We rode Hwy 1 from Jerusalem down to the Dead Sea this morning. Hwy 1 is basically the only road to the Dead Sea, and is basically an interstate highway with reasonably heavy traffic, but so are a lot of other roads here in Israel. Right after we got onto 1 there was a section of road construction where the highway was reduced to one lane in each direction with no shoulders. Fortunately we were headed down quite a step grade so our speed was the same as the motor traffic, and we simply took the lane through that section. With the exception of one or two short upgrades we basically coasted the 40km from Jerusalem to the northern end of the Dead Sea. A great way to start the day.

Hwy one heading east from Jerusalem goes through the West Bank, but is in an area completely controlled by Israel. Once you cross into the West Bank the contrast with Israel is quite dramatic. The landscape is completely barren. Alongside this beautiful road, built to get Israelis to the Dead Sea and beyond, in pretty much every little wadi, is a shack with a few goats grazing on something completely invisible to me.

Once we reached the Dead Sea we turned south on Hwy 90. We stopped at a gas station / snack bar at the junction for s cold drink and a snack. There were crowds of Israelis standing watching the release of Galid Shalit unfold on TV. Ever since the announcement of the deal last weekend, the mood in Israel has been jubilant. There seems to be a variety of opinions as to whether the deal should have been made, but now that it has everyone is thrilled to have him home.

We cycled pretty much the entire length of the Dead Sea, 60 kilometers or so, to the little resort town of Ein Bokek (or Ein Boqeq). The town is one street that loops off of Hwy 90, lined with hotels, a few restaurants, and a McDonalds. Just after turning south we passed Quamran, the place where the Dead Sea Scrolls that we saw yesterday in the Israel Museum, were found. Then about 15km before Ein Bokek we passed Masada. It is quite an impressive sight, even from the highway. We had planned to stay there but couldn’t get a room. We are staying here two nights so hopefully we can find a way to get back to Masada tomorrow for a proper visit. Jodi couldn’t wait for a float in the Dead Sea so as soon as we got here she headed out, but I will put that off until tomorrow and I just sat and enjoyed the view of the Dead Sea with the mountains in Jordan rising beyond it.

default icon20111018.gpx