Monday, April 19, 2010

Route 66

Thomas relaxing in a windowpane, Al Ain

Trying to check off some of our "must-do's while we're here", the family took a quick weekend jaunt out on the UAE's Route 66. It differs slightly from the US version: camels, sandstorms, palm and acacia trees. We stayed in a hotel on top of the rocky Jebel Hafeet, one of the UAE's highest, and certainly its best known mountain at a little over 4000 feet.

We were disappointed that the hotel didn't at all live up to the 5 star treatment promised, (and paid for) but the kids liked the swimming pool, and I liked the aerobatics of the Swallows swooping outside our window and the view of desert's amazing colors below. The orange in the dunes comes from iron oxide which, by the way, will color your socks forever as a memento.

Sheikh Khalifa's Palace on the mountainside, as seen from the hotel

The next morning we looked for, but did not find, the Camel Bazaar, though we did see this little guy chillin' on his mama:

Oh, mama, I know that feeling.

and then we went to the renowned Al Ain Zoo. With all the animals, including white, blue-eyed lions, it was somewhat ironic, though perhaps not surprising, that our favorite part of the excellent zoo was this:

Animatronic dinosaurs. Very cool.

They roared, they clawed, they spit and rolled their eyes. The dinosaurs, I mean. The kids too, but to a lesser extent.

We all had our favorites, Thomas loved the baby dinosaurs peeping and popping up from their eggs in a nest, and I was happy to see my homeboy Stegosaurus. I think Bethy and Mike were most into T Rex. Always a crowd pleaser, that one.

Yes, we are such geeks we have favorite dinosaurs. Don't you? Fess up!

Bethy was quite interested in differentiating which dinosaurs were carniverous versus vegetarian, and made up several drawings such as the one below, explaining "I will (or will not) eat you because I do (or do not) eat meat."

Had I carefully checked her chart this might not have happened:

Fortunately I escaped and ended up taming the beast. No Darwin award for me that day.

There was even one of the models that the kids could "drive" themselves with buttons and joystick and cutaway parts so they could see how it worked, which you would have thought would be a serious hit, but they enjoyed digging out dinosaur bones even more. Go figure.

It amazes me that we wandered that zoo for hours in 100 degree heat and besides making sure to hydrate, thought little of it.

Back in Seattle, heat over, say 90 would have laid us out flat and useless. How the times are a-changin. On the negative side of that equation, now the kids whine and moan about how they're freezing to death when we go through the dairy section of the grocery store: hurry up, Mom!

It's going to be fun to see what happens when we move. Hope we don't end up someplace truly cold, is all I'm saying.

Muslim man hurrying to prayer through the sandstorm

A sandstorm blew in on the way home. Driving through one is very similar, visually, to being in fog, except windy, and if you get out of the car to take a video, like I did, then expect a gritty mouthful and keep your eyes covered. I hope those bits of silica between my molars were not in vain and you can see the plumes of orange sand being blown off the dunes. Certainly you can hear the winds!

And now back to planning our next getaway, flying out in less than two weeks, which will be to...

Oh, wait, can't tell you yet. Any guesses?


Jeni said...

Guam? lol

Natalie said...

Not a bad guess...we could get there even with the volcanic ash causing havoc, but hell-oooo, I would have emailed you if we were coming anywhere near y'all. :)

Anonymous said...

Loved the dinosaur park. My favorite is the brontosaurus and I was always sad when it go eaten in Fantasia

AKBrady said...

Alaska? hehe. Funny about the temperature adjustment. We feel the same way, but opposite here. 32 F feels downright toasty. In fact, Owen puts on his "short pants" at 32! ;)

Natalie said...

It's like y'all want us to come visit. :) The family is eyeing a trip to AK in late idea if it would happen though, since we have NO idea where on earth we will be then Well, some idea, but nothing is for sure, and that's OK. It'll all come together.

As for the upcoming trip, we are hoping to see some two humped camels, to straddle Asia and Europe in one of our destinations, visit some islands and to have a marvelous time in two historically facinating countries. I'm stoked!

sherrip said...

I know, I know!

Nathalie said...

Hi Natalie!!! Loved watching the little videos and seeing your head in that dinosaur's mouth :)
Didn't realize that you were moving soon... so no more sand in your latte then?

Natalie said...

Kudos to Sherri, our partner in crime,(in so many ways) for not spilling the beans! :) Mike knows that we're going to meet Bill there...he saw an email...dang.

As for sand in the per the plan we'll be all done as far as the Middle East is concerned, though it will be very hard to let go of this lifestyle. Where next? Could be exotic, more likely ordinary, we'll see!