Wednesday, March 25, 2015

We did not sleep in the desert - we were scared.

Rising early while you are on Spring Break is not something most college kids would want to do.  However, ML did not complain a bit when we pulled her out of bed for our desert safari on our second day in Dubai.

We grabbed coffee and a couple of muffins before we headed out to jump in our SUV for the drive to the desert.

D and I vacationed in the deserts of Africa some years back. It is one of our favorite vacations - maybe even our most favorite. One night we slept under the stars in the middle of the Kalahari Desert. Our good friend ES kept singing the Eagles song, Peaceful Easy Feeling where they say, "I want to sleep with you in the desert tonight." (Yes, if you are reading this ES, I had to google the song to remember who was the artist.)

Every time I think of a desert, I start singing that song and picture ES singing to us in the desert.

This desert experience was completely different, great but different - a totally new experience for me.

After about 30 minutes of modern 6 lanes of highway, we left the main road for a more rural experience.  

Our driver eventually pulled off the road and parked under a tree.  We thought this might be a meeting point with another vehicle to take us out on the dunes, but he said, “Just a minute as I need to let the air out of the tires.”

Never had a driver let air out of the tires before. Very weird!

Wow!  That was a shock. But when you think about it, tires work much better on sand when they are semi flat.

After the tires were adjusted, the guide turned to us, smiled and said, “Is your seat belt really tight? Be sure to let me know if anyone feels sick.”

I should have been prepared for what came next.

Off we went in a flurry of flying sand.  I am not kidding or exaggerating, it was a flurry of flying sand.

Up over the hills, around another hill, over large dunes and down steep inclines. This was more frightening than any roller coaster I had ever been on.  And, it went on and on and on and on.

Time and again, the sand flew over us.  I did not take very many pictures because I was too busy hanging on to my seat with all the strength I could find.
I kept thinking we would reach our destination but then he would do another donut in the sand, throwing more sand over the top of the SUV and head up over another high dune and done the other side that was steeper than the front side.

Every time we reached the top of a dune, I could not see the other side, I could only see sky because we would be going straight up. I worried there might be another vehicle coming up the back side.

One of very few pictures I took during the ride in the sand.

My heart would stop, the SUV would crest the top and turn downward. It seemed that we would then be going straight down over the crest of a wave. I worried we would get caught on the crest with our tires hanging off each side. It was completely heart stopping.

My hands ached from clinching the underside of my seat.

Fortunately I was sitting in the front seat.  However D and ML were in the back seat.  Later they told me they were thrown all over the place even though their seat belts were snug. When we were in the midst of the ride, I was too scared to look back and see how they were doing.

After the longest time we came to stop by some grazing camels.  Our guide let us all out and we took some pictures (and got our legs back).

This was just the beginning our day in the dessert.

Take a close look. There are a bunch of camels in the background.

Desolate and barren.

We arrived at the base camp located out in a desolate spot. In the far, far distance I could make out a pole for a power line, I think. The only wildlife was some more grazing camels.

After a few minutes we saddled up on our 4 wheelers for some more sand dune fun. The three of us with the guide followed a path of sorts for a while to make sure we could handle the vehicles going up and down the dunes without getting stuck.

At least one time, each of us was stuck in the sand as we tried to crest a large dune. I think ML won the award for the most times. After a bit of switching around (my ride was a dog and we had to switch out with the guide) we took off.

It was great fun. Probably not as scary as the SUV experience because we had more control, but a lot of fun.

After a long while we headed back to the camp.  Our next adventure was to mount a camel for a short ride.  I don’t think any of us really thought through how you get a camel to stand up once you are on it’s back.  It is sort of like being bucked off a horse in slow motion.

ML is not going to like this photo.  But she could never have made this face on purpose. It is really funny and sort of cute.  But I agree with her scream, it was NOT FUN!

I cannot imagine how people rode these animals for days at a time.  It was very uncomfortable.  None of us liked this part of the adventure.

We are on safari now - eat your heart out Lawrence of Arabia.

Baby camels.
The view of the Burj as we returned. In the foreground is a flock of flamingos.

When we returned to the hotel, hot showers were definitely taken by all.

Much later in the afternoon we headed out for our special tour of the Burj Khalifa. It was definitely another type of adventure.  I will post video and pictures in a bit.  Just writing about the desert experience makes me want to take a nap in my solid, secure to the ground bed.


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