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PILGRIMAGE 97
PICTURES AND STORIES
PART 9

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On Saturday, our last day, we went to the Wailing Wall one more time. While we were there we saw these Asian tourists all (or most of them) wearing L.A. Dodger baseball caps. They are walking down the ramp from the Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock. It's hard to see but the tourists in the back of the group's line are wearing Dodger caps too.



After I took this picture, a guard from the Wailing Wall area came over to me and yelled at me for taking pictures on the Sabbath.

After the Wall we walked over to Jaffa Gate (still inside the Old City) and took the Rampart Walk. The walls of the Old City have a walkway that runs along the top of the wall. Actually it's only on the walls of half of the Old City, but the half with the most scenery.



Here's Rafael on the Rampart Walk.



Here's a funny picture. Obviously somebody had been drinking on the wall, and it appears they were inspired by the fortifications and arranged their bottles in a fortress-like manner.

The Rampart Walk starts at Jaffa Gate and heads in a clockwise direction toward the Damascus Gate and then on to the Muslim Quarter and the Dome of the Rock. Just past the Damascus Gate is where the back of the Garden Tomb is.



The top photo is the undoctored view from the wall. The bottom photo has certain additions by me. The skull image, which some believe to be the origin for Golgotha, the place of the skull, is highlighted inside the red circle. The Garden Tomb viewing deck of the skull is highlighted in the red box. And the cross is where might be the probable location for Jesus' crucifixion if the Garden Tomb and skull image are the true historical artifacts some believe them to be. (Isn't it sad that a bus station is on top of a very likely spot for Jesus' crucifixion?)

After nearing the finish of the Rampart Walk down by the Dome of the Rock, we saw from that vantage a tourist site that we had missed before. When we got off the wall we walked over to it, and it turned out to be the Pool of Bethesda. I think there has been some recent renovations at this site in the past couple of years because I don't remember being able to walk down into the ruins back in 1995, but we did this time.



We walked down into one of the cisterns which is filled with water. I tried to get a closer picture and thought that this particular grating was above water, but it turned out to be about 6 inches below water and I stepped into it by mistake. I thought it was so funny I took a picture of my guilty foot.

It was getting close to noon, and our plane was scheduled to depart at 10:00 PM. We figured we should leave the hotel by 6:30 PM, so that left us the whole afternoon to do 2 major sites that we had saved for the last day: Qumran and the En Gedi Spa. Unfortunately they were an hour's drive away, over the hills and south along the Dead Sea (back to infamous Highway 1).



While we were driving toward the Dead Sea, we saw a herd of camels on the road. We quickly took this picture. We didn't see anybody with the camels, but it's hard to believe that there would be wild camels.



Here's one of the Dead Sea Scroll caves at Qumran.

After Qumran we drove further south to the En Gedi Spa. I had been here during my 1995 trip but only got to stay for about 90 minutes then. This time we stayed about 3 hours. (It's great to be your own tour guide.) This spa is where you get to walk down to the Dead Sea and float in the sea. The Dead Sea water has about one-third volume of dissolved minerals, which means your body automatically floats--it's impossible to sink. However, if you try to float on your stomach you'll probably lose your balance and get water all over your face. If you get even one micro-drop of Dead Sea water in your eyes, you will be blinded until you get over to one of the hoses and wash your eyes out. Not to mention the pain.

They also have sulfur mud pits where you smear it on you, bake yourself in the sun for 10 minutes, and wash it off in a sulfur shower outside. It sounds disgusting, and it is, but it was such a fun way to end our exhausting trip. They also have a 100 degree sulfur jacuzzi indoors, and we lounged around in those for 15 or 20 minutes.

We made it back to the hotel on-time, and then off to drop off our rental car, and a quick courtesy shuttle ride to the terminal at Ben Gurion Airport. However, there was one last adventure before we got to leave. The security people at the airport decided that we spent too much time in the Palestinian areas, so they searched our luggage. I was pretty mad at the time, but now I'm "eh." So if anyone reading this tries to duplicate any of our adventures, you better be ready for those security people.



One final picture. Here we are at the TWA terminal at Kennedy airport in New York. Thanks be to God for a wonderful and safe pilgrimage (and adventure)!

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