Thursday, December 24, 2009

Caroling in the dunes

We’ve seen our share of sand and dust since arriving, but recently we had our first true experience in the desert wilderness (aka "the empty quarter"). Our church organized a campsite about 30 miles from Abu Dhabi city, and we spent the afternoon exploring the dunes, barbecuing kebabs and s’mores, and singing Christmas carols by flashlight. Ironically, this was also the first day that it rained in Abu Dhabi since we arrived (the first of a three-day torrential downpour, but more on that later); fortunately, it abated during the hours we were outside, so it was actually quite nice out, albeit too cloudy to see the stars. We had a wonderful time in the company of mostly Britons, which became incredibly obvious when we sang carols written in Old English (and set to the wrong tunes...of course, the American tunes are the right ones!) and were given mince pies for dessert (another first – Sam thumbs up; Shannon thumbs down). It was a great way to get us in the Christmas spirit -- Here are some pics of the desert, which was truly beautiful:

By nightfall there were a few hundred people in attendance, several of whom set up camp to stay the night (we weren't that brave).

Walking in the desert is harder than it looks. In this shot I'm starting to realize that wearing shoes was a bad idea and I'm about to take them off and abandon them for the rest of our hike.

The wind was strong and would whip up the sand so you couldn't see. It was quickly apparent why the bedouin people where head scarves.

 Sam takes in the view  -- nothing but sand for miles.

Makes you feel pretty small in comparison.

Here's Sam doing his best Thesiger.

We got a late start heating up our grill, and an Australian family at the grill next to ours took quite an interest in whether we could get it going.

After a lot of unsolicited advice, a few squirts of lighter fluid and a lot of love from Sam, we had success!


  1. When I was your child in San Diego, my family camped out on the Borego Desert several times. Never really was my "bag," but it wasn't quite the barren sand dunes you experienced. A JP+ distributor ran the Sahara marathon and won recently. Cannot even imagine!! He shared pictures and his story at the Oct. conference. Amazing!

  2. oh, sorry about the "unsolicited advice" ...

  3. Aw, desert camping at Christmas time! Makes me so homesick! Glad you got that experience and hope you get the real camping (overnight) experience soon.