Wednesday, July 26, 2017

I Make Fun of State Quarters: Idaho

Is it potatoes? I'll bet it's going to be potatoes.

No potatoes!? What gives?

Here's the thing about Idaho. It's a rugged state in the American West with some beautiful mountains, waterfalls, and other areas of wilderness. It has a fairly rich history. Some of the oldest Native American artifacts on the continent were found in Idaho, the area was part of the Pacific Northwest region disputed by the United States and Great Britain, the Oregon Trail passed through it, and the Mormons established a fair number of communities there.

There have been a bunch of survivalists and right-wing wackos who have been attracted to Idaho, and the infamous Ruby Ridge standoff took place in the state in 1992. But the state, like many in the West, embraced the early Progressive movement and was one of the first to grant women the right to vote. Labor unions were active in the mining camps, with a number of violent confrontations between miners and management over work hours and wages. Idaho is known as the Gem State due in part to its abundant natural resources, and a good part of its economy is today supported by the manufacture of semiconductors.

But what do we know Idaho for? Potatoes.

And for being one of the easiest Halloween costumes ever (Source)

So it's no surprise that the state quarter shies away from this aspect of the state. Everyone already knows Idaho for its leading agricultural product (it provides about 30 percent of the nation's russet potato crop), so why not try to inform people about other aspects of the state?

Does the state quarter design accomplish this? It just shows the state under attack by a giant bird.

Seen here without its customary "Jericho trumpets" (Source)

You know, this quarter gets creepier every time I look at it. This is a peregrine falcon, the state raptor of Idaho (not the state bird, which is the diminutive mountain bluebird). It's either casting its gaze down on the unwary inhabitants of Idaho or looking aside to us. It's hard to tell with those cold, dead eyes.

What's more, it looms over the whole state. Idaho measures 305 miles across at its widest point, but this bird is easily the larger of the two. It can't even fit on the quarter, for God's sake; it's probably 1,000 miles long, making it a threat to the entire damn nation.

What's more, the peregrine falcon is the fastest animal on the planet, reaching speeds of more than 200 miles per hour during a dive. They can be found in virtually any climate. And the bird is also a carnivore, eating small mammals.

Idaho, you fools! Do you realize what a 1,000-foot peregrine falcon considers to be "small mammals?" We're all doomed to be devoured by a gargantuan bird of prey!

And don't think Mountain Home Air Force Base will protect you. The state slogan is apparently declaring this giant bird of death to be perpetual.

Footage of the oft-forgotten attack on Boise by the state raptor

How does it compare to the alternate designs? Well, I can't say I'm a fan of Idaho controlling an abomination of nature with the ability to wipe out mankind. But I guess it's better than the state quarter awkwardly introducing Idaho like a mediocre prize in The Price Is Right.

 "And you can enjoy all the wonderful potatoes Idaho has to offer on your NEW DINETTE SET!" (Source)

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Whatever Happened To: The Cast of Step By Step

In a recent running of the weekly bar trivia, our team became bitterly divided over the crucial final question on the old TGIF lineup on ABC. We're all children of the 90s, and we all agreed that Full House debuted first while Boy Meets World and Sabrina the Teenage Witch came later. We also knew that Family Matters and Step by Step were in the middle, but couldn't come to a consensus on which premiered first.

It was especially galling for me because I'd already done one of these "Whatever Happened To" blogs for the Family Matters cast and was planning, sometime, to write one for Step by Step. Thankfully we were satisfied that Steve Urkel wouldn't be crashing his jet pack in Wisconsin if he wasn't already an established TGIF character and put Family Matters first. And as it turned out, Family Matters began in 1989 while Step by Step started two years later.

Step by Step was basically The Brady Bunch with more aggression between the two halves of the blended family. After two single parents impulsively get married while vacationing, they end up moving in with each other and their combined litter of six children; wackiness ensues! The show lasted seven years, moving to CBS for its final season.

So what happened to the Lambert/Foster clan of Port Washington, Wisconsin? Well, I'm going to exclude some of the more minor characters, but otherwise...

Patrick Duffy (Frank Lambert)

The owner of his own construction company, Frank was handier and less bumbling than most of the sitcom dads out there (although he could still be fairly chauvinistic and slovenly). He was a sports enthusiast, especially when it came to the Green Bay Packers. Frank is often shown to be somewhat out of his league when it comes to parenting a blended family, but also strives to be a role model and forge strong bonds with both his children and stepchildren.

Patrick Duffy's first credited acting role came 27 years before Step by Step's premiere. He was already well-known for playing Bobby Ewing in the soap opera Dallas, a role he reprised for a couple of TV movies as well as a Dallas reboot which ran from 2012 to 2014. In addition to small roles in a number of TV movies and shows, Duffy (now 68 years old) had a long-running role as Stephen Logan on The Bold and the Beautiful. His endearingly simple website says he's written a book based on an early role in the science fiction show The Man From Atlantis, and also encourages people to check out a YouTube series of comedy skits where he is harassed by a crab puppet.

Suzanne Somers (Carol Foster-Lambert)

Carol works as a beautician in a home-based studio along with her mother and sister (both of whom were later written out of the series). She is generally portrayed as being a confident, no-nonsense mother, though she sometimes second guesses herself in stressful situations. Carol makes a genuine effort to connect with her stepchildren, although she encounters quite a few bumps along the road.

Following an abusive childhood, Suzanne Somers began modeling and later won small roles in TV shows and movies. Her first major role was as Chrissy Snow on Three's Company, as well as the title role in She's the Sheriff. Somers also gained some recognition as the spokesperson for the Thighmaster. After Step by Step, she co-hosted a brief revival of Candid Camera, appeared on Broadway in a one-woman show, and had a couple of talk shows. Somers now runs an alternative medicine business which sells beauty and health products.

Brandon Call (J.T. Lambert)

Frank's oldest son, J.T. (for John Thomas) was a boorish jock who wasn't too smart academically. However, plenty of episodes showed him making an effort to perform well in school or find a worthwhile career. His learning difficulties were eventually traced to dyslexia. J.T. was also locked in a perpetual battle of insults with Dana.

Brandon Call began appearing in TV and film, having major roles on Santa Barbara, The Charmings, and Baywatch (where he played David Hasselhoff's son) before joining the cast of Step by Step. He was shot in both arms in 1996 during a traffic incident in which another driver inexplicably began menacing him. What happened to Tommy Eugene Lewis, the guy who shot Call? He's still doing somewhere between 41 years and life.

Call dropped out of acting after Step by Step and has stayed out of the limelight since then. He reportedly helps run a San Diego gas station and car wash owned by his parents.

Staci Keanan (Dana Foster)

Dana was an intelligent, outspoken feminist who developed a fierce rivalry with J.T. and generally held dismissive views of the Lambert family. Her haughtiness sometimes earned her a dose of comeuppance, such as when she got a face full of motor oil after mocking J.T. for doing well in an auto repair class and asserting that anyone could master those skills. Much to the surprise of the family as well as herself, Dana began dating J.T.'s similarly uncouth best friend Rich.

Staci Keanan, now 42, is actually one of the stage names for Anastasia Sagorsky. Prior to Step by Step, she appeared as Nicole Bradford on My Two Dads. Although she had a number of minor acting roles in the 21st century, Keanan later opted to pursue a career in law. She graduated from Southwestern Law School in 2013 and is now a practicing attorney in California.

Christine Lakin (Al Lambert)

The only girl in the Lambert household, Al (short for Alicia) was a tough, sarcastic tomboy who usually found little in common with her stepsisters. However, a few episodes showed her being more appreciative of Carol stepping up as her stepmother. In the last season, Al begins to pursue an acting career.

Christine Lakin managed to balance her education and acting, graduating from high school in 1997 and from UCLA in 2003. Her roles after Step by Step were predominantly in independent films and as guest spots in TV shows, although she has also done work in comedy and theater. More recently, she has been focusing on voice acting. Lakin, now 38, provides the voice of Joyce Kinney in Family Guy and Jane in The Walking Dead video game, and has also narrated audiobooks. She plays a tongue-in-cheek version of herself in the TV show Hollywood Darlings, alongside Beverley Mitchell of 7th Heaven and Jodie Sweetin of Full House.

Angela Watson (Karen Foster)

Karen was as a bit of a ditz, obsessed with fashion and aspiring to be a model. Nevertheless, she was also shown to be fairly compassionate to both her siblings and step-siblings, and smart enough to start attending college later in the series. A few episodes focused on Karen's singing talent and pursuit of a country music career.

Angela Watson, now 41, returned to acting only briefly after Step by Step ended, appearing in the film Final Approach as well as the short film Cowboys and Indians. More notably, she established the organization Child Actors Legal Fund (CAST) to provide support for child actors who feel they have been victimized after realizing that her parents had misappropriated some $2.8 million she had earned over the course of Step by Step's run. Watson continues to work with this organization and serve as a spokesperson for HugsAmerica Charity Events.

Josh Byrne (Brendan Lambert)

The youngest member of the Lambert family, Brendan seemed to look up to his older brother in hopes of being a macho guy when he grew up. Yet he was also more accepting of his step-family, generally acting friendly towards Carol and her children. While the show continued to refer to the Foster-Lambert clan as having seven children, Brendan became a more minor character in the sixth season and disappeared altogether in the seventh season.

Josh Byrne, now 33, didn't have any other acting credits after Step by Step. His still accessible MySpace page shows that he developed an interest in art and live action role playing. Beyond that, it's not clear what he's been up to.

Christopher Castile (Mark Foster)

The only male in the Foster family, Mark is your typical sitcom nerd: academically smart, socially awkward, a bit of a wuss, and a little arrogant at times. He became somewhat more adept at dating, playing sports, and interacting with the rest of the family as the show went on. Mark was absent for the majority of the final season, appearing in only eight of 19 episodes.

Christopher Castile's acting career lasted as long as Step by Step did. While working on the show, he also landed roles in the first two Beethoven movies and voiced Eugene Horowitz in several episodes of Hey Arnold! After retiring from acting, Castile earned both a bachelor's degree and master's degree from California State University, Long Beach. Now 37, he works as a history teacher at Downey High School and an adjunct professor of political science at Biola University.

Sasha Mitchell (Cody Lambert)

Cody began appearing in episodes early on and later became a full cast member. A nephew of Frank, he lived in a van in the family's yard and was an absent-minded but good-natured fellow. Certain episodes showed that he was skilled in a number of different areas, including karate and dancing.

Cody mysteriously disappeared partway through the fifth season, with the show awkwardly explaining that he had gotten a job in Russia. This pivot was a result of troubles outside the show, with Sasha Mitchell being accused of violence against his wife. He was arrested in April 1995 for spousal assault, but not booted from the show until after he was sentenced to 60 days in jail in May 1996 for violating his probation. Mitchell would still return to the show for a guest spot in the final season.

Working as an actor and professional kick boxer before getting into acting, most notably in the Kickboxer series of martial arts films, Mitchell appeared as a guest star in several TV shows including JAG, NYPD Blue, and ER. Although he only had one credit in the decade after 2005 (as Rodrigo in Abelar: Tales of an Ancient Empire), he's been busier as of late with credits in films such as Assassin X, Drunk Parents, and the upcoming movies Cyborg Nemesis: The Dark Rift and Algiers. He also sporadically tweets.

Emily Mae Young (Lilly Foster-Lambert)

Like Family Matters before it, I'd outgrown Step by Step by the time it was winding down. I do remember that Lily was introduced simply as the seventh child of the Foster-Lambert clan and the only kid that Frank and Carol had together, but I hardly saw any of the episodes from the last season. That was when Lilly was, in the wonderful words of Wikipedia, given the "soap opera rapid aging syndrome" and advanced to the role of a precocious five-year-old.

After Step by Step, Emily Mae Young only appeared in the movies Undercover Angel and Santa and Pete. She also played a part in commercials for Welch's grape juice. Now 27, Young is...somewhere, I don't know. She dropped off the radar, and I wasn't able to find anything through the wondrous powers of the Interwebs.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Bike and Brew: Fox Farm Brewery

Last year, I interviewed three people who were looking to bolster the somewhat anemic brewing scene in southeastern Connecticut. Each one was hoping to get their business off the ground by the end of year. Each one missed their target.

But over the weekend, one of these venues made its soft opening. After some careful renovations and some more recent tap takeovers, Fox Farm Brewery in Salem was officially open for business.

I was contemplating a bike ride on Sunday when my wife informed me of this development, having learned the news through Reddit. I immediately decided that another Bike and Brew was in order.

This marks the first time I've headed west from New London for a brewery trip. Until Fox Farm Brewery opened, there wasn't much in that direction. The last time I went west with a brewery destination in mind, I was trying to get to the 30 Mile Brewing Company in Old Saybrook and cut the trip short after struggling against scorching temperatures. The next closest breweries west of New London are Steady Habit Brewing Company in Haddam and Fat Orange Cat Brew Co. in Colchester. Those are both about three hours away by bike, not exactly a casual outing.

So it was nice to set out in a direction that didn't take me over the Gold Star Bridge's terrible bike route for a change. Instead, I took Vauxhall Street out of New London and into Waterford.

The denser urban area ends pretty much immediately after this sign. The town line is just beyond an overpass crossing I-95, with views north to the shopping areas that the highway has neatly sliced down the middle. Once you pass this, there's a single professional center and then nothing but residences.

Right after I moved to Connecticut, I heard a public service announcement on bicycling safety that bluntly stated, "Connecticut is not a good place to ride a bike." It's not strictly true; most drivers are actually pretty respectful of cyclists. But it can be a little scary trying to share the road on two-lane highways with nonexistent breakdown/bike lanes.

Vauxhall Street avoids one of these treacherous routes, since it bypasses a road which becomes absolutely clogged with drivers trying to reach the Crystal Mall and other retail locations. Instead, it loops around Lake Konomoc before intersecting with Route 85 in a quieter location. This part of Connecticut is full of relatively unknown parks and preserved spaces, so I was surprised to find an Audubon Society preserve not too far from the lake.

Up until this point, I hadn't been feeling particularly up to the task of this bike trip. Maybe I was a little undernourished after a late breakfast and no lunch, or maybe the hills were a little more than I expected. At any rate, the back roads had seemed much more arduous while the highway immediately seemed much speedier.

Soon after coming onto Route 85, you pass the Nature's Art Center and Dinosaur Place. This is something of a far-ranging tourist stop, encompassing such wares as jewelry and an antiques museum, but it's probably best known for the dinosaurs. Several life-sized thunder lizards are distributed throughout the place, including the mascot "Monty" (for the town of Montville where he resides).

Route 85 is almost a straight shot to Fox Farm Brewery, although it can be something of a challenge on a bike. Once the road crosses from Montville into Salem, the generous breakdown lane often shrinks to a white lane painted mere inches from the side of the road. There's also at least one section which is a rather relentless incline, though if you get past this you'll be rewarded with a steady downhill into one of Salem's central village areas.

The recently famous Salem rotary greets you not long before you get to the turnoff for Fox Farm Brewery. This used to be a dicey intersection before they decided to replace it with a dicey, overly complicated roundabout. I lingered here for a few minutes and heard maybe five car horns blaring, presumably as people confused with the concept of a rotary that requires you to choose a lane cut them off. It's apparently helped cut down on accidents, though.

A beer-conscious friend of mine has frequently checked in at 2 Brothers Pizza in Salem. This pizzareia is reportedly very knowledgeable of local craft brews, and was even mentioned by the Fox Farm Brewery owner when I did my interview. I was feeling a bit famished and contemplating whether to stop in for a bite to eat, but it was unfortunately closed on Sundays.

Before long, you get the turnoff for Music Vale Road. Then it's just a short distance to Fox Farm Brewery. The owners renovated a former dairy barn on the site, with about half the space dedicated to the brewing tanks and the rest given over to a taproom. There were also a few outdoor seating areas, although the outside crowd far exceeded the spaces available on such a beautiful sunny day.

Fox Farm Brewery has a few unique characteristics. For one thing, the tap handles are made of shovel handles. This was a result of a last minute creative impulse after the owners realized that the handles of the old shovel handles found in the barn could be put to new use. They even put out a call over social media not long before opening, asking if anyone could supplement their shovel supply.

The price list included the dollar amount for different sizes of growlers as well as full pours or half pours. The full pour glasses seemed a bit short of a full pint, while the half pour glasses usually went for three bucks. A sign at the counter warned that there was a limit of two full pours or four half pours per customer.

It was also interesting to see a certain regimentation at the brewery. Those interested in filling a growler were asked to take a number, and an LED display behind the counter added to the deli counter experience of waiting until your turn was up before you could get your beer. Similar to the limit on glasses, there was a growler limit of nine liters.

Word of a new brewery gets around quickly. Even though this was a soft opening, it was absolutely mobbed. There was some grumbling about the length of the lines, despite the fact that five or six people were manning the taps. But they were still able to keep people served fairly quickly.

For the opening weekend, Fox Farm Brewery was offering five beers: two American pale ales, an IPA, a pilsner, and a porter. There was also nitro coffee, but it was actual coffee from Ashlawn Farm Coffee instead of the nitro coffee stout I was hoping for. I went with the Hearthbound porter, which had a nice rich flavor, and enjoyed it in the upstairs seating/standing area which overlooks both the taproom and the brewing tanks.

I usually don't go for a second beer on these outings, but decided to max out my limit. When I joked about this while ordering one of the American pale ales, and the bartender replied that the limit isn't too strictly enforced.

Both of the American pale ales have the same ABV and name (Roam), but are prepared in different ways. One uses Nelson Sauvin hops which apparently give the beer a flavor similar to Sauvignon Blanc. I went with the other version, which uses Citra and Mosaic hops.

I took a brief stroll with this beer and found a makeshift hopyard at the silo. The strings only went about halfway up, but it was still a pretty neat sight.

I was hoping to find a tree to climb, because how often can you drink beer in a tree on a farm, but opted to settle down against a tree trunk instead. I finished the Roam while reading The Eternal Footman, the last book in James Morrow's trilogy on how the world reacts to the discovery of God's enormous corpse floating in the Atlantic Ocean.

For the route back, I took the more rural route recommended by Google Maps. The scenery was beautiful, although it could be challenging. In addition to some perpetual uphills, the side of the road was often deteriorating, full of random sand patches, or otherwise sketchy enough to force me more towards the middle of the lane on several occasions. Thankfully the traffic was very light.

Montville has a bizarre transportation layout. The major roads in town often do little more than nip through the corners, while the central villages are accessible by twisting minor routes. The return route passed through Oakdale, distinguished by a large shopping plaza which burned down in 2010 and has since been rebuilt. The pizza parlor and pet groomer and other shops which were once here have long since found other storefronts, and the new complex is oddly devoid of picture windows, so now it's apparently home to businesses like this net manufacturer.

Then it was back into the rural roads. Like, serious country roads. So country that I got the Bob Denver song stuck in my head.

So country that someone made a cinder block garage even uglier.

So country that I came across the other side of that Audubon Society bird sanctuary.

So country that it took me past the Waterford Country School.

Actually, this campus style school for at risk kids was one of the last landmarks before the route completed its circle back to Vauxhall Street. It was in the middle of yet another arduous hill, but not long after was the intersection for the way home.

Mileage total: 28.1 miles

Previous Bike and Brew Outings:
Outer Light Brewing Company
Beer'd Brewing Company

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Bike and Brew: Beer'd Brewing Company

The last time I did a Bike and Brew ride, it was just about the last day where temperatures were comfortable enough for casual biking. I was rewarded with a beer from the Outer Light Brewing Company and a massive hamstring cramp which announced itself at the dinner table.

During the beautiful sunny weather we got this past weekend, I decided it was a perfect time to do the first Bike and Brew of 2017. I had a choice of five remaining brewing destinations within a biking day trip of New London (four more are in the works). Once again I went east, this time with the goal of visiting the Beer'd Brewing Company in Stonington, Connecticut.

And once again, this required a trip over the Gold Star Bridge. It's still ugly, it still looks out over the less interesting part of the Thames River, and it's still too narrow to accommodate two bicyclists going in opposite directions. The bridge is slated for some major improvements over the next five years. The sidewalk will be open for much of the construction period, but apparently not subject to any upgrades.

On the plus side, the view north wasn't quite as dismal as it was on the gray day when I started this series. The Coast Guard Academy's sailing team was out and about during the crossing, and you could see up to the slowly blossoming hills of the river valley.

Somewhat counterintuitively, biking toward the shoreline requires you to head away from it when you first get off the bridge. Shoreline routes in this region hug the coast, lengthening the ride considerably. Plus, getting there would involve a scary ride down one of Groton's strip mall thruways.

It's easier to head through a quiet suburban neighborhood instead and hop onto Route 184. This road has a wide breakdown lane, is fairly flat, and offers a reasonably straightforward path to the Mystic/Stonington area. The only downside is that it's populated mostly with blocky business buildings and similarly blocky churches that apparently think aesthetically pleasing architecture is an affront to God.

First Baptist Church of This Used To Be A Linoleum Warehouse or Something

The suggested route continued along this highway, but it's much more rewarding to abandon it for the scenic route. I wound up taking some back roads past a small farm with enormous piles of firewood for sale as well as the trailhead for the Pequot Woods, a 140-acre parcel of preserved land not far from downtown Mystic.

Deviating from the suggested route also gives you an opportunity to check out Mystic, crown jewel of tourism in the region. If you hop off at Route 27 instead, you go past attractions such as the Mystic Seaport, Mystic Aquarium, and the impressively misspelled Olde Mistick Village shopping center. The way I took led directly into downtown Mystic.

Mystic is actually one of the innumerable villages of Groton, at least until you get past the Mystic River. It's a pleasant stretch of shops, restaurants, and art galleries, all leaning heavily on the maritime theme. There were already some pretty big crowds out enjoying the sunny weather, and it's certainly a nice place to stop for a rest on an extended bike ride.

Getting off the bike in Mystic also avoids the hazard of riding over the famous Mystic River Bascule Bridge. The bridge will turn 100 in 2020, and is distinguished by enormous concrete counterweights on the western side. It looks like the steel deck would be a little jarring to ride across, and you'd be hemmed in by parked cars on either approach. It's more pleasant to walk your way across; you might even join the legions of people getting a cone at Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream and enjoy it in nearby Mystic River Park.

The easiest way to get to Stonington from Mystic is to take Route 1. It quickly sheds its traffic lights and troublesome intersections, becoming an open highway with rolling hills and generous breakdown lanes. I was tempted to take a side road which crosses a causeway onto scenic Mason's Island and goes from there across another crossway to Ender's Island, but left those water views for another day

Stonington Borough is a skinny peninsula extending into Long Island Sound. The first time I went there, I came to the conclusion that it was exclusively populated with real estate offices, jewelers, and architects (and the occasional restaurant and plenty of expensive homes, of course). It hasn't really changed since. There isn't much room for cars and bikes to coexist, but the speed limit is low enough that drivers probably won't mind if you cruise along Main Street.

Getting to the tip of the peninsula rewards you with an expansive view of the sea as well as a monument recollecting Stonington's minor but proud role in the War of 1812. The town was able to repulse a bombardment by four British ships in the summer of 1814, holding out for four days with the modest defense offered by a pair of cannons. Artifacts related to this battle are displayed in the Stonington Historical Society, housed in a nearby lighthouse; the cannons are kept in the aptly named Cannon Square near the middle of the Borough.

The map shows an intriguing shortcut out of the Borough toward the Beer'd Brewing Company along Elm Street, although I trusted Google Maps' advice to take the long way around. Turns out the Elm Street way is a secluded walkway over the railroad tracks, which wouldn't be too fun to haul a bike over.

The Velvet Mill is a rambling brick structure located in a residential neighborhood in Stonington. The business got its start in the town because a malaria epidemic forced a Long Island company to look for other locations for its velvet weaving and dying operations. The mill once housed hundreds of looms and employed 450 people, but after its closure it became a haven for artists. It has now been subdivided into dozens of spaces housing businesses such as art galleries, photographers, metal workers, boutiques, and even an organ restorer.

While several breweries have started up or are underway in southeastern Connecticut today, there wasn't much of a scene as recently as five years ago. The Cottrell Brewing Company in Pawcatuck, a place I'll visit for a future entry, had been a mainstay since 1996. Aaren Simoncini apprenticed at Cottrell before opening the Beer'd Brewing Company in 2012 with partner Precious Putnam. The brewery had the misfortune of opening right after Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast, forcing them to rely on an emergency generator for their early batches. Luckily, Beer'd got past this initial hurdle and has been thriving ever since.

Before the taproom opens for the day, Beer'd hides behind a large sliding door with the company's logo, which features Simoncini's beard. The taproom occupies the front end of the room, with a scattering of individual tables and one family style tabletop in the center. The brewery is constantly whipping up new batches, and the bartenders are kind enough to give you a sample of whatever's on tap that day.

Beer'd posts its daily offerings on Facebook, and I was hoping to get a Nano-A-Nano, a Belgian style black IPA, but it had already sold out. Several other taps had kicked or were offered for growlers only, so my choices were fairly limited. I opted for a This Side of Paradise, a rather strong IPA (9.3 percent ABV) with a bitterness that was nicely balanced by the fruit notes.

For my return trip, I opted to stick with the directions that had been suggested on the route out. This once again took me away from the coast and through the small hamlet of Old Mystic. As with most New England villages, this involves a cluster of sites that are important to the community or at least were at one point. This picture of the general store cozying up to the post office about sums it up.

Most of the route back to New London was retracing the route along Route 184. I took this photo near the entrance of a small apartment complex, at about the time I was starting to feel the combined effects of the double IPA, treacherous westward winds, and a slowly increasing elevation. I eventually got a second wind and made it over the bridge, feeling quite rubber-legged by the time I got home but none the worse for wear.

Mileage total: 31.27 miles

Previous Bike and Brew outings:
Outer Light Brewing Company