Israel Day 9 (Masada, Dead Sea, Valley of the Shadow of Death)

Second to last day in Israel. Today was a relaxed day (kind of) with only three locations to see. The first was mount Masada. Although “mount” is a little disingenuous because Masada is basically a mountain. The cable car ride up was a little unnerving, but the view from the top was completely worth it. The history of King Herod’s temple and its sophisticated water system was pretty amazing.
From Masada we went to the Dead and Sea, and swam in it. This was a highlight of the trip. I’ve heard many things about the dead sea, and they were all true. The water is incredibly salty, and I had an open cut on my finger that stung like crazy. The mud though, which some people covered their entire bodies in it including their hair, can make your skin really soft. Pretty incredible. The sad part is, the Dead Sea is receding a very rapid rate. So fast that in 35-45 years, it may not exist anymore. Scientists are attempting to figure out a way to refill the sea, but since the composition of the water is so unique, it provides a serious challenge. I pray they find a way to preserve this miracle place.
Our last stop was one off the itinerary, and a place that few tours ever go. The tour bus drove down a very windy, cliff road and brought us to the Valley of the Shadow of Death. This valley is the one David spoke of in Psalm 23. This place was incredible. A grand-canyon like valley with caves dug into the side. There was also a monastery built into the side of the mountain. So glad we got to do this.
Tomorrow is our final day in Israel and we then head to Egypt. The Egyptian journey will prove to be an adventure no doubt, with an 8 hour bus ride to St. Catherine (Mt. Sinai), 10 hour train ride to Luxor and finally a balsa wood plane ride to Cairo. Just kidding about the balsa wood…but the plane is pretty small. I’m excited though, and trying to get in a very adventurous spirit!
Today’s photo link:  http://gallery.me.com/ssrobles/100447