Visiting the Tribe // Los Angeles, Calif.
In the middle of August we moved out of the little beach house, packed up all our gear, parked our van at a friends place in Florianopolis, Brazil and headed to the airport for the long journey back to California. As the time neared for departure… there was still no airplane waiting at our gate. Everyone started to scuffle, and we deciphered from our limited Portuguese that the first of our 3 flights was cancelled. Oh, joy! First order was to get our stuff from baggage claim because they notified us it was not safe to leave anything. Cool, so imagine us with our giant surfboard bag, 6 boxes of return stuff, a stroller and two children… totally easy to manage, right? Ha! We were a sight to see. We next joined the hoards of annoyed travelers in the lobby, earning a place in the special line for elderly or those traveling with small children- which only took us 2 hours to reschedule our flight from the 8pm cancelled departure (due to bad weather which we did not see, but better safe than sorry) to a 6am exit. To get a taxi and hotel voucher, there was another line. A very, very long line. A line that was filled with disgruntled faces. A line we had zero interest in hanging out in for another 2+ hours to wait in another taxi line for 2+ hours to go to a hotel, rest for a minute and return back to the airport. So in the spirit of adventure and adaptability, we decided to camp in the airport. Adam found a quiet corner and opened up the surfboard bag, which we used as a mattress and went to sleep. Finally on the flight, we sighed with relief and three planes later were in Los Angeles. As our favorite entrepreneur Yvon Chouinard has said “It’s not an adventure until something goes wrong.” Coming home is good. In a smiling from your soul, overflowing with love, talking till the wee hours about every little thing kind of way. It is family, it is friends. Home is California (a home not the home), and that is so far from where we have been for the past 2 years. We are still very happy with our life on the road, but introducing our new sweet baby girl Sierra to those we love most is an irreplaceable joy. Colette and her two cousins Ava (6) and Lea (4) are like three blonde peas in a pod. They ADORE to be with each other, their energy when together is unparalleled and the joy they radiate infectious. Raiding Auntie Lolo’s closet is a favorite game for the trio, who favor hats and shoes for dress up. Everybody was overjoyed to meet sweet Sierra, especially Meme (Adam’s mom)- who welcomed her 4th granddaughter with much bliss. Laura, Emily’s sister, lives at our old house in LA, which serves as the gathering place for the family to chill. She hosted us for most of our visit and we are so grateful to have spent so much of our time there. Thank you Laura! Adam’s brother Keith, his wife Jane and their two girls live in a small idyllic town an hour and a half outside of LA called Green Valley, which is to the north of Santa Clarita. Located in the Sierra Peona Mountains, their lovely house is surrounded by oak and pine trees on a double lot big enough to house all sorts of toys! Toys for the big kids too! Their 4X4 GMC Jimmy. Ava & Lea are really into dressing up as princesses, and Colette was sure to join in the fun & games. We encourage in them a can-do spirit and rest assured, these princesses need no rescuing! Adam was super stoked to reconnect with his crew of buds & headed out for as many early morning surf sessions as possible. It just so happened that one magic “Big Wednesday” Adam and a few friends were at the beach to witness and surf some of the best waves to ever roll through Malibu. Hurricane Marie, the 6th most intense Pacific hurricane ever recorded slammed the Southern California coast creating some of the biggest craziest surf we had ever seen in the area. Adam took this photo on a break from the waves of Laird Hamilton and Allen Sarlo sharing a wave, just before shooting the Malibu pier (for those of you that don’t speak ‘surf’ that means before they rode a wave through the pylons of the pier). There’s a good video of Big Wednessday in Malibu here. Adam & the crew were not the only ones there to witness. For Adam, the sport has been and remains a constant source of balance in his life. It draws and binds him to friends as their time together is dedicated to a common enjoyment, and continues to require they make time even as the busyness of city life demands otherwise. Surfing makes time for watching the sunrise. Adam’s family has a 3 acre parcel of jungle property on the Big Island of Hawaii which, when purchased 8 years ago inspired Emily’s parents purchase of a second home. The hale (house) is a place where everyone gathers and leaves behind other commitments, a place where breaths are deeper, meals are slower, and the sunsets are bigger. Waipio Valley, on the north-east of the island is a treasure worth the 4X4 adventure to get there (4×4 adventures usually are). Emily and the girls went, but Adam cancelled his ticket to stay in LA and focus on the creation of his art show. Now that is dedication to pass up Hawaii.Emily and the girls were there for 2 weeks with her parents; sister Laura joined for a week of it. (And in case you were wondering, Emily’s rocking frames are the Luci from Raen Optics.) Both Suzie & Warren were thrilled to have both their grand babies and 2 of her 3 kiddos present. Our older brother James was on the Big Island a month earlier, where he proposed to his now fiancee Alyson!
Oma had come to Brazil to be with Emily while Adam was in Peru, but our arrival in Hawaii marked the first meeting of Sierra & Grandpere (because Skype is not the same).
Some of the best snorkeling in Hawaii is at Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park (also known as Captain Cook monument), which now limits the number of visitors daily in an effort to reduce the human footprint on this pristine natural environment. “Doing my favorite activity in my favorite place with my favorite person.”- Auntie Lolo As a nursing mama, Sierra & I often work as a unit, but the bliss of being with fish, coral, turtles is worth the rejuvenating time away to connect with Mother Nature. Just down the road from the house is this popular cliff jumping spot “End of the World.” Laura takes the leap. Emily’s best friend (and former Smoke & Mirrors clothing business partner) Michelle came with her darling daughter Violet (18mo) for a week of our time there. As friends for 16 years, we have shared so many experiences and life changes. Being mothers and having our girls love each other is such a gift. Violet is such a lover, she is obsessed with her not-by-blood but of-the-heart cousins Coco & “bebe Seesee” as she calls Sierra. Michelle has created a collection of forward fashion for babies, toddlers and kids. She is on a mission to make grownup clothes for the not yet grownup. Keeping it simple but sophisticated, fun but not fussy is the mantra of Ultra Violet Kids. Everything is proudly made in the U.S.A., as comfortable as it is chic, and looks damn good at a farmers market. Grasping the last rays of sun before they set into the Pacific… what a blessing to count Hawaii as a home of ours. Always in our hearts, we live with aloha. Back to the mainland… When we departed 2 years ago, Adam promised an art show upon our return of new work inspired by the travels. Although the initial timeline of a 1-year circumnavigation was ditched, the purpose of creating a new body of artwork has remained. When we decided to come back to introduce Sierra to friends & family, Adam knew it was time to have the exhibition. With the studio he set up at the little beach house in Florianopolis, he was able to organize his thoughts and make many pieces for the show. Back in Los Angeles, in the studio he built behind the house Laura lives in (that we rented for many, many years) Adam was able to unfurl his collection of work from the road, and from Brazil, and dive into creating a cohesive collection inspired by our recent adventuring. What exploded out of him in the 4 months he dedicated to the show (2 in Brazil, 2 in Los Angeles) was more than anyone had imagined. Many more were in process, but 50+ pieces made the final cut. Ben from Hasta Alaska bought his Kombi in Chile 3 years ago and has been working his way North with his rescue dog “Alaska” . They pick up all kinds of people along the way and document it it all on the Youtube channel. Adam saw he was heading into Los Angeles and invited him into our home and a day along the coast. We have been hosted by so many along our journey, it was nice to be able to play host! Ellen, Adam’s mama, (pictured right) and his dad were married on the beach at Paradise Cove in Malibu… this beautiful stretch has been and remains a favorite family place. Colette, like she did pre-departure, enjoys time in the studio with daddy. She has learned to respect the studio and views this shared time creating with Adam in the highest regard, like a sacred space where magic happens. This piece is from the “Deconstructed Cartography” series, which is made from old nautical charts, vintage land surveys and maps. Each shape is meticulously hand cut and the pieces arranged into a tension that plays with perspective. The chaos of the color fields balanced by the precision of the geometric shapes, an orchestral optical illusion that plays with incongruous notes working beautifully to create a song all its own. Adam worked with Jalal of Poehlman Press to print the best quality photos. Artwork is so called because it is just that… work. A work that Adam relishes, but one that takes time, focus and dedication. Each of the pieces created for the exhibition had to be strong enough to stand alone, and also work into the collection as a whole. Many photos were cut and countries layered like the piece below consisting of photography from the island of Chiloe, Chile- wheat pasted advertizements from Northern Peru- and the black night sky in Colombia.
The piece below was made by photographing 4 different mountain ranges in Chile & Argentina. After printing, he cut into them and reassembled the mountains creating this unique range. The crew from Urban Outfitters came by to make a short film on us for part of their “Dreamers & Doers” series. You can watch it here! Emily, inspired by the ‘by reservation only’ restaurants in Buenos Aires, decided to throw a ‘Puertas Cerradas’ (as they are called) of her own while in Los Angeles. Adam created a gorgeous watercolor for the invitation. Emily designed a 6 course vegetarian meal inspired by our two years on the road. The tickets for the 2 evenings at Lux/Lodge sold out in 5 hours! In preparation for the evening, we took a fieldtrip up to McGrath Family Farms in Camarillo. This organic farm produces some of the most consistently delicious produce available at the LA farmers markets. Desa, Sierra, Coco & Emily loaded up the car, cranked up the air conditioning and hit the freeway. There was an area to pet the farm animals, which Colette happily did. After a thorough hand wash, we set into the full sun to pick some delightful tomatoes- a few variety of heirloom & cherry were all sun soaked, low acid and sweet as can be. We filled a couple of flats with Colette leading the way, Emily pointing to the perfectly ripe ones, and Colette picking them. Desa of Lux/ Eros lifestyle brand transformed her home into Lux/Lodge where she hosts small parties & learning courses in the stunning setting of her A-frame. She also rents out an apartment on the property if you are visiting LA and want a gorgeous, off the beaten path stay with nearby access to the city. Los Angeles was having a heat wave, and the daytime temperatures were over 100 degrees! Luckily, the temperatures decreased as the sun set into the hills and turned into blissfully warm evenings with the perfect breeze. Sweet Kelly of V i v a V o c e Floral Design took my loose direction (“bright, fun and slightly wild”) and created just the loveliest pieces for the tables, entrance and even brought the pool to the next level with a sprinkling of late summer color. Desa’s house has tons of many small spaces that create the opportunity to relax and connect with the outdoor space- the perfect “California cool”. Emily met her pal Toni Young in 2003, when she was designing her now defunct line of punk inspired graphic tees and other ready-to-wear separates, Evil Genius. After many years in the fashion game, Toni went to culinary school, moved to rural Massachusets and worked at some farm-to-table restaurants. Now back in LA, Emily eagerly accepted Toni’s offer to assist in preparing the meals (and have time to gab & catch up!). When guests arrived at the hilltop Hollywood A-frame, they were welcomed with a frothy, icy blended Maracuya Sour, which is a passionfruit & pisco cocktail. It was our favorite adult beverage on the road, a perfect balance of sweet and tart, refreshing with a boozy bite. As guests were seated at family style tables, the first course came out- a trio of rainbow toasts, inspired by a welcome appetizer we had at Naturaleza Sabia, a vegetarian restaurant in Buenos Aires’ San Telmo neighborhood. I chose these small tastes as a way to highlight three distinct spices that we discovered on the road. The first was cherry tomato confit (picked on the farm) with roasted garlic and oregano. It is a spice known to us, but not something we use extensively; it is however an herb used widely in South America, especially in Peru, which was a big surprise to us. Roasted organic yellow carrots were topped with merken, the Chilean spice blend that features sundried, then slow roasted ahi chile with cumin and sea salt. The third flavor present was huacatay, Peruvian black mint. I blended this up into aji de huacatay: a dip with with queso fresco, garlic, yellow ahi peppers that balanced the heady herb. Coconut ceviche was one of the biggest hits. I was torn between making coconut or heart of palm ceviche, so one night in Hawaii I made both variations to have a side-by-side taste test. Fresh hearts of palm are hard to come by and canned can be inconsistent. Last thing I wanted was to serve up a bowl of over salted mushy faux-viche. Coconut took more time, but was so well worth it!
A few people that swore up and down they hate coconut anything, were converted to Emily’s school of coconut. Adam put some manpower behind the preparation of this dish & cracked no less than 30 coconuts, saving the electrolyte rich agua de coco for the kitchen staff to gulp in indulgent quantity. Raw young coconut (cut into strips like fish or octopus) is marinated in lime juice with garlic, cilantro, red onion, jalapeno, tomato, avocado, & cucumber. A tortilla chip or tostada is the traditional accompaniment, but I could think of nothing tastier than the SoCal original, Hava Chips. For those of you yet to taste these- they are fresh fried tortilla chips with a splash of soy sauce & lime. Salty, crunchy, limey and SO good. Here is the recipe, so have a go at it and let me know what you think!
“Emily’s Coconut Ceviche” Prep time: 30 minutes Serves: 4 as sides or 2 as main
- 2 young coconuts, cut meat into aprox. ½” x 2” strips
- 4 limes, juiced
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon jalapeno, minced
- 3 tablespoons red onion, finely sliced into half moons
- 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
- ¼ cup good olive oil
- ½ cup tomato, cubed
- ½ cup Persian cucumber, sliced into quarter moons (if unavailable, use cucumber, with seeds removed)
- 1 tablespoon good sea salt (I used a Hawaiian red sea salt, but your fave will do) reduce to 1tsp if using table salt
- 1 whole avocado, sliced
- 1 bag Hava Chips (tortilla chips or tostada will do too)1. Prepare coconuts: get machete and carefully remove top. Drain water, then drink or set aside. Chop coconut in half; use a spoon to scoop out the flesh, trying to keep the pieces in tact. Once you are all done, use the backside of the spoon to remove any remaining brown bits of husk that may remain on the coconut, which should be white -not too clear- but slightly jiggly, not hard. Slice the coconut into strips around ½” x 2” (but don’t toss any bits that are not uniform, throw those in too!)
2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients, except avocado & chips, mixing lightly.
3. Unlike regular ceviche, you can eat this immediately! Place coconut ceviche in a bowl, top with avocado and plate with chips.
Vida Mezcal is organic & small batch, the parent company buys from family producers like the ones we saw and tasted with in Oaxaca. On a hot LA night, the ‘mezcal mule’ made a perfect refreshment- gingerbeer, mezcal, ice and a twist of lime. (Don’t worry, in the city where you always have to drive, we encouraged all our visitors to take an Uber, Lyft or taxi). It was really fun to come and talk to everyone about each course, explaining why I included it on the menu.
Next dish was a cup of Tia Monica’s corn chowder. Inspired by a simple homemade meal we were served in Chile, this highlights a staple food in most countries, included as it was in the height of the corn season in Los Angeles (and because corn chowder is just really yummy). Cooking and plating in the kitchen with Toni, Michelle & Laura. I could not have asked for a better team or done this without you ladies- THANK YOU! Empanadas are traditional in both Chile and Argentina, so I had to include this cheesy treat. I made a fried variety, with muzarella and a little bit of queso de cabra. Topped with fresh chimmichuri (if you aren’t familiar, think of it as a parsley based pesto) and aji amarillo hot sauce. Both Chile & Argentina make great wine, and we served up a chilled Malbec to accompany the final courses. Some people feel it is a sin to serve chilled wine, but it is actually quite common (think more wine cellar temperature than cold-cold) and totally refreshing on a hot summer evening. Salud! Next up was a plate I simply called cena, which means dinner. Quinoa pilaf was topped with a fried quail egg, next to a yin/yang of black and white beans and a side of fried plantains with a drizzle of sour cream. And something green sprinkled on top… you can’t forget to sprinkle some finely chopped greenery on your plate. That really steps it up from “I made some food” to “Look at this delicious food I prepared for you and I even remembered to sprinkle some parsley on it.” When menu planning in Hawaii, I was discussing desert and describing how I wanted to make a raw cacao avocado pudding… my mother’s face was deadpan as she graciously asked “What was your favorite dessert you’ve had on your travels?”
“The Home Depot cake in the Atacama desert” I instantly replied… well that answer needed a bit more explanation! Whilst in Arica, we had a few chores to do and one afternoon were at Sodimac, the Chilean equivalent of Home Depot. Right beyond checkout, there is a small cafe serving sweets all on display in a glass case… We spotted a yummy looking cake and sat down to have a slice. OMG, our mouths were so happy. The next few days we needed all sorts of things from there… a tiny screw, a…uhhh, well it doesn’t really matter, just gimme the damn cake! I saw the light that perhaps I should make my favorite cake, not a healthy teaching opportunity.
Mil Hojas literally means ‘thousand leaves’, but is more like ‘thousand layers’ (like the french dessert millefeuille). Layers of unsweetened crispy cakes are generously layered with dulce de leche caramel, alternating layers of whipped cream and strawberries then topped with chopped walnuts. The layers of crispy cake absorb the dulce de leche as it sits overnight and transforms into a super tasty rich cake. It was a great way to end the evening. We were honored that a guest Cindy chose to have her friends gather with us for her birthday celebration! Thank you for joining us on your special evening. The great part of hosting such intimate dinners is that you get to have a bit of time with each guest. Our dear friend Muhammad with Papa Outlaw (swear, that is his real last name), has lived many lives in just one… he speaks 5 languages fluently and has traveled the world many times over. Rachel & Josh are planning their own grand voyage- a trip around the world in their 42 foot sailboat! We regrettably were not able to take these two up on their offer to sail out to the Channel Islands with the girls for a few days of surfing and scuba diving… perhaps our paths will cross again at a port town or back in California. After a long first day (and night), the second dinner was more relaxed as we knew the flow of it all. Our biggest lesson was we learned not to leave anything that could be done ahead of time till the night of. Fry the plantains before and keep at temperature, fill all the empanadas, chop every herb… there is simply not time when you are serving 25 people. The energy needs to be making the food hot & gorgeous and to be with the guests. Second night we had 3 tables of guests, mostly dear friends mixed in with a few new ones! Service of each course was timed with ninja-like precision (not really, but we tried). Artist Samantha Thomas, designer Sarah Aaronson & artist Rosha Yaghmai… we are lucky to call each of the talented beauties our friends. Samantha Radar of Dasein and Ameena Khawaja of The Potion Shoppe line of organic apothecary are our buds too! Damaris is a badass that hiked the John Muir Trail, and her boyfriend Mike Burns is a badass tattoo artist. Our pal Camille of Eddera Jewelry is a baby whisperer… Sierra was nestled on her in total and complete bliss. Travis (a landscape designer) came with his lovely sister Georgeanna Parks (an interior designer). Dear friends Price & Salman of Pizzanista! The kitchen crew! Toni, Michelle (of Ultra Violet Kids) and Laura. I am so thankful we we able to come together & have these special evenings of Puertas Cerradas at Lux/Lodge, thank you Desa! Emily & her sister loaded up the car with the girls and headed up to Big Bear in the San Bernardino Mountains to visit their Grandma… and introduce Sierra to her Great Grandmother Arline, who was a technical illustrator for Boeing & McDonald Douglas. Before there were computers telling the assembly to put screw #4,582 to rivet #4,582, she was drawing those details. At 80, she now enjoys her time in her art studio-weaving, quilting and painting watercolor.On the north side of the Big Bear Lake we walked a trail at Juniper Point. Our Bumbleride Indie4 stroller handled the rough, uneven terrain great- and Sierra peacefully enjoyed the vistas.Adam began to frame finished pieces, which quickly stacked up! Collage elements come together…
These pieces of wheat pasted advertisements Adam has gathered on the road were added to may pieces in the show. Skipping all the family trips, Adam was enjoying the process and his work. Putting in 16 hours a day on the show has visible results!The show titled “Terra Incognita” was held at Slow Culture Gallery in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. Always by our side, this little helper knows how to get things done! Adam had our talented pal Jiro come to photograph the show in its entirety. The day had finally come: October 10, 2014. Everything was hung with care, in hopes that art viewers would soon be there… There was a magic flow the work made in the space, one that let your eye rest on each piece, but drew you around the room. Excited for the evening to start, Adam in front of the header of the show. Pizzanista came & set up their mobile kitchen for the night. House Beer also set us up with freebies for the people. Action Cookies shared their amazing cookies, both regular and gluten free. That’s right… free pizza, beer and cookies at the art show! Emily’s Aunt Toni & Grandma Arline made it out! It was really amazing to step back & watch people look at the art. In this internet fast age, people are constantly consuming images… but to see people thoughtfully view the work (and buy it!) was a most exciting experience. And then it was packed! The whole gallery, back yard and front space were all jam-packed. Thank you all who came out to support! A big THANK YOU to Goal Zero for sponsoring the event! We designed a “Tlayuda Pizza” inspired by the delicious street treat served up in Oaxaca, Mexico. Atop the crispy, chewy crust a base of refried beans was Oaxacan string cheese, a little red onion, a drizzle of red mole & crema then topped with fresh avocado! It was bomb! Salman with Andy of The Quiet Life, who made excellent t-shirts for the show! If you didn’t make it to the show, you can view a separate post about the art work in it’s entirety HERE with details and more information on each piece, like below.
Adam sighed a deep breath… he had completed his show. Ahh, now to have a moment to rest. We headed to Faria State Beach in Ventura, where Adam grew up coming to, for a weekend of camping with the family. Camped directly next to us was this sweet Westy… Coco was like “Daddy, but our van is blue?!” In a modern world that spins faster and faster, we see children are exposed to so much at a young age, we make a concerted effort to keep our kids just as they are- kids! They get stubbed toes and splinters, but moreso they get to tap into their imaginations, explore nature through experience and have fun. Barefoot and carefree is the best way to be. Little Adam, Emily’s second-cousin’s son, proudly showed us this obsidian ‘arrowhead’ he found. A Halloween coloring book and a pack of crayons is enough to entertain all the kids. Fellow van-dwellers are not hard to find at the beach, these two were form Kansas.Our little Sierra Luna is just the sweetest (sigh). In our 2+ months in California, it was hard to get in a squeeze of our own, as she was always in arms, being passed around like the gold medal she is. We just try to stare at her and memorize every moment, for she is already not a newborn. Our last weekend in California, we celebrated with a big family get together. Auntie Alyson & Uncle James came down from Alameda to soak up time with Sierra & Coco (oh yeah, and the rest of us & the family). F A M I L Y. Our time in California (and Hawaii) had come to an end. We said our heartfelt goodbyes, packed up our bags, and headed to the airport for the long flights back to Brazil and our van. On our third and final flight, we flew directly over Campeche Island, which we viewed from our little beach house in Florianopolis for those 2 months. It was wonderful sense of newfound homecoming that filled us as we descended into this verdant paradise sprinkled with houses.
We are eternally grateful to Gowesty Campers for continuing to support our adventures. We got new brakes all around (and extra shoes and pads too) so we won’t have to grind down pads designed for other vehicles anymore. Ahh, the sweet things that life on the road make you extremely thankful for. First order of business back on the road was taking them to get installed.