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Filtering by Tag: travel

Do What You Dream

Zachary Kilgas

The melodic words of Ingrid Michealson’s song “You and I” bounced around in my head as I read a long email from Christian Bendel. Truthfully, I felt silly about it. As I continued to read Christian’s candid recollection of his adventure through Provence, I broke down and got reacquainted with the song.

“Let’s get rich and buy our parent’s homes in the south of France,” Ingrid says whimsically. 

The rhythmic song dared me to dream, but Christian’s words pushed me further. The goal of the adventure was, in his words, “to do what he dreamed, instead of simply talking about it.”

Much like the song, Christian’s adventure was a love story, and his photo series captures their relationship intimately. Together, they traveled through canyons, cities, and around mountains. They cooked their meals on a fire, and slept in their car.

Christian said he aspires to do things differently. He explained that living this dream was not a straightforward path, but one that required spontaneity, and flexibility. He called this adventure, and his past ones, “Crossroads” for that reason.

Our Tips for Discovering Shark Fin Cove

Ben Ashby

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Lets take a moment and propose the idea that you're on the Pacific coast looking for a scene spot south of San Fransisco. May we suggest Shark Fin Cove. It is a short drive down from San Fransisco in Davenport, CA. 

 

The town is a tiny village along the Pacific Coast Highway. We suggest stopping here for breakfast and then hopping the couple of miles down the road to take in scenic cliff views. The cove gets its name from the large shark fin shape rock that sits just off the sandy shore. 

 

 

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Parking for this spot is a gravel lot along the highway. You'll want to wear hikeable shoes as the trek to the beach is down a make shift ditch/hill. Its about a five minute hike down the cliffside, but the dust and gravel make the hike a bit shaky. Once you're at the beach the hike is well worth it, but if you're unable to make it to the bottom the views from the top are equally amazing. 

The cove has a decent sized, and semi private beach. We always go for the photo moments along the rocks and caves. The tides are typically pretty loud and heavy. Be careful not to get your shoes wet. 

This is one of those spots to skip for sunrise or sunset. Do it in the middle of the day. The spot is unique for its fin shaped rock, not because of its sunset opps. 

 

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OUR TIPS:

  • Wear hiking shoes; its a short but dusty hike
  • To best capture the full shark fin bring a wide angle lens
  • Best hours to visit are mid day
  • It is one of the few beachy spots between SF and Big Sur

Whenever you're at any of the beaches along the coast, be a good citizen and collect the garbage that washes ashore. The over polluted Pacific has sadly started washing a depressingly high volume of garbage. 

We shot this spot with a Canon 5D IV with a 24-70mm lens

(I got a little slap happy shooting this bag strap for Native Sons Goods, so please excuse it in every photo)

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Finding the Happy || Our Guide to LA's Los Feliz

Ben Ashby

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Finding the Happy

Our Guide to LA's Los Feliz

 

Heath Stiltner takes us on a colorful walk through his favorite Los Angeles neighborhood—Los Feliz—to share a few of his top places to visit and things to see. With a rich Spanish-Mexican heritage and artistic influence Los Feliz is his favorite place to visit in LA when he wants that cool California vibe with a sense of history.

 


As I pulled on my olive green overalls, the strong smell of my first coffee of the day filled the small studio cottage my friend had offered to let me stay in for the week. I’d been to the City of Angels before, but had never stayed so long in this neighborhood—Los Feliz. With its lively and diverse small-town atmosphere it was hard not to feel right at home here. 

 

Bright and modern Spanish bungalows lined the street gently rolling through the neighborhood like old dirt roads recently paved, everywhere there was a feeling of the cool LA vibe version of a frontier town. You just can’t help but smile in Los Feliz, so a name which translates to “the happy” seems fitting—though it gets its name from its Spanish-Mexican colonial land grantee, Jose Vicente Feliz. Los Feliz is home to one of my favorite LA breakfast haunts, Sunset Junction Cafe. While I love the bright diner atmosphere of Sunset Junction, the thing that always brings me back is the amazing staff. (I live in Kentucky, and when I revisited the spot almost two months later they remembered me.) If you’re looking for that cinematic place where you can go work on your script and have amazing Eggs Benedict, this is your place. Sorry, I can’t guarantee James Franco will be sitting across from you, as well.

 

Full of coffee and eggs I go back out to explore the neighborhood, finding myself a comic nerd haven in Secret Headquarters, stopping for an American-made clothing fix with Buck Mason, and visiting several sets of hidden staircases for which Los Angeles is famous. Micheltorena & Prospect stairs are two such staircases in the Los Feliz neighborhood, Micheltorena is the more colorful of the two having been painted with hearts and rainbow colored risers. Los Feliz is a neighborhoods ideal for long strolls to discover hidden gems like these, and can be an amazing place for photographers looking to catch that authentic ‘sunny California’ vibe. 

 

With Griffith Park to its north, the Los Angeles River to the east, and Hollywood and the Hills to its south and west, Los Feliz is the neighborhood to visit when you want to see all that LA has to offer. In only one day you can walk from Alfred Coffee on the edge of Silver Lake, have breakfast at Sunset Junction, shop and browse your way down Sunset Boulevard, hit the vintage shops of Hollywood Boulevard, get the best view the Hollywood Sign and Griffith Park from the stunt Barnsdall Art Park property, and hike all the way over to Griffith Park itself. Los Feliz houses some of Los Angeles’ most famous architecture, and Barnsdall Art Park is no exception. Located at the crest of Olive Hill, Barnsdall Art Park is a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument that houses Hollyhock House designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright and commissioned by oil heiress Aline Barnsdall as an arts & theater complex. If you want to touch a part of LA’s architectural history and get one of the city’s best view, I suggest visiting Barnsdall.

 

After spending much of my trip hiking the urban landscape, an escape to Griffith Park with my friend Keegan was a necessity. When you want a peaceful hike and an escape from the busy streets, Griffith Park is your haven. Donated to the City of Los Angeles by Griffith J. Griffith in 1896, the Park has some of the best sweeping views of downtown LA, the Pacific Ocean, and the Hollywood sign—as well as free tours of the observatory.

 

After a long day packed with adventure, one needs to reflect with good friends and food. Making my way back down to the valley below, I stop for dinner in my favorite little Italian restaurant, La Pergoletta. Tucked away just off Hillhurst Ave., this gem makes some of the best pasta I’ve ever had in LA—and I love carbs. Taking a seat at one of the red and white gingham covered cafe tables outside I begin to unravel my day. The many faces and places I’d met in just just a day, and how many more lie in waiting just down the street. After devouring a large bowl of lobster ravioli and more bread than I care to admit, I start my walk back to the small artist’s studio At my friend’s home that I have grown to call home in LA. The giant cacti on seem to grow in the moonlight as I walk down Hillhurst Ave. It’s hard to believe that one small neighborhood can hold so much magic and history, but it’s not hard to believe the neighborhood where, sitting in his uncle’s garage, Walt Disney drew his first sketch of the world-beloved Mickey Mouse. Los Feliz feels like the hometown of Los Angeles, and it’s a hometown where everyone is welcome.

 

 

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Dinosaur Coffee, Los Angeles.

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Dinosaur Coffee, Los Angeles

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Hache LA, Los Angeles.

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Alfred Coffee, Los Angeles.

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Secret Headquarters, Los Angeles.

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Secret Headquarters, Los Angeles.

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Sunset Junction, Los Angeles.

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Sunset Junction, Los Angeles.

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Hollyhock House, Barnsdall Art Park, Los Angeles.

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Buck Mason mobile, Los Angeles.

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Los Feliz, Los Angeles.

 

— @heathstiltner

Gum Tree / Hermosa Beach

Emily Im

GUM TREE

A LOOK INSIDE SOUTH BAY'S HIDDEN GEM + THE ORIGIN STORY

 


 

Nestled in between the calming beach and the busy streets of Pacific Coast Highway, Gum Tree is a hidden gem of a restaurant-shop hybrid that offers more than what is on the outside. Southern California and its long extension of the summer season continues to invite people to this quaint beach cottage.

We spoke with Lori Ford, the owner and boss lady of Gum Tree, to tell us more about the amazing ventures of creating a cafe-shop in South Bay.

 


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We understand that you and your husband created Gum Tree together (so lovely!). What prompted the two of you to start a cafe + shop hybrid specializing in Australian goods?

We were living in New York City, my husband had an Aussie restaurant and bar there, I was working on product development for an accessories company, and our lifestyle was intense and wonderful and everything NY should be when you’re young, and then we got married and had a baby!  Everything changed of course, and we decided to come home to the South Bay and settle down.  The shop was a long time dream of mine, and my husband was supposed to get to take a break from the restaurant biz and help me achieve it.  But then we found the house!

 

How did you guys come across this location?

I grew up in Manhattan Beach, and always wanted this little house in Hermosa on Pier Ave.  The dream was a home store in an old house, with each room filled with things you’d have in that room, a cozy couch full of pillows in the living room, cookbooks and serving pieces in the dining room, etc.  We were still in New York hatching our moving plans when a girlfriend of mine called to let me know my dream house was up for sale.  I flew in to take a look the next day.  The space felt too big to be only a shop, but with the garden out front and the natural division of space, it lent itself perfectly to a little cafe/shop combo.  And since my husband had the restaurant know how, and I had the desire on the shop side, that’s what we decided to do.  May I just say that my husband is a saint for agreeing to my never ending stream of ideas.

 

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What was the origin of the name Gum Tree? 

I was trying to come up with a name that worked for both a restaurant and shop, something that sounded natural, evoked a feeling of calm and community.  I hit a wall and asked my husband to give me some good old Aussie slang, and after at least a dozen ridiculous Aussie words, (wally, sheila, wanker) out popped Gum Tree and right away we knew.  I saw the logo in my head and the rest is history.  

 

How did you manage to keep Gum Tree so successful? 

A lot of hard work!  We both spent every day in there for the first couple of years at least.  We met everyone in town, got involved in our community, went to every networking event there ever was…  It’s our family business, there is no other hidden income, so we had to make it work.  Will is the driving force behind the cafe, and he’s always coming up with delicious and healthy new menu ideas.  I’m obsessive about always finding something new for the shops, and I think that keeps them fresh and our customers coming in to discover new things all the time.  We know that people have so many options, so we do our best to hire the friendliest staff, and create the most welcoming environment we can.  

 

Your favorite dish from Gum Tree!

I eat the avocado toast with chili flakes, a side of berries and an iced latte almost every morning.  But, I also love a good old fashioned meat pie once in a while!  Our lentil soup is made from scratch daily and is out of this world.

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What was the biggest struggle that you guys have come across?

As a small business owner the work never stops, I feel like I could always be doing more to grow the business, keep it relevant, and bring in new customers.  On the positive side, it can be very rewarding, especially when you get feedback that people love what you do, it’s just the best feeling.  And we love to be part of the community, watch the local kids grow, really know our customers, that’s the best part.

 

What do you hope to accomplish with Gum Tree in the future?

 For us it’s not about opening X number of stores in the next 5 years, it’s finding the work/life balance.  We hope that Gum Tree continues to thrive so that we can support our family and raise happy healthy kids!  We want to be happy in our work life, we want to travel, learn, give our kids the very best opportunities, engage with our community.  So as long as we continue to love what we do, we have accomplished everything. 

 

 

Could you name some of your favorite brands and items that you carry in your shop? (If you could provide photos, that would be great!)

Oh gosh, I love everything we carry, that’s the criteria I use for buying every single thing.  Do I love it, is it pretty, is it useful, funny, great quality, does it make me happy, would I give it as a gift? I love buying cookbooks, and pillows, and jewelry!  The kids shop is so easy to buy for because there are just so many adorable things out there.  Some stand out brands we have carried forever are Bla Bla, Chan Luu, Zoe Chicco, House of Cindy, Hat Attack, Rifle Paper.  But I love to constantly change things up, and I love to discover new up and coming designers.

 

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If you find yourself in sunny Southern California, check out Gum Tree in Hermosa Beach! Or check out their Instagram (@gumtree_la) to take a peek at their California Lifestyle. 

The Farmhouse New Paltz

Ben Ashby

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THE FARM HOUSE NEW PALTZ

A VISIT TO A QUAINT FARMHOUSE IN THE HUDSON VALLEY

 

We recently made a trip up the Hudson Valley to see a taste of autumn. During our visit we stopped by a delightful farmhouse rental property outside the college town of New Paltz. We sat down with the owners to learn a bit more about the town, the Hudson Valley, and this charming rural escape. 


Why did you settle in New Paltz? We went to college here, moved to Brooklyn and just kept dreaming of moving back.  We have the Wallkill River go through town.  There is a local adage that says, once you visit a North flowing river; you will always return.  

 

Why did you decide to open the farmhouse? We opened the Farmhouse because we wanted to make a space where people could come with their pets and relax.  When we did live in Brooklyn, we traveled a lot upstate.  We would always search for a place where we could cook and bring our dogs.  Now its a lot easier with Airbnb, but back then, there were no options.  So the Farmhouse and Cottage are spaces where you can rest, relax and bring the whole family, even the four-legged members.

 

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Why did you pick this specific farmhouse? We picked this beauty from the 1890s because the energy spoke to us.  When you go inside the house it is sort of like having an energetic massage.  Most guests and visitors comment on this!  The house sort of hugs you.  And the floors.  The floors were made locally from nearby pine trees in the 1890s.  They have so much character and warmth, they are simply irresistible .  

 

Where are you originally from? It's a popular New Paltz song: "We are from Long Island".  Many people who move to this town are originally from Long Island, it is usually the University that brings them here, as it did us.

 

 

How long have you been in New Paltz? We have been upstate for two and 1/2 years now.

 

How long have you had the farmhouse? We are coming up to our one year anniversary with The Farmhouse this September.  We are now looking to expand our design projects.  We are interested in designing and constructing homes locally.  Our goal will be to make fully curated living spaces for people in and around New Paltz.  We love looking for pieces of furniture from local antique shops, Sweetpea in Stone Ridge NY and Ron Sharkey's Black Barn in High Falls are among some of our favorites.  You really can't go wrong visiting the two antique stores in Water Street Market in New Paltz.  We are excited about finding new gems like The Farmhouse, and reviving them so others can cherish them for many years to come.  So stay tuned to our Instagram for updates!

 

 

 

What are your favorite spots to visit in the area? For hiking we love The Railtrail and Minnewaska State Park.  For dining we adore Rosendale Cafe and Huckleberry.  For drinks, Jar'd is a must see in New Paltz and Brooklyn Cider House (New Paltz apples y'all!) honestly has the best cider around.  

 

Why is Fall so magical in the Hudson Valley? Okay, so good question.  Remember that one time really great you went apple picking with your family, epic Halloween, or that one really great Thanksgiving? If you roll all of those feelings into one and then put yourself in a leaf changing paradise; you'll get it.  There is really nothing like it.  Even though there are so many activities and festivals to go to, I would say the overall vibe cannot be escaped.  The Fall is nothing short of magical in the Hudson Valley!

 

A Visit to Pot n Kettle Cottages || Leipers Fork, TN

Ben Ashby

 

 

POT N KETTLE COTTAGES


LEIPER'S FORK, TN

 

Leiper's Fork, TN is a hidden gem of a tiny town just south of Nashville. The town of three hundred is a sleepy community that is filled with quaint southern history, grand farms owned by country music royalty and the most delightful downtown. I've been visiting Leiper's Fork and the Williamson County area for years, but I recently had the privilege of staying at the Leiper's Fork Inn, a rental property that is part of the Pot n Kettle Cottages brand. Before my stay I asked the owners to share a bit about their love of their properties, the community, and the South...

 

 

— potnkettlecottages.com || Over the coming weeks I'll be sharing more of my favorite Leiper's Fork shops, stops, and places to stay. 

 

 

 

 

Why we created the business is really more of a journey that we have traveled. We both originally being jewelers is where we realized we worked well together creatively. We decided to try applying that to renovating and restoring a Sears Kit home in Los Olivos, CA built in the 1890’s. We realized after the completion of our project that we loved it, we were also given a Beautification Award from the local Rotary Foundation. We then knew that others liked what we did as well, after moving to Tennessee, we saw a lot more opportunity to be able to find these beautiful old homes and breath new life into them while maintaining or restoring the history. We love the feeling an home has, it is almost like it has a soul. 

 

 

 

 

We decided after moving out of the Tin Roof Cottage that we wanted travelers to be able to experience the magic of Leiper’s Fork as we did. What better way than to give them a home to stay in and make them feel local. So began our journey, Tin Roof was our first property and it was doing well. I decided I really enjoyed working with travelers and welcoming them to stay in our magical village. So we then purchased Coda Cottage and Pickers Cottage, redid them and began Pot N’ Kettle Cottages. We recently this February acquired the Leiper’s Fork Inn, this home was most definitely our largest undertaking. It needed a lot more work and we did a good bit of it ourselves, which we both enjoy.

 

 

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Why Leiper’s Fork, well Leiper’s Fork kind of choose us. Five years ago we realized we wanted to be closer to family and find a small town with wonderful community. We traveled all around and considered many different places. Eric being from Kosciusko, MS had traveled along the trace most of his life. He talked about Franklin, Tn and this amazing little village called Leiper’s Fork. Myself being from a small town in Idaho this struck a cord with my heart. We finally after a year of searching traveled to Leiper’s Fork for the 4th of July to be with some friends and see family. I immediately fell in love from the moment we drove into town. We pulled over and stopped in at Puckett’s, got the boys a Nee-Hi soda and watched them run around and catch lightening bugs. That was it, we were sold, this was home. We have enjoyed every moment since being a part of this community, the people are what make this town so magical. 

 

The design style behind the cottages is my take on Boho Chic interior design focused on guests comforts and needs. My husband and I like to create a unique but comfortable environment for our guests, we are not afraid to use color. A lot of people who have experienced our homes have often made the comment that they feel like they are “happy houses”, they make you feel good when you are in the space. We travel quite often and always rent homes to stay in, we are always taking things into account when we do this as it helps us to better understand the needs of the guests.

 

 

The design style behind the cottages is my take on Boho Chic interior design focused on guests comforts and needs. My husband and I like to create a unique but comfortable environment for our guests, we are not afraid to use color. A lot of people who have experienced our homes have often made the comment that they feel like they are “happy houses”, they make you feel good when you are in the space. We travel quite often and always rent homes to stay in, we are always taking things into account when we do this as it helps us to better understand the needs of the guests.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 

Mount Tamalpais

Ben Ashby

We'd seen the view in so many photos. A golden hill high above the fog and clouds. Paths cut through the dried grasses and fading into the clouds below. We knew we had to visit while we were in San Fransisco. Mount Tamalpais is just a very short drive north of the Golden Gate Bridge. The perfect sunset spot and a very easy hike. 

The following are images I shot at sunset near the peak of Mount Tamalpais with the Canon 5d Mark IV

"Just north of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, Mount Tamalpais State Park rises majestically from the heart of Marin County. Its deep canyons and sweeping hillsides are cloaked with cool redwood forests, oak woodlands, open grasslands, and sturdy chaparral. 

The breathtaking panorama from Mount Tamalpais’s 2,571-foot peak includes the Farallon Islands 25 miles out to sea, the Marin County hills, San Francisco Bay, the East Bay, and Mount Diablo. On rare occasions, the snow-covered Sierra Nevada can be seen 150 miles away.

The park offers superlative hikingpicnickingwildlife watching, and mountain and road bicycling." — ca.gov

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Wales on Film

Ben Ashby

 

WALES ON FILM

A PHOTO ESSAY BY CHRIS BUXTON

 


 

Wales is the mountainous western cousin of England, a Celtic link to the past with over 1,180 km or 730 mi for us using the imperial system of coastline, and 50 islands decorating it. Boasting three national parks and the Heritage Coast, Wales is an untapped land of adventure. Chris Buxton, a lifestyle photographer based in Wales in the United Kingdom, uses 35mm film for most of his practice. He relies on film to achieve a feeling that digital cameras can't capture naturally.

 

 

 

Living in Wales, he'd never really travelled around the Welsh landscape and finally decided to explore it with his second set of eyes, his camera. "I was very shocked by how beautiful this country truly is," says Chris, "it has shown me that everyone needs to explore their own homes to see where they're truly from." Chris tries to capture the natural and inner beauty of the landscape of his homeland and put it on the maps of like-minded soul-searchers and explorers hoping to find a new destination and a new adventure.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A PNW Moment

Ben Ashby

 

Nothing beats the PNW. Sure, you see those 3 letters all over social media, but you really can't grasp the intrigue of this region unless your feet are in the dewy morning grass of Seattle. Waking up to breaking clouds and perfectly roasted coffee will you put you in a zen like state you've never felt before. Prior to a sunset fire on the beach, we worked our way out of the city and into the trees... In a Subaru of course :) Petite coffee shops, old railroads, and running creeks line the windy roads that lead you to a nature like you have never seen. So, grab a ticket, pack a bag, and take your friends to the PNW for the perfect weekend getaway.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: ADAM SWARTZ

 
 
 

Our Chicago Food Tour

Ben Ashby


A WEEKEND IN CHICAGO

TWO DAYS - FOUR MEALS - ONE CITY

 

A few weeks ago we headed up to Chicago for the weekend. The goal was to visit a few of our favorite restaurants. We managed to get four stops in over the two and a half days in Chicago. I've been trying to figure out what sort of food Chicago is known for...beyond hot dogs I'm not really sure what their signature foods are....but they have a thriving restaurant scene....

 

BERNIE'S LUNCH & SUPPER

Bernie's was a new one for me. Sure I'd seen its wall designs in many an Instagram photo...but I had yet to visit this trendy spot on N. Orleans Street. For our visit to Bernie's we asked for a sampling of the menu. Typically when we are visiting places for the first time I feel it is best that they select the dishes instead of us. I reckon it is an excuse to avoid the monotony I usually do on trips—way too many burgers. 

We started with two different salads, moved on to a delightful mussels dish that was the highlight of the evening, moved towards a prosciutto and toasty bread number, and ended with the most wonderfully creamy parfait. 

I do have some tips for visiting Bernie's...go as early as possible and get the good seats by the windows. This place is super trendy and super perfect for all those Instagram and Snapchat moments. We were surprised at how quickly the place filled.

We did a selection of small plates and appetizers at Bernie's and all shared. Their menu is broad and this felt like a good way to try it all.

— @Bernies_Chicago — @ChefRyanSand

 

 

FRONTIER

Frontier in Wicker Park is by far my favorite restaurant in all of Chicago. I make an annual trek to the frontier themed spot. Yes...I said frontier themed...as in high class Americana foods. They had me at the bacon flight and the reeled me in with their selection of wild boar, bison, and a variety of bacon options. 

For our brunch at Frontier we started with the beignets, which are one of the chef's signature foods. Designed around his grandmother's recipe and better than any you'll get in New Orleans. 

If you're going purely for the sweets skip the meat and go straight for the house-made pop tarts. They're massive and a part combination of tart, sweet, and flaky goodness. Frontier fills up fast so we always go early for brunch. Grab the big booth in the front for the perfect photo light. 

After the pop tart grab some bacon and and apple butter....an absolutely delightful combination. I have an obsession with french fries. Frontier doesn't disappoint. The sandwiches are all perfect for a hot summer's day. 

— @FrontierChicago — @ChefJup

 

 

G & O

G and O (Grand and Ogden) is actually the final place we visited on our trip. After three insanely large meals we decided we'd have to go small at G and O. G and O is a local diner style place with tons of outdoor seating. It appeared to be filled with groups of friends that were there to hang out on a Sunday morning.  

I had the spiced biscuits and gravy...which had to be the very best biscuits and gravy I've ever had north of the Mason Dixon Line. A perfectly sized portion of perfectly soft biscuits covered in perfectly spiced sausage gravy was the perfect end to a very nice food tour of Chicago. 

If you're looking for something more filling go for the oatmeal. The portion was huge. After four meals that all included bacon...it may be safe to say that Chicago should just be called the Bacon CIty. Each of the four places we visited serves their own version of thick cut bacon. It would be unfair to select which place did it best...instead you're just going to have to visit them all!

— @GrandandOgden

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COCHON VOLANT

This was not our first rodeo at Cochon Volant. We knew to come prepared for a big meal. Last year we visited for brunch. This year it was decided we would go for dinner. That was a wise decision. 

I'm going to go ahead and call it now —Cochon Volant has the best steak in Chicago. Yes, yes I did bring 3/4 of the steak back to Kentucky with me and eat it in bed the next day. I have no shame. 

Cochon Volant is just south of the river in downtown Chicago. It is perfectly decorated with surfaces that glitter and glow. The accents are encrusted in brass and the room really is aesthetic perfection....but that isn't we were there. If the interiors are perfection...there isn't a word to describe the food. 

I love steak tartar. It is one of my favorite foods. I think steak in general is a favorite. We started with an appetizer of tartar. I could have made it my entire meal. Cochon Volant is known for their boards. We learned that last time at brunch with their pickle board. This time we went for a cheese board and a pickle board. These seemed like pleasant ways to cleanse the palette between courses. 

For our main courses I went with an dry aged steak, and as I already said it is enough of a reason to visit Chicago. It is served with french fries, but let's be honest...you're going to want to skip those and hold off for desert. Nick had two entrees. He started with a crab leg platter. A petite display of unbelievably fresh crab awaited him...and a shrimp cocktail. 

We closed out our food tour of Chicago with creme brûlée and chocolate mousse. I am not usually a mousse fan...but like everything else at Cochon Volant it is done to perfection.

— @CochonVolant_ — @ChefMattAyala

—@Jschatan — @JonasFalk_ #FlyingPigGram

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Sure, I know what you're thinking...but only four restaurants...you have so much left of Chicago to cover. Oh yes, I agree, you are totally right..rest assured we are already planning many return trips. Chicago is one of the easiest of the major US cities to navigate. Chicago is also much more affordable than New York City. 

If you're a bacon lover...time to load up the car and head to Chicago. 

A Motorcycle & Route 66

Ben Ashby

They came from foreign lands, they came from distant cities. From Chicago, from New York City, from tiny Connecticut towns, they came from Miami, and they came from Los Angeles all searching for something more, searching for something different. The reality is we live in an overly digital, overly connected world. They came searching for a reprieve from the 24/7 political nightmare, from the 365 biased news overload. They came searching for places that had been untouched, places that meet the morning horizons with zero traces of man or modernity. They came for a motorcycle tour of Route 66 with Los Angeles based motorcycle touring company EagleRider

 

 

When I got the call asking if I’d go on a motorcycle tour down Route 66 with a touring company I had several concerns, questions, comments, etc etc. We’ll address those as we go, but for the sake of the beautiful narrative I have in my head lets continue with where I was headed. 

The kids on the trip showed up in their Ubers clad in the standard all black uniforms of the American cities. they brought with them every device short of beepers. Constantly connected to business emails, to Instagramers, to Twitterers, to txting, and weird side projects they were working on. The majority had never been on a motorcycle, and the majority had never been deep into the desert out west. After a brief mixer at the Eagle Rider headquarters they quickly found common ground. Three worked in the same tower off Columbus Circle. One would soon be the other’s boss. The phones slowly were used less and less and real tangible connections were made. The CEO of EagleRider greeted us and welcomed us to what would be our three day tour. He began it all by telling us a motorcycle tour of Route 66 is as American as apple pie. A rite-of-passage that every American must do. EagleRider was the perfect means to make this possible.

EagleRider was founded on the idea of providing motorcycle riders with motorcycle rentals in locations all over the world. You can rent them in a very similar fashion to renting a car at Enterprise or Hertz. EagleRider also offers guided tours of routes all over the world. From short ones like our three day tour of Route 66 from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, to a complete tour of Route 66. EagleRider has locations all over the world. 

 

After the CEO’s introduction we were fitted in our motorcycle jackets and outfitted in some appropriately themed gear. Indian is one of my favorite bike brands. I quickly went for anything I could find. We packed up and headed out…to basically the best BBQ in L.A…I’ll report back with the name. 

For our tour we were all strangers. We walked into the tour with only one thing in common…a love of words. We would each be responsible for writing our thoughts on the trip. Over dinner we discussed our angles and our plans. We discussed our backgrounds and who our audiences were. I quickly realized I got the lucky job…I have the audience with a love of adventure. 

As worlds connected and the millennials connected the guards and walls of urban dwelling and politics and whatever this weird round the clock negative news world we live in fell away. Moods became lighter and the excitement build for the journey that would begin as the sun rose over the southern California mountains the following morning. 

 

In the American west the sun rises over the dusty mountains the same as it has for hundreds of years. The march of time has turned coastal deserts of southern California from a vast sandy sea of succulents and cacti to a wild treeless wilderness of horse paths, tiny mining towns, outlaws, and tall tails, to an urban jungle of kids seeking an escape into wanderlust. As the sun rose helmets went on, bikes were mounted, engines were revved, and the tires carrying the millennials were hitting the sun-baked asphalt of Los Angeles. This mornings route would take us high into the mountains towards Palm Springs. The interstates began to fly by as we made our way towards the forgotten highways leading east. 

I’ve already driven from Kentucky to California twice this year in a rented Chevy Malibu. I’ve driven across the US and back in Cadillacs and Toyotas, but I’d never been on the open road on a bike. I’d never felt all the cliches, I’d never felt the wind in my hair. I’d never felt Bette Midler’s wind beneath my wings. The bike ensured a sense of freedom, a sense of abandon, a sense of independence. The wind swept past, the bumps and curves were felt, it was just you and this man made machine. It was you, without a hand to hold a phone, a hand to text, or an ability to talk to those around you. It was just you, your thoughts, the sun, and a reckless spirit of Americana. It was exactly what was needed. 

The cityscapes and the suburbs gave way to orange groves and cattle farms. The ascent up the mountain began. The air grew chilled. The ride slowed down as the curves became tighter and the pack of motorcycles became narrower. Our trip has one main guide and three additional guides that were joining us for the trip. The lead knew all the routes and the curves. He led us the entire trip with a flawless pace. Between the four guides on the tour they complete hundreds of tours a year leading Americans of all ages and tourist across nearly every state in the US. With all of us being from the world of media this was all new territory for us. Hardly any of us had ever been on a bike, much less ridden it through deserts or over mountains. EagleRider specializes in keeping an up to date fleet of bikes and having guides that not only know the roads but also know the details and histories of all the areas they’re visiting. 

 

 

We stopped for lunch high in the hills surrounded by pines and cabins. This new landscape seemed an extreme exchange of the landscape we had been immersed in just a few hours ago. The goal of this trip wasn’t to just ride a motorcycle down Route 66…it was about experiencing something different and about being in nature and out of the urban element. The mountains and the mountain themed restaurant were a reminder of that. We all vowed to experience everything as it came and to savor the moments. Basically I am just trying to say we had zero cellphone service as dramatically as possible. Conversations seemed authentic. It is an idea we will be exploring in depth this year—but it seems the idea of living in real life rather than living a digital facade is where we millennials are heading. If you’re looking for a festive way to start that journey—grad and EagleRider bike and head out. 

I am a sucker for Palm Springs. There is something about it being totally lost in time that really speaks to me. Maybe its the desert vibes or the mid century aesthetic, but I am obsessed with the place. The winds outside of town are a true experience for a motorcycle rider, but absolutely worth the thrill. EagleRider has the accommodations perfectly prepared. All luggage follows behind the group of bikes in a sprinter van and everything is unloaded at the hotel. Bikes were parked and we all went inside to freshen up. The digital world was once again available, but few indulged. Being disconnected had become a luxury not worth giving up. 

The next morning I broke away from the group to meet up with a photographer friend to photograph the Desert X house in Palm Springs. This meant I would be picked up by the Jeep that trailed behind the group. It also meant I would be skipping the nearly full day exercising into Joshua Tree National Park. 

 

 

We met back up with the group for BBQ in 29 Palms. The rest of our day would be driving through the extremely open roads of Arizona and California. During that afternoon with my Jeep driver I learned a few things about taking a motorcycle tour:

  1. You will be much hotter in black than you will wearing white. In the middle of the summer ditch being stylish for being comfortable.
  2. Stay hydrated. The wind will dry you out. 
  3. Wear every bit of sun screen you can slather on. Don’t forget to coat those fingers and hands well and often
  4. If you want to take a tour but don’t have a motorcycle license grab a three wheeled Slingshot.
  5. Learn the hand signals. 
  6. Know the limits of your bike. When it gets to a certain temp motorcycles (and helicopters) get too hot to operate. 
  7. Put your phone away.
  8. Don’t try to show off. You are absolutely not as good of a driver as you say you are.
  9. When in doubt just ride in the Jeep. 
  10. Always go for the gas station hot dogs. The risk is always worth it.

Our day concludes with a boat tour along the state line and a rest at a casino outside Las Vegas. They tell us we have a long day tomorrow, but refuse to say anything else. 

 

The hotel sits along the banks of the river in a deep valley. The sun rises slowly yet the heat quickly creeps in. We continue to skirt the Nevada state line. We take routes of Route 66 that seem like a Wiley Coyote cartoon. Roadrunner should be leading our group. Wild donkeys rest alongside the highway and one of the oldest ghost towns in the US sits over the horizon. Oatman, Arizona is a town of legends. A tiny mining town that has been the center of folklore for decades is a nearly preserved reminder of the former America and the newly embraced Chinese made consumption obsessed American tourist. Dew rags and t shirts coat the derelict wooden structures with a vile mix of tacky and trashy. This is the America was have set out to escape. Our bikes quickly become a comforting reminder that we will escape this nightmare as quickly as we entered it. 

Back on the road we are told that we must hurry towards our final surprise of the trip. We are all well bonded and unhappy with the idea that our trip will soon be over. We head across Hoover Dam and head towards the sins of Las Vegas, but first we stop at one of the regional airports where a fleet of helicopters await. 

For many of us this was our first helicopter experience. For all of us this was the perfect ending to our trip. We rose high above the landscape. The desert gave way to the jagged and indescribable beauty of the Grand Canyon. We soared over the walls and the Colorado river. We had final conversations over headsets and we lamented on the fact that the depths and wonders below would soon give way for a rude reality that our overly digital overly connected lived await. 

EagleRider is a company that was founded on the idea of giving people the freedom of the road and the ability to experience America. Eagle Rider has since provided countless people of all ages with the ability to escape this absurdly negative world. It affords its riders with the ability to head towards an America and a reality that is void of connection. It affords its riders the ability to find tangible connection with strangers, with the sun, with the road, with the time forgotten landscapes or America, and it allows its rides to find a connection with themselves that we millennials are in desperate need of. 

We, the seven millennials were all strangers from foreign lands seeking an experience, and escape, and a connection with each other. We left as seven new found friends with a shared experience and a shared appreciation for a life less modern. 

EAGLERIDER.COM

Yosemite | The Live Authentic Tour

Ben Ashby

 

A couple months ago @rseabve and I grabbed a new Cadillac CTS and headed from LA to NYC. Our goal along the way was to see as many National Parks as we could in three weeks. Today we begin sharing that journey with you! Our first stop was Yosemite National Park…

 

Once @rseabve and I arrived at Yosemite in the Cadillac CTS we were immediately hit with some of the best and most scenic views of any of the 59 national parks here in the U.S. This view is of Half Dome. Yosemite was the nations second nation park, but has been a protected area since Lincoln signed the Yosemite Grant during his presidency and the OG hipster John Muir lobbied for the area outside of the valley to be added to the protected area as well. After the OG American badass Teddy Roosevelt created the National Parks Service in 1916 the Yosemite area was added shortly after Yellowstone became the first national park.

So the secret….this view is literally a pull off on the side of the highway. If you’re looking for a national park to visit, but don’t have the ability or desire to spend hours hiking for views…go to Yosemite. @rseabve and I only had a day to spend in Yosemite, and sadly none of that included time for hikes. 

 

The history of Yosemite begins 10,000 years ago when people first visited the valley. By 3000 years ago the Ahwahneechee tribe had settled in the valley. They would remain here until the American government would force them out in the mid 19th century. Their villages were burned, their people were slaughtered, and the first tourists arrived in 1855 as four New Yorkers came to the valley to document the nature for an exhibit in the city. Today you can stay in a variety of lodging at the park. @rseabve and I are especially fond of the tents!