Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Camping on the Bottom of the Ocean

Unbeknownst to me, the eastern part of Saudi Arabia used to be the bottom of the ocean, give or take 60 million years ago. There is a place to go camping and look for shark's teeth and other fossilized shells that is only about 90 minutes from our house, so we grabbed a few families and headed out to find the proverbial shark tooth in a haystack. There were many teeth found (not many by me as I found it too tedious) and other fun things like tons of rolling down dunes and hanging out with friends and building kid fires and dune jumping. Our weather is downright glorious now, and this was a great time of the year to be out enjoying the desert.

Before we moved to Saudi, we bought all new camping gear as we really want to explore the desert and camping is a good way to see the country. We bought a decent sized tent, but not until we opened it and set it up did we realize just how fabulous it is! It's tall enough to stand in and has room for a queen air mattress AND a twin mattress and there is still room left over! It was a brilliant purchase and was aptly named the 'Taj Mahal' of tents by our fellow campers. And, of course, there was room enough for the world's largest Angry Bird that just had to come camping with us. 

Look at this topography. So many times, it feels like we are living on the moon. The shark's teeth were on the bottom of the wadi (like an empty riverbed) and these hard stones and fossilized flint were on the top part. The photo from the top of this post is of what I like to call a desert backbone--the place where the wind creates a small peak from both sides. They are awesome in the truest sense of the word, and the ripples in the sand are even more beautiful in person. 

Before we headed home, Sojo and I did a bit of dune climbing. The sky was impossibly blue. Like, when I downloaded the photos, I could not believe my little camera captured how piercing the blue was. 

Camping in Saudi is great fun so far. However, we hear that the camping window is closing soon as the shamal (sandstorm) season is approaching. Darn--we were hoping to head out and find some sand roses soon! Maybe we can squeeze one more in... 

1 comment:

John Burgess said...

Actually, just about all of Saudi Arabia was once below the sea!

The exception are the recent volcanic areas in the West and the mountainous areas in the South.

The Tuwayk Escarpment, just west of Riyadh, is an extraordinary display of millions of years of marine geology. The only fossils to be found there (and in most of the country) are marine.

There's an excellent (though a bit dated) analysis in this 154-page PDF document on Saudi geology: