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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Long Overdue: Last Summer & The Last Road Trip

This post is several months overdue. It's a recap of last summer's visit to New England and some further adventures.

My goal was to visit family and friends, and a whole bunch of places that I had been longing for throughout New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, and Massachusetts.

Regrettably, I never made it to Vermont.

The one chance I had, I probably could have blazed over to South Royalton for a quick bite at the Worthy Burger, but it felt like a huge waste of time & fuel for such a short amount of time, so I bailed.

And seeing as Stowe is another 2 hours past South Royalton, no go there either.

Did get to beloved Lake Winnipesaukee to bask in the Smile Of The Great Spirit a few times, though.

And to Lake Winnisquam for a proper booze cruise with friends.

Sparkles of light dancing on the water by the legendary sand bar party zone.

Big-ass mural in the new pub we cruised to, in an old converted church.


The ride home after soaking up the sunset.

A little city action, too. On a mission in Boston.

Ancestry research at the Massachusetts Archives.

There is much more to my move to the Caribbean than just fun in the sun. One of the other reasons for being here is to resurrect my great grandfather's spice company.

Touched on it briefly here:

My family has uncovered Ellis Island records from waaay back of my great grandfather and my grand uncle returning from purchasing spices and coffee in the Dominican Republic. Family lore also has it that my grand uncle nearly got married in Cuba, and my grandfather visited Cuba in the twenties and early thirties.

All of my love of food and travel and adventure is part of this and I want to do something with it.

Yet it immediately seemed to come to a dead end at the Massachusetts Archives in South Boston where I was informed that they did not have any corporate records at all.

I spent about ten minutes there speaking with them, and to their credit they really gave it some thought.

Finally, one of them said, "Here, try this number. They might be able to help."

I called the number and a small voice answered the phone. I told him I was looking for the corporate records for a company from the early 1900's.

"Please give me the name of the company," the small, foreign voice said.

He then slowly read back the name I had just given him.

"Yes, we have the records here."

Here's where it got interesting.

I was elated and asked if I could visit the offices right away to retrieve copies of the corporate records. "What is your name, so I may find you?" I asked.

The small voice said, "My name is Divine Power."

As if he knew I would be confused, he spelled it out slowly. "D-I-V-I-N-E P-O-W-E-R."

It gave me chills.

"That is an amazing name," I told him. "Your parents must have been special people."

"Thank you, sir. They were."

I got the address and flew over there like a madman, feeling I was now on a divine mission. Traffic on Boston's notorious Southeast Expressway mysteriously dissolved in front of me. Lanes would open up by chance. Traffic lights would turn green in time with the beat of the tunes I was listening to. It was a whole bunch of synchronicity that added to the energy.

I hadn't been in downtown Boston for a long while and I'd forgotten how cool it was. Clean and chock full of architectural treasures old and new.

Someone once said architecture is "frozen music" and they were right.

The Corporate Records Division was up near the Massachusetts State House which was kind of my old 'hood when I just just starting out. I had a very humble job working for a small photocopy shop. I made deliveries throughout downtown by foot and by van Monday-Friday from 8:30am to precisely 5pm (when we enthusiastically locked the door) and worked on my advertising portfolio each night.

My friends joked that I was a "reprographics specialist." All I cared about was that I got to meet a ton of hot office receptionists, got to go sailing on the Charles River at 5:03pm nearly every day, and had weekends off.

I stepped out of the elevator and into the Corporate Records department and asked for the "gentleman named Divine Power."

"Hello, sir. Here are the records."

It was the same guy I just asked.

Divine Power was a five-foot-two inch Nigerian man.

The chills and energy went through me again. We chatted briefly and as I was leaving, he said "I hope you are successful in bringing back your great grandfather's company."

I felt as if he (and even his parents) had just blessed the entire endeavor, and I continue to feel that way.

I was pretty high on life and wanted to celebrate and kind of "touch base" at one of my favorite places, so I walked down Mt. Vernon Street in the sunlight and went to The Sevens, the pub where I met my girlfriend and where my parents used to go on dates decades before.

In other words, I wanted to make the moment a family affair.

Gas lamps burning 24/7

The Sevens is one of my all-time favorite pubs. Lily the bartender was still there who named my friend Paul "Slicky" because he always wore his hair slicked back. We still call him that.

Never anything other than Guinness or Harpoon for me at The Sevens.

Popped into J. McLaughlin further down Charles Street and scored huge. Shirts On Sale baby. This was marked down from $195 to $39.90 -- I love deflation.

Dropped off my loot in the Boston Commons car garage then walked through the Public Gardens, my favorite park.

Made way for ducklings

Still had a bunch of time before I had to meet my cousin, so headed to Foley's.

Thank god. Still exactly the same.

And still pouring a great pint.

Headed to Davis Square, through Harvard Square. Original home of The Facebook.

Hanging at my cousin's place. Split a beer with her while showing her the corporate records and discussing logo design. Guess who's a super-talented art director! Keeping it in the family.

Cool and comfy furniture design at the bar at Rosebud American Kitchen & Bar in Somerville.

Alfresco dining on the back deck. I think these were bacon-wrapped stuffed jalapenos and fried green beans. Then had a half rack of St. Louis ribs which were excellent.

A few days later, made it back up to Lake Winnipesaukee to hang with friends.

This shot is called "The Majesty of Light"

Headed to Portland, Maine for more barbeque. This was actually a Louis CK-style bang bang at Salvage BBQ.


A "bang bang" is from the Louis CK show when he and his friend go out for a full meal and then afterwards go out for another full meal. For example, Chinese food then Italian food.

I went for tacos at Portland's El Rayo with my friend Josh, then hit Salvage for some brisket, ribs, and collards. Bang.

A few days later, blackberries were in season.

As I always say in Maine, I don't find blackberries; blackberries find me.

Foraged summertime breakfast

Visited Buzzards Bay where we celebrated my dad's birthday with my sister and her family. Very fortunate to get in a morning sail in an old wooden Herreshoff before hitting the road for Florida.

Hey wait, Florida? Why Florida? What happened to Puerto Rico?

Well, I guess I had one last road trip to do in the lower 48.

Since I had zero luck finding a suitable car in Puerto Rico (wasn't keen on the "excellent condition" of the used ones I was finding, and was in no mood for the instant depreciation on a brand new one), I decided to ship my beloved road trip car rather than let it rot for another winter under four feet of snow.

Oh, and it meant I got to stop by Buz and Ned's once again. My last experience was pretty phenomenal (story here).

It was majorly busy this time, and while the hot little number that I so enjoyed last time wasn't there, an equally cool if not more business-like soul sister was. She had the place under complete control.

The bros in the kitchen were on the ball, too. At one point, I poked my head inside and one of them saw me. "One minute, sir. Almost there!" And it was. The dude brought it right over to me with pride. This is the way you want people to handle your food. Awareness, care, thoughtfulness, professionalism. You can taste it.

Here was the result. Competition-style barbeque, an incredible mix of smoke and tang and pork flavor, perfectly presented. Tender and juicy, just the way I like it. And so often, even at the "world famous" places, not achieved.

Further south the night after, I stumbled across a Mexican joint in Pooler, Georgia. I walked in and the owner greeted me in Spanish. Without thinking, I responded in my newly acquired Spanish. Boy was he excited. I guess I did ok.

Had the roasted pork tacos that were full of crazy good flavor. Lots of cilantro too. His wife was the waitress and really took good care of me.

El Potro Mexican Restaurant. Pooler, Georgia

Later on, checked into a hotel and was amazed by the night sounds outside. Crickets and beetles were hard at work on a car alarm symphony in the warm night air.

The reason behind the Last Road Trip: shipping the car to Puerto Rico.

Five hour layover in Fort Lauderdale during prime yacht crew season. Thought I'd at least bump into my girl @Kate_Chastain from Bravo's Below Deck. No dice.

By the time she was there, I was somewhere over the Atlantic. (I would've waited)

Once I got back to La Isla Del Encanto, headed straight to Bebo's cafe for cabrito (goat stew) with rice and beans.

But there were some issues waiting for me as well. Namely, no internet for some reason (from my cable modem sitting dormant for over three weeks), and a completely empty apartment with Tropical Storm Danny bearing down on the island (and my car somewhere out in the ocean) -- no water, no food, and no storm preparation (part of the reason why I got back in August rather than September). All of which contributed to this post being pushed to the back burner.

Luckily, Danny eventually fizzled. And so did the market, which broke badly while I was frantically trying to build up food and water reserves for the storm with just my bike and backpack.

Storms are no joke in the Caribbean, and can knock out an island for weeks.

Market wise, I didn't have the size on that I had planned for. But at least I had something (UVXY & TVIX). And while the rest of the world was flipping out the morning of August 24th, I was calmly taking profits.

A few days later, after endless paperwork and a hefty excise tax, I picked up the car and took a spin over to the other side of San Juan to Fort San Juan de la Cruz just across the bay.

The Spanish spent over 250 years fortifying the harbor's strategic location, and through it, controlled all access in and out of the Caribbean.

Fort San Juan de la Cruz allowed them to create a deadly crossfire with Castillo San Felipe del Morro that made the entrance to San Juan virtually impenetrable.

The car got here OK and has now been in 48 States
and a Territory

No sooner did Danny pass us by than Vogue arrived and I was hard at work on the fifth installment of The Socionomic Implications Of September Vogue.

Made a fun day of the read through at La Concha Beach Resort which was a great backdrop for notes and bikini perspective.

Then went on a local research mission for the spice company. Yum.

Nobody had anything on this stuff though: Finca Del Seto. Shade-grown, hand-picked, open-kettle hand-roasted organic Arabica coffee from the original strain of trees that were introduced in Puerto Rico in 1736. Makes great gifts -- people go nuts over it. The coffee aroma fills the mailbox.

Coffee bong? Caffeine hookah?

I could go on and on with this post, but it wouldn't be about summer anymore and would become more like a self-serving day in the life, which I'm determined to avoid.

It was great to visit family and friends and to uncover the origins of something that is generations larger than myself.

I have no idea what will come of it, but am pretty sure divine power will light the way.

I think it already has, for very soon after my return, after months of searching, I found a most amazing apartment nearby overlooking an epic surf break called La punta. Ironically, my volatility position paid for the price difference almost to the penny.


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