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We’re on Interstate 90 west heading west just west of Troy, NY. We’ll be on this road all the way to Chicago. It’s 5 p.m., and we’re trying to make Cleveland tonight. We got a late start this morning, split into two breakfast factions: Rob with familia Waller y Stowell and Mark Follman to an early morning Riverrun restaurant rendezvous, and Shawn and the Pauls to Coffee Corner in downtown Montpelier.

Shawn and Paul have been living a Spartan, boot camp life on the hard floors of the lovely architect Eileen’s empty add-on to her 1850’s wood frame house way out in the woods. Every evening after a show they’ve bid farewell to chez Stowell and driven out to their barracks, driving back in the morning. This morning Paul L took a canoe onto the nearby lake and paddled around a beaver house out in the middle. This is the only beaver loyal PL would ever chase on the road. Idyllic, with surprisingly few bugs, except for a curious dragonfly who landed on the canoe for a staring contest. Eileen made Shawn and Paul coffee with thick, frothy raw milk from a mason jar, purchased for a dollar down the road–perhaps the most Vermontlike moment of our stay; and then they grabbed Paul M for the drive into Montpelier. As a result, SN and PL can claim to have out-Vermonted the rest of the Hawks.

Coffee Corner gets a rapidly upwardly moving thumbs up for a delicious omelette with garlic scapes (that’s the curling tips of the garlic plant, mostly unknown to Californians) and raisin toast. We raced back north up green Vermontery to Carter’s, loaded up with Rob, and hit the road for sweet home Chicago. It’s not easy getting out of Vermont. Very beautiful, very green, but a labyrinth of winding roads and tempting roadside treats. We make four to six stops in search of the elusive Maple Softee, but somehow we never make the right choice. Sadly, we leave the state without satisfying this last jones. Only more reason to return soon.

The sun is going down and we’ve just passed the Ithaca, NY exit. This is psychologically bad, because we were just here two days ago. A whole day shot to hell and we’re not even out of New York.Paul L is filled with self loathing. He’s consumed, so far today: 1 coffee, with raw milk and sugar; an omelette, raisin toast, and home fries; a small chocolate gelato; a veggie wrap and a Red Bull; part of Rob’s inferior coffee; a large raspberry and French coffee ice cream with waffle cone. He wishes he had the courage and freedom from self censorship to make himself throw up in the Sbarro restroom.