Friday, September 11, 2015

August 26: Fun, Flights and Fleets

Breaking camp at dawn was tough. Natalie fell in the love with the place.  Breakfast was at one of those “cash only” mom and pop places that cooks damn good food for dirt cheap.  Stopping in at the camp store one more time to thank them for yesterday and secure a good quality coffee for the road (they had a coffee bar in the back), we were told we “camp well.” That was her way of saying we don’t look like bucket of crap after sleeping in a tent during a storm.  Nice compliment!  I’m serious!

A few hours later, we arrived at our new destination – Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  The previous night, at the Stress Free Moose Pub (coolest name ever), we opted to see something different and hope that coastal fog was not a problem on a more southern coast.  Weather apps suggested it was true.

The afternoon found us in a tandem kayak poking around the waters outside of Portsmouth. With a laminated map (showing where you can go and wear you can't) and four hours of paid time, off we went.  Clampit Island. Pest Island (named after the Republican Party).  Leach Island (insert your own joke here!).  All pretty cool.  And fog free.
 I don’t have any good pictures. Wouldn’t that have been a kick in the head if I dumped my camera in the water?  Below is the Google Earth image with our route. Pretty cool, huh?

Honestly, I think they should give you another laminated sheet with all the cool buildings and properties that you pass.  They could easily pay someone with experience to do such a thing.  Hmmmm, who do I know who could do it……

After a successful trip that quenched Natalie’s fix for a canoe day, we secured lodging in Maine. Hotels there were closer than some in New Hampshire as it is just across the river. Cleaned and refreshed, we hit the town of Portsmouth.

What. An. Amazing. Place.

While the buildings were older than the hills, the place was pristine.  People were everywhere and it was a weeknight!  Clothing stores, bars, kitchen shops, bars, law firms, bars, - I could go on.  Every store front occupied.  Historic preservation in action. What a hoppin’ place.

Dinner was at the Portsmouth Brewing Company were Natalie secured some of the coolest shirts ever.  You can check them out here and here and here.Huh? Cool?! I think Nat snatched them all from the discount rack.

We also enjoyed what we coined as a new phrase in the culinary world – a fleet.  A flight of beers involves lots of tiny beer samples. But a fleet, as we now call it, involves two or three appetizers, not the single mixed appetizer plate.  The logic is simple.  Food proportions in this country are killing us. Who can eat all that food?  We certainly can’t.  But meat and cheese tray, calamari and some soup with a flight of beers becomes a meal. Ta-dah. Why fleet?  Because your tabletop looks like a harbor stuffed with ships.  Fleets and flights.  Yup, we hope to collect some royalties soon. 

All in all, the beer was fine, but not worldly. The Stephan Urquell, Project X, Hefeweizen, Vunderbar Pilsner, Black Cat Stout, and Old Brown Dog (#1608-1613) were all average.

After enjoying our dinner, we opted to walk the town looking for more…  Using the Find Craft Beer app, we soon found ourselves at the Earth Eagle Brewings (note the “s”; very classy).  It was our first nano-brewery.  Not micro. Nano. Apparently, rules and licenses are determined by how much you brew.  Plus, this place was tiny. It started as a garage.  Now, I dunno, total real estate in the drinking room might have been enough to park four cars.  That’s it.  Tiny.  And eclectic.  And good brewers. The Phoenix Brown (#1614) and Ancestral IPA (#1615) were great. 

Not ready to return to the hotel, we made yet another stop on what became the Great New Hampshire Pub Crawl of 2015.  The Dolphin Striker (named after the sail and not a cetacean clubber) has been in the Portsmouth music scene for decades.  The building, according to the bartender, was built in the 1690s.  The beams?  Cripe, 14 inch squares. Huge and beautiful.  The music?  John Dingell’s brother who was separated at birth. The resemblance in the dim light was uncanny (Natalie didn’t think so). In any case, he could tear up that acoustic guitar and was certainly an encyclopedia of music knowledge.  He was one of those guys who could tell you the B side of some outlandish single from a band you never heard of.  Pretty cool guy.  I showed him a thing or two, guitar god that I am.

I’m not sure what to make of the bar.  At the end, the brickwork rounded out as if a well was constructed there.  The bar top itself over the “well” was glass.  At the bottom of the “well” was a few of water that housed coi. Pumps.  Filters. The whole deal.  Go figure.

In any case, knowing we had a long day ahead of us, our pub crawl ended at 10:30.  Wow.  We’re party fiends.  

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