Coke Smith Photography & Travelogue


A couple fighting Arabian Oryxes taking a break to check us out in Shaumari Reserve in eastern Jordan. 


I have wanted to visit Petra for years!  Ever since I saw Indiana Jones back in the 80's (although I knew of Petra well before this...), I started planning for a trip to this region.  Well, in the spring of 2003, we finally did it!

Som, Cokie and I were able to squeeze one week in the amazing country of Jordan.  We were a little nervous traveling to the Middle East so soon after 9-11, but we also realized this was a great time to visit as no one else was!  And we even got some great rates!  One scary side note however was when the Holiday Inn we stayed at for a couple nights in Amman, and enjoyed being invited to a Jordanian wedding, was bombed and destroyed the following year by a suicide bomber.  Makes one think...

We spent about a day in Amman but our main goals were out of town.  We B-lined it straight for Petra where we spent only two short days exploring the ruins and the surrounding region.  Although we only had a brief introduction to this amazing place, we both felt we had a good first-exposure to the archaeological and natural wonders of this phenomenal city and region.

We trekked the complex for miles.  Climbing inside the numerous tombs was a blast.  While we were there, we heard a Gregorian choir singing inside the various chambers of the tombs giving everyone an amazing concert.  I found it fascinating observing all of the chatting tourists become completely silent to listen to this beautiful choir fill the acoustically perfect chambers with beautiful music.  This enhanced our experience of Petra tremendously.

We hired a couple mules to take us up to the tops of mountains to see more ruins such as the impressive Monastery, which I consider one of the most spectacular of all the facades in Petra.  And to think, prior to my visiting Petra, I really thought it was basically one ruin - the famous "Treasury" facade only!  This city is massive and stretches for miles!

We spent another period of time in Jordan's expansive Wadi Rum desert!  Featured in so many movies, Wadi Rum is an amazing landscape that words cannot describe adequately.  We enjoyed climbing the dunes and soaking in the scenery.  We were supposed to camp with the Bedouins but were unable to as the region was experiencing a massive sand storm.  Oh well, at least that allowed us one more night at Petra and some great Jordanian grub...and a great excuse to come back to Wadi Rum some day again. At least we had a great full day at Wadi Rum the following day.

We explored the other wadi and canyons of western Jordan for another day while heading up to the Dead Sea and Jordan River Valley.  Here we explored impressive Biblically-sacred sights like Mount Nemo and other locations.

And of course I had to get some wildlife action in!  We arranged for a trip to Shaumari Reserve, the last place in Jordan's desert to see semi-wild Arabian Oryx, Arabian Gazelles, Onager Wild Asses and other endangered Arabian fauna.  And while there we actually had a great sighting of a wild endangered Arabian Wolf!  Wow!

Our trip to Jordan concluded with a Castle-loop drive which allowed us to experience cool midieval oasis stops that were once the lodges and brothels for the massive caravans that once covered the great Arabian deserts.


Be sure to visit our Photo Galleries for more spectacular images of our travels! (Pbase Galleries)


Here are some images of our trip to Jordan!




We both took turns posing with our beautiful son in front of Petra's famous "Monastery" facade.  I loved hearing Cokie's reaction the other day while he was watching "Transformers II", when he noticed that they had filmed a good chunk of that movie right here!  "Hey!  That's where I went when I was a baby!"







The below is a collection of images of Petra featuring the "Treasury" which is definitely the most famous facade of all.  And take a look at that poor mule, who I tortured during a 12 km trek up the hills to see many of the other ruins, including the Monastery.  Poor thing....but he did it without even the slightest struggle!  I couldn't believe it!




Wadi Rum is absolutely one of the world's most spectacular deserts.  And this being said by someone who has seen every one of them! (except the Gobi....not yet)




We enjoyed trekking the desert, climbing the dunes and exploring the canyons looking for petroglyphs while in Wadi Rum.  Next time we will camp out with the Bedouin for sure!




Cokie on his own Wadi Rum desert walk-about.






Images of Wadi Rum




A couple Bedouin girls coming to say hello.  We did meet several local Bedouins while there.  They were genuinely friendly and curious about us, and we of course just as curious about them!



Cokie and a new friend at the Madaba Saint Georges Church of the Holy Sepulchre, located near the Dead Sea and the Israel border.  This is supposedly one of the most sacred sights in all of Christianity.






The ancient Roman Dhat Ras ruins located in the countryside of Jordan.  We were impressed by the variety of ruins and archaeological sights in Jordan.









Cokie and Som exploring the Qusayr Amra Castle during our "Castle Loop" drive we did one day in eastern Jordan.  There was one point we were less than one hour outside of Iraq!  I was blown away by the endless parade of blown up US tanks and trucks we passed along the highway coming out of Iraq.  It became very clear to me that we were NOT getting the full story out of Iraq on our casualties and the real cost of our stupid war in Iraq.  May GW rot in hell for this.



We had free reign of the castles we visited.  There was no one watching us and we could climb anywhere we wanted!  This is a view from the very top of Qasr Al-Kharaneh Castle looking in to the interior of the ruins.




Striped Hyena (cap.) were once common in the Arabian desert.  Now they can only be seen in reserves like Shaumari in the eastern Jordanian desert.



At first I was not sure what I was seeing!  It did not look like any wolf I had seen before.  But when I saw the captive wolves in Shaumari, I finally realized what the ranger was trying to tell me in Arabic that what I was looking at was in fact a very rare and endangered Arabian Wolf!  This was seen outside of Shaumari along the desert roads we traveled to the reserve.  Once in Shaumari, we saw the semi-wild populations of Onager (Wild Ass), Arabian Oryx and Arabian Gazelles.



An Arabian Gazelle seen in Shaumari Reserve.




An Arabian subspecies of the Ostrich is also a common resident at Shaumari.



We traveled as far east as Azraq to see what is left of a once vast wetland.  Now relegated to a few ponds, Azraq is still an important stop-over point for migrating birds.  We were there during the wrong season so we didn't see many birds but I could see the potential.




Som trying to get Cokie to pose in a field of blooming Black Irises.  Cokie had other plans however...

Be sure to visit our Photo Galleries for more spectacular images of our travels! (Pbase Galleries)