Our Egged bus driver had lots of mirrors--good for the "Weekend Reflections" meme over at James' blog.
The drive from Jerusalem down to Ein Gedi is just over an hour.
As a senior citizen I pay half-fare for public transportation, so my round trip fare was only 36 shekels.
With my discount the Nature Reserve entrance was NIS 13.
So we had a full day hiking in the desert for only 49 shekels (about $13 or 9 Euros).
Just east of Jerusalem the desert begins, and also the West Bank.
Quite soon you come to a T in the road: left to Ramallah (the seat of the Palestinian Authority government) or right to Qumran, Ein Gedi, Masada, Ein Bokek, and Neve Zohar.
At the checkpost the back of one van was being searched. Our bus driver was getting worried about the schedule he has to keep, so he started beeping, gesturing, and shouting out the window for the guards to pull the car over to the side of the road and let us through.
What you see next to the left side of the road is already the Dead Sea.
While searching (unsuccessfully) for a good modern map to illustrate this, I came across a fine website with a map of FIRST CENTURY Israel! All the place names from the Bible, and Ein Gedi figures prominently. Check it out!