Our first stop on the Lake Superior shore was Gooseberry Falls State Park, where we got the last camping spot. Basically we parked the Scamp and fled for the water, which was just across the little dirt road, and went for a walk along the shore.
The park is best known for its waterfall, but I like its long piece of lakeshore with its combination of huge, smooth rock, grassy fields, and pebble beach.
Whenever we are on an excursion, Metro keeps a close eye on each of us to make sure the team doesn’t get separated.
Fish is a must on the menu when we are up here. Eating it outdoors, directly off the paper wrapper is my favorite.
It’s not apparent from these first two photos—our immediate impression of Superior looked more like Les Birds, above. This is how I remember this city—classic American old school bars, standing solo on dimly lit, empty streets. The last time I’d been to Superior was a late night trip across the high bridge from Duluth to hit the Anchor Bar, which neatly fits that description.
Superior reminded me of Berlin because it appears to be an off-the-beaten-path place to live, a place where rent is cheap because no one values the old unrenovated buildings. A place where interesting people—who want an affordable life rather than an address on the sanctioned list of creative cities—start to grow in numbers and form an interesting community.
Driving north on Tower Avenue, the Berlin similarities slowly revealed themselves as we moved backward in time towards the city’s old center and the waterfront. There are many buildings and areas in Superior that feel untouched by the decades between now and when they were built. No developer has gotten here yet to renovate these architectural gems and insert a high-paying chain into their storefronts. Instead, funny little shops and mom and pop businesses dominate. It has the texture and character that I associate with Berlin—and with an older, mostly lost America.
My caveat here is that the Berlin I refer to is arguably outdated in the sense that rents are not so cheap anymore, it is now at the top of the list of creative cities, and so many of the buildings and places that reminded me of what I saw in Superior are gone.
I’ve heard the question asked so many times as to where the next “Berlin” will be. I’m not sure that it will be Superior—although, hey, if Berlin can become an international destination despite its atrocious winters then why not Superior?
Do you live in Superior or know someone who does? I would love to hear from you in preparation for our next visit!
Finally it happened—we got the Scamp out into the world! Our destination was the north shore of Lake Superior, but we wanted an alternative route that avoided the interstate from Minneapolis to Duluth. This lead us to Wisconsin highway 35 through the western part of the state. It’s a quiet, two lane road through small towns, a relaxing drive that put us at Pattison State Park for the evening.
First stop was Marine-on-St Croix for a few supplemental supplies.
I spotted this general store sign from the road, so we turned back for a closer look.
Turns out that the metal siding and general store sign that we saw from the side was fronted by an old post office now filled with with stuff and not looking very used.
We got to the park late in the afternoon, set up camp, and went for a little walk down to the lake.
The round LED tail lights are a new addition. A small detail but much brighter and prettier than the old square lights.
Two lovely Scamp-related anniversary presents from our parents: enamelware dishes from my folks and travel journal from Anthony’s, which has the sweetest cover that I wish was visible here although I’m sure it will star in future photos.
Morning coffee in bed with the dog is the best. Not shown: getting woken up in the middle of the night each time one of moved because of the squeaky table top that supports the cushions. So that’s on the fix-it list plus a memory foam topper to even out the skimpy cushions.
There are two waterfalls in Pattison State Park, so we took a morning hike to the so-called Big Falls before heading out for the city of Superior, a short drive up the road.
There are many things that had to be left behind in the move from Berlin to Minneapolis. I assumed one would be the World Cup—but instead the US embrace the fun this year including watching the game outside, which is hands down one of the best things about the whole spectacle.
I was pleasantly surprised to find my fellow Americans putting on a “public viewing” as the Germans hilariously call it (they actually use the English words) in a fashion that any German would find completely respectable. And it was really fun to see the American spin on it—something to do with the atmosphere, just so warm and friendly.
Sadly, what Americans don’t know about (yet) is the amazingness of the grilled Wurst. Instead, all we got were these lame boiled dogs. BUT one thing you don’t get at the Biergarten? Tacos. It is a decidedly worthy tradeoff.
These photos were taken at the US/Germany game. Of course we were sad to see America’s eventual exit, but super excited about Germany and are just about to leave to watch the final. Go Deutschland!!!
Photos by Anthony Georgis for the Field Office
Most pie crust recipes are as simple as their list of ingredients. But in their simplicity, they leave out the important parts like keeping everything cold and/or assume that everyone has a food processor. I’ve tried to make pie crust a number of times and never gotten it right. Once a chef friend even gave me a private lesson, which definitely cleared up a lot of confusion about what it should look and feel like, but I still couldn’t replicate it on my own.
Then I saw this video on Slate, which goes through the process step-by-step. It gave me some confidence and inspired me to take this on as a summer challenge.
My first attempt was strawberry-rhubarb using the small but delicious rhubarb plant I got from my grandparents years ago. The second was strawberry-blueberry-raspberry and the third remains to be seen but I’m hoping to make one for tomorrow’s BBQ.
I really wanted to learn how to make the lattice top, which turned out to be crazy easy. YouTube really is the best.
And for the first time ever, I made a crust that had delicate, flaky layers. It’s still not perfect, but I think now I can get this thing down.
Another side project (but one that is much much less challenging) is making more ice cream in the machine we got for Christmas. I made a batch of vanilla to go with the pie. So good.
Happy Fourth to those of you celebrating!
We have some exciting news: we bought a Scamp!
A lot of Scamp stories start with mildew, rotting floor boards or some kind of hideous decor decisions that must be righted. Ours is not in bad shape—it’s actually pretty bland, so it’s a great blank slate project for adding some character and functionality.
First orders of business were a bath, removing the decals, and banishing that god-awful satellite dish holder on the back. We are hoping to take it on a lot of little exploratory trips this summer and some longer journeys in the near future so…more to come.
I’m glad Anthony doesn’t have any fear of entering independent fast food chains mobbed with the lunchtime crowd because I never would have braved that place myself. While I held down the fort in the parking lot, he got the burgers and brought them back for a van picnic.
After lunch, we headed north of Santa Barbara with the hope of finding a good spot on the beach. This landscape—the soft hills and fields that meet the ocean—it is my favorite.
Our first campground pick was unexpectedly closed because of a storm the day before, so we ended up at one of those state parks where they charge a ton of money for the tiniest spot right next to somebody else’s tiniest spot. We did find these folks there and they didn’t look like they were going anywhere anytime soon because they had the best seat in the house. And a killer set up.
Cooking in the van with the top popped and the ocean breeze blowing in—it’s so good.
Took a walk at sunset on the point just down the beach. Little paths, tall grass and passenger trains going by. Hundreds of people at the campground but we had the place to ourselves, which was amazing but fine by us.
Camping on the beach in California is an activity that involves a lot of other people. In addition to the sound of the waves, there are rv generators running, country music blasting, the distant sound of the freeway, etc. So we were excited to head into Los Padres National Forest for a night of complete quiet.
The road out of Ojai winds up and around, then levels off into these wonderful tiny lanes that we had all to ourselves.
Our destination was the Rose Valley Campround, which was gloriously empty. We got what I’m imagining might be the deluxe spot in wetter weather—our site was elevated a bit and had a magnificent view of the rock wall where the 300-foot Rose Valley Falls would normally be. In the photo above, the “V” directly above the van.
One of the hardest things about these trips is seeing how hard it is for me to be off the grid. All of the beaches we stayed at had minimal to no reception for us—and of course there was nothing in these parts. But that’s ok because we started playing Food Stylist in the afternoon light, which provided a good amount of non-internet based entertainment. In the end, I liked the after photo better.
So great to watch the light fade all around us and be surrounded by such quiet.
We were up at sunrise thanks to a little bird pecking away at the shiny hubcap of the van. So much racket.
We upped our toast game post-Ojai with olive oil I grabbed at the farmer’s market from the Ojai Olive Oil Company.
After breakfast, we took a quick hike up to the base of the lower falls, which is 100-feet high. We couldn’t really figure out how to go any further. Reading about it later, I discovered that would be because it’s not easy. Crossing that stream above is the limit of my hiking abilities.
So we headed back to the van, packed it up, and headed back to the beach.
I’m super excited to be featured in Uppercase magazine for the upcoming, color-themed summer issue. There will be photos of my studio, work, and palette and I’ll talk a little bit about working with paint and different kinds of light.
If you aren’t familiar with Uppercase, it is a gorgeous, ad-free magazine for the creative and curious. And they are giving our readers a coupon for $15 off a subscription!
To subscribe, visit Uppercase at:
Coupon code: roygbiv Offer ends June 30.
Thank you Uppercase!
The Ojai Rancho Inn was the second location for our shoot and also our second night of accommodations. An old motel that’s been rehabbed in just the right way, it was very photogenic and super fun with a great pool, fire pit, and grounds.
It was a long day on set and a short morning of coffee and conversation with the crew who had stayed overnight. We decided to head back into the Los Padres National Forest, but first to do laundry.
Laudromats aren’t usually that much fun, especially when you have to go once a week. But the one we found was pretty cute and right next to the Full of Beans coffee shop so it worked out all right.
Supplementary drying happened after we got to our campsite later in the day.
Anthony saw this sign coming up and maneuvered to the side of the road without a word because he knew I’d want to photograph it. <3
During the shoot in Ojai, we had two different nights of accommodations set up by the producer. So when we arrived at Euterpe Farms, we had no idea what awaited us. What we found was a very special place—a native plant farm with fields and paths, lots of little hidden spots to discover, and a recording studio. The farm’s owner, musician Smitty West, greeted us warmly when we arrived and showed us to the private guest house and patio with views of Los Padres National Forest—and the swimming pool.
Temperatures the previous days had hovered around 100. We’d been driving and scouting locations in a 1979 van with no air conditioning, so glimpsing that pool through the trees was the best surprise we could have had.
Within half an hour, we followed a path through the flowers and plants that took us to the pool and jumped in. The quiet and the cool water were a crazy juxtaposition to our two previous nights of sleeping in the van.
Anthony went to a meeting in town and I stuck around by the pool. It was a lovely afternoon made extra charming by live music courtesy of Smitty and his friends, who were practicing in his studio.
After a late dinner, we returned for a soak in the jacuzzi. No pool or yard lights on—just complete darkness with the palm tree silhouetted by a sky full of stars.
A restored windmill from the 1920s provides all of the water to the property.
The view from our private balcony of Los Padres National Forest.
We stayed less that 24 hours, which was far too little time to enjoy this place. Definitely want to go back and take Smitty up on his offer to tour the farm and just spend a little more time here.
If you want to visit, too, you can find the listing here: