Monday, May 21, 2007

Thirty years later

When I placed “The road to Hatta” many years ago (now archived), I didn’t expect that it will introduce me to Flydad, a very enthusiastic geocacher, with many exciting hobbies. He showed interest in an article I wrote on 4D geocaching and that was the start of email correspondence between the two of us. One day, he called to let me know that he will be visiting the area and I was so delighted. An arrangement was made and there he was, at the airport in Riyadh.

On our first day, we left around noon time with cousin AbuTalal and visited the area north west of Riyadh where we stopped by Sadus and Acacia valley before finally reaching the edge of the Tuwaiq escarpment at the edge of the edge of the world. Flydad was bold enough to walk down to the edge so close to the cliff. He suggested adding another star for the terrain rating because of the close proximity of the cache to the cliff.

We came back through the wadi and headed to the car graveyard. AbuTalal was taking a nap while we were searching. From a distance of about 8 meters, Flydad was able to spot the cache and point to it. He was very pleased to be the first to find the cache (his FTF in Saudi). We then finished our day at Barger-Marat and drove up the Kumait Mountain for the view of the ancient village below. A local gentleman approached us when he saw Barger’s book I was holding in my hands and offered to explain some history about the area. He invited us to join him for dinner at his house but we graciously declined. We made a short stop near a water pond just before sunset; perfect setting. We arrived at Riyadh late in the evening and had Shawarma sandwiches for dinner.

On the second day we went west of Riyadh to Tuwaiq escarpment and found X-marks the spot and the Prize, before reaching the Chameleon. It took us about 12 minutes of search before AbuTalal finally uncovers the chameleon from its hide. On our way back we found the Zenda and came to stop for a drink but the weather suddenly changed to what appeared to be a thunder storm. That night we had some Mutabbaq and Foul at AbuTalal house.

On the third day, we decided to stay in town and do some Travel Bug and log maintenance. We exchanged gift items; Flydad offered me geocoins including a beautiful one from the National Reconnaissance Office while I offered him a signed copy of my Geocaching book. We couldn’t resist the temptation to go out that day just for a short time to find the nearby Airport and the Hotel caches. He found both in no time. Later that night, we visited the sky bridge at Kingdom Tower. At lunch, Flydad was surprised to see an item that he hasn’t seen since 31 years ago; Sohat bottled water.

We left for Dammam on our fourth day. Flydad being a glider pilot, we talked about flying, geocaching and traveling; among other exotic topics. Time passed so quickly. Four caches were waiting to be found in or near Dammam and one of them is a FTF (Pipeline, Saihat, Tarut Fort and The Garage). We spent the evening in my brother house chatting and listening to interesting travel stories. Flydad didn’t forget to place a hide near my house with my kids and even managed to convince them to keep the hide secret from me. When I asked my children for hints, they said “What cache, dad?!”. The next morning Flydad left home to Bahrain en route to the US.

I’m amazed with the energy and enthusiasm Flydad has … I had difficulty keeping up with him on many times. His visit is simply unforgettable. He has seen so many changes (physical and social) taking place in kingdom since his last visit some 30+ years ago.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!