Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Road to the Dead Sea

TODAY'S PHOTO ALBUM: Israel - Dead Sea - Day 1

Quiet night, last night. Not a thing was open but a few 7/11 type stores. Got some chips and beer and settled into our room with the rest of our sandwiches and watched a movie on the computer. Cozy.

Not having a terribly long drive to the Dead Sea, we thought we would start the day off by going back down into the crater to the Ammonite Wall.  Hiking in about one km or so, there is this giant wall covered with ancient fossils.
The hills to the north-eastern edge of the makhtesh were once entirely covered by spiral ammonite fossils, ranging from the size of snails to that of tractor wheels although these have mainly been extracted so only smaller fossils can be found here today.
We were able to get one more shot of the crater driving from the other direction.  As we rode back into Mitzpe Ramon, the winds picked up and between the clouds and the dust blowing the visibility was very poor. The skies started getting better the further down we went.  On the way down, we stopped off at Ben-Gurion's tomb. Walking along the grounds, we ran into two of the kids we talked to yesterday, who are hiking across Israel. It blows my mind, how we keep seeing people again!

We passed a camel farm, a cactus farm, and a very large military zone -- no pictures please. When we passed the Elevation Sea Level sign, we looked down and said, we still have a long way to go. The Dead Sea is 1300 ft below sea level. Got down to the bottom and the GPS was right on at about 1275 ft.  Passed the magnesium factory as well as the Dead Sea Works.

Took a drive up Mt. Sedom (Sodom) and looked for Lot's wife. There are several different versions of her around these parts. There are also several versions of the story:
In Judaism, one common view of Lot's wife turning to salt was as punishment for disobeying the angels' warning. By looking back at the "evil cities" she betrayed her secret longing for that way of life. She was deemed unworthy to be saved and thus turned to a pillar of salt.
Another accepted view in the Jewish exegesis of Genesis 19:26, is that when Lot's wife looked back, she turned to a pillar of salt upon the sight of God who was descending down to rain destruction upon Sodom and Gomorrah.
A Jewish legend gives one reason for Lot's wife looking back, and that was to check if her daughters, who were married to men of Sodom, were coming or not. Instead, she saw God descending in order to rain fire and brimstone upon Sodom and Gomorrah. Thus, the sight of God turned her into a pillar of salt.
Another Jewish legend says that because Lot's wife sinned with salt, she was punished with salt. On the night the two angels visited Lot, he requested that his wife prepare a feast for them. Not having any salt, Lot's wife asked her neighbors for salt, which alerted them to the presence of their guests, resulting in the mob action that endangered Lot's family.
Ended up at the hotel around 2:30. Nice room but, of course, there is construction down at the beach. Fortunately, we are pretty high up. A hotel shuttle takes you down to their private beach. This afternoon we took advantage of the spa downstairs. Two Dead Sea pools, Jacuzzi, and sauna. Floating around in the salty water is amazing. It almost feels like you're in space - weightlessness. Of course, if you happen to have a cut or scrape - oooh, it stings! Tried the Jacuzzi and the sauna. All good.

It is getting pretty hungry, never had lunch today. Time to go look for something to eat. Early night - getting up early to catch the sunrise on Masada. My guess is it's going to be cloudy....

Next time... Masada

TODAY'S PHOTO ALBUM: Israel - Dead Sea - Day 1

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