14-Nov-2008 -- On our way back from a weekend trip to the Wādiy al-Sahbā', we decided to revisit the Confluence which we had visited some six years ago.
The journey started from the al-Turqiyy service station just outside Ẓahrān on a pleasant Thursday morning, where the families of Moghal, Smith, and Mahmood were joined by the Braun family who came down from Jubayl where Eric and Marleen are teachers at an International School. Driving straight south, we made a last pit stop at a Ḥaraḍ gas station, where we met up with the final fifth car in our group, driven by Radhi.
We travelled a further 20 km south through tragically changing environment before turning into the Wādiy al-Sahbā'. The wādiy is an ancient river bed and is today dominated by the irrigated crop circles where the fossil water found in the underground aquifers (40 thousand years old) is pumped up. The crop grown here is mainly alfalfa, which is used as fodder for the cows of the AlMarai and AlSafi dairies. It is said that at the current rate at which the water is pumped out, the danger is that these aquifers will run dry, since they do not have enough time to replenish the valuable resource again.
We stopped at several places along the wādiy to explore the myriads of stones which must have been washed along the rivers hundreds of years ago. Izaak Braun even found a small spiny tailed agama. We were also lucky to see a huge great horned owl being chased by a falcon.
After about 70 km of driving along the wādiy, we stopped to camp next to a large sand dune. As it was a full moon, the children Rebecca, Amir, Judith, and Izaak had a ball of a time playing on the dunes until very late in the night.
After a leisurely breakfast, we broke camp and headed northeast towards the Confluence, driving across the sand dunes. Along the way, we saw a bizarre sight – two pyramids sticking out of sand dunes... Excited we headed towards them, only to find out that someone had erected markers using old oil and oil cans.
We arrived at the Confluence at midday without any problems, and noticed that the whole area had changed in the last six years! A sand dune now covered the confluence point and the other dunes around had shifted their positions.
This was the first confluence experience for the Smiths, Brauns, and Radhi, and they all seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed it. After the group photos, we had lunch and then headed northwest towards the UAE highway, where we inflated the tyres, and then drove west towards Ḥaraḍ gas station, where `AbdulMateen had to buy (at an exorbitant price) and replace a tyre. We then finally turned north for the long drive back home.