We awoke Friday morning to find the clouds had broken, the fog had buggered off and the sun was shining bright. I felt like a million, other members of the crew not so much(things can get serious after a Bruins win). Never the less, we thanked our hosts, loaded up the Charger and headed into the city with the intention of seeing a few landmarks.
Even having been to Boston as many times as I have, I still marvel at how cool the old North End is. Home to Boston’s “Little Italy”, the oldest bar in the city and one of my shop destinations for the trip, “Ball & Buck”.
Prior to arriving in Boston I had hit up Northeast menswear guru, James Fox in order to get some intel on shops I should check out. Top of the list was Ball & Buck since it was conveniently located in the North End.
Rather than try and explain how awesome Ball & Buck is in words, I’ll let the pictures do the talking.
Man behind the flag, Mark Bollman started making the tees you see above while attending school at Babson. They caught on and the rest is history. I could tell after chatting with the guy, Ball & Buck is a no b.s. operation. With so many stores and brands hopping on the “heritage” band wagon, it might be easy to dismiss Ball & Buck as yet another hoping to cash in on our current love affair with Americana. If you get a chance to go chat with Mark, it’ll be pretty clear that is not the case. Moreover, the shop is located in America’s most history rich city(sorry NYC/Philly) in one of it’s most historic districts.
Ball & Buck’s street cred runs deep. In addition to carrying many of today’s most sought after brands(Hillside, Tellason, Left Field Workwear, Wolverine) they’re always looking for what’s next. Is there a Ball & Buck x Nice Life Apparel collab in the works….
After wrapping up our shop visit, we decided it was time to get on out to the country while the sun was still shining. A quick battle with Boston’s famous one way streets(also a farmer’s market that Google Maps was unaware of) and we were headed for the Green Mountains. Dave read from his copy of 1000 Rules For My Unborn Son(a book every man should own) and Paola stared out the window at the ever changing New England landscape. I have to say, I can’t imagine what seeing the changing leaves, rolling hills and winding rivers for the first time must be like. I’ve been all over this damn country but nothing is as subtle and at the same time so awe inspiring as New England’s geography. Maybe it’s because it’s home but I’ll take the valleys of Vermont over the canyons of Colorado or coast of California any day.
A quick stop for “provisions” at the NH State Liquor Store(tax free!) and we were ready to make a straight shot to Burlington. However bladders dictated that another stop would be necessary and as luck would have it, that coincided with the Vermont Welcome Center in Sharon(yes, Sharon).
Seeing the donation box at the welcome center reminded me that there was a whole other side to this trip that I had managed to put out of my mind until that point. While the country has moved onto much more important things(who a Kardashian divorced this week, who a politician fondled last decade, a new diet pill from the future!) Vermonters are preparing themselves for a long hard winter. If there’s one thing I can’t stress enough it’s that they still need your help. While some roads have been re-opened the state is still in really rough shape. Winters in Vermont are some of the hardest out there and make no mistake about it, your donations go a long way. VT Food Bank and VT Red Cross are great ways to help. If you’d like to get something back for your donation(other than the satisfaction of doing something nice) you can purchase one of our Love 4 VT shirts and 100% of the proceeds will go to one of the two organizations.
We made damn good time from Sharon to Burlington but even then, we couldn’t beat the rain. Dave and I had only just finished lacing up our skate shoes when mother nature decided to make things just wet enough so that skating wasn’t a reality. Our plans of physical exercise dashed we did the only thing that seemed logical.
Our sadness of not being able to skate faded away as the night progressed and we surrounded ourselves with good friends. Paola couldn’t get over how much Burlington’s bar scene was similar to that of Truckee(CA). Maybe it was the fact that most of Truckee’s lively residents hail from the Green Mountains or maybe it was that the only bars I like in Burlington are the dives. Either way it was one heck of a Friday night and hell of an early Saturday morning.
Saturday morning started at 11:45. The plan had been to head up to Stowe, take the gondola to the top(as we’d done the year before) hike around a bit and have lunch. A steady rain fell in Burlington but the radar showed it to be clear(ish) over towards Stowe. We finally piled into the Charger around 1 and headed out towards the mountains. It did in fact clear up, but only long enough to make us more bummed that scenic gondola ride season had ended. Instead of calling it a bust, I drove us up into Smuggler’s Notch. The Notch is a pretty cool place to hike around but with a steady cold rain falling, we opted for taking a few quick pictures and being on our way.
When the weather sucks in Vermont there’s not a whole lot to do, however an easy way to make up for poor scenic tourism is with great food tourism. Piecasso in Stowe is not only some of the best pizza in the state but in the country. Winter sports athletes and enthusiasts are some of the most well traveled people on the planet so if they say a pizza place is damn good, it’s damn good. Should you find yourself in the area get the Hummus Pizza or BBQ Veggie, wash it down with a Switchback, you’re welcome.
After wrapping up lunch at Piecasso it was obviously time for dessert at Cold Hollow Cider. Fresh cider donuts are one of the best things to ever come of man’s eternal struggle to answer the question, “why are we here?”. It wouldn’t surprise me to find that the answer is “to make things that when ingested, cause humanity to be just that much happier”. I mean how else do you explain cider donuts? Anyway, once Dave and Paola had a chance to poke around the isles of
touristy crap charming country gifts, we made our escape from the throngs of people clamoring to buy their little piece of the rural life. Don’t get me wrong, I love that they come, after all their money is the lifeblood of the state. It’d just been a long day and we’d all had quite enough of screaming children. We unanimously agreed that the Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour was better left for a summertime visit and headed back to Burlington, it was once again time to play drink the beer, we all lost won.