Maritimes Road Trip, Part 4

We’re in the home stretch of this travelogue!

Day 14: Lubec, Maine

Morning in Lubec was very chill, a nice change of pace from all of the driving.

When the sun got a little warm, Charlie and I moved inside, where he made himself at home.

We took a while to get rolling, but once we did we got out to enjoy the lovely weather. We visited West Quoddy Head Light, the easternmost point in the contiguous United States. (OK, technically the rocks out past the lighthouse are the easternmost point, but you get the idea.)

For lunch I had a crab roll – I had hoped for a lobster roll, but the cook at the little restaurant we ate at was very apologetic that she hadn’t had time to pick the lobster meat from the shells yet. I had no complaints though! Afterward we stopped by a local chocolate shop that was quite good where I spotted…chocolate sea cucumbers. So those are a thing that exist.

Eventually we wandered back to downtown Lubec. It really is a charming, quirky place that I liked a lot. There was even a small farmers market going on, plus random poetry. That’s never a bad thing!

Parenthetically, I finally looked up a type of rose bush that was at Siegfried’s house that I had seen all over Nova Scotia as well: the Rugosa Rose. Unfortunately it appears to be an invasive species, but it really is pretty. It would have been interesting to gather some of the rose hips for cooking, but apparently they’re best after the first frost.

While we were downtown we made out way to Lubec Brewing Company. It’s kind of the opposite of some of the polished and professional breweries I saw so often in my travels. This is a place that is only open from 11 AM to 5 PM Thursday through Sunday, but it had the cozy feel of a place to go hang out with yoru friends and meet up with your fellow locals. The beer was pretty good, too! And any brewery that allows dogs inside (particularly on a hot day with no shade around) is always aces in my book.

For dinner that night, we ate at Water Street Tavern, and the food was excellent! Spring rolls, a green salad with blueberry-basil dressing, sauteed scallops, and roasted fingerling potatoes. It was all so damn good. That was topped off with strawberry rhubarb pie (my weakness!) with wild blueberry ice cream. It was a wonderful meal, and I really enjoyed chatting with Siegfried, talking about the area, politics, and life in general.

After dinner we retired back to Siegfried’s place and chatted out on the porch for a while while Charlie wandered the yard, his tail wagging the whole time. It was all great until someone fired off a gun (or shot some fireworks?) and then he had to come get Dad to tell him everything was going to be OK.

Day 15: Lubec, Maine to Medford, Massachusetts

After a tasty breakfast (a decadent cinnamon roll from Narrow Escape) it was time to hit the road once again. Siegfried’s hospitality was impeccable, and I really enjoyed my visit!

The drive through Maine was uneventful, though I was struck by the stunning vista that suddenly presented itself at the intersection of Route 9 and Route 192. I hadn’t realized I had been steadily climbing until I saw this!

One of the stops I had been looking forward to was Harraseeket Lunch & Lobster, a lobster pound with lobster rolls and lobster bisque to die for. The last time I was there was in 2006 (!) and apparently it has gotten a whole lot more popular over the last 16 years. The wait for food was over an hour, I was told when I went to order. I didn’t have the time to kill so I regretfully took my leave to continue the trip.

Based on Roho’s recommendation I decided to check out Funky Bow Brewery & Beer Company. That was a bit of an odd place – very freeform, very (and I apologize for the term) hippie-ish. After the typically regimented taprooms I visited throughout my trip it was almost disconcerting. For instance, dogs were allowed and welcomed, but they have a strict no-leash policy. To their credit they were very understanding when I explained that Charlie is blind, and everyone was very friendly. The band was good too, so no complaints except that I had to get back on the road to fight traffic into Boston!

Following various curious detours (I follow Waze slavishly, I admit) I got into the Hyatt Place in Medford right around 5 PM.

Dinner was absolutely delightful, as I met up with Roho, Jeremy, Will (a welcome surprise addition), and Roho and Jeremy’s roommate whose name I missed, unfortunately). Dinner on the patio of River Bar in Assembly Square was lovely, and the conversation was a lot of fun. Afterwards, though, we noticed that Parla XXI, a speakeasy, had just opened next door, so we decided to check them out.

Whoa dang, y’all. This place was so much fun! Amazing cocktails, but also a great presentation. The most fun was the “Dungeon Master” – basically, you roll a twenty sided die and they bring you…something. You get the name of the drink and nothing else. It was a lot of fun passing the drinks around and trying to deduce the ingredients. I’d love to find something like this locally!

Days 16 and 17: Medford, Massachusetts

These days were pretty pedestrian, mostly working from my hotel room, then venturing out around Boston. The first day, Chiaroscuro came up to hang out for the day. The weather was kind of blah, but we found a BearMoose Brewing Company, which allowed dogs inside. We spent the afternoon hanging out, chatting, and playing pinball.

We were later joined by Roho, and we adjourned to Somerville to spend the evening with Sutter, Lunestophiles, and Frosty for lots of fun conversation and YouTube videos.

The next day I worked for a bit then adjourned over to Bone Up Brewing Company. I really liked this place, and their beer was pretty damn tasty too! The weather was again kind of iffy, so the fact that they have a covered patio was very much appreciated.

After a bit Kyne joined me and we had a great time catching up. He mentioned that Short Path Distillery was right nearby and forced me (forced me, I tell you!) to walk over and check them out.

Oh wow, what a great place! The bartenders we talked to were very queer, and the vibe was very chill and welcoming. The spirits were excellent as well, and we probably chatted there for at least another hour. It was a great way to wrap up my all-too-brief time in Boston.

Day 18: Medford, Massachusetts to Binghamton, New York

Time waits for no man, alas, and so it was time to start my homeward trip westward. I wanted to break things up a bit so Charlie wasn’t stuck in the car for hours and hours on end, so decided to take the journey from Boston to Chicago over three days. The morning trip out of Boston was particularly crowded, though Waze did take me on some interesting detours to get around traffic jams. Once I was on the Massachusetts Turnpike it was pretty dull (thank heavens for audiobooks!) but at least the scenery was pretty. By the time I got to the western edge of the state I decided to detour off the interstate for some more interesting driving. Of course my detour took me right past Barrington Brewery in Great Barrington, Massachusetts , so I had to stop. Naturally.

I crossed the Hudson River on the Rip Van Winkle Bridge and worked my way over to Interstate 88 (not to be confused with Interstate 88) to Binghamton, New York. I got there just in time for dinner, so after getting checked in at my hotel (perhaps the most downmarket of my stops along the trip, but still quite nice – and cheap!) I decided to check out (sing it with me here) a local brewery. But hey, they served food too!

Despite the fact that it was probably one of the more striking venues I stopped at during my trip. I didn’t really care for the vibe at Farm by Beer Tree Brewing.

Something in the people, perhaps – very much a sports-bar type crowd. Very few dogs, and just not a particularly welcoming place all around. As I commented on Twitter, it’s probably shallow of me to judge a place by the number of people who at least acknowledge Charlie, but not seeing much of that here. Also, not a single mask indoors, on staff or customers. The food was good, the beer only OK.

To make up for the so-so experience, I decided to check out one of my favorite types of places in the summer months: the small local independent ice cream shop. Jones Humdinger did not disappoint! The ice cream was tasty, but the people were even better. Charlie made many friends, and it really turned my mood from earlier around 180 degrees.

Day 19: Binghamton, New York to Independence, Ohio

This was a rather long day of driving. And while the Southern Tier of New York is very pretty, it took a long time to get to I-90 down to Pennsylvania. After the brief trip through Pennsylvania I finally made it to Ohio. It was early afternoon as we navigated through the interstate maze around Cleveland (this was definitely a case where I put all my faith in Waze!) so fortunately traffic was light.

After checking in at the Hyatt Place in Independence and checking on work email, it was back into the car for go in search of a local brewery, and maybe some food too! Along the way I passed local landmarks…

I wound up at Terrestrial Brewing Company in the Edgewater Hill neighborhood of Cleveland. It was another lucky find by way of BringFido. They had a lovely patio with lots of dogs hanging out, and Charlie and I spent a lovely couple of hours enjoying good beer and great food.

As the evening wore on, other dogs showed up, and the interactions were just adorable to watch. Of course as always, Charlie was a complete charmer and made lots of new friends.

After a nice wander around the small dog park next to the brewery, I headed back to the Hyatt Place for my last night of the trip.

Day 20: Independence, Ohio to Home

One last day of driving! After a brief stop for coffee at Metropolitan Coffee in Brooklyn Heights, it was time to make the long trek across Ohio and Indiana. I was able to break up the trip a bit, first with a stop at a famous landmark…

Another couple of hours later and it was time to stop for lunch. I got off the interstate in South Bend and did a quick search for a good local dog-friendly brewery/brewpub and came up with Crooked Ewe Brewery and Ale House.

What a great find! Good beer, and (incongruously) pad thai too! All of this with a beautiful view of the St. Joseph River.

It was the perfect way to cap off the trip. Another couple of hours of driving brought me back to Chad’s place to pick up Nora, and then we all went back home and collapsed.

Summing it all up

19 days of traveling, driving over 4,400 miles through nine states and four provinces. What have we learned?

  • Charlie is an amazing road trip buddy. I brought him along for three reasons, for the company (of course), to force me to eat at outdoor venues wherever possible (’cause there’s still this pandemic thing), and to force me to socialize. It was a great choice on all three counts, plus Charlie simply LOVES to be in the car. He would jump into the back seat, I would clip him into his safety harness, and he would promptly doze off. On some long driving legs, up to three hours, he never made a peep. Heck, I usually needed to stop before he did!
  • I adored the Maritimes. Cape Breton is gorgeous, and I fell in love with Halifax. What a great city! Great food and drink, friendly people, and nicely walkable. Lots of dog-friendly places to go too. Maine is always a lovely place to visit, too. I need to get back out that way to explore some more!
  • I do loves me some road trips. New sights to see, new places to explore, new food and beer to try! It’s been five years since my last major road trip, and this was a good reminder that I really should make this an annual thing.

Wow, so all of that was a lot to read. If you made it this far, congratulations! I hope you enjoyed the trip vicariously as much as I enjoyed doing it!