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On Being Boring

I moved from London to Brussels with my husband nearly 10 years ago. When I told people we were moving, the news was greeted with bemusement: why did we want to move to a city that was possibly the most boring place on earth? Ten years later and I can honestly say that I've had more fun here than I ever did living in London. It might not be the most exciting city in the world but it is a fantastic place to live. It is full of hidden treasures that you probably never get to see as a tourist: wonderful shops, amazing food, great museums and galleries, beautiful architecture, a forest (yes, a whole forest), and so much more... And if that doesn't convince you, well, get on a train and you could be in Paris, Amsterdam, Cologne or, yes, London in no more than a couple of hours... Which other city can you say that about?

America 2012 – Part 4 (the Mojave Desert and Las Vegas)

We left Bakersfield and drove straight into a soup of fog. Up, up, up out of a cold, damp morning, and down into the desert, blisteringly hot and dry. We were heading to Vegas but Han decided that we clearly weren’t spending enough time in the car and so decided on a 3 hour detour through the Mojave Desert (and may I remind you, at this juncture, that our car contained two young children – although, as it turns out, our children are far more patient than I am). I actually started having a tiny mini panic attack about one hour into this detour because, since we had turned off the interstate, we had not seen and could not see a single sign of life. Nothing. And you could see for what looked like eternity in just about every direction. There was just nothing except for flat, arid land and a massive mountain range rising up ahead of us. No homes, no animals, no power-lines or fences. If you broke down here or became suddenly ill, you would basically be buggered. Except that another tourist would probably drive by eventually (within about 10 minutes probably, but you know… 10 minutes could feel like a lifetime in a place like this). The nothingness felt oppressive. Can you imagine what this must have felt like before cars? I mean seriously: those guys back in the olden days must have really wanted that gold. OK, I have to say this. I am HUGELY disappointed with how my pictures from the Mojave came out. This was a properly impressive landscape and, yet, my pictures all make it look ugly. There are some things, I guess, you just have to see with your own eyes. Or, you know, you could always Google it. Someone out there is bound to have taken some better pictures.Anyway, back to our journey: we eventually came upon Kelso. Quite literally a railway depot in the middle of nowhere that some kindly folk have turned into a rest stop for weary tourists in need of signs of life. They even sell ice-cream. Proper civilization. Then it was back in the car for more driving along long, straight, empty roads. Though this time, at least, there was a railway line to keep us company. And then, eventually, we arrived in Las Vegas, to hotel no. 5: the MGM Signature Suites (does that sound fancy? That’s cos we are fancy, thank you very much).Guess who was a fan of the fact that we could see both an airport and the monorail from our window? Clue: not Charlie.We had a lovely room with a jacuzzi, a separate living room and kitchen, two bathrooms and a huge bedroom. But this being Vegas, we didn’t spend much time there. We had to get out, go swimming (in the Lazy River pool that swooshes you round on inflatables, under waterfalls and stuff), eat (at the atrocious Rainforest Café – where the above picture of a very tired and hungry Charlie was taken), gamble (actually, only Hanno gambled and only to the tune of 20 dollars) and shop.And of course, to see some of the lights. We didn’t get to walk far because it was windy and cold and our little troopers were beginning to feel a little overwhelmed, but we did get far enough to see this:Obviously, one of those wasn’t taken at night, but we did make sure we stopped to get that picture on the way out of town. We wouldn’t have been proper tourists if we hadn’t (although we did turn down the opportunity of paying for a showgirl to be in the picture). Next stops: the Hoover Dam (with my favorite picture of the trip) and the Grand Canyon.

14 May 2012 - 10:35 PM Amélie { Callibella } - Cass I seriously love your pictures ! That first one is so moody with the fog, and then I was admiring the second one with the mountain for a long time, with the beautiful colors and all the angles on the mountain that we can see so well (les facettes ?). And then of course I always love seeing Amélie and Charlie. I especially love the one of Han and Charlie by the window. I hope to see you on some of the pics too!

15 May 2012 - 8:11 AM Cass - Amélie, it means a lot to me that you liked the mountain picture. I liked the mountains but I do not like my pictures. Ha! I just couldn't get the colours right. But all these pictures are for Han and he wants ones of the Mojave so I had to work with what I had. Thank you for making me feel a bit better about them x

17 May 2012 - 10:07 PM Angie - But... but these are AMAZING! I know it can sometimes be hard to feel like you're doing justice to landscapes when they're being all awe inspiring and massive, but I honestly think these are wonderful and I'm really feeling the vastness and the light.

17 May 2012 - 10:52 PM Cass - Thank you so much Angie. I really still don't like them that much. They don't feel "me-ish". Not in my style (that sounds SO pretentious. Bwahaha!). They just don't fit with the other pictures property. Oh well...

24 May 2012 - 1:46 AM Teresa - That very first one of the fog rolling over the hill is spectacular! I also love the one of the blurred Vegas lights. I think your landscapes are wonderful but I know how you feel. I'm just not willing to wait all hours for the perfect light. :P

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