An evening and morning in Oakland, in photos.

Oakland has always been a distant myth of land in my perspective. Residing in San Jose and touring through San Francisco on the weekends, my year spent living in California offered little to no insight on the city dominated by Raiders fans. It wasn’t until my recent cross-country trip that I was able to truly experience this place.

I had envisioned Oakland as the Pacific coast version of Detroit – rough and tumble with very little room for skinny little ladies such as myself. Instead, what I encountered during my brief 12-hour excursion to the other side of the bay was a mix of fantastic home decor, sketchy neighborhood stoops, and classic architectural styles. I lack the proper words to describe Oakland, but these five photos best describe the adventure.

Basically, Oakland was much brighter and more colorful than I expected it to be. I certainly spotted the burly hoodlums and sketchy looking dudes in overcoats that I had envisioned, but the cheerful side of Oakland greatly and easily outweighed the creepy parts. Stay tuned for a more wordy recount of my afternoon trip to the climbing crag Mickey’s Beach off the northern end of San Fransisco, and photos from my most recent trip to Sand Rock, Alabama.

Paella, produce and local pride at the 4th Annual Turkey Hill Farm Heirloom Tomato Feastival

No, that’s not a typo – the tomato-themed celebration held each year at Tallahassee’s Turkey Hill Farm is aptly called a ‘feastival’ because it is just that. The entire day is dedicated to stuffing your belly full of everything fresh.

It started with the freshly plowed dirt road we followed off Baum Road towards the small farm. We entered the festival and had Sharpie tomatoes sloppily tattooed on our hands before venturing towards the table-clothed picnic tables of the farmers market. On the way to the produce, we passed by a row of wildflowers and strawberry plants that were teeming with little bug buddies.

Of course, there were the freshly plucked tomatoes, from golden cherries and black prince ‘maters to green zebra varieties and meaty, dry ones to make sauces with. The first stop I made during the feastival was at the stand manned by Pattie Maney, who grows delicious tomatoes with her husband when she’s not painting beautiful creature art. For $2, she made me the best tomato sandwich I have ever dug my teeth into. I invested in two pounds of her plump little goldens and fatter ones in hues of purple and green.

We met up with our friend Rachel, who is actually related to the owners of Turkey Hill Farm. She gave us a little tour of their impressive garden area, which included peppers, tomatoes, squash, little purple eggplants, and even a noisy flock of geese. We picked a few juicy blackberries, then I somehow ended up back at the market area to buy even more tomatoes. I know, I have a problem.


It was impossible to ignore the paella made fresh before our eyes by a true Spanish woman herself. They made two giant servings – one vegetarian, and one with toppings like mussels, clams, squid, and all the traditional fixings. I was tempted by the seafood option, but ultimately opted for the meatless paella.

The feastival was byop (bring your own plate, and utensils), because the most intense portion of the event was the covered dinner potluck. We were ill-prepared and showed up empty handed, but the other guests more than compensated for our lack of a contribution with towering mounds of homemade goodness.

My plate was smothered in food, and I honestly struggled to clear my helping. Some of my favorite edibles were the fresh pearl mozzarella balls, the gooey cinnamon bun cake, and the savory tomato pie. We all sat in the grass and swatted at bothersome ants while we gorged ourselves on a bounty that rivaled any Thanksgiving spread.

Throughout all of this, there were continuous cake walks that offered a chance to take home some unbelievable baked goods in exchange for a dollar ticket and parading around in a circle while the boys of Two Foot Level cranked out groovy bluegrass tunes. Check out the ultimate prize from the cake walk, a fluffy vanilla masterpiece smothered with fresh fruit and a pistachio crunch.

The 4th Annual Turkey Hill Farm Heirloom Tomato Feastival was one of the best events I have ever attended in Tallahassee. I had a serendipitous afternoon where I got to celebrate my favorite type of produce, and blow all my cash on giant heads of garlic, sweet tupelo honey, and unforgettable paella. If you’re in town, you’d be a sucker to miss the 5th year of this feast.

I leave you with a photo taken by my very own photography wiz, Niko. He probably takes photography more seriously than I do, and loves to snatch my camera to take some experimental shots of random objects. I loved this picture he took of me holding a handful of Pattie Maney’s snack sized tomatoes. The lighting was horrible, but the one of the little stems came out so beautifully. Enjoy!

The long lost road trip photos have arrived!

After months of allowing my film rolls to sit dormant on my desk, I finally took them in to be developed. In a tragic twist, my second roll was completely blank – I blame myself for messing around while trying to open my camera’s latch. Gone forever are my photos of Garden of the Gods, but I do have a small handful of photos from the rest of the trip to share. Surprisingly, there was even a picture of me in the bunch! I never make appearances in my photos, largely because I’m always behind the camera.

I cannot begin to express how much I miss those two weeks spent traversing the great outdoors in search of adventure and climbing. We may have been lost half of the trip, but the scenery was always stunning and you honestly can’t ask for better company than the three boys who accompanied me on our journey. We shared one of the greatest periods of exploration together, feasted on local grub together, and sometimes plotted to murder eachother – all with love.

The following shots are from a phenomenal community garden that we visited in Denver, Colorado. The entire garden was full of blossoming flowers, and peaceful bees flitted from bud to bud, making for some great shots (like the one featured on The Morning Fresh’s header image). I would love to be able to participate in a community garden like this one. It’s a shame we don’t have anything like this in Tallahassee.

Returning home after our road trip was a bittersweet experience. I long to get back on the road and drive through winding mountainsides, eat a million grilled cheese sandwiches since barbecue joints aren’t exactly vegetarian friendly, smell like a dirty sock from not showering for days – I miss it all. Until then, climbing at the Tallahassee Rock Gym and adventuring on the weekends will have to suffice.

Note: These photos were all taken with a Canon AE-1 camera, with a broken aperture.

Pictures from the Trip

Readjusting to the humidity and allergens of Tallahassee has been draining me the past few days – not to mention that the eve of my return was my housemate Brooke’s 21st Birthday celebration and our good friend Regina Mirabito is in town, so I’ve just been on a whole different level since I arrived back home.

I owe my readers a juicy batch of photos from the epic road trip you have all been following for the past few weeks. I haven’t yet developed the shots taken with my AE1, but I promise to do that within this week. Here are a few of my favorite captured moments from the trip. Follow the jump to see more, and/or check out the entire collection via Facebook.

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