Favorites Of The Past 9 Weeks

Total Days On the Road: 298
States Visited: 41
Canadian Provinces: 8
Countries by plane: 3
Miles Driven: 31,000
PB & J Sandwiches Eaten: 100 each (approximately)

Many people have asked us “What’s your favorite…”

That question gives us pause. We haven’t really been in that mode, assessing things and ranking them. I don’t say that from a high mountaintop of enlightenment, possessed with an evolved non-human ability to experience the world with mindful non-judgment. Hell, we are still debating which peanut butter brand is better, and which state has been “the friendliest,” and which state not-so-much.*

Sometimes the towns that we think are going to be “the best” end up being “just fine” and the restaurants that Google says “you can’t miss” we wish we had driven past and avoided. Our policy of “ask a local” has been the best way to find hidden gems that we would have probably otherwise missed, hidden in the towns that we had never heard of before. The moments that we didn’t see coming have turned out to be the most memorable, and the paths that we have taken without planning have led to the greatest adventures. We’ve tried to be open and accepting of each new experience, grateful for the novelty and novelty’s ability to slow down the passing of time, harvesting something–even just a moment of learning or growth–before moving on.

But they say opinions are like butts. Everyone sits on one.

And so, in the spirit of judgment, here is our attempt at a “Best Of” list from the past 9 weeks on the road…

Favorite Town: Provincetown, Massachusetts

The dunes of Provincetown are spectacular. And the piano bar where we belted out show tunes for several hours non-stop was heaven for our inner 12 year-old selves.
Fun Fact: Provincetown is where “they”—the Pilgrims—stopped first, before Plymouth Rock. They hung around for a few weeks before judging the ground as too sandy and the vibe too fabulous. So they crossed the bay to Plymouth to get all puritan up in there.

Favorite Wildlife Preserve: Chincoteague, Virginia

Wild ponies. They can’t keep me away.
Ahhhh, the Atlantic.

Favorite Rock: Newfoundland

A 7-hour ferry from Nova Scotia followed by an 11 hour drive around the island brought us to St. John’s–Newfoundland’s largest city. And then, a 16-hour ferry ride took us back from the rock. The journey was part of the experience.
Here I am, not-conquering. Just rambling.
If you look carefully, you can see the 500,000 puffins, stopped here to mate for awhile. It’s here where my disdain for seagulls really began—they eat the cute puffins for breakfast. Fun Fact: Puffins are not “the strongest” of flyers or landers, making them easy for the asshole seagulls to eat.

Favorite Museum: The Barnes Collection (Philadelphia, PA)

After seeing “The Art Of The Steal” we filled our dining room with old prints from flea markets, displayed in a manner that was inspired by Dr. Barnes. And then we got to see his collection in Philly. Never saw Rodins at the Rose Bowl Flea.

Favorite Harbor Town: Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen is a gem. We’ve spent most of the late summer and fall in maritime locations; Nova Scotia, Cape Cod, New England in general. But Copenhagen holds a special place in our hearts.

Favorite Recent Meal:Italian Sub at Capriotti’s (Wilmington, DE)

Look at this thing. The hot peppers were clutch. And the brilliant “meat barrier” kept the fresh bread dry and delicious.

Favorite Skill Based Activity: Spoon carving class (Gloucester, MA)

Ted doing some clamping.
Finished spoons. And it only took us 7 hours. So.

Favorite Spectator Activity: Tottenham Hotspurs v. Chelsea (Wembley, UK)

Our first premiere league game and my first time saying premiere league or knowing what that means. Come to find out, Soccer is really fun to watch. I mean Football.

Favorite Hike: Underhill State Park (Burlington, VT)

Vermont. At the peak of fall colors. We felt like we were in some 1,000 piece puzzle or a poster that motivates you with a lesson about change or something like that.
The top of fall.
We had a check out clerk in Key West ask us if we were “good with the trees” before giving us a paper bag. After our time in Vermont, we can honestly say that we are.

Favorite Autumnal Activity: Apple Picking (Brattleboro, VT)

It’s possible we were more excited about the use of the wagon and the tiny horse, but the Honey Crisp apples were pretty great too.

Favorite Cocktail: The Creole

We’ve been searching for the final ingredient—Amer Picon—since discovering this drink in February in New Orleans. This French Amaro is virtually impossible to find in all of North America. But a shout out to the one random shop in London that knew what we were talking about—you helped our cocktail dreams come true. Yes, it’s boozy. But damn it’s good:
1/2 oz: Benedictine
1/2 oz: Punt e Mes
1/2 oz: Amer Picon
1 1/2 oz: Rye
Stir in ice (57 times according to cocktail Guru Chris Hannah from NOLA’s French 75)

The reality of van life prevents constant nature-bonding and soul-gazing by roaring campfires. Sometimes you just gotta watch TV.

Favorite Show Currently Viewing: Schitt’s Creek
Favorite Show Recently Viewed: Great British Baking Show
Favorite Movie Recently Viewed: Tale Of Tales

Many people are surprised to hear that we still like to talk to one another. And they are floored to learn that we tend to do so while driving, rather than listening to music or podcasts. But when we do feel aurally inspired—usually by a particular landscape or memory flooding back—we fire up Spotify and curate a playlist, often yelling requests fueled by 80’s nostalgia.

Favorite Current Road Music: Waylon Jennings, Phillip Glass (seriously, those two are all we listen to)
Favorite Current Podcast: Crime Town (Providence, RI)

With the holidaze fast approaching, we anticipate some visits with family and friends, decorating the van with festive good cheer, and wrapping up our current adventure early next year…

Love from the road,
Matt, Ted and Julius The Van


*We won’t publish those opinions here. Ask us in private and we’ll let you know.

Author: Matt Casper

Writer, Traveler, Human.

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