The Seven Magic Mountains

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Probably every Friday night that we don’t have kids, Payam looks at me with a gleam in his eye and says, “Wanna go to Vegas?” I usually roll my eyes because everybody knows I hate Las Vegas and everything it stands for. The nightlife, the gambling, the soul-sucking depressing-ness of old people sitting at slot machines watching their pennies dwindle to nothing by computerized dinging machines. The smoke, the drunk frat guys, the too-young girls dressed like prostitutes, the drugs, the poverty…all of it. I’d just rather stay in my bubble in California.

BUT I hate being that un-fun girlfriend, you know? I am so un-fun on a regular basis.  I can’t even stay awake to watch a tv show past nine pm. So I thought about it and remembering the last trip to Vegas that actually wasn’t that bad because we stayed in this really cool hotel called the Cosmopolitan said, “Yeah, maybe.” with a big fat IF we can find someone to watch our dogs AND we can stay at the Cosmo. Because I am a spoiled princess like that.

Pshaw! You already know what Payam said.

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He whipped out his phone, called the local vet, got our dogs boarded, with a bath even AND reserved a room at the Cosmo. Only one night but we figured we’d live on the edge and find another hotel for the next night so we didn’t have to bust our butt home and only stay one day.

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So yeah. We drove to Vegas at 7pm on a Friday night for “date night.” Not too shabby right? We also got McDonald’s for dinner because it’s kind of a romantic tradition and we didn’t want to waste too much time off the road. I slept most of the drive because I’m magical like that and when we arrived I was rested and ready to gamble! Or watch Payam gamble because I actually hate gambling because of my aversion to math and losing money. I hate it when Payam loses money too so I only let him play blackjack because at least it takes longer to lose money that way and you can sort of justify it as entertainment.

See what I mean by un-fun? But Payam loves me anyway.

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We stayed in my favorite hotel and I enjoyed the view on the balcony just as much as last time. Then the next night we switched to Vdara, the hotel next door for the next night. It wasn’t anything special but it did smell nice and clean because it is just a hotel and spa and they don’t have a smokey casino inside. So that was nice. AND Payam sent me off to the spa for a massage because I told him it was a better way to waste his money. Boy was it ever! It was soooo nice. Everything was “Miss Ponnay” this and “Miss Ponnay” that. I really really felt like a spoiled rotten princess.

I’m probably making everyone sick with how romantic and sweet Payam is but you remember the hard years… I’m so glad I went through everything I did so that I can really appreciate my life now. If I had met Payam right out of high school and married him and had fifty kids I would have been so awful, expecting this kind of life like it’s normal. I’m already probably getting awful. I have to check myself now and then.

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So yeah, it was super great! After we were already in Vegas, Payam decided to book a special dinner at Paris and we called it our “four year anniversary dinner” even though the day we decided was our anniversary (we aren’t really sure since we never really kept track) is the 30th. But nothing is set in stone. It’s been about four years, give or take a few days.

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Then on our way out of town we stopped off to see the Seven Magic Mountains and I took a zillion pictures because that’s what I love to do! That’s my kind of fun. Payam humors me.

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The magic mountains themselves are not really that big of a deal. You park, you walk along a dusty path and there they are. Just a bunch of brightly colored rocks stacked on top of each other. It won’t take you more than ten minutes to really look at them. What is amazing though is their contrast to the vast desert on all sides. The desert is so beautiful. Dust devils whirl in the distance and hills fade into gauzy purples and blues.

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I love it. I told Payam I’ll go to Vegas anytime he likes as long as I get a little photo trip out into the desert because it is good for my soul. I need it to offset all the bells and whistles and electronic circus that is the Vegas strip itself. I’ll always be a desert girl.

A Wedding in Wales!

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When my friend Lynne told me she was getting married and holding the reception at her in-law’s pear farm in the countryside of Wales, I had to take to my fainting couch so I could daydream about how pretty it would be. When she sent me an invitation to her wedding, I had to take to my friend the-travel-agent’s fainting couch so I could book tickets while I was fainting and daydreaming.

A wedding in the countryside where everything is green, in a foreign country with little lambs and tea!!! Wait a minute while I google earth that. Swoon! I should take the girls, I thought. It would be the perfect adventure for them.

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And it was. Countryside and castles and pretty dresses, oh my!

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We barely made it to the wedding that was in a castle itself. I’m not sure why we were late but I’m sure there was some good reason. We did make it there all the way from California after all so I think they gave us some slack. We caught the end of their signing ceremony and had plenty of time to explore the crumbling castle walls all around after.

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This was Joon’s first wedding she’s ever attended so the bar is now set pretty high for her when it comes to what to expect at weddings. I feel bad for whoever gets married next on a boat in the Newport Harbor. We will be bored to tears in comparison. Bug also was pretty excited about the wedding because she had to miss being a flower girl in another wedding in order to make it to this trip. I’m happy to say that she did not regret her decision (phew!).

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It was splendid in every way. Monte Python jokes galore.

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Even Mr. G.Q. enjoyed himself while posing on a crumbling bridge.

I took lots of pictures of my feet (which are all lost now because I ran out of camera space on my phone and subsequently deleted everything under the sun, including my google spreadsheets with everyone’s christmas card address).

I love my fancy shoes. They are so fancy with bows and everything but get this: they are completely flat. This is very good for me and my sore-ass complaining high arches and my boyfriend who may or may not be an inch shorter than me.

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The kids were over the moon, exploring every nook and cranny. But who got lost? Not the kids. That was me instagramming every moment who forgot where we all agreed to meet up. Everyone left to go to the reception and I was somewhere over the hills and dales.

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Thankfully Payam and the girls found me before the bride and groom left so we followed them to the reception because we would never be able to figure out how to get there ourselves.

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When we arrived at Matt’s family farm we were instantly smitten by the apple and pear trees growing in the parking lot. Or maybe they converted their orchard to a parking lot for the occasion. That’s probably it. Anyway Bug was so impressed because it looked exactly like her Grandpa’s yard and the climate was very similar too. She proceeded to let us all know that Wales was basically Ferndale and I couldn’t really disagree.

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I mean, look at all that green grass to run on! And look at those little cobble stone houses! They are only 500 years or so older than Ferndale.

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Everything was charming! From the tea cups to the hanging bunting to the little purple striped packages of popcorn for the kids and the bottles filled with homemade pear champagne for the grown-ups… I was snapping away with my camera and my phone like I was paid to be a photographer because you know me, I can’t resist all these photo opportunities!

It doesn’t hurt that my friend Lynne is an artist.  Before we left, Payam was asking me what he should wear to this wedding and I had to chuckle. Was it black tie? Not really. I told him he could wear red suspenders and a bow tie and still fit right in. It was that kind of charming. My favorite kind.

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We had meat pies for lunch (very interesting and quite tasty – second picture here) and a crazy amazing homemade tiered wedding cake for desert that was so delicious I wish I had gone back for another piece or four.

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Bug ate wedding cake alone. She’s not a huge fan of Welsh food which is fine because when she is home she eats about four burgers a day. Seriously, she going through a major store-up-food-for-a-growth-spurt stage.

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Food was a huge part of the wedding but the activities were even more so! They fed us like crazy and in between eating we danced!  They had a schedule that included “ceilidh” which is traditional Scottish and Irish folk dancing.

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Everyone learned how to dance even those more resistant than others. Payam and I danced, the girls danced! It was very lively.

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There were even dances where girls got swung around and carried across the floor. We loved every minute of it. Newport Harbor Cruise Wedding, you are looking sadder than ever.

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Did I mention they played “rounders” which is sort of like baseball but with a lot less rules and way less boredom? There was ping pong and a woods to play in…and some people even camped near by!

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And this barn! You know how I always complain about not having a white wall in my house to shoot my photos against? I’ve decided that now I need a barn.

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The girls spent a lot of time playing with acorns and making some kind of fairy restaurant. Bug promises to write a guest post about it later so I’ll save that for her.

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And then, as if all the above wasn’t enough, the wedding lasted all the way until dark and we roasted marshmallows in the woods. I’m not even kidding you.

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It was a kid’s dream come true. None of us wanted to leave but we had to because the next day we had to get up at 5am to start our mad-hatter trip home. Four airports, two layovers, luggage to be checked and re-checked, customs… you know the drill. So we skipped the moonlight disco dancing, sadly. But you just can’t do it all!

I say, we did a LOT.