After running out of gas at 9 PM in our home town of Plymouth, MA, photographer Kevin Coughlin and I found ourselves stranded on the side of the road, wishing we had planned out this Phish tour with more tact. We had spent the weekend at Hempfest, a small festival that truly went off in all the right ways, in Croydon, NH. We had chosen to pack our beat up Saturn for the entire two and a half week journey, coming home on Monday to allow for one day of work to add some funds to our bread basket before shipping out to Phish in Charlotte North Carolina.
Just a mile away from our blessed abode and out of gas, we called a friend who lives near by to rescue us from our tragic shortcoming. Within a half hour we were back on track, gassed up and ready to go. Thanks to good friends and our determined spirit we headed north to my parents house in Natick, MA to gather crystals and say good bye to my family before heading south to Phish.
Upon arrival, we realized that going to a festival and then getting up to work at 7:30 AM the next day does not lend much energy to an all night driving spree. Tired and weary, Kevin Coughlin and I decided to pass out on my parents living room floor. Our dog Pig Pen was beyond wily at this point and refused to leave my parent’s Doberman, Lucy to her lonesome. Pig Pen is a lot dog at heart, too much energy for a tiny apartment, enclosed with but one dog to bother. Pig Pen is put in line by the Pit Bulls that run the lot scene of Phish but, Lucy is far to kind to deal with a rambunctious mutt such as, Pig Pen.
An early morning departure was oh so necessary. Kevin and I took the dogs for a sunrise walk around the fog engulfed neighborhood, the hilly streets are lined with victorians and colonials. An off-leash escapade, a true relief for both dogs and owners.
Phish at the PNC in Charlotte, NC was a ripe 20 hour drive away. Broken into a four day trek, we knew we had a dream vacation on the horizon. Kissing good-bye my sleepy, robed mother, Kevin Coughlin, Pig Pen, and I were off to explore the east coast with no chance of knowing what was in store. Leaving at 8 AM and allowing for pitstops cascaded us into the worst NYC traffic, rush hour on the George Washington Bridge. With a balmy temperature of 101 degrees, we were not happy campers. In fact, we would have done anything to be campers at all in this moment.
Our first stop was Sturbridge Village. We moseyed through the Paul E. Rogers Herb Garden and picked several leaves to make tea later on in our ventures. We had lunch at BT’s Smokehouse. Classic BBQ with sides galore. Mac&cheese, collard greens, coleslaw, and even pickled carrots, this place had savory comfort food made to order.
Making it into the Elk Neck Campground around 11 PM, Kevin Coughlin and I were happy to set up camp and let Pig Pen out to exhaust some pent up frustration with several violent games of tug-o-war. On the menu was beans and rice made in a small pan over a fire to which we meticulously tended. A warm meal was all we needed before slipping away to Phishy dreams of hearing songs such as ‘Reba,’ ‘Harry Hood,’ ‘Maze,’ ‘Stash,’ and ‘Wolfman’s Brother.’
Elk Neck is a peninsula that jettisons deeply into the Chesapeake Bay. At the culmination of the peninsula, a large lighthouse adorns its steep cliffs. A hike out to see such a epic landmark was a necessary endeavor. Pig Pen ran wild throughout the picturesque forest that cascades down to the massive expanse that is the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. One feels minuscule when looking out over such a vast stretch.
Elk Neck is located in the beach town of North East, MD. This one-of-a-kind town has several blocks of unique stores with homemade goods conveniently located on Main Street. Lunch at Woody’s Crab House, a local tavern, was delectable. We sat outside allowing our dog to lounge out after his long, arduous venture in the sweltering heat of late July. Erin, our waitress, brought Pig Pen a bowl of water, expressing the true nature of southern courtesy. Erin recommend the peal-and-eat Cajun style shrimp and the lump crab salad. Kevin Coughlin had never before experienced peal-and-eat shrimp and was pleasantly surprised by how much he enjoyed the meal. The lump crab salad was piled high with fresh crab atop crisp lettuce served with a lemon dressing, it was both refreshing and filling. This is an awesome spot to relax on a patio and people-watch in this the quant downtown area.
Before getting back on the road to Phish, I was in dyer need of a coffee if I was about to drive for four hours straight. A coffee shop located right next door to Woody’s advertised a coffee called something to the tune of, “Dark Chocolate Addiction.” My love of coffee translated into a warm concoction of sweet undertones complemented by bitter chocolaty goodness, amazing. The name of this shop was appropriately named, Beans. Leaves, Etc..This shop was hippie heaven. Spices, mugs, and tea strainers adorned the wall. Canvas sacs of coffee beans filled the small space with pleasant aromas of hazelnut and vanilla. This shop was very much like Bilbo’s kitchen in, “The Hobbit.” We purchased a coffee and a tea strainer to make tea with the herbs we had gathered in Sturbridge Village. Beans, Leaves, Etc. is a great place to stop and grab gifts for loved ones if you are in the area.
Check out the next leg of our journeys!