Patrick and Rosalie Clark didn’t just go to Israel, they made a pilgrimage.

As Christians who take their religion seriously, they wanted to see where it all began.

This pilgrimage had a few things not associated with the Bible: bus tours for one.

But they could still marvel at the ancient sites, such as where Jesus performed the miracle of loaves and fishes; the town of Nazareth; the River Jordan, where John the Baptist baptized Jesus; and of course Bethlehem.

Pat Clark, when not traveling, is perhaps better known in Orange County as the 128th District Court Judge.

While overseas, he met a man from Scotland who happened to be a former judge. And his wife’s name was a variation on Rosalie, spelled Rosalynd.

“The locals there told us that just two years ago, because of all that was going on [in the Middle East] the travel rate was down big time,” Pat says. “But now they said it was up and people were coming from all over the world.”

The Clarks, who on this trip renewed their vows at Cana, have three children and seven grandchildren. They recently celebrated their 39th wedding anniversary.

“After we returned, a lot of people asked about the food,” Pat says. “There were times when we didn’t know what we were eating, but it wasn’t bad. Another thing people ask is how tense it was. At one checkpoint we had armed guards walk through our bus, but in no way did we feel in danger.”

One more stop was the Wailing Wall.

“It’s still like it was all those years ago,” Pat says. “A section for men and for women. There were notes stuck in the wall, obviously messages to what a lot of people were praying for. The Israelis asked us to wear a yarmulke (the Jewish religious head garment), and said to not have ‘our Christianity showing,’ otherwise we might get spit on.”

The couple saw Jericho; Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found; and the garden where Jesus went to pray before he was crucified.

“We also saw the desert where John was a priest and Jesus went to the desert,” Pat says. “That is one barren land. We saw camels running around, and sheep looking for shade.”

Pat says that Mount Zion, the place of the Last Supper, is “ … not actually owned right now by the Christians.

“I’m not sure which sect it is, but when Pope John Paul II wanted to say Mass there, the Israelis relented. That was a big deal to allow him to do that.”

There were plenty of souvenirs, and plenty of gift shops.

Pat couldn’t resist the chance to get some Frankincense and Myrrh, two of the three gifts given the Christ Child.

However, he was told the items would be confiscated.

“The man said he wasn’t sure why, but they don’t let it out of the country.”

A small concession for the Clarks, who would love to go back.

“This was just a tip of the iceberg,” Pat says. “Now that we’ve been, a more in-depth story would be welcome.”