The Story of Noon Lodge

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Our recent trip to Noon Lodge happened completely by accident. Way back in December I was on Expedia late at night, experiencing some FOMO (fear of missing out – always a bad sign) because it had just snowed up in the mountains and all my friends were posting these amazing pictures of snow on Instagram. Taking the kids to the snow has been on my bucket list for a few years now. Neither of them had really experienced it, being the true Southern Californian natives that they are.

I skipped around Expedia, looking at cabins and landed on this site. I was struck with instant graphic-designer love. Swoon! What a beautifully designed website! I could imagine the photoshoots I would throw down surrounded by such beauty and nature and great design. Do you see the room decor?! I was hooked. Back I went to Expedia to check out the prices. I knew it would be expensive but surprisingly for some reason I read that the rooms were only one-hundred-and-something and NEXT THING I KNEW I was checking out and the grand total was SIX HUNDRED DOLLARS!!!  Wait. WHAT?!! Two nights somehow added up to six hundred dollars?

Back click, back click. Wait! Wait! This can’t be happening! Of course at this point Expedia was giving me the spinny ball of doom. I don’t have six hundred dollars for a freakin’ weekend! What the, what the?! Halp! I raced though the Noon Lodge site again and everywhere I looked they were very clear about their no cancelation policy. My heart sunk to the bottom of the ocean that is my bad financial planning. What had I done?

Deep breaths.

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I waited for Payam to wake up and I told him the news. Naturally, he was surprised but actually not horrified which was a huge relief. He calmed me down and made some calls. Nobody answered their phones of course.  So I sucked it up and calculated how long it would take me to pay off this new chunk of change I had now put on my credit card that already had a good sized balance on it. It would be bad but I wasn’t quite ruined. Six hundred dollars in the big picture wasn’t that much. Maybe this wouldn’t be the snowball of debt that would roll me into bankruptcy. I have a roof over my head and my landlord isn’t going to kick me out and I can take on more jobs and pay this down. I can do this.

And oh, how I wanted to do this! The Lodge! It was so pretty!

Several hours later Noon Lodge did call back and after talking to Payam (who is a great salesperson by the way) they said that even though it was against their policy, they would cancel my reservation because I had made it so far in advance, this being in December and the weekend I booked being in February after all. What nice people!

But wait. Now I was even sadder. I didn’t want to cancel this trip!!

I had fallen so deeply in love with the idea of this weekend in the snow at Noon Lodge, there was just no going back. Money be damned. Noon Lodge was going to happen if I had work my fingers to the bone for the rest of the year. I could do it!

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So we went!

What a crazy weekend. I had just gotten back from Alt Summit and my mind was a full of business tips and mixed emotions about where my online presence is really going and maybe it’s time to suck it up and admit failure. Le sigh. Blogging conventions always put me in a spin for a few days. It’s great to get inspired and learn new things and meet new people but it really makes you re-think your business plan and me, being the negative person that I can be, I often leave these conventions feeling worse about myself than when I started. It’s always good to mix things up though and I took away a lot of good advice. I just don’t know where I’m going with that advice yet. My head was a little spun.

Also, I had missed the girls (and Payam) terribly for the four days that I was at the convention. The girls were fine without me of course but I was just off my game. It’s hard enough only seeing them every other week due to custody arrangements but being gone the week they were with me made me super sad.  So when I got back I was so ready to spend a quality weekend with them.

I packed like a mad woman and we rushed off to the mountains!

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And it was everything I wanted it to be! The snow! The kids were so excited. The entire trip up the mountain they wouldn’t stop talking about the ice cream that was everywhere. Bug worked herself into such a silly state I actually worried for a minute that she was having a manic episode, which wouldn’t be that far from her mother.

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We tucked ourselves into our cozy cabin and the next morning awoke to the sounds of little girls singing at the top of their lungs, “THE SKY IS AWAKE AND SO AM I! DO YOU WANT TO BUILD A SNOWMAN?!!!” The sun had barely risen over the tree tops and the girls already had their snow gear on and they were out the door. Forget about breakfast. They were so happy.

And then DISASTER STRUCK.

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Payam had gone to the truck to get the girls saucers for sledding. I was back in the cabin, getting breakfast ready. The girls were down the ravine beside the cabin making a fort. Suddenly I looked up and I saw Payam out the window bleeding from his head. I ran out the door to see what had happened and it looked like he had something stuck out of the side of his head. Blood was everywhere. I screamed. What happened?! Are you okay?!!

Payam looked at me with this strange look like he had no idea what I was talking about. He was disoriented. He had his keys and his glasses in his hand and they were bloody and broken. I rushed him to the house and he sat down. I frantically looked for my phone to call 911.

Payam at this time is telling me he’s fine. Why am I freaking out and calling 911?! he asks. Over and over he kept saying he’s fine, he’s fine. He obviously was NOT fine and had no idea that he had a golf ball growing out of the side of his head. At this point I didn’t know if his head was broken and it was bone sticking out. I was in a panic. Bug found my phone and I called 911. The operator walked me through what to do with him and help was on the way.

While all this is going on Bug ran upstairs crying and Joon fainted and fell onto a wooden burl table and bumped her head. At the time I didn’t realize she had actually fainted. I thought she had just slipped on the rug (things were wet from us rushing into the cabin with melting snow on our boots) and when she righted herself and started to complain about her head hurting I thought she was having some kind of psychosomatic copycat symptom. Poor Joon. It wasn’t until after the commotion that we figured out she really did faint.

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Here’s what we think happened: Payam went to the truck to get the sleds but for some reason the hatch didn’t open (this happened to me when I went back and retraced his steps). As he was struggling to lift the stuck trunk door, he slipped on the black ice and hit his head, hard on the frozen asphalt. He has no memory of any of this happening. That’s the weirdest part. It’s a complete blank in his memory. Nobody saw him. Nobody knows what really happened. I’m just glad he was only gone five minutes and he didn’t get run over from laying in the street!

The paramedics arrived and checked Payam out. Because Payam was lucid and he could answer all their questions clearly with no trouble, they surmised that he was probably fine. They told me that injuries like this on the ice are VERY common and the swelling is normal even though at this point he started to look like the Elephant Man. The head is very”vascular” they told us which is why his wound was swelling up to the size of a tennis ball. There was just a lot of blood inside his head. No concussion but just watch it carefully and drive to the nearest urgent care if anything gets worse–like he starts throwing up or falls asleep etc.

Hoo Boy.

Payam rested. The girls went back outside to play. I checked on Payam like a chicken with my head cut off. The wound persisted with little change. Four hours later Payam decided he probably needed stitches. At the time the paramedics were there we couldn’t really see that he had a cut by his eye because everything was so swollen. This was actually a secondary wound from his glasses cutting into the side of his head and is additional to the blow that knocked him out.

Now here’s the part that I’m embarrassed about. Payam talked me into letting him drive himself to the Urgent Care. I know. I’m a terrible girlfriend! I should have driven him. But he assured me up and down that he was fine and besides the crazy swelling he did seem fine.  It was true that the last thing we wanted to do was spend our entire trip in an Urgent Care full of snowboarders with broken arms. I really should have driven him and I do feel bad but it was nice to sit in a chair, watch the girls and calm down from the trauma with Payam checking in with me by phone often.

Just like we expected he was stuck in the Urgent Care for a while. Eventually he got stitches and got checked out, which was a relief to all of us. He came back and rested some more.

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And then I went for a walk. Yeah. I did. I know. Girlfriend of the year awardee over here. But maybe you should give that award to Payam because he totally understood how bad I wanted to get out and take pictures. This was my $600 weekend. Worse weekend ever. Or was it?

I had noticed from the cabin windows that the sun was going down and I really, really wanted to see the lake before we had to go home. I asked Payam a million times if it was okay and when he assured me over and over I rushed out into the snow and trekked down the ravine towards the lake. I missed the sunset but the afterglow was amazing. There was beauty everywhere!

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It was a long cold walk and I kept falling through the snow every fourth step but I couldn’t stop because it kept getting prettier and prettier.

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Just look at the pink glow!

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Here it is bigger so you can feel how big this expanse of space was. Imagine this 360. The lake was frozen with a thin layer of ice and the sky was crisp. Everything was quiet. I stood there with my camera and soaked all the beauty and glory in click by click. It was such a contrast to the storm of recent events.

Payam was okay. This beauty made all those worries from Alt Summit seem small and insignificant. I don’t care about my website being a business. I don’t care if my instagram feed isn’t curated to a color palette that embodies my brand. All I care about is my family and nature and being in this moment where the sky is so pink and big! This is really what matters, right?

Everything was okay. Payam was home with the girls by the fire and he was okay with me being outside chasing the last glimpse of the day. He gives me permission to be a freak and book a weekend at Noon Lodge that I can’t really afford. And yes, he is kind of my safety net when I make mistakes like this which I really try not to do regularly. He lets me be the photographer who’s love in life is capturing beauty and sharing it. It’s almost a sickness with me. Everything is about capturing that crazy, beautiful picture. I don’t care about stuff. But I care about pictures. I don’t know if this is a bad thing or a good thing but I’m learning that it’s pretty hard-wired in me.

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And then I walked home and was welcomed by this site. Oh Noon Lodge. You are so charming with your green siding and bright orange doors.

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The next day before we packed up to leave I took a few more pictures of the girls having fun in the snow. I metered the top photos wrong but I kinda like them.

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Happy Kids.

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And that was that! What a crazy trip. We packed up all our stuff and headed down the mountain. For Payam it was the trip from hell and I’m sure he won’t be too keen to come back anytime soon but I will be. I’m not too terribly fond of Big Bear and the crowds but I love Noon Lodge. noon-lodge-7

And I love this guy. Put some sunglasses on that shiner and he’s good as new! Seriously though, the swelling has gone down and now he has a huge, scary, black eye–that he’s totally milking for sympathy points. He deserves them though. He took one for the team this weekend and we owe him big time.

Bug turns ELEVEN! (and gets blue hair!)

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Can you believe Bug is ELEVEN?!!! Of course you can’t. Neither can I. It was like yesterday when she was born. I get heart palpitations every time I take a picture of her and she looks like a teenager already. But I can’t stop time and I can’t stop her. This girl is a powerhouse and she just keeps growing up every day!

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Bug has wanted to dye her hair blue for about two years. Her cousins constant chameleon hair-change-ups might have something to do with it and her obsession with anime and changing her minecraft skins etc… If you know Bug you know how she is about color. Color is her thing and she has strong opinions.

Of course I told her that dying her hair was a silly idea and gave her about a thousand lectures on how pretty her hair was naturally. But as you can see she wore me down. And wore me down some more. Because I love my crazy girl and I really wanted to give her a present that would make her really really happy. I caved!

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Off to the salon we went! Bug has a favorite salon and a favorite stylist. She’s way more loyal to her stylist than I ever have been. It might have something to do with her stylist being 24 and a really cool surfer dude but he always does a really good job with her hair and we make a special treat out of it when we go. You know, macarons at Lette, hotdog from the hotdog stand. It’s our bi-annual thing.

At first, when we started to take the hair-coloring subject seriously, I thought we’d go to a beauty college and save some $$$ but then I got worried that I might fry her hair and I’d ruin her (red flag number 1). So we opted to ask her stylist for a recommendation and he recommended Ally.

We set the appointment and waited for the day with great anticipation. It was crazy how excited we were. Then the day came and the bleaching began. BLEACHING. Oh-my-goodness. I bleached my daughter’s beautiful long healthy honey-blonde hair?!!! Who am I? This so wrong on so many levels. (Red flag number 2.)

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The plan was to lighten Bug’s hair to a white blonde and then apply a blue-indigo ombre effect to that white blonde. It was a great plan. But then as Ally started blow-drying out the blonde, Bug and I both gasped at how pretty it was. It was this amazing out-of-the-bottle blonde color that every Californian aspires to. We thought, maybe we should keep the blonde and just apply the dark ombre indigo-teal color to the underneath in a cool peek-a-boo effect. In fact, that idea sat with me even better because the blonde was more natural, right? (Red flag number 3 with blinking lights and a siren!)

But then as she finished blow-drying and I saw the blonde getting brassy all the way up to Bug’s eyes, I started to feel anxious. I couldn’t ignore the sirens going off in my head any more. My kid should not look like this. This is the kind of blonde ombre effect grown women on Real Housewives of Orange County have. I started to feel sick to my stomach. But Bug loved it and was over the moon! Ally curled it all pretty and Bug felt like a golden princess. I was a ball of mixed feelings with alarms going off in my head.

By the time we got to her Dad’s house (she was at his house that week) I was experiencing a full panic attack over her hair. Sweating, my heart hurt… How could I have done this to my child! She looked like Iris from Taxi Driver and it was just wrong. Poor Bug had no idea why I was getting so upset. She started crying and I was crying.  It’s amazing I could even drive. We were a mess.

Thankfully, Toby didn’t lose his marbles over my mistake when we got to the door and I exploded all of my worries and concerns. He agreed it didn’t look right for an eleven-year-old and we all decided we’d go back to the salon to fix it as soon as possible and stick to the original blue plan.

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But Bug loved her blonde hair. It was such a mixed bag of emotions. On the morning of her next appointment Bug and I took an early morning walk with the dogs. She wore her rollerblades (her favorite accessory these days) and I took a few photos (with the dogs pulling me this way and that)  just so we could remember how pretty it was. We put her hair up in tight Princess Lea buns so the swirls of blue showed through. It didn’t seem quite so offensive. I wanted to take more photos but we ran out of time. I’m glad we have these though.

It was such an emotional experience for both Bug and I, I know we will remember it for years. Someday we’ll laugh about it.Bug-turns-11-blue-hair-5

Back to the salon we went. This time with strict instructions to be pastel blue, indigo blue, and teal blue and nothing else. Everyone at the salon totally understood our concerns and they happily fixed her up into the prettiest mermaid princess you have ever seen. Bug was sad to see her golden locks wash down the drain in a puddle of purple but it was best. And we know the blue will wash out over time and the blonde will come back slowly and not so shockingly. AND best of all it’s just hair. It will grow back to her pretty honey blonde someday. And no she’s not getting another hair-dye-job as a birthday present ever again.

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The blue turned out to be so much cooler in the end. I feel like I have my eleven-year-old back again. My crazy, cool, color-obsessed eleven-year-old. This is just so Bug.

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I love you to pieces, you big blue smurf-head. Which Bug is quick to correct and let me know that smurfs have blue skin NOT blue hair. (eye roll)