Big Bear 2020


We just got back from the best little mini-vacation in the mountains. Last year we didn’t do anything during winter vacation and even though it was nice to stay home and save money like good little entrepreneurs, we did kind of regret not going up to the snow. You know how it is when you start looking at everybody’s snow pictures on instagram and you start getting jealous… Is that just me? Maybe it’s just us Southern Californians who don’t ever have to deal with mud and slush…anyhow, I LOVE SNOW. I really love it. And I really love taking pictures of it. As you will see.


This year we booked a little cabin. It was pricey but I don’t regret it. I feel like it was worth every penny. Especially as the girls get older and we have less and less face-time with them. It was the best for making memories, even if forced at times.


Our cabin was small but it was super cute. It only had one bathroom, which was a little challenging at times but it was perfect for us and the dogs.  It’s hard to find cabins that are pet-friendly and not completely disgusting so we were really happy with it. It wasn’t on the waterfront but it was close, like really close. You could look out the window through the trees and see a sliver of icy blue and then if you were up for a little slip-sliding-away hike, it was just a hop, skip and a tromp down the hill.

I love the picture of the girls above with Cody. They were looking at the TV when I snapped the shot but as Gingermog said, it could be their next album cover if they ever decide to go on the road together musically. Which by the way, is quite frustrating to me. They are both talented musicians but they refuse to play together. Every once in a while I’ll catch them harmonizing some meme-song or commercial jingle together but they won’t do it in front of me. I’ve got some stubborn kids.


Anyway, super cute cabin, right? There was even a guitar! Not that anyone played it, sadly. AND there were two fireplaces right next to each other. Dueling fireplaces. It was a really weird layout. Maybe it used to be two units that they combined, I don’t know.  The kitchen was decent too and I cooked several meals there, probably saving us hundreds of dollars and quite a few headaches dealing with the town crowd.


Did I mention we brought the dogs? This complicated things quite a bit but it was SO FUN! They love going in the car and they love going wherever we go. They’d never been to the snow before and just liked we hoped, it blew their little furry minds.


I mean, I knew Cody would like the snow. He likes all forms of water but Whiskey? He practically went spastic with joy!


He buried his nose in it and rolled around like he was the happiest puppy in the whole wide world. Dogs in snow is an amazing antidote to the wintertime blues. Not that I’m suffering from them but if I was. I seriously wish I could buy my own cabin and go up there half the year. It was just amazing in so many ways.


Joon and I were the first to really hike around and explore the lake nearby the cabin. Unfortunately Bug got a case of what we thought was altitude sickness but turned into a full-blown chest cold. She was not feeling the snow or the cold weather or the altitude at all. Even walking up a small hill had her out of breath and complaining that her lungs felt like they were collapsed and full of tiny icicles.


So Joon and I made do and took a few zillion photos just the two of us.


It’s so pretty up there!


After a day Bug forced herself to get dressed in snow clothes and we took a few photos in the neighbors yard. She was a good sport even though all she felt like doing was burying herself in her sleeping bag.


As you can see it was really cold. I mean, relatively, for us thin-blooded reptilians.


Snow, snow, snow! Are you tired of looking at pictures of snow yet? And these are just 1/200th of the photos I took.


Payam enjoyed his time too AND he did not fall and break his head open this time like he did that one time at Noon Lodge (omg the girls were so little then!!) He did actually slip on black ice when we were tying up the truck with our luggage but thankfully he was holding onto the rope we were tying and he saved himself. That black ice is treacherous! We had these really cool strap-on ice cleat things but we forgot them at home like the geniuses we are. Man, those would have come in handy. Yes, I am adding them to our packing list for next year.


Speaking of treacherous falls, let me tell you about my fun little snowboarding experience. I’ve snow-boarded before (once about 30 lbs ago when I was in my 20’s) so I thought I’d take Bug’s ticket (since she wasn’t feeling up to it) and take a newbie lesson on the bunny slopes. I mean, how hard could it be, right?

Well, I guess my weight, lack of muscle tone from skipping work-outs for two months and overall anxiety about falling and breaking something has really put me in a bad way. I took two slides down the tiniest slope (with only one foot attached to my board because it was step-two of lessons) and totally wiped out. The board flipped around (swingy scooter style) and almost sliced my left boob off. Yes, I’m not even kidding. If this wasn’t a PC-rated site I would post a photo of my purple and black boob. It hurt so bad I thought I had actually cut my boob off but thankfully my skin was not punctured and I didn’t break any ribs. All I have to show for it is a massive bruise that no-one can see because I’m modest. Just believe me, it is nasty. Thankfully it doesn’t hurt anymore (unless I touch it) but when it happened I almost cried. I think a few tears did leak out actually.

At that point, even though I didn’t want to be a quitter, I did quit. I asked the instructor if I could stay on the mountain sans board and just take photos of Joon and he said I was more than welcome to. I mean we did pay $100 to be there after all. Even though it seems like a big waste of money I’m glad I gave up. In a way I feel like I dodged a serious injury. I saw the medics take two people down the hill in the two hours I was there and one of the girls in our lesson group broke her wrist. So quitter-schmitter, when you are 47, you just count yourself lucky. I think I will try to get in better shape and try it again next year IF I’m feeling really strong.


But I did get this money-shot of Joon snowboarding. A literal money shot since it cost Payam $100 for me to be there. I would have taken more pictures but she went up the chair lift and I couldn’t find her for the rest of the two hours. People look like identical black specks in the white snow when you are staring up at the white slopes.

That day was hard. I was really glad to go back to the cozy cabin and nurse my wounds afterwards.


I think I’ll stick to photographing the snow for now.

In other news, I have made the changes you guys so kindly showed me and the new SAJ Calendar is here!  Thank you so much everybody! Sorry it took me so long to finish, but as you can see I was having some fun in the snow. :P

San Francisco Part 2: SFMoma, Sausalito and the Ice Cream Museum


On my second day in San Francisco I decided to go to SFMOMA. I’m not really a museum person but I want to be. Sometimes I get overloaded on art, kind of like hanging out on Pinterest all day and before you know it you have no motivation to be creative at all because everybody else is way more creative than you’ll ever be. I almost do better in a vacuum. BUT! I do love art so off to the art museum I did go!


I paid an extra ten bucks to see the Warhol exhibit and I’m glad I did. I’m not a super fan or anything but I learned a lot about him and found myself relating  to him. That’s always a good thing. Andy Warhol was a graphic artist first, like me. I can see that now but I never knew that before. He also was super awkward and decided to flaunt his flaws instead of try to cover them up. That’s something I could learn a lot from.


People feel conflicted about him and I can definitely see why (borrowing others’ talent to stay relevant etc…) but I cannot NOT love the floating helium pillows room. I mean, come on. Is that not the most brilliant thing ever and he did it way back in the 60s! I think we need more floating helium balloon rooms… too bad helium is going extinct. I wonder what it will be like when helium balloons no longer exist. That will be a sad sad day.


I wandered around listening to my headphones about his life and funny quotes performed by an actor pretending to be him. It’s really nice to go to a museum by yourself because you can take as long or as little time as you like. Sometimes I went fast, sometimes I went backwards and looked at things more than once.


But what I really like is watching people at a museum. I could could make a coffee table book of photos of people staring and interacting with art but I’m not sure anybody would actually have time to look my book if I made it. There is just so much to look at these days. I miss being bored. Is that what growing up is? Not ever being bored anymore?


It was pleasant. Lots of clean lines and open space. Everything feeling very peaceful and zen. Maybe too zen.


I pondered and took pictures of my favorite pieces. I wandered. Then an instagram friend suggested I visit the fifth floor for a coffee and a sweet. Once that idea was in my head I had to head straight there of course!


There nothing nicer than sitting outside by yourself on a perfectly sunny day with a perfectly aesthetically-pleasing coffee and a pastry. Well, maybe all that AND a friend to chat with but then you are so busy talking, you gobble down your snack too fast and you don’t get as much time to watch the people around you in the courtyard. I guess I do love being alone sometimes.

Before I knew it Payam was pinging me saying his work day was over so we met up and headed off on some touring together. We decided to take the car out of super expensive valet parking and see some further away sites. Starting at Lombard street of course.


Man, what a crowded mess that street is with all the tourists. It was fun poking down the hill with the rest of the cars but there were no good angles to take pictures without getting out of the car and that was impossible too because parking was non-existent. I didn’t care that much since I’ve been there before but it was fun to go just to say we did.

Then we headed to the Gold Gate Bridge. Le sigh…


We took an early exit and discovered The Presidio. I think I’ve been here when I was a kid but I don’t remember it clearly at all. I didn’t know there were so many bunkers and hideouts to explore. I would have loved to explore more if it wasn’t so freakishly freezing cold. Why is San Francisco so arctic all the time? Thankfully I’ve been to this rodeo before so I know not to pack summer clothes in the summer but still, man, it’s just COLD.  I had to wrap up in a blanket that we keep in the car for picnics just not to go crazy.


We walked and talked and chattered our teeth.


I found this new suicide prevention construction really sad. I’m glad they are doing it to save lives but it just makes me even more sad that so many people are that sad. I’ve had suicidal thoughts myself before so I cannot judge. It can happen to anyone.


Then we ran back to our car and warmed up. Brrrrr! It was freezing. Seems nice now that I’m back home in 83 degree weather but at the time it was not. Southern Califorians are such pansies.


Payam wanted to show me the neighborhood he lived in when he first came to this country. He was born in Iran but came to the US when he was three. They lived in Tiburon and it was nice! We definitely did not grow up on the same side of the tracks, me and him. I couldn’t really see his house because you can only see the garage from the street so I didn’t take any pictures. But everything seemed really pretty and right by the water. Great views all around.


Slowly, Karl, the fog made his way over to this side of the bay and we decided we better head back to our hotel before we froze to death. Just kidding. We are wimps.


The next day I had tickets to the Museum of Ice Cream. I know I told you I was officially done with pop-up museums but this one was literally just down the street from us so I forced Payam to go with me. And guess what? It is probably the best one I have been to! I mean, yes, I am Over them with a capital O and I don’t need to ever go to one again but this one was really really cute. If you have kids I say definitely take them. If you are just trying to make your instagram feed more colorful then you’ll feel very unoriginal. Pop-up museums are so 2016. (Queue eye roll as If I know anything about anything.)


It was just super sweet and cute. They called us campers and we tried camping related treats… s’more ice cream, orange-cicle frozen pies… It was adorable and fun.


And you know what I love about Payam? He acted like a kid and had fun too. We can all be child-like more often I think. Right? Why take everything so seriously?

Do you know what Payam screams for? Kale. Screams in fear or anticipation of a tasty treat? Both I think.


We interacted. We went the distance. We slapped robot hands and dove into a pool of sprinkles. And then we exited through the gift shop and bought pink plastic magnetic letters like the big fat consumeristic suckers we are.

Yay summer vacation!

Most of all we missed the girls. They would have loved it. Or not. They might have just rolled their eyes.