Month: February 2016
One Sunday each February, the Thompson Ice House Museum in South Bristol, Maine, gives visitors a chance to step back in time and actively participate in the art of ice harvesting. This year the annual event fell on Valentine’s Day and it was picture perfect. The sky was clear and blue and it reached a high of six degrees – perfect ice harvesting conditions. I was excited to see the operation because I have long been fascinated with the ingenuity humans have demonstrated over the years to solve the challenges of everyday life before the advent of electric technologies. The Thompson family began laying up ice back in 1826 for their farm’s needs but eventually began providing ice for neighboring farms and many of the local fisherman. Before modern refrigeration Maine ice was harvested by the ton and traveled in trains all over the country and in ships all over the world. Since the museum opened in 1990, the laborious task of cutting, breaking, floating, lifting, and stacking an ice house full has been relegated to a once a year, participatory event, complete with hot drinks, baked beans and whoopie pies (more on these in a later post!).
Amber and I passed through all the northernmost states of the continental U.S in January traveling coast to coast in just over three weeks. (OK so we missed Michigan. But we were within three miles of the border and just did not detour in just for the sake of saying we had been there!) We left Wenatchee Washington on January fourth in our little Jeep Compass. The snow was really piling up that day. We spent a lot of nights on the road and saw a lot of sun rises and sunsets.
Well, this is the post I’m sure you have been waiting for…we finally made it to Maine!
We crossed the border into Maine the end of January with some important things on the mind. Within the first 2 hours we were on the search for and had our first(!!) lobster roll at the Maine Diner in Wells. Once again, we stopped at a place that has had an appearance on the Food Network but I didn’t know until we got there! The place gets great reviews on Yelp and it is clear to see why. Like you’d expect from a small coastal town in Maine, the seafood is super fresh and prepared well even for a diner. It has the appearance of a diner and the typical breakfast dishes of a diner but they also have some unique and luscious seafood dishes. From the reading I was able to do, there are two ways to make a lobster roll. One mixes the lobster with a little bit of mayonnaise and one with butter but both use only lobster, and heaps of it, on a toasted roll or bun. At Maine Diner they serve it with mayo.
After a long day spent exploring both sides of Niagara Falls we headed into Buffalo to spend the night. The snow was coming down in big flakes and it was great to get off the road for a while. We arranged lodging in a suburb through Airbnb before setting out on the final leg of our journey. It was nice to have a real bed for the night and feel more refreshed for the final leg of the trip. For the most part, we have been traveling off of the interstate and taking the lesser routes. We get to see a lot more of the country that way, often wandering right through the downtown areas of the smaller communities. We wanted to see the Finger Lakes region in New York so we wandered into Geneva, a town at the north end of Seneca Lake, to get a feel for the area and make an exploration plan. We thought we would just be there for an afternoon, maybe, but oh what a town! You know how in every town there is that one neighborhood where all the really nice older homes are and everyone in that neighborhood keeps their house and yard looking front cover home magazine perfect? Well imagine a whole town like that! Shops, churches, houses, the college campus, pubs, restaurants, all looking like something from a Hallmark Holiday movie. There was so much to do in Geneva and the surrounding lake that we splurged and found a room through Airbnb for the night – this time at a house the owners dubbed the Flying Whale. We were their first guests ever and it was great to get to stay in such a perfectly maintained historical local home. We had been given recommendations from several people to try the food at the Red Dove Tavern. We walked downtown under a full moon just as the six o’clock church bells started. It was surrealistic and we both looked at each other and said “is this for real?!”
The Flying Whale is registered with the Geneva Historical Society. Who actually lives in a house with columns like that??
The Finger Lakes region is amazing – there is local beer, cheese, and wine galore! Many of the wineries/breweries/cheeseries in the area are creating really quality stuff by producing their own grapes/hops/milk. And no matter which restaurant, shop, or winery you visit they are all excited to talk about the area or history and tell you about other restaurants, shops or wineries in the area you should visit. The people at Belhurst Castle Winery told us about the medieval themed Seneca Shore Wine Cellars and they told us about the Climbing Bines Brewery and they told us about the food at the Red Dove… We could have gone on like this for days but we had traveling to do.
Wendy explaining the wine at Belhurst Winery and things to do in the area to Amber.
Seneca Shore’s resident cat (which is why there is a cat on their labels)
Climbing Bines has a mug club for locals. We had never seen this before but we came to find out that it is somewhat common in the Eastern US.
Our first stop in Vermont was at the Big Moose Deli to get our pictures taken with a few celebrities.
Just by luck we discovered the Two Brews Cafe in Bennigton, VT. They had a great selection of coffees for the morning crowd and local craft beers for the evening and a great food menu all day. You could choose a bowl or wrap and then pick a grain, a veggie, and a protein. Lee had to get the explanation a couple of times.
Worker explaining how the ‘bowls’ worked to Amber so she could explain it to Lee