Tag Archives: magic hat

We live as we dream

Where were YOU when manboyinthepromised died?

Were you atop a mountain, alone and stripped, naked to the elements and shaking a fist at the sky?

Were you laying in bed, awake in the dark with open eyes, staring, thinking of things that should have been?

Or were you somewhere in east Texas atop an 80’s superbike, screaming down one of those flat Texas roads that seem to go on forever, with a backpack full of chicken and a case of tallboys riding bitch..?

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…there was fried chicken and beer EVERYWHERE!

DeVeiled: 5.2% “Sharp Cats wear cool hats” Fantastic bottle art reminiscent of Posada’s Mexican skeletons and dreams are dreampt of ol’ Mexico way, guey, and the day of the dead. Spill a lil’, but not too much, for even the dead deserve a day, although they can’t drink. For the time being however, we’re still alive and DeVeiled is a sumptuous treat. Nothing amazing or astounding but a hearty, tasty brew that does not, cannot, disappoint. Reliable. Trustworthy. I expected more though.

Heart of Darkness: 5.7% Dark, smoky. Dangerous? This is a really good brew. Perfect accompaniment for carving up a pumpkin, or a country bumpkin. A smoky, woodsy flavour reminiscent of burnt leaves and the tastes of autumn. Very enjoyable, hearty brew. Great bottle art. Heart of Darkness wasn’t included in the Halloween variety pack and one must question that decision. It’s very Halloweeny.

Seance: 4.4% Saison ale. Whatever that means. “It’s not drivel to be civil” says the cap. A heady pour yields a dark, colorful brew. Tasty. A nutty, woodsy flavour again though without the bite of Heart of Darkness. That’s OK though, because Seance is still a delight. A good brew to put in your camel back while leaf peeping on a superbike. Suckle responsibly.

H.I.P.A. 6.7% I feel like we’ve done this one before and I must admit, a strange addition to the Halloween superpack when Heart of Darkness was a much more apt choice. Upon first pour, the brew is definitely an IPA and yields a grassy, fresh scent. Taste confirms that it is indeed an IPA. Not bad, not great, nothing that might tempt the hands of fate. ABV is high but it does not detract from the taste. Grassy. I’d like to Magic Hat do a bison grass brew.

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It’s gonna be a Brooklyn summer!

Happy Easter y’all

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It’s been a while and I’m sorry about that. Cousin Tommy said I left everyone hanging and indeed, it’s true. One minute we’re in Patagonia and the next…well we’re back in old New York sleeping in our childhood bed, parents yelling from beneath the stairs.

It’s all a bit too much and sometimes the mind drifts. One easter ago Quito was our home, a whole hemisphere away. Good times they were but that was then…

Right now we’re social working it up in ol’ Brooklyntown and assisting the people of Flatbush and Coney Island in reaching their goals, commuting on the century-old LIRR to our quaint lil’ office in Manhattan to type our notes, and getting up close and personal with the big apple.

“It’s gonna be a Brooklyn summer!!” said the hipster to the fly, gliding past in skin-tight jeans and little boots, talking loudly on an iPhone and droning on about all the different types of craft brews he’d be offering at his bday party.

Look, everyone knows that hipsters are garbage and that they’ll do anything to be cool, but this is the kind of shit that would bring out the inner bully in anyone.

Ah but let us not forget that you are a light, that you are a sun. Drift within. This is your body. Did you get lost on the trip? Did you get trapped in memory? Did you forget? What did you do? Virtual mindgame…trivial paranoia… You had to make it a bad trip. Don’t see the light…Do not see right…

In this mirror of confession, what do you see? Your personality… all your goals and your fears? Your ambitions? The chess game of your life; got to check that, you can’t take it on the trip. All those animal impulses that you hide, and keep down below, all this baggage must be checked. You can’t take that on the billion year voyage.

Are you ready?

Then take this chalice, the elixir of life.

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Damn son, thank the Gods for Magic Hat and all the hipster nerd beer bullies who sling the Magic Hate at our most favorite brews. More for us to doff and the much maligned Saint Saltan is a veritable treat. The beer police might have you believe that every exceptional brew has to be the equivalent of a fucking carbonated wine with an 8+% alcohol content but this is not the case and a case of Magical Hat Spring Fever offered up this tasty beauty, weighing in at a svelte 4.6% abv. The Manboy motto, more or less, is that a great beer should taste like drinking a glass of delicious bread. Brewed with coriander and sea salt, Saltan is brewed in the “Gose” style (whatever that means) but reads like a pilsner and is indeed delicious. It’s one of the best beers I’ve ever had. An adorable label adds to the charm and Saint Saltan is more God than saint. Bien impresionante…straw colored..remembrances dreampt of Cerveza Austral and the Patagonian hinterlands. In Hat we trust. 

Included along with the saint are a couple of other decent offerings from the Magical Hat spring collection:

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Pistil: Pistil dandelion ale at 4.5%. Label states that such is brewed with dandelion. Indeed, it is possible but taste it me nots. Regardless, it is a tasty enough brew and does not dissapoint. Epa Epa! Wey IPAish. Nothing to write home about but it is Magic Hat man and we do love this shit. 

P1060144Ticket to Rye: 7.1% All access tour ticket to Rye. Part of MH’s “Tour of IPA’s” ticket is a darkish brew with an alcoholic bite. An outstanding ale. The taste is strong, powerful even. A powerful brew. Goes well with green corduroy pants on St. Patricks day, but don’t spill it on them. Be careful!

Just remember that the light that glows so bright glows half the night and stay tuned fans for more entertainment! Soon to come are tales of new bikes and dark nights! 

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Mayan Dreams in the Banana Republics – Muy Norteamericano

Hey Richie, you got change for a Quetzal?

El Gringissimo

…if this leg goes I’m going to miss it. Man, we’ve had some good times together. I think what I’ll remember most is playing soccer with it.

Shit, this looks and feels awful, a puss-filled skin volcano that’s ready to erupt all over my right leg. My favorite leg. It’s cute almost, with conical shape, and reminds me of all the volcanoes I’ve seen thus far on my travels. Another trip to the doctor yields another round of antibiotics. Dont touch it! But, I can’t help it! Stop poking at it! Nein! Well, we’re in the third world and it’s all part of the game now. I guess.

Why don’t the guidebooks ever give you real information? You know, the important stuff. Tell us all about the thousand yard stares, the mangy dying dogs in the street, the souless ninos begging for quetzales, the glue-sniffers. Tell us about the leishmaniasis baby. Inquiring minds want to know.

Leon, Nicaragua

Travel Tip: Don’t drink the water in the 3rd world and don’t eat the food, ever. It’s crawling with worms and parasites. It is rumored to be that I ate once in Guatemala and was violently ill for days. Fortrue, it had been a really long time since I had ever been that ill, halucinating and shivering in bed with a dangerously high fever. I was really sick, man! I had to poop in a cup and have it tested for cholera and typhoid, diseases fazed out in the states a hundred years ago. I remember my characters getting these while playing Oregon Trail on an Apple Macintosh, lo so many moons ago; and they always died. Terrible deaths that lasted for many screens. The lab tested for parasites too and when the results came back negative for everything I was elated and raised a weakened fist in triumph. I’m still here; a small victory in a battle barely fought. But it’s just another thing to add to the list, another notch in the Mexican leather belt. The truth is that it is incredibly easy to get sick down here and when you do get sick or have an infection it’s hard to get well again. The climate, I guess, has a lot to with it. The heat, the dampness, and the alternating heat and cold cycles of the highlands weaken the immune system I imagine. No one washes their hands. I’ve had several fevers, a bunch of weird infections with bubbly puss that wouldn’t go away, and pink eye. And there is always the leishmaniasis.

Max Headworm (Johnny Gusanic): My spanish teacher told me a story about her friend who was walking down the street one day when she suddenly went blind. It was only for a few minutes, but then she started having other symptoms, like problems with her balance. Apparently the amigette had eaten some undercooked pork which contained a parasite which then burrowed into her brain. The little gusano will be with her always, because you can’t kill it. She has to take medication which puts the worm to sleep instead of killing it, but also makes her tired all the time. Believe it or not, but be warned. I wonder what that worm be dreaming of yo. Brains probly. Un paraiso de sesos.

Travel Tips: Look it’s all fun and games but If you have to eat something in Central America just be smart about it. Eat at a place where other people are eating already. The ciudadanos of the 3rd world don’t drink their own tap water and they don’t really possess any special abilities to ward off germs or parasites so they’re not going to eat at a place that constantly makes them sick. This is common sense advice, but it’s important because sometimes people don’t always use common sense. I meet a lot of palefaces who think that by drinking just a little bit of tap water each day and then increasing that amount the next, say a spoonful and then a cupful, that they will gradually adjust their bodies to it. Un poco retrasado, no? Right? I dunno, maybe that works, but I doubt it. I didn’t follow my own advice and thought I’d be safe by just ordering up a slice of pizza somewhere. Pizza is safe right? I was hungry. An empty restaurant and soulless, million mile stares from behind the counter should have tipped me off.

Leon Cathedral

Boxed-text Travel tippet – Caca en una bolsa: It’s all the rage in the 3rd world. Another story. Kids who can’t afford glue to sniff will shit in a bag and leave it in the sun for a few hours and then huff the contents. The rotting sewage produces methane, which evidently gets you high. Is it worth it? No se. These are lives snuffed out before they even began. Welcome to the Promised Land dog. I’ve never seen this before and never ever want to, although we’ve run across some glue sniffers, who are not as ubiquitous as you might imagine.

All this nonsense makes me pine for the states at times. One more thing, for those who haven’t been down south, know that you can’t put used toilet paper in the toilets in Mexico and beyond and instead have to put it in a garbage pail. This means that there’s a big stinking pail of used toilet paper in every bathroom, even in the choosiest of places. It’s gross man and you face this stark reality every time you go to the bathroom. It’s always there, sometimes out of sight, but siempre within arms reach and you can’t help but think about it. The heart reels for the high school nerd, face down in that mess and forced to inhale, requisite Mexican bully gripping the neck hard.

Alegria, El Salvadorable

Subcommandante Dickie, you been doin’ all this dope bloggin’ you aint had a chance to show ‘em what time it is.

It’s Eastern Standard Time pibe, same as old New York and we’re doin’ it live.

I’m in Panama now, looking for a way out of Central America. I wan’t out. I’ve had enough.

…which is not to say that the badlands south of the border and stretching all the way to the jungle are all that bad. They’re different indeed and, at times, exceedingly beautiful. But I’ll never be able to reconcile the crushing poverty and class dichotomy with all the rest; the smiling caras blancas and the dead inside ninos and street dogs. Some can. But to turn a blind eye to all of that wouldn’t be…honest.

OK, 1…2…3 everybody jump at the same time and throw your hands in the air  with big smiles *click*

zany!

yea…memories

I dunno che, I’m just calling it like I see it.

We’re just looking for the Promised Land right?

Right!

Crossing the border into Panama from Costa Rica

Mexico: It was a weird weird world then, full of cacti, when the CB nosed towards old Mexico and indeed, it’s a weird world now. The hysteria surrounding travelling through Mexico is un poco surreal, mythic even, inspiring real fear in even the most intrepid, and tepid, of souls and souless wanderers. The reality is that the situation is entirely worse in every nation south of Mexico and one stands a far better chance of experiencing something truly awful in, say, Honduras, than New Spain. The media has been hitting old Mexico hard as of late. The drug mafia. The swine flue. You’re gonna die, dog. All that stuff has put a huge dent in the number of estranjeros pouring into old Mexico. Believe what you will, but remember that it’s always best to stick to reliable sources of info, like this blog, and then make up your own mind. I won’t lead you astray, I promise. No mames, Guey. Anyway, Mexico is great and will always hold a top-secret special place in mi corazon. Goat heads, tacos, culos, pyramids, cacti…old Mexico has it all. Personalidad, guey! Le extrano, mucho.

Pyramid of the Sun: Awe-inspiring if only for its size and astronomical precision, which I wasn’t able to verify, having left my collapsible travel-astrolabe at home, next to my bulky life jacket and pantalones that convert into pantalonetas. A strange place to say the least with a decidedly negative vibration. Bad things went down here; you can feel it. But don’t tell that to the large group of new age palefaces humming and chanting and being urged on by their spiritual guide to feel the engergy! They won’t listen to you anyway and I bet they all went home with terrible sunburns. The urge to roll heads down this thing was strong. Powerful strong.

The CA-4: Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua comprise the CA-4, a loose conglomerate of nations in Central America that are supposed to share some sort of trade agreement or something. When you enter Guatemala, you get a stamp in your passport that is supposed to be valid for 90 days in all four nations but this is never the case and the only country that seems to be somewhat aware of this is El Salvador. I spent 2 months in the highlands of western Guatemala more or less trying to learn Spanish, which proved harder than I thought. It’s my own fault mostly. I spent a lot of time badgering my teachers into teaching me slang and bad words. I’m bad with languages on the whole I think, even English, and it all just reminded me of chemistry class. Lots of memorization. I have no patience for it all. Mamame la, puta! Guatemala was an introduction to the third world. Scenes of striking natural beauty punctuated by garbage everywhere. Mayans on every street corner in colorful dress. Volcanoes blowing their tops. Everyone is really short. A weird scene. El Salvador was surprisingly orderly and clean for the most part, at least coming from Guatemala. Everyone, it seemed, spoke English, having worked in the states for many years. It’s a small place and you can ride it in a day and get to know everyone there if you really hustle. I saw a dead guy in the road. A motorcycle accident no less. I spent an extra day there checking out Laguna Alegre, a sulfurous lake set in the ancient cone of a dormant volcano. Within the cone is also a soccer field, a true field of dreams. Encuentrame there, para un partido…porfis? Honduras is a forgotten place and dangerous, at least up through Tegus and on through to Nicaragua way. It’s everything you’ve ever been told Central America is. Nicaragua was surprisingly clean and safe, with great roads and the best food since Mexico. Behind the ancient church in Leon, a couple of ladies man fritangas and sling all sorts of delectable barbecued meats and other fried edibles of which I could not identify. Muy saludable. Nicaragua was a total surprise and it was even full of nerdy backpackers. I predict it will become the new Costa Rica. I’ll remember Granada for the seedy market behind the main square. There’s a carniceria (butcher shop) there, the worst I’ve ever seen. We’re used to buying meat that gets sliced off hunks on hooks that are hanging out in the open air by now, unrefrigerated; this is the norm from Mexico on south, but this was different, with great stinking stalls of gray meat idly hanging in the stagnant tropical superheated air beneath a tin roof, flies buzzing everywhere and foul smelling street dogs lining the floor, children racing about up and down screaming, the thousand yard stares of the women tending the stalls, and the sun streaking in casting weird light and giving it all a sickly pallor.

Crater Lake – Alegria, El Salvadorable

Old Xelatown. Te extrano.

Tajamulco – Central America’s highest point down old Guaemala way, guey.

Changing tire in Leon, Nicaragua – 6th tire of the trip

Isla de Ometepe looms large out in the middle of Lago de Nicaragua and sports two volcanoes

One of the rickety boats that ply the lake. I didn’t want to put my motorcycle on it.

Isla de Ometepe tambien

The gente in Central America unaminously hate Mexicans and Costa Ricans. Too arrogant they say, but it’s just an obviously veiled form of jealousy. And America too, is universally hated, although everyone wants to go there to work and make money because there’s none to be had here. All of these nations are desperately poor. There is no money here. The halloween head I have strapped as a masthead to the CB has been doing a great job for diplomacy though, and is universally loved everywhere. People love to touch it, especially Hondurans.

Costa Rica: Sort of second world now. I’d been here before with lil’ Marlo some time ago and wasn’t really looking forward to it. A shock-intro to Central America maybe it was, but I was put off by it. A second chance was given and the most was made of it, although I was in and out in a few days and I’m used to all the dead-doll eye stares by now. I hit up some old haunts down in the Carribean and was pleased. Completely idyllic tropical beaches studded with palms and empty and alone, stretching as far as the eye can see and then evaporating into jungle. Pura Vida ineed son. Food and gas and beers are expensive here, the stapes of life with New York prices. It was here that I would become Coconut Hunter M.D., scaling tall trees and trepanning even the most resilient coconut husks with my small, yet practical knife. I forgot how hard coconuts are. Once you get one out of the shell a couple of really hard smacks against a tree trunk or rock will crack them open but man, I couldn’t imagaine having to crack one of them open against someone’s skull like Rowdy Rodrigo Piper did to Jimmy Snooka so many moons ago. It would kill a man. That had to be a trick coconut. Was there milk inside? Rewind the tape. Piper is still trying to sell it after all these years. Muy profesional!

The rains come in Costa Rica

 Washed out bridge on the way to the Carribean – Costa Rica

Idyllic tropical paradise at the end of the road in Manzanillo, Costa Rica

Jungle meets the beach – Manzanillo

Panama:

…getting lost in the banana fields

In my arsenal now is a recipe for turtle.

I got it when I was camping behind the bombero station in Almirante, waiting for the ferry to Bocas Del Toro. A lot of the coastal blacks in Central America speak English, descendants of slaves they are, and I was able to gleam this gem from Burton, one of the bomberos. Look, I could have hashed it out in espanol but it was a treat to speak English again to someone other than a tourist.

What the hell is that?

It’s turtle mon.

Dame la receta.

DAME LA!!

Receta para tortuga:

Ingredientes:

Costilla Criolla (packet of spice)

Caldo de Pollo (chicken broth)

Camaron(shrimp) seasoning

Gallinita con sabor y calor (another packet of spice)

Vinegre (vinegar)

Salsa de China (soy sauce)

BBQ sauce (if you so desire)

Adobo seasoning

Hot pepper

Curry

Onions

Celery

Fresh thyme

Sweet peppers

Garlic

First wash the turtle meat with some lime seasoning and a little water. Then dip the turtle meat in boiling water for 15-20 seconds and remove. This will clean the meat and help even out the flavor. In a large bowl, mix the meat with the aforementioned spices to create a marinade. After marinading, brown the turtle meat in a pan, next adding your vegetables, thyme, and garlic. Best served with coconut rice and pigtail. Boil up some coconut milk, then add rice and simmer with a piggilytail. Easy. And if you want to be a real hero, fry up some Besks, little delicious hotcakes. Make them with flour, a little baking powder, salt, sugar, water, and a couple of eggs. Delicious. Receta by Burton.

Camping out in garbage-strewn godforsaken Almirante, getting the turtle recipe from Burton, and watching Chiquita banana trucks rumble by in the dying sun while drinking beers in my tent and getting leishmaniasis from a mosquito was my favorite part of Panama and what I’ll remember most about it. All this happened my first day there, more or less, and was punctilliated by getting lost in the banana plantations that morning (there aren’t any signs in Panama either). Banana trees stretch for what seem like a million miles, tended to by the modern day slaves of the banana barons who sit behind desks supping besks in distant lands. Bocas Del Toro, the supposed turistic mecca and paradise, was overhyped and full of garbage too, partying tourists and opportunistic locals alike.

Banana truck to banana boat bringing bananas to hungry Americans

Outside of Panama City, the rest of Panama is desperately poor; lots of people living without dignity; rude and angry. Something I did not really expect. I didn’t like it and it was a weird way to put a cap on Central America. But so be it, the time had passed for me to move on and I began counting the days…

On the road in old Panama

Helmet cam

Suicide Showers: For those not in the know, hot water heaters rarely exist south of the border. What you have instead for taking hot showers are electric shower heads. Almost all of them are sloppily wired and spliced to an existing wire and appear deadly to anyone from the first world. They’re safe I guess, but only some of them make the water truly warm. I bought one the last time I was in Costa Rica. The novelty hasn’t worn off yet and I love them very much.

So there we are, goodbye North America.

We’ve come a long ways yo. We remember the rains of Alaska, the stink of the Salton, the food and the drink of ol’ Mexico, and the dead souls of Central America, although we must keep moving and push on. Adios North America. I’ll see you in my dreams if you’re lucky.

But don’t be sad because the time has come now for Incan dreams, with colorful frocks and bowler hats.

I’m going to the Sun, putas.

Photo montage of ol’ Mexico:

Chapulines -Fried Grasshoppers down old Oaxaca Way. Not bad, really. I was figuring them to have a peanuty taste, but they just taste like whatever they’re cooked in: garlic, limes and chile, and other assorted flavors.

Mexico City’s ancient cathedral

Zocalo dreamin’

Enter the Zocalo

The frenetic beehive of humans that is Mexico City

Top of the Pyramid of the Sun – awe inspiring and massive

Pyramid of the Sun

Facing the Pyramid of the Moon

Top o’ the ol’ pyramid o’ da mooooon

Top o’ the ol’ Torre Latino, once the tallest building in Central America – spying Mexico City

Pyramid of da Sun, son

ol’ Cathedral

National Teater in Guadalajara

Baroque church in downtown Guadalajara

Oh shit, the fuzz

Party Down -Oaxaca

Party Up -Oaxaca

Eh…eh…yo tengo miedo! Yo tengo miedo!

Riding the Oaxacan death roads 2-up

Waiting for the Sun

Alaska was never a real destination for me. It was a trophy. The real aim of this journey was to see America, to bathe in the sun of an endless desert, and weep at the feet of the Dinosaurs from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. I’ve been in the North for over a month and I’m coming home to the USA. I’m cold and wet and tired of being cold and wet. Alaska is not America, it’s Alaska. The Yukon isn’t Canada either. Both exist unto themselves and each has earned its rightful place upon my imaginary mantle, bathing in the heat of the internal eternal flame of the quixotic loner. I’ve conquered the North and I feel it is a better place now.

Dawson City, Yukon. A cool place no doubt with a beautiful vibration. Deadwood should take lessons here, although the only thing that prevents Dawson from becoming more of a tourist trap than it already is, is its isolation. People still mine here and the locals still drink. A great place to drink to get drunk and then drink in the history of the gold rush. There’s a hostel here, but be forewarned that it has no electricity or running water. There is a sauna however that is somewhat proper, in that it gets hot enough for my tastes, and a “prospectors bath” in which one heats up water to a boil in a wood furnace, then creates a lukewarm mixture with cool stream water, and finally douses himself to a sudsy cleanliness in a wet-room. Methinks Dieter, the German owner, is just a cheap fuck. A man of my own ilk really. I tip my hat to you sir.

From Dawson, the Top of the World Highway garners one entry into mainland Alaska. Here it is folks, the culmination of a long midsummer’s dream. Pick up that trophy polish in Boundary, population 4, and don’t forget to stop in Chicken, the next town over, and grab your visa to Alaska, the Land of Misfit Toys.

Alaskan Travel Tip: Remember, you can’t run away from yourself.

From Chicken to Tok and from Tok to Fairbanks and into the arms of kindhearted Ukrainian host-dolls Igor and Sveta. These real-life living dolls are an attraction unto themselves and they let me set up shop in their wall-tent for a few days, killing time and seeing the sights. It was here that I dined on boiled moose, feasted on Muktuk (whale’s blubber), supped on fried Chum Salmon, sampled Cloudberries from heaven, and munched on mushrooms. Delectable! An early morning hike even saw your author down on all fours culling wild blueberries like a real spirit bear.

Chena Hot Springs: 55 miles or so one way from the fair shores of Fairbanks. A nice diversion but I wouldn’t do it again and wouldn’t recommend it as a destination. Hot Springs should be held sacred and be as minimally developed as possible, if they are to be developed at all, which they shouldn’t. See: Liard Hotsprings. If moose is your thing, there’s a lot of them to see on the way.

 As noted previously, Alaska is the truly the Land of Misfit Toys, a giant lost and found bin of souls. Most people come up here to escape something, to run away, but remember people, you can’t run away from yourselves. About a third of the people who live up here really love it. Another third openly hate it. The last third hate it but delude themselves into believing they like it. It’s called cognitive dissonance. There’s a lot of insanity up here, a lot of drug use. The winters here are long, cold, brutal, and dark. Auroras flash the sky like psychedelic nighttime wallpaper. A perfect recipe for mental illness.

I expected grizzled bearded men, lumberjacks, and bawdy dames to make up the majority of Alaska’s population. Of course, I knew that wouldn’t be the case, or would it, but I was real curious to meet real Alaskans and check them out. To me that is the real wildlife. Like I said previously, there’s a lot of craziness in Alaska, but I expected that. I mean, just to make it up here and live takes some character and that sort of ambitious insanity will always be married to that. But I didn’t expect to find such a glorious, tremendous amount of white trash.

Fairbanks is a complete dump. It’s a city but it’s all spread out and there’s nothing there anyway. A ghost town. Another pseudo-city of the North. The most happening place is Wal-Mart and it’s rife with Melungeons. Same as anywhere else really. There’s a free museum in the old city hall and a decent coffee shop next door to that, that’s it really. I discovered pulltabs in Fairbanks. Pulltabs are advertised everywhere, in every store window and on every corner. There are even whole stores devoted to them entirely. Well, what are they? They’re like scratch off lottery tickets, but instead of scratching them you pull back a little cardboard tab to reveal whether you won or not. They are ubiquitous and everywhere. Alaskans are gaga over them.

 

Ah, Denali National Park. What can I say? Fuck you, I guess. Another clusterfuck of fools. Chock FULL of motorhomes and old codgers! DNP is the home of Mt. McKinley, the tallest mountain on the North American continent. If you want to see the mountain you don’t have to actually go to the park. You can see it from the road, if you’re lucky and it’s not ensconced in mist, for miles. It’s the biggest thing out there. It’s white and looks like a big ol’ scoop o’ ice cream plopped out on the horizon. You’re not allowed to drive within the park and if you want to go anywhere you need to take a bus. A bus trip to the base of Denali costs about $100.

Holed up on the side of the parks highway under picnic area enduring 16 hours of rain.

My quest to find the real Alaska led me to the Talkeetna Blues Festival. For the last 30 years, armies of Alaskan white trash have descended upon a gravel pit off the side of the Parks Highway each summer to listen to Bluegrass for 3 days. That is the theory of it really. It was a weird scene man and a sloppy, muddy rain soaked mess. No one was listening to the music. Tarps a plenty. Rap music blasted from shitty car stereos  in the muddy parking lot. People getting completely fucked up. The tar stink from the gravel pit mingling with people burning anything they could was pervasive. Fires constantly hissing out from the rain. A weird apocalyptic scene. I drank gallons of coffee and finished a bottle of cheap whiskey, picking up on the vibes and going crazy in my tent from the rain and the cold. Hating Alaska.

Anchorage: Most liberal Alaskan city and completely overrun with homosexuals. The San Francisco of the North and America’s new Gay Mecca. Stay away, or not, if that’s your thing.

 

Gakona, Alaska and HAARP: This is your future. High Altitude Auroral Research Program. Let me in!

 

I holed up in Tok for a couple days before striking for Haines and the ferry, my ticket out of this wasteland. Listen, next time your in Tok, Alaska don’t pass up a chance to visit Mukluk Land, home of earth planet’s biggest Mukluk, and say hello to George and Betty. A true slice of Americana in the separate nation of Alaska. Don’t forget to play skee-ball while you’re soaking wet.

Destruction Bay: Caviar wishes and Yukonian dreams. For the most part, the weather in the Yukon was always cooperative. It is like an imaginary wall is erected between Alaska and British Colombia and the sun always shines there, in the Yukon. When I got to Destruction Bay, it was the first time that I had seen the sun, and taken off my rain pants, in two weeks. Note that Yukon government campsites are pretty nice, and well stocked with free firewood, water, and covered shelters with wood stoves in them. No one, it seems, ever comes to check that you paid. So don’t. But also note that it is unnecessary to utilize the one on Destruction Bay, for ample bush camping opportunities abound. The setting was entirely picturesque, almost comically so, and the Beardar remained silent. I threw up the tarp in a mad dash, such is paranoia of the rain and the wet.  

Haines: Wildlife abounds in Haines, Alaska, a land of super natural beauty. Grizzlies munch on salmon and bald eagles swoop about. There are too many bears here. On my way into town I stopped at a river overlook to snack on some delicious nutritious sardines. I was watching a black bear cavort on the other side of the river when he looked up and spotted me. Our eyes met and he bore the expression of a curious dog! He jumped into the river and started swimming, coming to say hello! I jumped on the bike, furiously kicking it over until it finally started, the bear having scrambled up the bank.

I was able to snag a couchsurfing gig here, so grateful for an actual insulated walled structure with roof and to be out of the rain. Gina took me to see the bears, fed me delicious nutritious halibut and sourdough hotcakes, and clued me in to her soap making operation. One of the few fond memories of Alaska. Seriously, it rained everyday I was in Alaska and I didn’t see the sun for two weeks. Is it gay to want to fellate the sun when it comes out? The ancients, man they were on to something with that sun worshipping business. I’m tired. I’m going to Mexico.

 I’m on the ferry now, headed for America.

A pod of killer whales streaked past me this morning and dolphins playfully jump and twist in the air.

Fuck you Alaska.

The Great Alaskan Soap Company: Run by Gina St. Claire: Haines resident, Alaskan, and a St. Chrisopherette who protects solo adventurers from the storm and cleanses them with handmade soaps. Fisherman’s Friend, made with anise and smelling for all the world like fresh licorice is a personal favorite. Listen, by all means buy all you soap here! Made in Alaska by a real Alaskan.

 

Thompson’s Eagle Claw Motorcycle Park: Located in Tok, Alaska, Thompson’s Eagle Claw provides tent sites and various forms of enclosed shelters for bottom dollar. I spent the night in a kitted out ambulance to escape the rain. They also have a wall tent, cabin, and bunkhouse. Ah, and don’t forget the motorcycle workshop, free for all to use, and steamroom, which doesn’t quite get hot enough for this steamqueen, but is a welcome respite from the punishing Alaskan cold. Thoughtful host Vanessa provides all that one might ask for and more, except running water and electricity, which is fine because there is water in jugs that one can drink. Touch lights abound!

Cain’s Cause: Father son duo travelling around on bikes to raise money for some cause. MS I think. Yes, it is MS. A worthy cause. But listen, I forgot to put on my Dad-repellant and met Steve, the Dad, on the Cassiar Highway in the “town” of Bell II, really more of just a super expensive soapstone fireplace equipped $200 per night lodge.  But, they have terrible, buggy campsites for $22 per night. Steve was all despondent because he’d been riding for four days in the rain and his son’s bike broke down in Portland, meaning that they would never be able to complete their dream goal of riding to the Arctic Circle and back. Happy endings would ensue when I ran into Steve weeks later in Fairbanks, reunited with adoring son and covered in mud, having just completed that fabled run to the Circle. Congratulations sir!

Kev and Lorraine Hatchet: BMW riding power couple form England met at Thompson’s Eagle Claw Motorcycle Park in Tok. They smoke, drink coffee, and drink beers. Lots of each. And they’ve been around the world, taking their time and seeing the sights at a snail’s pace, but in a good way man. They made me coffee.

A Brief Sojourn in the Northeast Kingdom

Ah, there is nothing better than blowing an entire day’s budget on a hotel room on your second day on the road. Fuck you mother nature. Why is it 41 degrees in the middle of June? And wet?

Livin' Large in the North. Actually pretty cheap for a hotel with a hot tub. Though you must make note to utilize your desolate loner discount card.

The skies were open all day, the motorcycle God’s crying their tears from heaven. Shivering and alone in McDonalds @ 7:30 pm I relented and got a room in one of those kitschy White Mountain towns I used to go to with my family when I was a kid. It could be anywhere around here, but the town’s name is Gorham. I passed Santa’s Village and Six Gun City on the way, such strange little theme parks, and a remembrence was dreamt of those weird and stressful summer childhood vacations spent in the Lesser White North.

Give me cold and give me wet, but give me one or the other, for I can do them both, but either or. This shit’s hard to do on a bike. For comparison, say if you don’t ride, wet yourself down with a hose and ride as fast as you can on a bicycle for 9 hours.

My waterproof jacket is only half so, protecting my precious Canadian loons and paper dollars but not sparing my Flip from the elements. My precious little Flip, it may be done for, and after so many adventures (the flip took a dip, haha). Rain pants gifted to me before the trip have been torn asunder whilst kicking over the CB, rendering them useless.

Well, whatever, thats enough of that.

Bike is running eh…its running. The chain is fucked up in some way that I can’t explain. This bike has never been good to it’s chains. There’s no exception here, and I don’t think this one will see me through the wilds of Canada. I have my repair tools, but we’ll see. Its violent action has already caused the sprocket cover plate to shed a precious screw, integral to the operation of the clutch. In a stroke of luck, I was able to find the right screw at the first place I looked, an ACE hardware store in St Johnsbury, VT. Huh, the last time I had to replace it, which was many moons ago, twas unobtanium anywhere on Long Island and had to be sourced from afar. Front brake squeals like a little pig, nonstop and LOUD, whenever I apply some pressure. I’ve got some caliper lube, but who wants to dissasemble that assembly in the rain? I’ll get to it at some point. Gas mileage was poor on the way up, getting about 40 mpg when it should be 50 mpg. It seems to be getting better after I synched the carbs a bit. This bike is a cantankerous little bitch, and like many relationships in my life, requires a lot of attention. I won’t give up on the ol’ gal though. She may be tamed, but not yet.

A momentary lapse in the vicious rains coincided with a visit to the Magic Hat brewery in Burlington, Vermont. This was no coincidence people. Look, do yourself a favor and go back and read my beer reviews of Magic Hat’s precious little brews, for I am enamored. Yet, remember and know that I trust no one and that it is difficult for me to unconditionally love anything, let alone a product. So, I always try to remain objective. And I am being entirely objective when I say that the Magic Hat brewery is fucking awesome. They have free beer. Well, free samples in little double shot glasses, but free nonetheless. A lot of thought goes into Magic Hat’s products, with each brew bearing its own intricately designed artwork replete with adorable labels placed in a magical boxes. The brewery is decked out with tasteful  metal sculptures and art work everywhere. The first thing you see is this weird welded up metal tower. Climb the spiral stairs inside to the very tippy top, but don’t forget to feast your eyes on the caleidoscope on the way up. You have been warned. I drank my fill of #9, yet sadly was unable to be turned on to anything new, for I have already sampled every brew they had on tap. The taste of each and all was resplendent , as fresh as can be.

The ride up yesterday was uneventful. It rained as well. I predict that the weather on this trip will be one of extremes. For it will be cold and wet in the north, and blisteringly hot in the southern latitudes. Such is the lament of the manboy, for nothing ever comes easy.

A. Mora’s cabin was a more than welcome retreat. A blazing fire and a little Piazzolla gave my spirits a lift. I would have liked to stay another night but, you know…I’m restless.

Tragic Hat: Summer Soulstice

Hey you!

Imagine my delight whilst shopping for a post pullup (50 straight, beat that) party favor when I done run across this Magic Hat Summer Special Pack. Wait a minute, I thought, hath I not just sampled their Spring Specials? Sure, I reckoned, this must be an old box, some leftover remnant from days past, plucked from some dusty warehouse corner and shelved amidst fresher brews to doff off to an unsuspecting (and uncaring) Long Island populace (they’ll never know the difference anyway (but I will)). But no! A quick check of the freshness stamp brought the realization that these beers should be consumed on or before Memorial Day for optimal freshness. Meh, surely some trick, some scam! Why release the Spring specials and then immediately thereafter the Summer specials? And the Summer Specials are meant to be consumed before summer? Albeit, the date on the box was real, as it would not be wiped off no matter how hard it was rubbed with the thumb.

Well…a message from the Gods no doubt.

I took it as such and scored a twelve pack of PBR on the way out for $8.50.

Note: Sad that such is considered to be a deal in this day and age. The Magic Hat was $19.00. Beer should be free, man.

And so here I sit…on the LIRR going to the big city and rating these brews for your enjoyment:

Single Chair: 5%. Cap reads, “Congratulations, you’re night is about to get better.” But how can it get better if I’m already off to see good pals that will videotape me laughing and shoot it into space? And it isn’t even night time yet. It’s 3 o’clock.  Shame on you Magic Hat. You’re brews should be encouraged to be drank at ANY time, before work or while driving. I’ve heard by rumor that in some Western states, such as Idaho or Montana, one can drink and drive and drink while driving provided one’s blood alcohol content is below a certain percentage. Regardless, this is a really good beer. Actually really delicious. Reminiscent of Encore but slightly different. Refreshing. Not a good train riding beer but a good beer to drink while driving a Montana backroad in a convertible, or motorcycle sidecar even; while wearing goggles and an old helmet. Although I don’t care for the label, which features a ski lift, because I hate skiing, I love the beer. Bravo.

Wacko: 4.5% “A little weak” states Lucinda. A wonderful color and “fruitiness” to this one. It pours out looking a bit like a sparkling cherry juice. A little too bright. The label says that beets are added to produce said vibrancy but I say beets belong in borscht and have no place in beer. A little synthy tasting, Not something I expect from Magic Hat. Lucinda says that Wacko is, “all conceptual but has no soul.” She asked me to quote that.

Blind Faith: 6.2% Tastes like Single Chair if you added more alcohol. The label looks more wintery than summery and I don’t care for that sort of juxtaposition. I’ll take my summers hot and my winters cold please. Don’t try to make me feel cold in the summer or vice versa in winter time. Let me enjoy the heat without being cold. Stop trying to alter my perceptions Magic Hat. I know what you’re doing. Try putting a little puffy coat or vest on your winter beers and maybe a pair or swim trunks or old-timey one piece bathing suit on your summer beers and I’ll eat it up but not the other way around. Embrace the sun. Blind Faith, good nonetheless, but Single Chair is still my fave.

Springbok!

A spring soliloquy? Yes? No?

Why not?

What started as an after work/class search for one or two forgettable brews to quell a late night anxiety session turned into a delightful romp when it was spied on the shelf Magic Hat’s latest seasonal entry into the craft brew beer arena. How could anyone refuse partaking in this adorable medley of inspiring brews? I couldn’t, for I was drawn in by the 12-pack packaging done up to resemble an old-timey ghetto blaster replete with a cassette mix-tape theme. Magic Hat knows their clientele, for what Katy Perry/KeSha hybrid remembers the cassette? For remembrance of all old mix tapes and good times forgotten past this twelver was plucked fro’ the shelf and gobbled down, bottle caps n’ all, fresh as a daisy.

DEMO: 6% IPA on tour label looks like a record. I like it, as it plays into the “on tour” theme. Whatever. Pours out into a rich creamy caramel colour with a rich creamy head. Surprisingly dark after settling, not at all like you would think an IPA to look…nor to taste. Reminiscent of Howl (not the Ginsberg poem) but w/ a hoppy post-taste. A delight. Yes. Delightful. Not my favorite, but a beer felt to be enjoyed in the early days of spring, the late days of winter, when the days grow longer and the air is proper mode of attire is a thick Irish woolen sweater.

VINYL: 5.1% pours out as a dark coppery coloured beer with a tiny lil’ head on top. A beautiful label begets a crisp tasting lager that can be considered a fitful accompaniment to the spring equinox. Truly special? Nah. A great beer nonetheless.

Circus Boy: 4.5% A beer tackled with a surprisingly rotten humour. Having partaken of this brew from The Inn’s muddy taps, I was non plussed and ws not looking forward to this “magical” brew. Color me wrong, for the proper version sipped fresh from the proper glass goblet yielded TASTY surprise. Perhaps the greatest Heffeweizen this manboy hath ever sampled, Circus Boy was nothing short of revelatory. Brewed w/ lemon grass, as per label, the taste harkens more to the taste of an ashy cinnamon, albeit in a splendiferous way. Unique and good. A GREAT beer. One of the greatest. A truly wonderful and artisinal creation. Enjoy yo.