My in-laws have been in town for the last 10 days. This means two things: 1) lots of traveling to see the sights, and 2) lots of free babysitting. Shannon and I took advantage of the favorable adult:child ratio in our home (4:3, for those pathetic souls who both read this blog and keep a running log of the adult:child ratio in our home over time... dang stalkers) and went out for hot chocolate. We took my car. Better gas mileage.

As Shannon settled into the bucket seat in my little Lancia, she chuckled. "I feel like I'm in college."

"What's that supposed to mean?" I demanded. I sensed she was ragging on my ride.

"You have a college-guy car," she continued.

Now I sensed she was ragging on my socio-economic level. "What's that supposed to mean?" I again demanded.

"Your car smells like college-guys' cars."

I was pretty sure that she was now ragging on my personal hygiene. In under 15 seconds, she'd insulted my car, my income, and my masculine scent. Man, is this how she starts all her dates?

Fortunately, she has a lot of good karma built up with me for being the best wife in the whole, wide universe, so I absorbed her jabs and still gave her a ride to the cafe. But I made her pay for the hot chocolate as a measure of her penitence.

During Shannon's parents' visit, the Dead Sea has been one of favorite haunts. It's a quick 45 minute jaunt from Amman, the weather is warmer, and it's impossible to get sunburned there (I've heard this from more than one source -- I don't understand the science behind it, but I'm comfortable believing it. Don't wreck this for me.)

When most Amman-ites day trip to the Dead Sea, they pull into the posh hotel resorts and exchange hard-earned cash for swimming, massages, expensive food, and mud baths. Being the tightwads we are, however, we blow right past the sprawling hotel complexes of palm tree bundles, impossibly blue pools, and vibrant green lawns. Instead, we keep driving, looking for a turnout on the side of the road with good views and funky rocks.

On our most recent outing, we tested a sandy track that branched off the highway. It eventually snaked its way to the water's edge, where an other-wordly array of salt-encrusted rock formations was just waiting to be photographed. We hung around until past sunset, playing with long-exposure settings on our cameras and enjoying the cool breeze. Savannah danced like a little pixie for me in the setting sun, while Halen insisted that the factory lights blinking on across the sea on the Israeli side were boat lights. "Bye, boat!" he called over my shoulder as I hefted him up the bank and back to the car in the failing light.
Kudos to Shannon and her dad for managing the kids so well for two hours on a desolate desert shoreline while her mom and I poked around curiously and clicked hundreds of photos. I slapped a dozen or so on our picture site. Check them out: picasaweb.google.com/jnleavitt/DeadSea02. Or don't. See if I care.