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.

London Day 3: Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tour

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By day three in London I was waving my white flag of failure. Jetlag had won and there wasn’t anything my wonder-woman-go-getter-self could do about it. I was so angry about it too. Jetlag took one look at me and laughed. I see you want to go visit eleven museums and take a tour of the underground railway system. Hah! I present you with two whiney children and raise you a domestic partner who feels nauseous every morning at breakfast. Have fun with that list of things you really wanted to do. Cheerio!

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Does anyone remember that comedy skit where the comedian says something like,  Don’t get married. Just go find someone you really like and take a trip with them. If you still like them at the end of two weeks then you can get married. You’ll save yourself thousands of dollars…or something like that… Heh. It’s pretty good advice. Take a trip with me twelve hours out of my time zone and my true self raises it’s ugly head of rage.

What? Little ol’ mouse-voiced Brenda?! Who knew!  Probably everyone but if Payam was thinking of marrying me someday he might not be thinking so much about that now. Just kidding. I kept  my anger under wraps for the most part but it is really true that if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

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By day three I pretty much had my will to explore drained completely out of me. I didn’t care anymore.  Wanna go sit on a bus for three hours? Sounds good to me. In fact, it was the perfect thing to do. I was so tired and the kids were so tired. All we wanted to do was sit on a bus and listen to a humorous tour guide rattle on about buildings and history.

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I couldn’t tell you what those humorous stories were now. Something about a wedding cake and a really great architect who was buried in a crypt without any flamboyance, just a little plaque that said the church itself was all the headstone he needed… or something like that.  It was all very very interesting! I loved every story! I wish I had a transcript of the tour guide’s spiel because it was great. Really great.

It was like bits and pieces of European History that I didn’t pay attention to in high school suddenly falling into a timeline that I could understand and laugh about because it was about real people! Except my brain was running on random access memory because of jet lag and I turned off my computer before it could save anything so now all those stories are gone. Kablooey! Out my ears and off into the nether, never to be remembered again.

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If you should find yourself in London, I strongly recommend this tour. But don’t go when you have jet lag or anger issues about your family having jet lag. Go after a day or two. Take a notepad and write down the places you want to learn more about and write down the streets and addresses because guess what, your wifi won’t do squat for you (even though you bought the $10 a day plan) and your mapping apps will mock you. It will be like 1992 all over again and you forgot to print out a map before you left your hotel.

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On the far end of our bus tour we decided to get off and take a river cruise back. It was nice. We had a late lunch on the water while another tour guide told us even more funny stories.

We had the forethought to stop into one of those EAT shops before we got on the boat and bought sandwiches and a hot dog for Bug from a nearby cart vendor. The sandwiches were so cheap and for the most-part eatable. A little dry but not un-delicious. Everything is expensive in London so finding an egg-salad sandwich for two pounds was something to get excited about. I kinda wish we had something like that here in the states. I love to picnic and if I could just pop into a little store and buy a sandwich for two bucks all packed in a cute paper sack I would totally do that! Plus, they have every kind of sandwich you can think of and chips (aka crisps) and a zillion other things too. It’s a family’s rainbow of tastes dream come true. And believe me, we are a challenge when it comes to finding a restaurant that has something for everyone.

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After the boat ride, Payam went back to the hotel to rest (again. He really wasn’t feeling well still.) and we went back to our old favorite stomping grounds around the River Thames and the London Eye. This was like our backyard by now but not unpleasant because there was always ice cream and street entertainment.

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That night we yelped a hamburger restaurant (and finally found it two hours later thanks to our lack of wifi and our ever moving marauders map) that I loved. Payam wasn’t as keen on it as I was (the flavor of the meat was just a little bit different) but it was so nice to find a quiet spot after bustling through throngs and throngs of London thirty-somethings.

London seems to be the supreme place to party if you are young and without kids.  If you have kids, it’s a fun game of “Hey, don’t look over there. Let’s look at something else. No, you don’t see a drunk guy vomiting in a dark corner. Let’s look away!” So that was fun. Payam and I would have had a blast partying the night away but not so much with kids.

We had a fun party back home in our apartment instead.

But don’t worry tomorrow’s post will be all about the kids and FUN, FUN, FUN!!! Harry Potter Land did not dissappoint.

A quick little addendum note: Please notice all the photos that Joon took while I was feeling un-photographer-esque. I’m so glad I packed my old camera and had the thought to let her use it. Because if I hadn’t, this post would not exist. Also up tomorrow: A stabbing in London! Don’t worry, it’s not what you think.

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