Summer Dead Sea and Judean Desert trip
Because I have fallen behind on blogging, there are a series of trips I never even managed to write about. The thing about writing about a trip so long after you’ve taken it is that things are no longer as fresh in your mind. Instead there is a large haze, with a few key events that pop up. So this post about my trip to the Dead Sea and into the Judean desert will be short.
The Israel trip was wholly unplanned, and the Judean Desert/Dead Sea excursion was even less planned, so I ended up being the co-pilot reading the map as my trusty side-kick manned the steering wheel. I read the Lonely Planet Chapter as we drove down the highway for a couple of hours. The drive was super pleasant, with fabulous scenery, excellent road conditions, and no traffic. I will say that the heat was stifling and that I remember feeling hot in the car despite having AC on at full blast. If your rental car doesn’t have AC, don’t even attempt to drive into the desert. You. Will. Suffocate.
After expanses of Mad Max expanses of desert, we saw oases full of palm trees. We kept on going and made it through a couple of checkpoints manned by some very bored looking teenaged soldiers, and immediately saw a beautiful coastline come into view. We made it into a place that reminded me of the large rest stops on the New Jersey Turnpike, and were stunned to see nothing but Russians. Everyone, including the staff spoke Russian. Because the Dead Sea is receding, we had to ride a tractor-pulled buggy to the water where we floated, scooped copious amounts of mud and got the best natural skin treatments ever.
After the Dead Sea, we made it into the Judean Desert. I was intent on seeing Lot’s wife, and after many false starts, I think we managed to catch a glimpse of her. The whole time we drove, I was struck by how much Israel reminded me of a term I’d heard in history class as a kid: Manifest Destiny. Manifest Destiny is the theory that America was meant by God to be conquered and ultimately settled by the European pioneers. In the American context, this helped justify the Trail of Tears, and the slave labor that build rail lines deep into the Midwest. In Israel, the sense of Manifest Destiny came from the lack of Palestinians around, but also the pharaonic public works. Because the Dead Sea is one of Israel’s primary natural resources, there are huge industrial structures, will billowing smokestacks that rise out of the forbidding desert landscape. With this on my mind, we parked the car and climbed up for a better view of it all and the explore one of the national parks we stumbled upon.
I am not a nature person, so I don’t really venture out into deserts of things of the like very often. But this time, I am so glad I tiptoed out of my comfort zone. Within the park, I was blown away by the majestic views, rock formations, and was reminded of how small we humans are in the midst of it all.