Friday, April 24, 2015

Moon Mountain at Sunset

The sun sets on Moon Mountain
After we departed from the Ottoman fortress at Usfan, we needed to make a U-turn before we got to a checkpoint on the road that leads back to Jeddah. But we actually had to go through the checkpoint to make the u-turn because every break in the median leading up to the checkpoint had been blocked or otherwise barricaded. I guess they thought a U-turn in front of the checkpoint would be suspicious...just like the beginning of a Hollywood chase scene. Our caravan stopped several times on the way out to Moon Mountain to ask for directions from the locals. Fortunately, two folks in our group speak Arabic. Unfortunately, Moon Mountain doesn't appear on any maps.

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On our journey deeper into the Saudi back-country, we drove past several farms with camels and sheep/goats. The terrain changed fairly rapidly as we entered the foothills, and the rock formations started looking more and more otherworldly.
Desolation
We passed one formation that might be named "Turtle Rock," but I think it looked more like it should be called "Camel Rock." Chances are, though, that somewhere in Saudi Arabia there's already at least one other "Camel Rock." But that's better than the other names it could be given, because when viewed from the wrong angle, it also looked rather...phallic. I'll leave it to you to pick your favorite dirty pun from however many will probably pop into your head when you see the picture:


Does this look more like a turtle or a camel to you?
We finally came to a place that looked out of place in an area that already looked out of place, so we figured that we must have found the right place. Going off road, it seemed fitting to have a Johnny Cash CD playing in the background.


I strapped our little one into our ERGObaby carrier and headed up the mountain after Kacey and our 5 year-old. It wasn't all that difficult in the shoes we were wearing, but some of the folks in our group were only wearing sandals/flip-flops because this particular hike was completely unplanned.


I stopped about 2/3 of the way up since it would be increasingly difficult to make it back down safely with the kid on my back. Kacey kept going up to the top and got some great photos of the sun setting over a view that can best be described as something straight out of science fiction that's even better than what Hollywood can offer.
This could be an alien world...if they drove vans.
Close-up of the rock
How foreboding is this?
Gorn from Star Trek was not encountered by our away team.
View from the top of Moon Mountain
Those little shiny things are our cars

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للبيع means "For Sale"
We got a little lost on the off-road return trip, as the lead driver tried to continue around the rock formation, only to come to a dead end by a decayed goat carcass. That's usually a pretty good sign you need to turn around. So I took the lead and we navigated back to the paved road that would take us home. En route, we also saw a (still alive) completely black goat bounding across a nearby rock formation and also a wild dog trying to hide under some of the desert shrubbery.

We got back to town shortly after sundown and the kids were worn out. All in all, a good day.

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