I was on a break from work, since it was February vacation from school so I decided to visit Virginia first. After a ten hour drive through Southern Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, I arrived in the Fredericksbug area of Virgina. It was late at night when I got in and I slept very well in a fresh, new town. The next morning, I went on a walk, read and wrote in my journal until my traveling companion woke up. We decided to visit downtown Fredericksburg to soak up the sights. The river was flowing down below the urban center and geese were evident in both their nutritional remnants and their physical presence. I lone duck pair waded around among them, apparently, it wasn't an exclusive waterfowl gathering.
A walk around historic downtown brought us to an surprisingly incredible shop called Fraser Wood Elements. They create flooring, furniture and features out of reclaimed wood and metal. MDK bought am oyster knife, forged from an old horseshoe, from this creative shop on Caroline Street. A conversation with the owner/salesperson lead us to a brewery across the street, called Spencer Devon Brewery, on George Street. Fraser made all the bars and tables for the brewery, a local collaboration.
We tasted a couple of brews here and asked the bartender why the cocktail list was littered with Bowman spirits. This conversation led us to the A. Smith Bowman Distillery on Bowman Drive, just a short drive away. A fortuitousness turn of events! We went on a tour and learned oodles of interesting facts about how their single batch bourbon and whiskeys are made. For one, the distillery is located inside a former cellophane factory, built in 1920 and run as such until 1978. The cellophane was sent out to wrap cigars. A. Smith Bowman Distillery moved in in 1988 and has been cranking out small batches of bourbon, whiskey, rum, vodka and gin (though the last two are a small percentage of product created). I bought at bottle of Mary Hite Bowman Caramel Cream Liqueur, a la Kaluaha-style (but much better tasting!) and it was and incredible post-dinner drink over ice. The base is bourbon and it's blended with caramel and cream. Apparently, it's aimed at the "feminine market" and hot damn if they didn't hit the nail on the head!
The next day's destination was Monticello, near Charlottesburg, Va. This is a déjà vu location as I visited here in middle school. Unfortunately, I was more interested in the track workouts I was missing, than missing the historical beauty around me back then. But this time around, my history-loving self was quite present! I lingered in the rooms that were shown to us during the tour and marveled at the intricate patters of the piano, mastodon bones on display in the entryway, dumb waiters hidden on either side of the fireplace, other original furniture and inventions made by T. Jefferson himself, especially the clock that tracked the days of the week. One of the most simple yet fascinating sights for me was the original brick flooring in TJ's wine and beer cellars. The fact that Thomas Jefferson himself had walked on these floors astounded me for some reason.
After a chilly walk around the grounds and rest of the museum for Monticello, including the former slave quarters and graveyard, it was on to Charlottesville, VA for a snack and more. Marie Bette Bakery Cafe and Bakery was the most intriguing choice and there we went! A generous slice of quiche Lorainne (ham and cheese), un pain au almond and chocolate and a sourdough roll with chocolate and cherries were ordered, along with a latte and cappuccino. Each coffee drink was served with a small, chocolate, shortbread, heart-shaped cookie. The entire result was Nirvana. Driving away, I wished I had bought a couple more sourdough rolls to cut open, toast up and slather with butter.
After our snack, we headed to Three Notch'd Brewery just a couple blocks away. Tasting new beers has become a great interest of mine. Even if I don't like what happens in my mouth when I sip it, the fact that I'm trying something new never gets old. Twelve total beers were sampled and some new delights were discovered: their "Hydraulion (Irish) Red" and "Elated Coconut" Porter were two favorites of mine. Looking back at Three Notch'd website, (http://threenotchdbrewing.com/beer/), you can see how much they care about their creations, even down to the artwork for each brew. Dogs were allowed in this space as well and I fell in love with three of the five dogs in attendance. Later, dinner that night consisted of spicy chili, sponge-y cornbread with butter and homemade tapioca for dessert, accompanied by a rather odd but thought-provoking movie: Brazil.
The next day, Valentine's Day (who am I kidding?), was the day to head out. Weather was encroaching upon my travel plans, so I headed out of Virginia and made it to a great friend's place in Bristol, CT before I was swallowed up by clouds of freezing rain. I passed an elaborate church in Waterbury on the way there (see photo below) and had to take a detour to document it. After spending the night at Erin's place, I headed to Millerton, New York, a former haunt. When I lived in Connecticut in 2010, just fifteen minutes over the border, I visited Millerton almost every weekend to write letters (a lost art some would say), drink lattes and generally walk around to enjoy the ambiance of the town.
Irving Farms Coffee House, the giant antique mall, Harney and Son's Tea House and Taro's Pizza were my destinations this time. I found a banana, chocolate chip and pecan scone and vanilla latte at Irving Farms were consumed as I transcribed the past day's happenings in my journal, apricot black tea and jasmine pearl tea were purchased at Harney's to be drunk every morning upon my return to Maine and pepperoni pizza with their house-made balsamic vinaigrette was for lunch at Taro's. I felt the same comfort just being on Main Street that I did six years ago. But I knew new places to explore were waiting so I headed out to Maine, temporaraliy. I spent the next day, dreary, cold and raining, purging my place of unneeded objects and then heading out to Montreal the next day...