August 15th, 2012 - 12pm, Base Camp: Allegany State Park, New York.
My dear friend,
Our preparations are well underway to reach the summit of the Southern Tier on the morrow. The weather looks promising for an early afternoon ascent, and spirits remain quite high among the members of the expedition. They feel optimistic, I think, though they seem a tad confused about the nature of the trip, which is certainly understandable under the circumstances. We left WIFI range six hours ago, and so I'm certain that our inability to consult our maps and travel information sites are also playing with the team's emotions. Tonight, myself and my fellow team leader enjoyed several stiff drinks around the campfire, and regaled each other with tales of days gone by. It was, I hope, a fine beginning to what I hope will prove to be a successful mission.
I hope this letter finds its way back to you, and finds you well.
August 16th, 2012 - 10am, Base Camp
I feel our celebrations the night prior were perhaps more exuberant than prudence would have suggested. My head is abuzz, my muscles ache and twinge, as my body flushes out the last of the spirituous beverages. My vision appears to be slightly compromised, though this may be a result of altitude sickness. The taste of food no longer appeals to me, but I consumed my rations all the same to keep up my strength for the final push. Despite our condition, the team was quick to disassemble the camp, and our trusty pack mule - lovingly named "Corolla" by the men, no doubt a name picked up from some unsavory tavern of ill-repute - was laden with equipment and ready to move. The weather remains fair, and we are well.
The expedition presses on.
Your dear friend,
August 16th, 2012 - 2pm, Interstate 86.
The road before us is bumpy and full of potholes. The locals insist that they are working tirelessly to improve the road, but this does us little good, and so he journey westward is taking longer than we had anticipated. One of the crew-members mentioned that she required "a sub, or something" - a curious remark indeed. A submarine on a brewery expedition - have you ever heard such a thing? The altitude must be befuddling her senses, so I will keep my eyes on her.
Morale is hanging by a thread. We persevere.
August 16th, 2012 - 2:26pm, Lakewood NY
My dear, dear friend: all is hopelessly lost.
As one with many years of brewery-teering behind me, I have of course mentally steadied myself against any possible hiccoughs in our journey, but nothing could have prepared me for such as what befell us as when we approached the summit. Rather than finding a clean, bright view of the surrounds as expected, the brewery itself lay in disrepair. Trucks and other vehicles surrounded the entrance, and the sounds of hammering and nail- gunnery sent us into a panic. Yet we pressed on, as we always do, and dismounted from Corolla as close to the entrance as we dared. We tentatively approached what was unanimously decided to be the front of the brewery, our palms wet with the sweat of anticipation, our tongues parched from thirst. We were so very close. Before us stood two great doors, which we attempted to pry open, but even with all of our combined strengths we could not make the door budge in the slightest. As we stood there in utter confusion and disarray, the queerest sight befell our eyes: a woman from within the depths of the great malty beast emerged from the darkness like a spectre or some work of phantasmagoria, and opened the doors with superhuman ease. The two parties stood transfixed for a moment or two, and then she spoke:
"You two looking to visit the brewery?"
I was filled with a sudden flurry of optimism, but maintained my composure. "Indeed we are: we require ales and any other provisions you can spare as proof our our reaching the summit."
"I'm sorry, but the brewery and retail store doesn't open until 4. We're also working on improving the tasting room, so it's a bit noisy today."
"But surely we could-"
"Sorry folks, we'll see you a bit later."
And with that the doors sealed shut.
I found myself utterly despondent - to be this close to success, only to have the cruel vicissitudes of fate utterly thwart our valiant efforts, was almost too much to bear. My co-leader steadied herself, and declared that "we aren't waiting for two hours, we need to get back home." Of course she was right, though this did nothing to ease my aching heart. We have no choice: for the good of the crew, we must turn back. We will make the attempt next year, if I can find the strength in me to do so.
July 16th, 2013 - Waterloo Towne Square
My dear George,
We are off again to make another strike for the summit, mad though we may be! We have consulted the weather charts and the stars to ensure a favorable journey. Yesterday, I contacted the brewery, and they assured us that they are "totally open this week" and that "The Empty Pint is open Wednesdays from 4pm onwards." All the signs are in our favour, and so glory demands that we make another attempt as soon as possible. Our faithful Corolla is raring to begin, once again laden with camping provisions.
This time, we cannot fail. We must not fail.
July 17th, 2013 - Interstate 86, 3:45pm
Despite the locals' assurances that the roadways would be well-cleared by the time of our next expedition, clearly very little had improved. The route was bumpy and uncomfortable, with detours and something called 'lane closures', a confusing event which required steely nerves and quick reflexes from our navigator to successfully traverse. But we made do. Our stalwart co-leader informed us that Corolla required feeding at the earliest convenience, and so we shall make one final stop before our last push to the summit.
I can feel it, George. I know we will do this.
Keep us in your prayers,
July 17th, 2013 - The Summit
George, we have done it!! We knocked the bastard off at 4:45pm, local time, and celebrations are currently in full swing.
We arrived within sight of the summit at half past four, and our eyes were met with a glorious sight: the construction vehicles and chaos of the previous summer had long since departed the area, leaving behind no evidence of having ever been there in the first place. The route to the apex was clear - there was nothing standing in our way - except, of course, those awful, dreadful doors which barred our way before. I gathered all of my strength, summoned from within me all those unhappy passions from the first attempt, and pulled at the broad doors. Success! The doors flew open with incredible ease, and we were inside.
To our great dismay, we quickly discovered that we were far from the first expedition to reach the summit, but such glories are best awarded to better men and women who have the good sense to consult the website prior to making their ascent. No matter - the only victories in life which truly matter are the victories against oneself, do you not agree?
The summit camp was gloriously refurbished, with a delightful patio facing the gardens, a full view of the brewing kettles, and - best of all - a long bar sporting taps of the finest ales and lagers to be had. My companion and I quickly oriented ourselves to our surroundings, and summoned the bartender to order our first round of ale. I myself was intrigued by their recent addition, a delightful summer Saison - "Sonnet", I believe they called it, - which proved to be a fresh and citrussy brew with notes of lemon zest, herbal hops and a mild earthy funkiness. I savored this brew, as did my comrade, who chose to sample their Live Pale Ale, a generously hopped ale which proved most refreshing.
Flush with thoughts of our victory, we ordered another round: this time a pint of nitro-poured 2xStout, a bold, roasty dark ale with rich malty sweetness, toasted bread, coffee and dark chocolate. A delectable concoction, if I say so myself. My companion opted for a seasonal offering, known only as Compass, which to my surprise was uniquely brewed with rosehips. The Compass proved to be a favorite of hers, as she enjoyed the tropical fruit from the hops and mild perfume quality to the brew. The beers had slaked our thirst most expertly, however our stomachs continued to unleash their noisy cacophony, and so we availed ourselves to a couple of pulled pork sandwiches - these proved to be most enjoyable.
Having deemed our celebrations to be complete, we set about the happy business of acquiring souvenirs to commemorate our great expedition. My comrade inquired about the availability of a certain pumpkin ale - the so-called Pumking. To our great fortune, the bartender informed us that a batch of the autumnal drink had been bottled that very day, though through some mechanical error of some sort, several bottles had been filled incompletely, and were available for sale at heavy discount - what luck! We happily purchased a handful of these underfilled brews, as well as a couple of souvenir glasses - not to mention some bottles of other intriguing brews, bid our farewells, and carefully stowed our new purchases in the ever-faithful Corolla.
Having taken one last glance at the summit, we departed into the gleaming summer sunset. Our spirits were high, and so we spent the majority of our descent discussing the particulars our next great adventure.
After all, George, one must always have another summit to climb, another brewery to visit, another expedition upon which to embark.
As always, we press on.
Your very faithful servant,