The Great Northeast Kingdom Driveabout (Part I of A Lot I'm Guessing) and a New Rad Burlington Hang
Art rockets, danger piles, almost-nachos, crooky Willie and more
“Every day you get up
And look out of the window
Take a breath of morning air
And listen to the people out there”
To set this week up a bit:
My pally Sally is a writer and poked me the other day - “are you planning any excursions in the next two weeks and if so, what would you think of a reporter and cartoonist tagging along?”
I felt like I had to go a little big – 187 miles and 9 hours later I’m fairly confident this one goes in the “all timer” pile. I just listed all of our stops and it’s currently at SIXTEEN things. There’s gonna be a more official/cartoon version of this (!!) in our local arts weekly in a few weeks but I do want to highlight a chunk of these because, well, so many of them were weird and/or wonderful. A bunch of new discoveries (and friends!) which is entirely what this dealio is on about…
I was planning our route for the day on Google Maps and when I scrolled to Eden, Vermont there was a curious pin off the side of the road: Vermont International Museum Of Contemporary Art And Design. Wha? Clicked a bit and BOOM there’s gold in that there hill. Turns out, the museum is a “micro venue” which sits in a trailer on the lawn of her creator.
“Contact the museum for hours and directions.” Totally.
5:37AM “Hi can I come ” - Ryan Miller
6:58AM “I’d love to have you visit!” - Matthew Neckers
Long story short, Matthew is a super duper fellow weirdo artist holed up in the middle of nowhere making a joyful and singular noise. My dude.
The museum is a hoot, filled with tiny bespoke artworks which then gets dragged around the state and frankly I’m onboard the Neckers train wherever it goes. To wit: when I asked him if he could recommend any other WW spots in the area he asked if I have ever seen the abandoned asbestos mine… well, I guess I know where we’re going next…
Matthew said that you can see this mine from space and I’m not sure who is looking for this while floating in space but I definitely believe him. There’s a whole universe of people who specialize in abandoned exploration and this place is well documented by that community. These sort of adventures are relatively new to me (except that one time my wife and I snuck onto the High Line five years before it was the High Line) so it was a real treat to see it from the legal side of the “No Trespassing” sign. Part of me really wanted get in there but the other part didn’t want to get bit by a racoon or impale myself on a tetanus death spike or inhale lung needles so the pics (and linked videos) will have to do for now. Eerie, spooky, and surreal stuff.
This was another Google Maps discovery… a 10-lane rural bowling alley in Lowell with humble signage and a dirt parking lot. The carpet is from 1988, of course you can buy two kinds of eggs (bantam/large), and Andrea, who currently runs the joint, is giving this a six month trial run to see if she wants to take it over from her dad. I hope she does, she was super nice and I will definitely get the nachos the next we come. Bumper bowling for the kiddos. And eggs.
The word “oasis” gets bandied about everytime this restaurant gets mentioned, I’ll throw one more on the pile. At this point, PP is a must-do on any trip up thisaway. Compact and cozy, there’s tiny swinging doors which separate the counter and dining area from a classic general store but with a highly curated beer selection. The pizza rules, wings too. The staff is young, hip and friendly and it’s got a “you’re not in Kansas anymore” vibe which I’m coming to realize is very on-brand for The Kingdom. Lots of benches and grass outside and you can bring your pups (dog, not corn). Time this right with the weather and it’s as superlative of a dining experience as you can get up here, real talk.
This was not part of our NEK adventure but I’ve been here 3 times this week so I’m throwing it in…
I was out last weekend in Burlington and my buddy said “we’re going to this new bar” which is a rare statement in our humble town. We walked in and it was an instant love affair – mismatched couches, a garage door all the way up, The Replacements warbling warmly, a framed photo of Willie Nelson above the pool table (off-center and crooked but not in a Pinterest-y bullshit way), a few dogs plopped about. It all felt very un-Vermont which makes sense because a couple, Lauren and Matt, moved here from Austin in August and just straight up bought and opened a bar in the middle of Covid knowing absolutely no one and having never been to the state before. I love Vermont but I also love some disrupter shit, especially when it feels thoughtful but also improvised. As Lauren told me: “Half of these couches came from our house!”
Cocktail menu is somewhat elevated but not stuffy. Vibe is super duper right on and unique to Burlington. I am pulling for this place bigtime. Even got a Johnny Wanzer sighting last night so you know this place is on the come up. Excited for these guys and this place! Welcome fellow weirdos!
Writing about 16+ things seems like a bad choice for this format so I’ll punt on the rest of the NEK adventures for future newsletters. I have to mention briefly that the Bread and Puppet Museum is one of the most mindblowing and emotionally charged places you will ever experience. I gotta figure out a way to write about this place and still do it justice. For another time. Woof. Thank you Peter and co. What a creation.
More soon, Love you.