9:13 p.m.

9,655 steps (I didn’t wear my watch to the beach – and that was a lot of steps!)
4.03 miles

It is way too late for this old man to start the daily journal.  We ate dinner on time and all, but then I stayed for a lovely chat with Andre after dinner.  We caught up on kids and life.  It was most enjoyable.  But….here is the price I pay for some moments with Andre.

The day began in Galilee with the best sunrise of the trip so far.  It ended with the best sunset of the trip on the shores of the Dead Sea.  Now, I actually couldn’t see the sun go down, but the colors it cast across the mountains of Moab were truly stunning.  My pictures do not do it justice, I’m sure.  But, in between those two moments, there was another full day of off and on the bus.

We left close to on time and headed to Mt. Arbel.  The sun was more visible, but the haze was almost worse than on the cloudy days.  It was warmer than we have had but the views not so grand.  Again.  But we “hiked” up to the rim and enjoyed a few moments looking out over the landscape of the last half of Matthew 4 – the ministry area of Jesus.  I shared from the Scripture (a brief summary of last Sunday’s sermon).  Then it was back to the bus and farewell to Galilee.

In about an hour or so we were arriving at Bet Shean.  We were clearly now in the Jordan Valley and the lush greens of Galilee were fading.  Quickly.  We went inside and saw the highlights of the Roman city – and the story of the Old Testament Tel.  It wasn’t too long, so that was nice.

Back on the bus and we continued south to Jericho.  It didn’t take long for any hint of green to be replaced with brown – and desolation.  The only green left was cultivated green.  Crops.  Date Palms.  Fruit trees.  There is a unique beauty to this landscape, a landscape that adds richness to the text of Scripture.

We just drove by the Jericho tel from Joshua’s day.  Then we went to a restaurant new to me.  They served lamb/chicken kabob pieces with some salads, fries, and slaw.  It was quite tasty, actually.  It was outside under some lovely trees – and a refreshing change to the bustle of Qumran lunches.  I didn’t miss those.  And, we are helping the Palestinian Christians.  And in case they needed more help, we shopped in a store in Jericho after lunch for Hebron Glass and ceramics and skin products. No more Ahava store I guess.  They don’t make the Andre cut any more.

Back on the bus and we were headed even farther south.  We pulled off an Qumran, with a zillion other buses (not too bad, actually).  Saw the movie, toured the site, and had a photo op at Cave #4.  It’s still there and hasn’t changed, in case you were wondering.  This was probably the warmest spot on the trip so far, as would be expected.  We are in the Judean desert.  It was not unbearable, but warm.  They’ve got some new covered areas for guides to talk which helped a lot.  But there were lots of tourists around.

Back to the bus – and to the hotel.  There was not time to hike to En Gedi this afternoon.  We were all relieved I think.  Another hike would have been a bit much.  We may do En Gedi and then Masada in the morning.  And then Beersheba and Arad.  Sounds ambitious to me, but whatever Andre says is fine by me.

We got to the hotel I would guess around 4:30. Well, before that actually.  We were headed up to our rooms by 4:30. Most folks brought their own luggage, but I figured they could haul mine upstairs, I’ve got enough other stuff to carry.  We were to meet at 5 in the lobby to go swim in the Dead Sea.  By 5 my bags were not at my room, so I went back down (from the sixth floor) to the lobby to get it myself.  I changed quickly and then headed to the shore.  I would say less than half of us went into the water.  I hung around in the water with Debbie – we are both water people and had a lovely time floating together.

Back to the hotel for a shower.  Then some texting with Christie – and then to dinner.  This dining room is crowded.  Just like last time I was here on that holiday.  But the food was good and some of us sat outside and thoroughly enjoyed the balmy evening – and the rising moon.  It is just about full.  I think we’ve determined that tomorrow night it will be full – and we’ll be in Jerusalem.  Sweet.

As I’ve already said, I hung around with Andre for a chat after dinner.  It was great.  And now I am quickly wrapping up the day.  I tried to watch the livestream from church, but I must not have enough band width on m internet connection.  I just got a black screen.

It was a good day.  Warmer for sure.  But down here at the Dead Sea it is as clear as I’ve seen it in a while.  You can see the mountains of Jordan across the Dead Sea, and you can’t always do that.  So we are looking forward to what tomorrow brings.  We should experience the wilderness and then head up the spine of the Judean mountains.  The goal?  Jerusalem.  We can’t wait.

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