A Girls Trip to Huntington Gardens

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A few weeks ago my girlfriends and I sat through a few hours of traffic to go to the Huntington Gardens in San Marino. You know it has to be something pretty great for us Orange Countians to sit through LA traffic for. We HATE traffic with a passion of a thousand suns, especially LA traffic, though San Diego comes in pretty close. You need a pick up from LAX? You better call an uber.

So I guess you could say I love wandering around pretty gardens and taking photos of flowers and plants with a passion of a thousand suns. I also really like my girlfriends.

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One of the girls, Monica, had been talking about the gardens for months. She used to have a membership and take her kids there when they were little. A membership is very smart because for one, it’s incredibly reasonable and for two, the gardens are so expansive you could explore for months! It would pay for itself in five visits which would be very easy to do IF YOU DIDN’T LIVE AN HOUR AND A HALF AWAY in traffic.

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We didn’t get memberships but we did make a vow to come back again. Maybe in fall because even on a pretty spring day it did get pretty hot wandering around in the sun all day.

As you can see the cacti gardens were a big hit for me. I love them!! There are so many different varieties. Some I’d never even seen before.

It all reminded me that I really need to step up my gardening game at home. I’ve got loads of plants but I would love more and I seriously need to get on my game of fertilizing regularly. A lot of my plants are pale and listing because they are dying for some vitamins

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After we sweltered thought the cacti we took refuge in the shady bamboo forrest. It rivaled Japan. Really. And I’ve been to bamboo gardens in Japan so I can say that.

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So shady and cool with lots of places to peek through and take photos.

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Then we stumbled upon a watercolor class painting koi fish in a pond! How cool would that be? I’ve got to go back and take a class.

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From there we made our way to the tea house for a surprise!

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Over the hills and through the woods… well sorta. It was more through the woods, down several steps, through the rose gardens…

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The ROSES!  They might be enough of a reason to visit when it’s hot. The smell wafting from hundreds of rose bushes on a warm day was like heaven. I could have stood there for days if I wasn’t so sweaty. I have an aversion to sweat. It makes me want to take a shower.

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Thankfully, we had reservations at the Rose Garden Tea Room and it was so nice and cool inside. We immediately felt a thousand times more civilized and proper. I strongly recommend making a reservation if you plan to visit. It’s an experience! Scones, profiteroles, baby quiches, tiny dark chocolate mousse tarts, pineapple cupcakes, chicken salad sandwiches with the crusts cut off…you know, the USUAL English tea party service that is so fun and delicious. It’s really the best way to end a lovely day with your girlfriends.

Which reminds me, I need to take MY best girls there!

Ramona Play in the Sticks

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This last weekend I checked off a big item on my bucket list: Take the kids to The Ramona Play.  When I was growing up in The Sticks, The Ramona Play was pretty much the only thing that The Sticks had going for it. It was a really big, traffic-stopping deal in our small town. We went when we were in fourth grade as a class field trip and it left a lasting impression on me.

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What’s most amazing about this play is that it is set entirely outdoors in a huge amphitheater in the hills of Hemet.  (There, I finally revealed where “The Sticks” are. We’re famous for Scientology, The Ramona Play and meth heads.) Everything is real and life size. When the cowboys come trampling through the scene on their horses, it’s very dramatic. Add some loud gun pops and a cannon and even the shortest attention-spanned kid is sitting on the edge of their seats with eyes glued forward.

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The play was just as amazing as I remembered it. They let all the fourth graders see the play for free because that’s the year that fourth graders are allowed to act in the play as Native Americans that hide in the hills. It’s a great scene. Throughout the play, the fourth graders (dressed in drab clothing) wander off into the hillside and hide in a zillion hidden places. Behind rocks and bushes…you get the idea. Then during a big scene, they all pop out at once giving you the feeling that the hills are alive with tiny people. Where did they all come from?!

This year there weren’t as many “Indians” popping up in the hills as there used to be. I remember them covering the hillsides from all directions but this year they only took up one section. It was still impressive though. There were lots of different parts that changed. I think they expand and decrease rolls based on the talent pool. This year the señora had a huge monologue about her baby dying that I don’t remember at all.

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Of course it was just as hot as I remember it too. Hemet is a desert after all so the sun can beat down with a vengeance. Thankfully, the play takes place at three in the afternoon right when the afternoon winds start to kick up and offer some relief. Then as the hours go by it gradually gets cooler and cooler. I love that about the desert. No matter how hot it is in the day it always cools down at night.

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The kids really enjoyed themselves. I was worried that they might find it boring, you know since they are addicted to their phones and all.  Fourth-grader me had no television, no phone and pretty much no life so naturally to my entertainment-starved kid-brain, the play was the BEST THING EVER! But these kids? They can’t go five minutes without being entertained.  Well, that’s not completely true. We do practice boredom regularly as an exercise because I think it’s good for kids to be bored but they do love to be entertained constantly.  So when they LOVED the Ramona play I was so happy! A flurry of gun shots, a loud canon blast that made you jump, horses galloping in and out, a little singing and little dancing, some romance…what’s not to love?

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It was especially fun to get to pose next to Ramona herself after the play. We were a bunch of fan girls.

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And then of course the long drive home. I really enjoyed sharing a little piece of my childhood with Payam and the girls so I narrated the whole drive home with stories to which they promptly fell asleep.

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Just kidding!

So long sticks! Until next time!