Sunday, January 19, 2014

Day in the Desert

Today was an Aramco holiday.... for no reason other than the employees hadn't had a day off in so many weeks so they just scheduled a day off!  Nice!!!  We enjoyed the long weekend and topped it off with an outing to the desert with friends!!!  It was an awesome morning and I was SO thankful I didn't talk myself out of it because it was an early morning!!!
We had a caravan out to the desert with 5 other cars following the one car with the GPS coordinates.... there are no streets or intersections to follow! ; )  Once we were on the main path to where we were going we camp upon a camel camp so we all got out of our cars to explore!
At the house I was warm so I dressed us all in shorts not thinking about being out in the open desert where there is nothing to block the breeze.... brrrr!!!!!  Luckily Brad was thinking and brought jackets and pants for everyone.... which they eventually changed over to!
The bedouins at this camp were SO nice!!!  So proud to show off their herd!  Here are two babies, one is a week old and the other is 2 weeks old!!!
I love a good nursing picture! : )
Not only were there camels on the camp but there were also goats!!  The guys were happy to take us around to see the animals and let us pet them!!!
As we were there they were loading up some goats to take somewhere... I'm guessing to market!
This guy is holding up a goat for Ethan to get a closer look!!!  The culture here loves kids and they go overboard to help kids or give gifts to kids!  It is pretty amazing!
Everyone gathered around.... it was interesting, as we were taking pictures of them.... there were also taking pictures of us!!!  A cultural experience for everyone! : )
This is how you load a goat into the back of a truck!!!
This is how you carry a goat over to the truck.... I watched these guys for several minutes chase this little one around trying to catch it!!
And this is how you keep your goats in the back of your truck while you drive them to market!
After the goat fun was over, we went back to look at the camels.  This little baby wanted its momma to play!  It was fun to see it jump around and jump on the mom trying to get her to stand up...reminded me of my kids trying to get me to play.... babies are a like no matter what they look like!!
What are you looking at?!?!
After the camp fun we loaded back up and headed a little down the "road" to the spot where desert roses are found!  This was something Owen has been looking forward to since before we even made it to Saudi because we have been talking about it.  As soon as we got out of the car he started looking around and found several right off the bat!!!  Little did we know we would find TONS more and more elaborate ones......
Open desert.... and high water pants..... goes great together!  This is what I get for putting shorts on him.... I was just thankful we found a pair of pants to put on so he wouldn't be cold!
Part of going to the desert to dig for sand roses is packing the necessary supplies in your car like water, food, tire pump, battery jumper, and a shovel to dig.... I'm not sure this is what they had in mind!
We spent hours digging.... and it NEVER got old!!!
Interestingly enough.... a sight like this is common.... burnt out/ junked out/ crashed car stuck/ abandoned/ left on the side of the road/ in the desert/ in the middle of no where.... forever!
How much farther do I need to dig down to find a BIG sand rose?!?!
Someone hit the jackpot of sand roses!!!!  What is a sand rose?  It is rosette formations of crystal clusters of gypsum or baryte which contain abundant included sand grains. The 'petals' are crystals flattened on the c crystallographic axis, fanning open in radiating flattened crystal clusters. The rosette crystal habit tends to occur when the crystals form in arid sandy conditions,[1] such as the evaporation of a shallow salt basin. (wikipedia).  They are heavy like rocks so even though Brad makes it looks like a light load, he is carrying a lot of weight above!
Beautiful formations!
Starting a collection... and Owen LOVES collections... so this one kept growing and growing!  I was trying to explain that soon we were going to have to start going through our collection and tossing out the ones that weren't as elaborate... but he wasn't having any of it....
and they just kept collecting! : )
In the distance was another camel camp and we had seen the bedouins let the camels out to graze... and before long we saw them coming closer to us... I was hoping they would come by for a visit...
And they did!!! : )
Before long they had the camel sit down and then pointed to its back as if to say, "Does anyone want to ride?".  We all looked around at each other and I thought.... what the heck.....
and up I went!!!!
And it case you are wondering this was a scary feeling!  The saddle is very simple and I felt like I was going to fall off at any minute!!!!  Not a graceful camelback rider, that's for sure!
I was thankful for the experience.... out in the desert in Saudi in the middle of nowhere with bedouins that didn't speak any language and riding one of their camels... but in reality, I was just thankful I didn't fall off!!!
After several others in our group gave it a try we gave the guys a tip and then they rode off... and he made it look SO easy!!!  I had my form all wrong... I guess that just means I'll have to go try it again soon!!!
Back to camp!
We had all packed a lunch with us and as we sat down to eat one of the herds of camels went out to graze and this was the sight along the horizon...... I felt like I was in a movie!!!!  Still in awe of the journey we are on and the opportunities that surround us.  I hope that we stay this adventurous and "seize the moment" throughout all of our time in Saudi!!!
You know nothing says friendship like sharing your Tostitos in the middle of the desert!!!  Ethan and his good buddy Ryder!
Brad was smart and packed his kite..... there was amazing wind in the wide open spaces to fly this guy!
And everyone wanted a turn!!!  Brad had to help hang on so the kids wouldn't fly away! : )
Seriously.... look at this.... launching his kite for his new friend in Saudi in the desert surrounded by camels.... this is Life in the Land of the Sand!
Enough kite fun.... back to digging and collecting!!!
As we explored our surroundings we found a site that others must have been digging at... a HUGE hole and sand roses all around!!!  So while the adults picked through for the best roses the kids played in the sand pit!!!  This was the most fun they had all day!
New Friends.... and it is an international group with one child from Germany and one from Holland and Addyson brings a bit of Canada to the group! :)

Cheese!!!
"1, 2, 3 GO!  I jumping!"
And Owen is still digging!!!
Being in the desert there are no rules.... Owen got to drive our 4x4... which he is VERY proud to own.... this was a highlight of his day!!!  He had made a pile of big sand roses so we drove to go pick them up!!!!  Awesome!
We spent about 4 hours out in the desert and were ready to call it a day.  As we were leaving we came across one of the herds of camels that were roaming free so we got out to say "Hi", give them a snack of our leftover veggies, and take some pictures.
Hey, can I get some more carrot?!?!
Love this.... oh... and notice the darn cloud on most of my pictures?!?!  UGH!!!!  Such priceless moments that are tinted.... guess its time for a new camera!! : )
This big guy figured out where the veggies were coming from and helped herself to the rest of them!!!
I look like a natural camel whisper, right?!?!  Brad didn't want to get in on the fun.... no worries... I was loving every second and glad he was there to capture the excitement!
Got any more goodies over there?!?!
We were about to leave and Addyson decided she wanted to come out and see... all of the kids were hiding out in the car with the windows up and rolling them down long enough to thrown something out the window.  So I got her out and took her in for the action!!!
Give me a Goodbye kiss!
Attempting to get in on the fun!
I wanted a selfie before leaving.... and I got the perfect shot!!!!  A great ending to a wonderful morning out in the desert digging for sand roses, eating lunch, playing with camels, and making memories with new friends!!!!!

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