Dedicated to Krispy Kreme, my golden retriever…traveling companion and hiking buddy…of nearly seventeen years. She’s gone but never forgotten.
Nearly every summer my siblings and I take two weeks off and travel to different parts of the country…visiting friends and checking out the history, the culture, and the food. My sister, Joni, plays a major role in these trips as the major financier (we’ll never be able to thank you enough, sweet girl), itinerary-maker, motel reservationist, and navigator (with the aid of our sometimes misguided GPS, Susie). My brother, Craig, is our designated driver sometimes sporting three pair of glasses (two for sight, one for sun) and tolerating ferocious headaches (pinched disc or something related, we’re not sure). And me? I go merrily along for the ride, plunking myself in the backseat of Joni’s hybrid Honda, reading and crocheting…interrupted only periodically by calls from my daughters dealing with ‘minor’ family emergencies (like the TV falling from the bureau on top of Motley, my grandson, and Krispy Kreme, too ill to fix anymore and needing to be put down).
This tradition began for us in the summer of 2004, which was the bicentennial of the Lewis & Clark Corps of Discovery expedition (we’re huge American history buffs), when we packed up my Rodeo and my dog, Krispy, and traveled from Atlanta, visiting areas in different states that corresponded to routes along the expedition. The highlight of this trip was a canoe trip down the Missouri River (with Krispy in tow) and a guided hike up the White Cliffs of Montana (also with Krispy in tow…sometimes needing to be lifted or pushed from behind in difficult crevices).
These trips continued with a trek to Washington state and Alaska (complete with a helicopter ride over the Mendenhall Glacier and a dog sled ride) in 2006, California (from San Francisco to San Diego) in 2008, a New England jaunt (featuring Acadia National Park and Baxter State Park) last summer, and, finally, another excursion to New England this summer to tackle Mt. Washington and spend more time in Acadia. Next summer we’ll head back out west to the Four Corners and hike more of our all-time favorite places, the National Parks.
While riding in the car Joni and I keep ‘real-time’ journals and compare notes along the way (Craig, as the driver, doesn’t have this luxury and has to compile his later). Reading over my notes from our recent New England trek it has become especially clear to me not only how often we talk about the food & drink but our near obsession with rating restaurants, adding to our lists of favorite alcoholic beverages, and detailing our menu selections. Our journals are food journals as much as travel logs, and this summer I finally figured out the two main reasons for this: we love to eat & drink, and food & drink are the rewards for a job well-done…an arduous, long hike, or several shorter hikes in a day, or biking carriage trails in Acadia with severely aching muscles after fighting the Tuckerman Ravine trail on Mt. Washington. We’re thinking about dinner before we’re off the trails…at least I am!
Here are some of our favorite places to eat on the east coast:
Carlos O’Kelley’s Mexican Cafe, Fredricksburg, VA
Drinks: House Cabernet
Food: Suiza con Pollo: Grilled fajita chicken with a blend of Monterey Jack cheese, cream cheese, and sour cream, rolled in a large tortilla and topped with a Poblano cream sauce
DuMont Restaurant, Brooklyn, NY (we love DuMont’s, a virtual little rain forest in the city, and it’s right around the corner from my son, Daniel’s, apartment!)
Drinks: Dill Frescas made with Hendrick’s gin, St. Germain, fresh cucumber, fresh lemon, dill, soda
Food: DuMac & Cheese: bacon, cheddar, Gruyere, and Parmesan cheeses, and radiatore pasta
Mr. Pizza, Gorham, NH (unlike its name implies this is an excellent full-menu restaurant)
Drinks: House Cabernet
Food: The best eggplant Parmesan, salad with raspberry vinaigrette dressing, garlic bread
Log Cabin Restaurant, Bar Harbor, Maine
Drinks: Fresh Maine blueberry infused mojitos
Food: Fresh haddock & salmon sandwiches
Fish House Grill, Bar Harbor, Maine
Drinks: Possibly the best Bloody Marys
Food: The Queen Elizabeth: littleneck clams, mussels, lobster meat, shrimp, and scallops simmered in a spicy marinara sauce over linguini
Dessert: Blueberry pie a la mode
Town Landing Market, Falmouth, Maine
The very best lobster rolls in the state of Maine!
Captain’s Waterfront Grill and Club, Salem, MA
Drinks: Dry Absolut martini straight with an olive
Food: Swordfish with garlic mashed potatoes, grilled zucchini, and coleslaw
We cherish these two weeks of summer…a time to take to the open road, to forget about work and difficult times, and to reunite with Mother Nature. We especially love vacations in New England, not only because it’s our hometown neighborhood and because the rocky coasts and parks are inspirational in a singular way, but also because the food is so very good. We think about the food, we look forward to the food, and vacations for us are very much about the food (and drink). Wherever we go, wherever we are, food and drink for us are so much more than mere sustenance…they are Communion.