Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Very Low Tuesday

Tuesday was our lowest day yet. We woke up early again, grabbed some obscure breakfast and headed out for Masada (Palace of King Herod). Another great story of the Romans and Jews colliding. After finishing up at Masada, we experienced the greatest low of the trip... The Dead Sea! The Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth. Because of it's lowest point, there is 10% more oxygen there compared to sea level. The water is also considered to be made up of 33% solid substance.

We giggled quietly to ourselves as we floated, bobbed and came up with creative postures for what looked like synchronized swimming. Steve's favorite was the Sky-Diving Pose

After rinsing and checking out of our hotel, we continued driving North to Ein Gedi, an oasis in the middle of this massive rock desert. Ein Gedi is mentioned in 1 Samuel 24 with an encounter between David and Saul and again in Song of Songs 1:14. After being in the desert and the salty Dead Sea, we know the true meaning of Oasis with fresh running cool crisp water. The middle school aged kids there were giddy to swim and splash in the fresh waters.

From Ein Gedi, we continued north in our little car following the Dead Sea and then eventually to the Jordan River Valley. We took only 1 wrong turn that lead us to the nicest Israeli check point going into Jericho which is in the West Bank. Well, maybe we took two wrong turns. After seeing a sign for what we thought was Jesus' baptism area at the Jordan River, we turned down a quiet road that ended up being a barbed wire dead end. It was more or less in a military zone and we quickly turned around.

We found our way to the Sea of Galilee, checked in got our plan together for all the sites we will pack in on Wednesday.

Internet here is spotty and our hotel is under a major renovation.

Grace and Peace,
Steve & Daisy

Monday, March 30, 2009

Nearer to God on the Mountain

This blog will be a bit shorter because we have only slept for maybe 4 hours in the last 40 hours. We joined a handful of people at 11pm on a mini bus to go to Mt. Sinai on Sunday night. Our group had to choose a group name for our Bedouin Guide who was leading us up the mountain. We came up with “UN.” Out of the 8 of us, there were 6 different nationalities represented. They were fun to hike with at 2:00am on Monday morning.

It was a long and steady climb up to the mountain where most people believe God gave to Moses the Ten Commandments. Both Daisy and I think that if we would have seen the peak, we would not have had the same attitude about climbing. It was unbelievably…COLD up there at sunrise. 30 degrees was what my thermometer was reading.

While hiking up the mountain, a good story came to mind of how we nick-named a friend’s little brother Moses after he lit the bush on the side of their house on fire and brought in the whole city’s fire department. This one is for you, Fook-Moses.

Enjoy the Pictures. We are wiped out and have a big day ahead of us tomorrow. The border crossing went smooth, but every little item from my backpack was pulled out and scrutinized and inspected. Somehow the customs people weren’t interested in my Bible???

Steve & Daisy

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday: Akunamattatta

No worries for the rest of today. Tomorrow? We'll see.

Today, we spent at the beach and going to Dahab to line up our tour guide for Mt. Sinai. We found out that there were no Saturday night/ Sunday morning tours offered because of the Monastery being closed. We decided to rearrange our travel schedule this week with the help of Daisy's Dad and Expedia.com. We are headed up the mountain late tonight in order to catch the sunrise on Monday morning. On Monday we will head north, cross into Israel and go to the Dead Sea for an overnight stay and a dip. Originally we intended to go all the way up north to Tiberius in the Galilean region.

If we are not able to get online on Monday, first thing on Tuesday will be to go up Masada, another monument to good old King Herod and interesting story for the people of Israel.

Enjoy the photos of our purposeful preparation for our hike.

Saturday Rest & Search

Saturday we wandered the town of Dahab, Egypt in search for a tour group to go up Mt. Sinai. We were already concerned before we went to town about the St. Kathrine's being closed on a Sunday. The best time to go is late in the evening the night before, drive and hike up the mountain in the dark in order to see the sunrise. With the Monestery closed on Sunday, we found that there were no tour groups going up. We found one guide who would take just the two of us, but we passed due to safety in numbers.

Arriving here later on Friday with the chaos, we didn't feel much like exploring and finding a tour guide... in hindsight, we should have pushed through and gone up Friday night when we first arrived.

Saturday we hung out at our hotel and then went into the slow paced town known for scuba diving and beachside dining. It felt a bit like a tourist town in Mexico with each restaurant owner shoving smelly "fresh catch of the day" platters on you to come eat at their restaurant. I had to breathe deep and offer grace to each person who stood in our path, walk around them and say "no" numerous times.

It feels like we have unplugged from our Biblical Adventure while we are chilling at the Red Sea. We can't wait to get back to the biblical sites. When we learned about Moses parting the sea and leading God's People out of egypt, Flannel Graph story boards don't do this place justice with the clear blue waters in front of our small sunning shelter.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Friday Adventure

Row Row Row Your Boat…Yikes

Friday was our travel day to Egypt. There weren’t many pictures taken Friday. It began with an unfriendly taxi driver who I think overcharged us. He asked if he could smoke during our brief ride to the ferry. I (Steve) told him if he wanted to smoke it would be a lower price for the ride… he put down his lighter.

We took the “fast” ferry over to Nuweiba, Egypt. After leaving about an hour and a half late, we didn’t find it to be fast at all. We made friends with an American named Rick who was traveling alone. He was good company for the frustrating journey.

After getting off the boat with documents in hand, we did not see our driver who was sent by our hotel. It was nerve racking when we saw each bus load up and found ourselves standing almost alone. One bus however was only taking travelers from the port to the customs area. We were halted at the gate and more authorities were brought in. Beyond the customs gate, we could see a driver holding a sign with our names on it. Our driver was called to the gate and questioned. We don’t know Arabic, but it was clear that our driver was getting a lashing for being associated with us. We needed more documentation and paperwork.

We were finally allowed to exit with the condition that we go to the Tourist Police office. When we finally arrived at the office in the most random place, our driver came out shaking his head. He paid the officer the equivalence of $10 US so we would not have to wait a couple hours for paperwork. Finally we were on our way. We found out that the port we entered is nervous about Americans. Our driver was amazing and we don’t know what we would have done without him. We are glad we arranged this in advance with the hotel.

When we arrived at Le Meridien Resort in Dahab, it put all of our stress and anxiety to rest. The service and amenities are AMAZING. When the sun rose over the Red Sea, the place was amazing.

Don’t worry, we are safe and fine. What we thought would be a seamless day became chaos from the start. More to follow.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Rock: Lesson Learned

The purpose for our stop in Jordan was to visit this unbelievable civilization that left behind rock formations and cave dwellings in Petra. Most notable to Westerners by Indiana Jones' adventures, not having a camera battery with you will create your own adventure in seeking out other tourists with digital cameras using SD memory cards. Steve's stomach sank as we stopped for a scenic overlook midway to Petra and found that the reason the camera was not turning on was due to no battery in the camera. The battery was back at the hotel from being charged over night! STINK!

We ended up buying a Kodak disposable camera for 15 Dinars ($21.14 US Dollars!!) We found a few English speaking tourists to take our picture using the memory card that we had from our camera. A couple nice folks will also be emailing us a few photos as well.

We would love to show you Daisy's great adventure of riding a camel, but that will have to wait. We will have to process photographs the old fashion way... bringing in actual film to be processed. Lesson Learned! This ranks right up there with making sure you have a full tank of gas, milk in the refrigerator and batteries in your camera!!! After almost 10 years of marriage, Daisy responded so graciously and kept up the Anderson spirit!

After this camera adventure, we still enjoyed Petra and await the 27 photos yet to be developed. Tommorrow we go to Dahab, Egypt by a fast ferry across the Red Sea.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Travel Southward

Today we traveled south to the city of Eilat (a lot) by bus. On the bus was a very enthusiastic family of 9. We don’t think they stopped talking the entire four and a half hours down. Once we arrived, we crossed the border into Jordan. We are in the city of Aqaba which is right on the shore of the Red Sea. It is beautiful and much warmer here. We spent a few hours relaxing and knapping by the water. This is much different than the busy city of Jerusalem.

McDonald’s ice cream tastes the same here in Jordan as it does in Excelsior.

Tomorrow we venture up to Petra, a city made famous for its red rock formations and hidden city. It was built in the 3rd century B.C. For those of you who have seen Indiana Jones, The Last Crusade, it will be familiar to you… stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Soaked in the Old City

Today we spent more time at the Western Wall. One of the highlights of the trip was the tour we took that brought us underground to the tunnels and archaeological excavation of the Temple Mount. Steve was fascinated with King Herod's accomplishments of engineering and construction. One of the pictures is of a block that weighs over 570 tons. It is the size of a small bus. Engineers can only guess how they might have moved it.

After the tunnel tour, we went on a self guided tour of the archaeological digs around the Temple Mount. It was incredible to see how the Romans destroyed the place, toppling rocks from 50 feet above the walls.

We also walked to the Garden of Gethsemane, but if we would have paid closer attention to the times posted in our book, we would have known that the garden and every other site over in that direction was closed from noon until 2:30pm. Again, we walk a ton. Steve even has reached a new hole in his belt in order to keep his pants from sagging.

We went to Bethlehem by bus for only 6 Shekels each. When we arrived at the Church of the Nativity, we were astonished at the site of Jesus' birth. We never knew that there was also a ornate silver star in the stable. Who knew?

Oh, we forgot to share with you that it rained all day (poured would be the better term). In packing, Daisy asked Steve if it would be a good idea to bring a rain jacket. Steve said "no, I don't think you will need that." Well it rained and we we found umbrellas in the marked f0or 15 shekels each ($3.75 ea.) What a deal... until you leave them on the bus that took you up to Bethlehem... Argh!!!

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Garden

Our day began with the beautiful garden tomb where people think Jesus was laid after he was crucified. It was the most peaceful, quiet and calm place of the day. They do not know whether the site was the actual place of the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus. The garden certainly fits the details described in the Gospel accounts and it helps many to imagine the wonderful events of the first Easter morning. For us it was a bit emotional and the garden sounds and smells were sweet.

We walked through the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The art inside the church was beautiful, a bit dusty and mostly in Greek. Good thing Steve studied hard and there was a brief celebration when he was able to point out the four gospel writers names in Greek on the ceiling of the main dome.

The ancient walls around the city have a pathway around the top (Ramparts Walk). It was interesting to take in the Old City from above. Many more satellite dishes than you would think. Daisy thought it would have been cool to be a soldier, looking through the small slits in the block, firing arrows out of them. First a firefighter, now soldier???? Who DID I marry?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Tired Feet

We got up early this morning after a late night at Matt Peterson's place. We were able to get into our original hotel. From there we headed toward the Old City to go to the Temple Mount (Dome of the Rock & Wailing Wall). Our plans changed and we decided not to make the trek over to the Dead Sea today. At the end of our travels, we will get there.

While walking through the old city, we found ourselves along the Via de La Rosa (The path that Jesus carried his cross). We were surprised by how many street vendors there were.

In the afternoon, we walked through a park on our way to the monestary of the cross, a place where people think the tree was cut in order to make Jesus' Cross. Being it was Sunday, we found out that the monestary was closed. After the long walk back we went to the shrine of the book, a museum that holds many artifacts of the Dead Sea Scrolls. This was amazing to see partial pieces of manuscript that were 2000 yearsl old.

We ventured into the open air market to see what the Food Festival was about. It was a special night where restaraunts tried to showcase their food. Consiquently, everyone in the surrounding area wanted to go there too. It was packed like the Macy's Day Parade.

Tonight we said good bye to Keven Matt and Brent who are headed back to Minnesota early tomorrow morning. We continue to love the food here and put many miles of walking in each day.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

We've arrived in Jerusalem.  It's been a long day and our first hotel did not have us arriving until tomorrow (sun.).  St. George's Cathedral Guest House is full of character.  Sunday we will go to Temple of the Mount and then "Go for a float" as Matt Peterson says, in the Dead Sea.   We had a great meal with Matt and 3 guys from Minnesota.  Tomorrow begins our foot adventure around the city.

Monday, March 9, 2009


Daisy and I want to share with you the discoveries, both big and small, as we travel together. Check back as we journal our experience and share pictures with you. Grace and Peace, Steve & Daisy