In which Tank and I finally visit Qumran and celebrate First Contact Day with a cake shaped like the Starship Enterprise.
First Contact Day commemorates the first contact between humans and aliens. In the Star Trek canon this occurs on April 5, 2063 (a mere 50 years away!). First Contact Day is my excuse to proclaim my love for all that is Star Trek; I love its positive view of the future, where humanity has evolved beyond the need for money, differences are celebrated, and exploration is mandated. I also have a legitimate excuse to wear all my Trek gear and watch First Contact.
April 5 brought rain in Ramallah. Originally, Jon and I were going to head to Bethlehem for some sight seeing in the morning, but if it’s raining in Ramallah chances are it’s raining in Bethlehem. We opted instead for Qumran, a hopefully sunny spot in the desert.
On the drive down, I realized that I’m going to be quite sad when we have to trade in date palms for cornfields.
The ruins at Qumran can be found just south of Jericho. Flanked by the Dead Sea on one side and mountains on the other…
…along what is now Route 90. (And if you keep heading south, you’ll hit Ein Gedi.)
The Essenes were a breakaway Jewish sect that lived at Qumran around 150 BCE. It was originally thought to be an all-male settlement; however, female remains have recently been found in the Qumran cemetery.
The Dead Sea scrolls, authored by the Essenes, include most of the books of the Old Testament and Apocrypha in addition to numerous proprietary texts that essentially outlined the rules for living in the settlement at Qumran. According to Josephus, their observance of the Sabbath was quite strict: even defecation on the Sabbath was prohibited to avoid impurity. Whaaaaaaaat?
I have never seen more ritual baths in one place in my entire life. Here’s just one of the dozen or so.
Hey, look at all those lost hats inside this giant cistern. Sucks to be those guys.
(You can’t really tell, but Tank and I are doing the Vulcan salute here.)
So, kind of the point of going to Qumran is so that you can walk into the cave where the Dead Sea scrolls were found in 1947 by a young Bedouin.
Well guess what? NOT TODAY.
Lesson learned: if you’re ever thinking of going to Qumran when it’s rainy elsewhere — don’t! The wadi will be closed for fear of flash flooding and you’ll be out 29 shekels.
After that crushing disappointment Tank and I weren’t quite sure what to do. “How about sitting over there and enjoying the view for awhile?” “Ok.”
Before too long it was time to hit the road — there was a cake to ice!!
On the drive home, we encountered this scooter gang?!?!? What?? Why? How?
I don’t know, but I did learn that scooters can have sidecars (!!). As Jon said, “This. changes. everything.”
Back home, Jon and I had a lot to do in order to finish the cake: (1) remove from pans; (2) cut into appropriate shape(s); (3) ice; (4) make it blue — ice the details; and (5) color and install the lights. The cake was served with Cremisan “Star of Bethlehem” red wine.
If I don’t say so myself, THIS CAKE IS AMAZING.
Jon originally got the idea to do an Enterprise cake from the Mom of 5 Daughters blog — but decided to improve upon it with lights. Delivery of the lights was facilitated through our friend Nick, one of the guys we met up with in Germany. Totally worth it? I think yes.
Mo and Kathleen joined Jon and I for the cake and First Contact viewing — for Jon, Mo, and I, this was our second consecutive celebration of First Contact Day.
After First Contact, we watched the Voyager episode Endgame — another one with the Borg Queen and time travel. Can I just say: Janeway is badass. She sacrifices her life to destroy the Borg and gets to say “Just enough…to bring chaos to order.” Baller.
Happy First Contact Day! Live Long and Prosper.