to a wild wedding journey

Once upon a time, we embarked on a journey. It was to a faraway land called California, and we were headed there for my brother’s nuptials. Our journey started with great promise, but it didn’t take long for the crap to hit the fan.

About two hours into our drive, the car suddenly started shaking and flashing the check engine light, filling every heart it held with dreams of abandonment in the Nevada desert and possibly death by engine incineration.

And that little hiccup, my friends, is what brought us to the charming town of Wells, Nevada. Our first and only stop was at The Otto Clinic. (Please notice the clever pun in its name.)

Please note that neither of those sad vehicles is our car.

As we waited for them to fix our car, my mom was slowly giving up on life. We were on our way to my brother’s wedding, and this scenario was not exactly what she had envisioned.

Since we’d lost the little pride we had, she no longer saw any reason not to pull out the laundry basket full of sandwich vittles and start a picnic on the side of the road.

I have a picture of this that could probably win an award, but alas mother forbids me from showing it to the public.

But to put it lightly, we were a spectacle. A bustling caravan of suburban folk floundering for nourishment. We drowned our desperation with croissant sandwiches, kettle chips, and celery sticks.

Meanwhile my dad periodically wandered over to the car and gazed under the hood, croissant in hand, as if the car might decide to get up and get on with it now that we had lunch.

As life goes, eventually we had to pee. The cleanest and closest option was The Soap Box, a laundromat across the street that had the most curious signage and artistry.

I must confess that we were not honest restroom users. We did not have laundry. We were not customers. But we peed anyway. So sue me.

I don’t think anything else in Wells could have summed up the town’s culture more than the signs in that place. It was a potpourri of handwritten commands, 8 ½ x 11 computer paper signs painstakingly typed, and kitschy wooden signs straight out of a friendly neighborhood yard sale.

Apparently they are afflicted with Canadian quarters.

After all that hullabaloo, we found out that The Otto Clinic didn’t even have the right parts for us. So we had to drive 30 mph on the freeway all the way to Elko with the windows down while semi trucks whizzed passed us like comets. I know what you’re thinking: that’s a good time.

And you know what? It actually was. There is a certain threshold of misery that creates bonding experiences, and I am pleased to say we experienced that. Plus, we still made it in time to see these two get hitched. Win-win.

Compare and contrast this with Wells, Nevada.

to publik coffee

Today I had a bit of a “snap back to reality” moment with Publik Coffee Roasters, the esteemed local hipster coffee shop of Salt Lake City. There was a time in my life when I was enamored with the hipster ways, but I must say that today I questioned that admiration.

I still stand behind succulents and jean jackets 100%, but as I sat my rump upon the very-not-comfortable iron chair and watched not one but two people spill copious amounts of creamer as they tried to pour it into their tiny hipster cups, I thought to myself: is this really all that cool?

I hereby dismiss peasant bread from this rant

Full disclaimer, I don’t drink coffee, so that very well may be why I stopped feeling the magic today. Maybe good coffee would’ve carried me through.

And another disclaimer to this rant is that Publik sells a certain variety of bread called “peasant bread” (I told you it was hipster) that I will never betray or deny. It is so immensely good. They make their hipster avocado toast on it, but they also sell it by the loaf for a whopping $5.99, to which I say “Take my money.”

Fun fact: In order to make their position in life more tolerable, peasants often rode bicycles with one real wheel in the back and a large wheel fashioned from wheat in the front. They also painted them red, and it all made a lot of sense.

The bread is not in fact made by peasants. It is made in fancy pants Park City with all organic ingredients, so there’s that. Just another classic instance of the affluent feeling down-to-earth by labeling their stuff with working-class terms.

But I can’t complain about it too much because I eat that kind of branding right up (even though I’m not rich).

The artificial garbage music

Now let me begin listing my complaints from today. First off, the music sounded how I imagine H&M clothes combined with Coachella and kombucha would sound if that was music. If our pioneer ancestors had to describe it, they would probably say it is basically alien beeps and human moans.

I tried to like it. I really tried. It just wasn’t working, and it was not conducive to remote work (which is what I was doing there and what I think most everyone else was doing there too).

The goatrider

Next, I had quite an interesting experience obtaining the Wi-Fi password. It was written on no sign that I could see, so I asked the girl behind the counter what it was.

Here is what she said: “The password is “goat,” like the farm animal, the ones you have on a farm. And then “rider,” like you are riding the goat, like a cowboy or something. All lowercase and one word.”

“Thank . . . you.”

Fun fact: Few people know that goats were once used to wrangle cows.

The naive youths

The illusion of coolness was also tarnished by the scene I witnessed of a new employee being trained in the ways of coffee.

“Just press this button here,” his trainer said. “That’s really all there is to it.” So the machines are really the effortlessly cool skilled baristas in this joint—the tattooed youngsters donning Dr. Martens just get all the credit.

At the table next to me, a girl majoring in psychology was babbling on about this and that as if everything in the world was designed to please her and would fall into place without question.

At another table, a student with a curly mohawk laughed as he said “I don’t know—my friends and I all just cheat off of each other.” Awesome. Some people don’t even get to go to college, but you just cheat your way through it because you can. How incredibly cool.

The mailman’s judgement

In the midst of all this, a single mailman entered the building to do himself a widdle in the bathroom. He was an older gentleman with white hair and a slight limp, and he was dressed in full postal uniform.

I’m sure he had been there before, but the look on his face as he surveyed all of it on his way to the bathroom said more than words ever could, and I suddenly felt a strange sense of embarrassment before the mailman.

It was like that feeling you get when you’re playing an imaginary game in the basement and your mom walks in and all at once you realize how very not real and not adult your game is.

Honestly, despite all this, I’ll probably go back. The Wi-Fi is free, that peasant bread is just way too good, and I’m sure as heck not driving all the way to the Kingdom of Park City for it.

dear you: buy these cookies

If there’s one thing I pride myself on, it’s my ability to discern a quality chocolate chip cookie. They say it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in something, and I won’t say that I’ve eaten 10,000 cookies in my lifetime but I also won’t say that I haven’t. No other dessert approaches the divine experience of a good (emphasis on the good) chocolate chip cookie, and I will stand by that aphorism until the day I die.

I make chocolate chip cookies more often than I would like to admit, and I made them a litttttttle too much in college (hello incredible weight gain). They were so good that my roommates would bribe me to make them by paying for the ingredients. After I made them, they would last two days tops.

Now that I’m married to a man who doesn’t have a sweet tooth (at least not one as intense as mine) and prefers fruit flavors to chocolate, I’ve cut down on how much I make them just for the sake of my waistline and heart health. Maybe someday when we have a billion giant children with the appetite of a thousand hippos, I’ll resume my frequency of years past. Until then, I must refrain—otherwise I’ll just end up eating them all myself.

But this post is not about chocolate chip cookie recipes or tips on making them. I’ll get to that magic later. Right now we’re talking about the best chocolate chip cookies money can buy. We’re not talking about no Chips Ahoy crap or grocery store chocolate chip. We’re talking about the heavy duty, full-on beauty of a cookie so good that you could never make it at home, so you just give the bakery all your money and weep at the deliciousness.

1. Chip Cookies

First on the list is Chip Cookies, which is based in Utah. They are the O.G. cookie delivery service in Utah (shame on you, Crumbl), and no other copycats can rival their brilliance. If you like cookies that are lightly crispy on the outside and so dense on the inside that it’s almost like eating cookie dough, eat. this. cookie.

They’re open late, so you can have them delivered literally right to your doorstep with milk if you live in a delivery zone. For those who live far beyond that, they have nationwide shipping. I would invest in that if I were you.

Part of the beauty of Chip is that they only have two cookie options (similar to In-n-Out—the less choices you have, the happier you’ll be with the one you make). One option is the classic chocolate chip, and the other is a monthly special. Sometimes they mix in Lucky Charms. Sometimes they have cookie butter centers. It’s always a good time.

2. Levain Bakery

Levain Bakery hails from New York City, so that should immediately tell you something since New York operates on a different level of food than the rest of us. I first heard about Leavain Bakery when I was visiting my cool cousin in New York.

Her roommate was a model who worked clubs during the night, and she was basically a mannequin of thinness. “If you try one thing in New York,” she told me in her very cool model voice. “Go to Levain Bakery. They have the best cookies I’ve ever had.” I knew that if someone as beautiful as her made space in their diet to eat something as sinful as a cookie from Levain Bakery, they must certainly be good.

So I got myself on the subway and found the bakery. It was underground and looked small, but after I walked down the steps and opened the door, I was floored by the overwhelming scent of the essence of cookies. They sat upon their racks, rows and rows of them, like little mounds of gold. Each one probably weighs five pounds. And they are the grittiest, densent, butteriest things you can imagine. I recommend every flavor they have.

Every time I visit New York City, I cart a few home to give to people and munch on for myself. It’s basically like bringing back a bag of bricks, but they are delicious bricks that you will gladly assimilate to your body because they taste soooooooooooo good.

3. Jack Jack’s Cookie Num Nums

If you’re any fan of Disney whatsoever, you are familiar with the term “Jack Jack’s Num Nums.”

Disney, being the ultimate master of user experience that it is, brought these cookies to life in California Adventure. They sell them right by the Incredicoaster for a price that I will not mention because it will probably stifle your appetite. But no matter.

I will admit that much of my love for these cookies comes from that fact that whenever you eat them, you are in the happiest place on Earth, and you’re also remembering one of the most precious and hilarious moments in the Incredibles 2 movie.

That said, they definitely get high marks on the taste meter as well. They taste like pizookies with a toasted grittiness complemented by melted chocolate and come in what I can only describe as large muffin tins. Treat yourself to a Disney vacation and eat these. You won’t be sorry.

If I haven’t sold you on the nums nums yet, my hairdresser, who is famous in my family for her good recommendations, says they’re the best cookies she’s ever had.

Honorable Mentions

What’s the best chocolate chip cookie you’ve ever had? Please tell me. I’m always looking to expand my expertise and add new chocolate chip cookies to my repertoire.

to the magic that is sedona

I plan to name one of my future children Sedona. (Now that I’ve told you that, you better not steal it!) Sedona was named after a woman named Sedona Miller Schnebly, who was named that by her mother because the name “had a pretty sound.” I must say I quite agree.

We were in Sedona last month, and even though we were only there for one day, I would live there. It is already a breathtaking place no matter where you’re coming from, but when you’re coming from hundreds of miles of absolutely desolate desert that is basically the equivalent of microwaved dirt, it is extra special.

Dobby hates it when we stop for pictures.

The ponderosa pines are the softest shade of sage green and the mountainside is rose gold, which is basically my favorite color because my wedding ring, which I will wear for a thousand years, is rose gold.

Massive red towers and sandstone mountains stand around the city like guardians. Homes and shops are scattered around the feet of them like barnacles. The ponderosa pines are everywhere, creating an evergreen vegetation that laces the red rock like jewels. Basically what I’m getting at is entering Sedona felt like we’d found a hidden ancient kingdom that also happened to have Chipotle.

Before we’d even parked the car, we both knew we needed to spend more time here. Actually, probably live here and definitely retire here. And the retirement communities filled with old men careening minivans through the street like drunk bumblebees told us we wouldn’t be the first with that idea.

For those of you who enjoy lists, here are seven reasons why Sedona is practically perfect in every way:

  1. They allow dogs in the shops, which is a basic human right.
  2. They sell the cutest t-shirts. And some of them are dyed with actual dirt. If you buy this shirt, it will get dirt stains on everything you own, which is kind of awesome and also slightly terrible.
  3. They make beautiful candles right before your very eyes.
  4. There are a bazillion crystal shops, so you can heal basically anything that’s wrong with you.
  5. Thousands of hiking trails—thousands.
  6. It’s not quite as much of a baking Satan’s oven as the rest of Arizona.
  7. It has a very awesome rock that you slide on called Slide Rock. Did I mention you slide on the rock? You do. It’s a sliding rock that you slide on by getting on the rock and sliding.

This tiny cactus friend lives in Sedona and is trying to make a life for himself in the rock crack.

Have I been looking up Airbnb rentals in Sedona? Yes. Do I wear my Sedona t-shirt multiple times a week? I do. Will I slap a Sedona sticker upon my vehicle? It is highly likely.

Anyway, basically Sedona is as awesome as I always knew it would be. It’s nice when dreams come true instead of getting dashed, and that definitely happened with Sedona.

Does anyone out there in the big wide internet world have a town they were in love with before they even went there? I’d love to hear.