyds brewery to pick up some suds for friends and lonely hotel stays along the way.

The weather would do it's best to see to it I would not. I met with 2 powerful systems; the first on my way over to Illinois via Toledo along route 80. The first deluge reduced visibility down to about 5-6 cars in a matter of minutes. I pulled under an overpass along with a motorcyclist and after 10 minutes[ish] it lighted up enough where I would then be able to make it a rest area where the western and and much stronger part of the system would blast through, setting me back another 1/2 hour or so.

Without any trouble was able to finishing sliding across the top of Indiana to Munster for lunch at 3 Floyds where it was Zombie Dust release day. A famous American Pale Ale which has garnered a massive following. Needless to say the brewery was humming! I was able to get a set at the bar and a superyummy cheese plate and make off with lots of tastiness.

Then turned down to St. Louis. Unlike the very hilly, rolling farmland of Cleveland & Indiana the farmland along Route 55, driving through what is suspected to be the very same Springfield that is home to the Simpsons and while didn't get a pic of it did pass by a gi-freaking-gantic powerplant.

As the Cardinals gametime approached so did that massive, ominous cloud and as I began to turn from south to south west could better see how big this southwest-northeast moving system was and come to realize I was not going to be able to outrun it. Though the roads here weren't nearly as busy as they were in Indiana did er on the side of caution and take the first exit to wait it out which would prove to be the right thing to do. It was intense; setting me back another 1/2 hour+.

After it cleared was able to pretty quickly make my way into the city. A quick hotel search revealed the Missouri Athletic Club. A 100+ yo private athletic/social club which when capable acts as a hotel. A beautiful old building wreaking of history and perfectly placed for the Cardinals and the Arch. Fortunately for me the Cardinals were also delayed.

The walk to Busch Stadium was quick. The tickets were relatively cheap at $26 and weren't all that bad. The fans and employees were friendly and passionate, up until the end of the 7th where — suspecting they all had been forced to stay up past their bedtime with the delay, & beat the crowds — they started filing out. Cards lost, though had gone into the 4th with a no-hitter.

After the game hit a beautiful little bar called Bridge. Extensive tap and bottle list and lots of reasonably priced tasty things. I chatted a bit with a local who had himself just came from the game and after the 20+ hour (with the time difference), 11+ hour driving day caught up with me packed it in.

Was up Wednesday and after checking the radar decided to scurry over to the Arch sooner than later imagining that if I could get it in early could then hit a museum afterwards in case it were raining.

The Arch was surprisingly cheap ($10) though imagine that after renovations to the surrounding park are made that might change. At 10:30 in the morning there was no real wait. I paid and was on the 10:50, 4 min long, tiny-tiny 'tram' up to the top along with a very nice family from Florida who were driving their daughter to college.

The view was magnificent but didn't stay long. Made my way down, back to the hotel and the car and zipped over to SLAM, the St. Louis Art Museum. It was a pleasant surprise. Free parking, free admittance and a treat for art enthusiasts and a genuine treasure. A wide variety of about it all and an impressive collection of modern/contemporary art.

When I realized the sky was clearing drove back to the hotel, dropped the car off and hit the street. Walked west toward Forest Park through 'Midtown' which initially along the main road (Olive) was desolate and deteriorating. I scooted over to Locust street where there were a few other things going on. Locust street seems to be attracting some business. Breweries and bars of course but even marketing and advertising agencies including one I believed to have recognized. Fusion. The closer to St. Louis University the more restaurants and shops there were. I moved back over to Olive St., now called Lindell Blvd which reminded me a whole lot of Connecticut Avenue in DC. All apartment buildings and increasingly more University. I'd finally made it to the park and after an hour 1/2 of walking decided not to explore that area too much but instead make my way back, this time trying to take a different path. Maryland Avenue was packed full of restaurants, shops and bars which seemed to have come out of nowhere though makes sense being right around the corner from the Chase Park Plaza, in the middle of a very nice neighborhood and right around the corner from the World Chess Hall of Fame of all things.

Lucky me when my feet badly needed a break I would happen upon Urban Chesnut Brewing Company. A fine little brewery full of really great people who will be boasting 15,000+ barrels this year. Well done. 1 fellow was really excited about my trip and offered all sorts of drink-this, eat-that for my next stop in Kansas City which he and his wife had visited last summer. As Cardinals first pitch approached everyone at the bar turned their attention to the TV and I made my way back to the hotel to attempt to write this blog. Which did not happen last night.

Am an hour late leaving so off to KC!