03-Oct-2002 -- October normally heralds in the season of camping and outdoor adventures, here in Saudi Arabia. The temperatures were still hovering around the 40°C mark with about 30% humidity, however this did not deter us getting out, especially with the challenge and adventure of getting to the 25N 49E confluence, even if it was as a day trip.
The trip from al-Khubar was estimated to be about 200 km, of which 160 km was to be on the Highway 2 (heading south to Ḥaraḍ), 30 km on a rough untarred road and the final 10 km or so would be off-roading.
We gathered at 7:30 am on a brisk Thursday morning, as usual at our favourite spot in the car park of the Ramada Hotel on the Abqayq Old Road, the temperature was already around 30°C! After the preliminary checks on our planned itinerary and equipment (even for a day trip, we take with us the necessary rescue and survival equipment and provisions), we set off on the Dammām-Hufūf highway. At the split of the highway after the cement factory, we headed south towards Ḥaraḍ. After a further 60 km we turned right, following the signs to `Uḍayliya. All around the area we found pipelines, pumping stations and other oil and gas process jigs, we felt really disappointed, would this mean that the confluence point may be fenced off? But we still had about 40 km to go to the point.
After passing `Uḍayliya, we turned into several potential tarmac roads heading west, but the roads just ended up in a cul-de-sac. On the fourth attempt, we stumbled upon a newly laid tarmac road, which lead us almost across on the 25° latitude, and as soon as we were on it, the jigs and the pipelines disappeared, giving way to a flat and rocky terrain with small jabals dotted around. The road came to a T-junction, one road heading south, and the other heading north. Our confluence point was about 12 km in the westerly direction, so without hesitation we were soon driving on the flat stony plains (we did not deflate our tires), zigzagging around the small jabals, and soon we approached the Confluence with our hearts almost in our mouths! This was our first confluence point and we were so overwhelmed by the experience. After the photo sessions, we settled in for a lovely picnic lunch of home made pies and tuna sandwiches under the shade of the awning.
After combining the Ẓuhr and `Aṣr prayers, we headed back home, contented with our achievements. On the way back, we played around climbing the small jabals and exploring the areas around them. The journey back was uneventful and we arrived home safely as the sun gloriously announced the end of the day.