The very North East of the US of A offers some of the most spectacular scenery anywhere in the world so, rather than just fly to Montreal, for the last three or four years I’ve always gone by way of New York and driven up.
This year I decided to go via Maine, which is a bit of a detour but the promise of the world’s best lobster was enticement enough. First, though, I had NYC to deal with and shrugged off jetlag by stepping off the plane and heading straight to a late night houseparty at a painter’s studio on SoHo. The following night served up some Brooklyn BBQ action, and then on Monday I went to Yankee Stadium to watch the home team against the Cleveland Indians, as a guest of SAP.
Front row at Yankee Stadium
Yankee Stadium has the best catering in world sport. Seriously, you should see the amount of food that was placed in front of me. Best seafood bar in New York too. I must have had three full lobsters, and was in danger of overdosing before Maine. Our seats were front row too, a dubious boast because one is always in danger of getting a ball in the face.
Seafood galore chez Yankees
On Tuesday morning the nice people at Infiniti dropped off my ride for the next week: A big black Tennessee-plated JX35 SUV, a super-smooth cruiser perfect for the 14 hour trip to Montreal via Camden, which a friend of mine from Maine recommended as the prettiest place to overnight.
I specialise in two tours: Ghostbusters and celebrity deaths, so I subjected my passengers to a drive up Central Park West just so I could point out Dana Barrett’s apartment block and the Dakota where John Lennon was killed.
I did the trip with two photographer chums. One of them, Andy, is, like me, originally from Wiltshire and a lot of the place names we encountered along the way from New York to Maine were familiar: Bath, Amesbury, Salisbury, Avon, Portsmouth, Bristol, Glastonbury, Andover, Marlborough… We crossed many state lines – Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire – all proudly welcoming you with their motto. New Hampshire’s sounds like a Bruce Willis movie: Live Free Or Die.
Once in Camden ME, we checked into our 50s-style B&B and headed down to the harbour for restorative Bloody Mary’s, made with horseradish as is the way in this part of the world. Here’s where Tom Parker Bowles and I argue: He reckons the horseradish upsets the delicate balance of flavours and is better without. I say horseradish makes everything better. Anyway, the greatest strain of all is the Caesar, the Canadian version made with clamato juice, and that is a major reason for attending the Canadian Grand Prix in itself.
After the Bloodies I had the best clam chowder I’ve ever tasted followed by lobster. After the double-header with the Yankees I was in danger of growing claws. The night was spent in the one bar in town trying to shoot elk on an arcade machine.
Shooting elk (and some innocent cows) with @andyhone
After a breakfast of skillet with eggs, chorizo and onions it was back on the road, crossing back to New Hampshire and then Vermont, across the stunning Grafton Notch and Dixville Notch state parks where the Infiniti loved the rollercoaster ride, stopping off at places called Moose Cave, Bear falls and Beaver Creek. The North American borders I’d been to in the past, both in the north and in the south, had been big official threatening looking things but the crossing we made at Hereford was a quaint cottage with one Canadian official and no queue.
You have to keep your wits about you in Grafton Notch State Park, NH
Crossing Pont Champlain into Montreal
Once in Canada the weather changed from a cloudless blue sky to grey and threatening. According to the weathermen, it could stay this way the whole race weekend. Good job my suitcase is packed for every single eventuality. And on the way back, it’ll be stuffed with clamato juice.