New Zealand 2017: Tongariro Crossing and Mount Ngauruhoe.


Hike-about is an adventure that commenced June 2010. After storing our household movables, ridding ourselves of a house but retaining our 'home' together, we set off with the purpose of hiking in different parts of the world, not forgetting the home country, the USA.

Our primary focus is hiking to mountain peaks but any challenging hike will do just fine. Extended stays enable us to enjoy and experience living in various places amongst differing cultures. Hike-about has evolved into a way of life. It's also a process of discovery, both the world and ourselves.

We work and live 'on the road' but return to the city in which our grandchildren reside, every couple of months. This provides us the wonderful opportunity to be with them as well as a child or two, even three and of course, friends.

By the end of 2022, the blog contained over 1,470 hikes, each a set of pictures with stories and anecdotes from the trails. An index to the right allows the viewer to identify earlier experiences.

Finally, we are often asked about the journey's end.
ur reply, as accurate as we can state, is: "When we are either forced to cease through health issues or the enjoyment level no longer reaches our aspirations, we will hang up the boots."

"A Life Experience As No Other: Dare to Seize the Day Together", published by Fulton Books, depicts our life on the road and mountains until the beginning of 2017. It has developed 'exponentially' since then.

Jenni and Jeffrey Lazarow

Whereas we continue to update the blog regularly, we no longer circulate email notifications often.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Another Great Trek

Mount Meron

The Great Trek - Part 1


Hectic and calm. Succah serenity and street noise juxtaposed. The reality of this world and the promise of things to come. Who knows but being in Israel created much internal debate and frequent discussions. However, that is much too serious a subject for now.

The journey to Seattle began after Shabbos, in fact, on Sunday. Our imaginations are not fertile enough to make up this story. We also don’t like to bore with ordinary travel (bore with special travel is okay?) but this might be of interest:
We arranged for transport to the airport early. All foreign bound flights, we were told, emanate from terminal 3, our drop-off point. On checking the departure advice, we found no listing of our flight. Ah! ‘Your flight is scheduled from terminal 1.’

Down the stairs, find and board the crowded bus and off to the correct terminal. Terminal 1’s entrance indicated entry through terminal 2, which we did—it was close by. Security was closed, for lunch we suppose, so we sat down and waited. Later, as is customary, the young security agent asked about our Hebrew. ‘We speak a little,’ we answered, ‘but our Russian is really starting to shine.’ Our ribs are turning black-and-blue with the constant jabs from our editor, though well deserved. We arrived at the airline ticket counter to find that service would commence 40 minutes later. They have to eat, too we realized. We stood in line and waited—hoping that someone would provide us lunch.

Not a star in Bethlehem

Immigration control gave us all the required rubber-stamps, followed by the usual security check for hand luggage and the metal detector walk-through. Interesting that, in arguably the strictest security system of world airports, ‘Sea Biscuit’ did not set off the alarm. This was a first. We hope metal is not a problem in issues of security these days but it gave us pause for thought.

A rush to the door by the other passengers raised our curiosity. ‘You are going to terminal 3 on the bus,’ the attendant told us.’ We were, for a change, confused. ‘If our flight is to leave from terminal 1, and having checked into that terminal, why are we now going to number 3? We should have gone there in the first place then—in fact we did.’
‘Do you think we’ll meet our plane somewhere on the tarmac?’ asked our editor. ‘Perhaps, a compromise,’ we answered. ‘We’re at 1, the plane’s at 3, how about meeting in the middle at terminal 2—sounds fair to us.’ To summarize, we took a shuttle to terminal 3, a bus to terminal 1, two hour check-in process and another bus back to terminal 3. Okay, it’s a system, we suppose.

A little work on the computer, board the plane only to have an hour delay while we waited for a take-off slot. ‘I hope our hotel is open for our 1 am arrival,’ our editor wisely asked. She had no argument from us.

We obviously departed from Israel, heading towards Geneva with a hotel booked in France as there were no vacancies in the former. Sounds strange or as we say in America, ‘neat’. Not really. The Swiss and the French are such ‘good buddies’, they share an airport and a language. Our idea was to land in Switzerland, sleep just over the border in Ferney Voltaire, returning to the airport to catch our Delta flight bound for Seattle via Amsterdam—see a lot of the world in twenty-four hours. ‘Man plans and G-d laughs.’

The trick is to leave Geneva Airport and pass through the French exit. As we arrived at midnight, the Swiss authorities only had two officials on duty causing a further delay. Finally, when we checked through immigration, we asked about entering the French side. ‘France is closed,’ he informed us curtly. “Closed,’ we exclaimed. We understand that it was the early hours of Monday morning and people need a good night of sleep but surely closing the country is a little extreme. Well, when you don’t like an opinion, you ask for another. ‘Yes,’ said the information attendant, ‘there are no taxis on the French side.’ We suppose they also went home to bed. We had no idea things were so strict in that country.

We decided to make our assault on France from the Swiss side as the taxis were operating locally. The plan was to make a border crossing by road, Jen would lie down on the back seat and we would wear our French beret. In an anti-climatic finish, the border post was unmanned and we alighted from our taxi, we suppose, successfully. We were then in France unchecked and only slightly scathed, mentally.

We entered the hotel lobby. Empty. We searched for assistance but of course, this was France— officially closed. Our editor spotted a note that instructed late arriving guests to proceed 200 meters to the left to get a room code. The problem was that it was vague. Remember it was 12:45am, a foreign land, two weary travelers, dark, language issues, cultural differences and of course, everyone else was asleep. The search for the room code had to begin in earnest.

Great Trek- Part 2

‘If we go left we will cross the border into Switzerland. Perhaps they meant on the left side of the road.’ We began to pace the distance, converting meters to yards as we progressed (regressed). No success. We flagged down a taxi and in our best French accent, asked for his advice. Okay, not a good idea. Another taxi driver stopped for us and, after explaining the issue, re-directed us. What a blessing! In parting, his words were: ‘Shalom, I’m Arabi.’ Our answer and sentiment: ‘And we are grateful.’ Says something about wearing a kippah in Muslim-France.

Look-out Post--Arbel

We now had direction and retraced our steps confidently, heading towards the establishment that held the secret code to our room. Time: 1 am, Monday. Place: Somewhere in France. What: Two aging ‘hippies’ wondering down a dark road apparently lost. We struggle with the concept ourselves but as we lived through it, it’s real. Our editor seemed to hit a high note when she made a statement that floored us. We suppose that after being in the Negev it does make sense. She said: ‘I really love walking in this cool air—I feel terrific.’ Context, my Love, context. Finally, we arrived at another hotel and found a person on duty. After some communication, he began his task. After ten minutes, he finally seemed to get the hang of ‘Windows XP’ and worked out the code. Off we went and after 100 yards, he chased and called us back about additional complications. Don’t ask what was discussed.

Fortunately, the code worked (we had serious doubt) and we showered and bunked down for the night. We felt wonderful that the next day could only improve. In fact, it was already the next day.

Later that day but in sunshine

The bus stop is outside our hotel and we elect to ride it to the airport, which is only two miles away. Things work smoothly and we are heading for Geneva airport. The roads in France are busy but appear orderly. A good night of sleep has obviously helped the populace. On the bus, we think about buying some tickets. We notice disinterest from the driver but see passengers feeding a machine with coins. Hmm! Coins. We just have a few pieces of colored paper issued by the governments of the United States, Switzerland and the European Union as well as credit cards. For a bus, we are paupers. We stand next to the driver but don’t wish to disturb him until he is ready. Meantime, the bus arrives at the airport and we approach him and say in clear and concise English: “We have no idea how to buy a ticket,” holding out ten Euros. He replies something that sounded like: Ugg jkafds gshdhns aaajjsjsj!!333@.” In our best French expression, we shrug our shoulders, jump off the bus, remembering to grab our lovely editor, too. Without her, we would only be half-a-person.
A ladder helps

Self-check-in procedures are in operation at the terminal. The system does not recognize us. Maybe the bus driver alerted the police following the ticket issue. At the check-in desk, a very nice Swiss fellow explains: “Delta overbooked the flight and you are now flying British Airways through London, later.” Obviously, buying the tickets 6 months earlier gave us no priority. We look at each other and smile. Then we know we are truly blessed. It’s easy to be happy when things are going well.

The fellow sends us off to the KLM desk where our new schedule is handed over and then off to British Airways. It works quite smoothly although we lost good seats booked so long ago. ‘How about the kosher food, we ordered?’ ‘Oh! You need to order that at least 24 hours before the flight,’ she informs us. Duh! We think the airlines do a great job—a great job making flying most unpleasant. Our plane was late from Geneva to London. We arrived in the chaotic terminal 5 at Heathrow with less than an hour to spare but not sufficient to buy standby items. Sure enough, there was no kosher food for us. South Beach diet? No. Weight Watcher special from London to Seattle—what a concept!

Although our editor likes boat travel more than we do, we’re starting to consider trying out a submarine. The way we are feeling, we think travel could only get better under water. As we write this, the cabin personnel brought us a bowl of fresh fruit. B’H.

We are disappointed that there is more excitement between hikes than during them. This is not the way it is supposed to be. When all is said and done, we are most grateful that we are back safely. B’H.

Finally, it was wonderful seeing our son, Gavin, waiting for us at the airport. A parent should have a child ‘in each port’.

Odds & Ends from Jerusalem

The Dead Sea

Shalom from Jerusalem,

In a mixture of English and Hebrew, the instructions were simple: “Through that alley, first right, right again, straight for a little bit, sharp left, then come back a little through the middle passage, the second or third door on the right or maybe left, he could still be there. You should rush to get there.” That’s how it sounded to us; we were wrong.

He, the person we were seeking, was the local seller of lulavs and etrogs in that vicinity of Arad. Not surprising, we were unable to buy a set in the town. It meant more pressure for the next day when we would arrive in Jerusalem.

We read about the many ‘Black Hebrews’ that reside in Arad—not to be confused with the Ethiopians. By the way, when we see these fellow African Jews melding into the local culture, we are ‘moved’ and delighted. Back to the ‘Hebrews’. In fact, there are three different sects. In our own classification, it would appear to be orthodox, conservative and very reform. We don’t know where we got that from but it passed through our minds. Anyway, when we experienced car trouble, Jen went off to the toilet (not because of car problems, of course.) ‘That will be two shekels,’ the attendant mentioned. Fortunately, it wasn’t a pay first system. When our editor needed a return visit, she went prepared. He looked at her sympathetically and waived the fee: ‘I understand your troubles,’ he said. We wondered whether he was referring to her bladder but then realized he knew about the car. Jenni found out that he emigrated from Ohio thirty years earlier. The reason: Being a ‘Black Hebrew’ he wanted to live according ‘to the law’ of his people. “So you’re Jewish,” she said to him. “No,” he replied, “we date back prior to the Jews.”

That would place him before Abraham. ‘We don’t think he looked that old,’ we mentioned to our editor. However, she has developed a bad habit of ignoring us much of the time. Nevertheless, it’s most interesting meeting such a diverse group of people, cultures and nationalities. We wonder if ‘by the law’ he was referring to the Noachide laws. Jen did not ask him, her mind was elsewhere.

We decided to set off early from Arad as there was much to do before the Chag. We were loading the car when a fellow decided to park his truck in the space next to us. Besides being an incapable driver, his truck was too large to fit. Not that it made any difference to him. While we were watching with trepidation, he parked us ‘in’ so that we could not move. We thought that was gross chutzpah. After explaining the obvious to him, we made little progress. This was a second test of our vows following Yom Kippur; the other being the car issue of the day before. Had he not compromised slightly by reluctantly moving his truck, and only two feet back, we were ready to put our editor on to him—red pen et al. That would have been ugly, indeed.

‘Okay, let’s get to the Crowne Plaza first, try secure a room early, unload luggage, get the car back to the rental company as they are closing at 1pm, buy a lulav, etrog and some food for the Chag, and then walk back to the hotel.’ Easier said than done in Jerusalem, especially for us. When we arrived, it looked like organized chaos. A few days ago, we wrote about the Russians. We see it now. The Americans are smart. They sent the Russians to Netanya and took the first prize, Jerusalem. We wasted our time taking a ‘crash course’ in Russian. In Jerusalem, English works for us, even the American adaptation.

Our navigator was on top form so we arrived at the hotel as hoped, were treated well, allowed an early check-in, found the rental car depot without missing a beat, food was easy and plentiful but the challenge was finding a lulav and etrog. We asked many people and received various opinions about markets, lulav agents, directions, distances and even prices. However, progress was slow. Then we sat our editor down, unburdened ourselves of all parcels and ‘Sea Biscuit’ decided to ‘hoof’ it in the Jerusalem dash. Meantime, our editor related how worried she had been, knowing the quality of our internal directional compass. We are pleased that she was concerned she might lose us. However, she maintains she was only worried about losing her passport. She’s becoming a Sabra already—a little tough on the outside. Fortunately, everything worked out very well although the day was stressful, to say the least.

We walked the streets of Jerusalem, watched the festivities and enjoyed eating in the Kotel succah on two occasions. It helps that one is able to carry food on the chag. One of the mitzvot of Succot is to be joyous. The City was bustling after first day Succot; it was vibrant. We listened to a few entertainment groups, especially a Chassidic father and son trying for early redemption. The atmosphere was different from any other place we’ve been. However, for tranquility and a little sanity, we intend to return to the Negev.

An interesting tidbit occurred while davening at the kotel one morning. Quite a few gentiles approached the Wall, prayed or at least, made their pleas or conversed with the Master. It gave us food for much thought.

We thought we had made a serious error when we arrived at the Great Synagogue the other day. For a moment, it seemed we were in an opera house. The Chazan and choir are a wonderful combination of singers. However, our opinion is that davening is not akin to a performance. With respect, we thought they forgot that the Shemoneh Esrei is eighteen blessings rather than a repetition of the amidah eighteen times. So, for Shabbos, we did the Jewish thing. We joined the Yeshurun Central Synagogue, which proved to be terrific and similar to La Jolla.

We wish you all a joyous Succot. We thank you for your interest, suggestions, comments, good wishes, wonderful anecdotes and mostly, for just being there.
Chag sameach,

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Still down South.....

Power of Nature

Another 'warm' ascent

Shalom from Arad,


Wadi Arugot at En Gedi

After a difficult drive through the mountains, the energy just wasn’t there. However, once we began the hike, the bodies kicked into overdrive or actually, low gear for the climb, and off we went. We were in the arid desert and on a very hot day. We are repetitious about the heat but what can we do, the weather is just that, hot.
The nights in Arad, by the way, have been very pleasant though. Many tour groups visit the town and our hotel, being one of only three, plays host to the tourists. On our first night, Orientals filled the lobby; for a moment, we thought we were back in San Diego. The second night, Nigerians and Ugandans; it looked like Johannesburg. We felt at home both nights. In fact, it’s wonderful to see Israel bustling with visitors. More importantly, our perception is that there is a sense of freedom and mixing of nationalities that would amaze the closed minds of the media and ‘intellectuals’ of the world. We have nothing against intellectuals, of course, only those who have no sense.

Very attractive, I'd say

Ein Gedi nature reserve has about seven or eight hiking trails ranging from easy to difficult. The test of whether we enjoyed the day is that on our next trip, we plan to spend a few days in this area so that we may undertake at least two or more hikes.
Surprise at the Top

As we mentioned, the area is rugged; of that, there is no doubt. However, the cliffs and mountains give it much character. We think during the in-between seasons, it could be a very pleasant place to spend a few days. Positioned opposite the Dead Sea, down the road from Masada, it is not far from Jerusalem.

The surprise of the day is that we came across water. Yes, we repeat there was a stream flowing from the top. We passed pools, walked in the stream and upon reaching our destination, found ourselves surrounded by slick rock in the immediate area with huge cliffs overlooking us. We were in complete shade and cooled our bodies in the fresh water.
Yo Down there--Wait for me

It was an oasis. We could not help thinking that this would have been a great place to hide from Herod and the Romans during those eras. A few partitions here and there, a carpet, some drapes and a person would think she was living in luxury. The natural rock formation was terrific at the higher hidden pools. It ended up being a great hike and we arrived back at the car feeling stimulated and pleasantly tired—much stronger than when we began.

Happy feet, smelly boots

The place also made our feet happy (water-cooled) although our boots might start smelling soon, if not already.
To set the scene, there is some vegetation along the stream. However, for the rest of it, only sand, stone and rock dominates hundreds of square miles. It is harsh, rugged and barren.
Main bedroom over here....maybe

On the way down, we came across an employee of the national park with shears, trimming the odd shrub that may have had some twigs or leaves protruding onto the trail. We would have thought that any growth should be celebrated, not destroyed. A strong pair of glasses or even binoculars might have helped the poor fellow do his job, too. Better still; a good imagination might have trumped all tools. What do we know?

Sadly, it was our last hike of this leg of the adventure. Some may wonder while others have posed the question: ‘Isn’t it enough?’ It’s a fair question; however, each hiking experience has proved to be an ‘investment’ in one way or another. Sounds odd but not to us.

See you,

Jenni and Jeffrey

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Positive about the Negev(tive)

Might be water.... but then again, maybe not!


In the Negev—hot, rocky, sandy but with a certain charm. You just have to look hard and long enough. It would be a stretch to call some of the land we have seen, attractive. However, there was something strikingly different and attractive about the Mahktesh Crater in Mitzpe Ramon. They refer to it as the little Grand Canyon in these parts. We would not go that far but there are some similarities with Canyonlands in Utah. In any case, we enjoyed quite a day in the Negev, the southern part of the country.

You want me down there? I thought you loved me.

Does it matter which way?

They laughed when we said it's not a battery issue

Our post Yom Kippur vows were put to the test this morning when the car ‘broke-down’ in the desert. We were not amused when our editor began singing: ‘I’ve been though the desert on a horse with no name…’ The tough part was convincing the rental car company that it was not a battery problem. The greater test occurred when, after nearly three hours of waiting, there was no sign over the horizon of a gallant rescuer. A very long story short, we have another car, we managed to get in the hike today but arrived very late for work. Do we look worried? Check out the picture with the team of mechanics.

Remind me about shade

We spent three hours hiking down to the crater or canyon floor and back. It was more rock hiking than anything else. If it was 100 degrees at times, we wouldn’t be surprised. The usual route is to hike down and get a ride back. However, we find the climbs most satisfying so we turned around before the end and struggled up about 1200 feet but enjoyed it very much. In the journey back to Arad, we were tired. The desert is harsh, rugged, tough and unforgiving but there is something uplifting as well. However, small doses are just fine, too. Once again, we found ourselves alone in this great expanse of sand and stone.

Hurry! They warned of flash floods

During our time in the desert, jet fighters flew above frequently. It gave one a special warm feeling to know that those were our ‘boys or girls’ above. Life is a gift comprising many facets. Logic, sense and intellect are vital but warm emotion is necessary, too. Keep the peace, fellows but hit ‘em hard when they need it.
Only a little more now

Last month, we wrote about Rabbi Zippel of Salt Lake City—his comments about chesed and other issues. He mentioned that chesed was not so much charity but rather, deeds of kindness that one does for a fellow human. Today, we were recipients of such chesed when a stranger helped us in every way he could with our car. Thank you, Alik, bless you. As for the rental company, we hope its customer service takes a turn for the better.
Ibex charge, better than a bear

Tomorrow, we intend to buy a lulav and etrog as we prepare to go up to Jerusalem.

Walk in the park.Right!

Chag Sameach,

Jenni and Jeffrey

Israel Catch Up

Afternoon Reflections in the Dead Sea

Shalom from Arad,

“Please tell me why you are hanging on the clothesline like a bat,” our editor asked, not unreasonably we thought. “I hope this is not a new form of pondering.”
“We need to dry off before shul; this is the only thing that seems to work in the heat. Maybe our kids are right—we ought to ‘hang-out’ more often. By the way, wasn’t it you who said things will cool off after Rosh Hashana.” Well, that did not go over too well with the boss as we returned from up North to Netanya for Yom Kippur. Now we are feeling a little infantile. At least, there is still Ellie to ‘hang-out’ with when we return.

Maybe being in Israel is having an effect. I suppose the language is proving to be a problem. Wherever we go—Netanya, Tiberias, Arad—, we struggle to make ourselves understood. We try hard to fathom what people say. Before we arrived, we studied Hebrew conversation using our old tape recordings. Alas, it just has not worked as we envisioned. Hebrew is the language of the synagogue. In the streets, you have to speak Russian. Who would have thought? America won the cold war; the Russians got some capitalism; Israel, many Russians.

We have been driving all over Israel these last seven or eight days. It is an experience. We think we could walk around proudly with a t-shirt that exclaims—We Drove Israel—(and hopefully, survived). We have never held out to be people with a sense of direction. In fact, our record attests to that. On the way to Tiberias, we came to a T-junction. We were traveling on highway 65, which according to the map, would lead directly to our destination. ‘Which way?’ we implored our editor who also fulfills the important role of navigator. We think when some ‘smart Alec’ spoke of ‘the blind leading the blind’, he or she had us in mind. ‘Stay on the 65,’ was the reply. ‘But,’ we answered, ‘the 65 just ended. It is now the 60, north or south.’ ‘Well, 60 is a close enough number to 65, so maybe that’s what they meant.’ Sometimes it isn’t our fault.

Yom Kippur in MacDonald Shul was a wonderful experience. Nora asked about the derivation of MacDonald. In fact, he was the first US Ambassador to Israel—Grover McDonald. There are some interesting facts about this man who was a strong supporter of Jews and the newly formed State. On a lighter vein, we spelt the name in one missive with an ‘a’ as in ‘Mac’. Upon turning the corner into MacDonald Street, we looked up to see the name without the ‘a’. Another error on our part. The following day, we arrived at shul from the opposite direction—(versatile rather than lost.) On the reverse of the same sign, the ‘Mc’ had an ‘a’. The Israelis are very forgiving. On checking, we notice it is without an ‘a’. Maybe tomorrow it will change.

The format in shul was exactly as expected. The theme set by the Rabbi included the ‘sin of the Golden Calf’, Hashem’s forgiveness, the covenant with the Jews, purity of the day and of course, to make the message practical. A difference was that we commenced at 7:30 am but at 13:40, stopped for…a break. Without being ‘subversive’, the gap was for a period of, 80 minutes less one deep breath, longer than that of Adat Yeshurun’s. Following services, in what would appear to be a sign of extreme observance, we only sat down to eat two hours after the fast ended. There was a mix-up in our breaking-of-the-fast arrangements and so we waited until the restaurants opened. First one to offer service was Pizza Hut—LeHaMadrin. We enjoyed caviar, washing it down with numerous cold glasses of Vodka. It felt good to be in Israel.

Perhaps the highlight, after the Shofar blowing and the completion of Kaddish, (a very moving moment as always), was gathering around the bimah and singing ‘Next year in Yerushalayim’. It was a great moment. I also wondered why the members of the shul don’t consider driving up more often or even take the train. Why wait? We intend to be there for Succot.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Cliffs of Arbel, Tiberias

King of the castle

Little Cliff

Shalom Aleichem,

Looking into the village of Hamam, just outside Tiberias, from 1300 feet above gives one a spectacular feeling. The sounds too, are interesting. We heard the roosters crowing, the crows roosting(?), horses neighing, donkeys braying, Jeffrey praying (the car would remain intact) and the jingling tune of the ice cream truck in the Arab village.
A Patio view

Grocery unpacking

The hike, actually it was more climb than hike, could stand anywhere in our opinion. It wasn’t that long in distance but we climbed steeply. It was thrilling reaching and standing on the top of the Arbel Cliffs, looking over the village below, Safed in the distant hills and the Kinneret.

A cooler view

Surprisingly, we came across only two people over the period and we think they were lost. It is an outstanding trail, climb and hike.

We explored the caves where people had secured themselves in earlier ages when Herod, for one, sent his attackers to rout resistance.

Sturdy as a goat!

It seems that man’s history, our current times included, are replete with destroy or be destroyed mentalities. We leave our issue a ‘wonderful legacy’. Okay, we’ll stop there, dear Editor. Meantime, we continue to be astounded that people lived 1300 feet above the ground with access via steep, rocky climbs and along narrow edges.

A few winks in the shade

Our editor wonders how they brought the groceries home after shopping. We’re still thinking about that one. We feel bad though. We thought shopping in Netanya was tough. Can we retract that paragraph from Tuesday’s narrative?
The weather. After the south-west district, we thought the north would be cooler. Ha! Talk about popular misconceptions. It’s okay because it’s a dry heat. Hmm! A hundred degrees is a hundred degrees, fellows. There was nothing dry about our clothes or bodies. We were even ‘wet behind our ears’.

Hot but great times!

The New York Stock Exchange is most erratic these days. We don’t mean the movement of prices. It is the opening time. What’s happening over there? Last month when we were in Washington, it opened at 9:30am. Switzerland—4:30pm, Israel—4:30pm last week and this week, 3:30pm. Man, we are having more difficulty guessing times than prices. You think your lives are difficult.
Our new home

We visited the pharmacy for a refill of cream that Jen received from the nurse at the Kibbutz Ami’ad earlier in the week. That in itself was an interesting experience. While Jenni was talking to the nurse, an elderly woman fell from her wheel chair while being pushed by a young Filipino assistant. The nurse came running out followed by a newly qualified male nurse—me. Anyway, back to the present. The pharmacist said in broken English, as broken as our Hebrew—‘no prescription, no medicine.’ Sad to have two great languages damaged like that. In a non-American approach, he waived the requirement ten seconds later. It was nice to see a professional using discretion.

Testing the view

This evening, after doing some business, we set off for the town to eat dinner. Tiberias has a nice atmosphere; we always enjoy our visits to it. We watched with interest as people talked, shouted, joked and greeted each other. Warm weather and warmth in outlook seems to be the order of the day. A little different from our days in Switzerland. We sat on a sidewalk and ate plates of salads with pita on the side and ‘cheeps’. Last night it was salad in the pita. Do you notice an adventurous eating pattern? Anyway, the point is that one can learn more about life watching the inter-action outside these little food shops than at university. Hell, you all knew that anyway.
Closing on summit

‘I think I have it,’ chirped our editor suddenly. ‘Have what?’ we asked. ‘I know how they got their groceries from Ralphs and Pick ’n Pay to the top of Arbel in the early days. Of course, they used donkeys,’ she informed us. ‘Aha,’ we exclaimed, ‘and how would we do that nowadays. ‘Same way. We’d use the ‘donkeys’ we marry,’ she mentioned with a twinkle in her blue eyes.
‘Ooh! And so close to Yom Kippur.’

Tiberias at night

To those who honor Yom Kippur, may you have a meaningful fast. To those whom we have offended this past year, please forgive us. (An unusual place to make the plea but our options are limited.) Have a great Shabbos, too.


Jenni and Jeffrey

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Climbing Mt. Meron

Shalom Aleichem,

At the base of the second highest mountain in Israel lies the kever (tomb) of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, a famous kabbalist (founder) and sage. It is a very popular spot but fortunately, the hiking trails are a lot quieter. We saw seven people in 5.5 hours. Close to a summit, we talked with a couple of women who were doing a multi-day hike from ‘sea to sea’—tough ladies.

And now......

Today, we got back into stride and pushed ourselves hard. Our hike took us to the top of Mt. Meron via an hour boulder climb on the blue trail (terrific, challenging, real climbing), followed by a push to the first summit and further ascent to the peak. We circumvented the peak for nearly an hour because the editor’s spouse pushed a little too much. Balance is a wonderful thing—it would be nice. However, our editor was calm, strong and in top form.
Part way up

We almost lost our way on two occasions but held it together and arrived at the car, twelve miles later, tired but still standing and may we add, smiling. The peak is over 4,000 feet above sea level. As an aside, one achieves a tremendously uplifting feeling after extended exertion. (There has to be a purpose for doing this, isn’t there?)

The hike comprised varied components, testing one, although more strenuous than difficult. We would offer the following observation thus far: the trails are rugged, enjoyable and hold their own anywhere but the countryside, mountains and terrain generally, are not as attractive in comparison with many other places we have visited.
A view from the peak of Mt. Meron

We are not comfortable making the latter statement but honesty should supercede emotion. However, we hope we are wrong and after all, it’s only an opinion. Israel, we think, is not a place for the faint of heart and perhaps it is the Land that produces such strength in Israelis.

An Ancient Shul

We passed an ancient shul, a new yeshiva, a moshav, what looked to be a military installation at the peak, and the kever mentioned earlier. The last part of the hike left the trail and forced us onto the road. Thereafter, we had to cut down another hill to arrive back at the car. By that stage, we were trudging down the street feeling tired and a little disorientated when we came across a crowd of observant Jews dressed appropriately for a visit to the tomb.

Way down...

It made us smile although we think our editor would have preferred to be wearing a skirt. Then again, where we hiked, a skirt would have been dangerous and completely immodest. Makes one think of ‘horses for courses’. By the way, ‘Sea Biscuit’ (titanium hip) was acting like a ‘tiger’ again. B’H.

Tzfat from Mt. Meron

Back at the kibbutz, we found that our neighbors had moved out, leaving us the only occupants of the twenty seven stand-alone rooms. As an aside, the accommodation was relatively expensive although we are happy to have stayed where we did. Jenni did not think it was appropriate for us to advance our theory of pricing in the context of excess supply. Apparently, she was only concerned that the Hebrew communication might prove awkward. It was interesting that our neighbors, for the first two nights, were a group of Muslims. Nothing to add other than they had barbeques on which they cooked french fries. Besides diet Coke, we have a weakness for those curly potatoes. However, we decided to exert willpower and took a cold shower instead.

Jenni and Jeffrey
Happy anniversary to Mark and Fiona Lazarow

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Itching to Climb Again

Nimrod's Fortress 800 years old - not bad!

Shalom Aleichem,

“A passport,” we answered, “but we are only driving the car to Northern Israel. We know Syria and Lebanon are close by but unless we take a wrong turn, we can’t see us visiting over there. And by the way, we walked here in 95 degree heat, high humidity may we add; we now have to walk back and return once more.” Car rental firms require a driver’s licence, passport and of course, money. Our editor was most gracious about our oversight—not even a slight rolling of the eyes. She really is a great one.
We ‘swam’ back to the hotel in our perspiration and returned to collect our car. While we were at the hotel, our editor thought she should check the directions to the kibbutz. By the way, the hotel had been prepaid so we were sure of a place to sleep. (Our editor couldn’t wait to get us on a trail again; we were starting to whine and that happens when we are inactive.) She put down the phone and mentioned that the arrangements had changed. ‘Back to Grindelwald,’ we exclaimed. Not a wise comment at the time, of course. The hotel management had overbooked so arrangements were made for us to stay elsewhere. Close by obviously. Sure, about 20 miles close. We are still wondering what would have happened had we not have checked. We are most impressed with ourselves. Our attitude differs in Israel. In fact, it has to, if one wants to survive.

We need a lot of glue to fix this!

An uneventful drive, only one wrong turn, brought as to Ami’ad along highway 90, above the Kinneret. It’s a great position. After eventually finding the reception at the kibbutz, we met the charming receptionist. She explained that we were only booked for one evening but she encouraged us to stay for the original three we were supposed to be elsewhere. Life was becoming quite complicated. Long story short, we actually liked the place and could not say ‘no’ to the pleading eyes of the receptionist especially as she served us breakfast in our room the next morning.

Who made this mess?

We headed for Nimrod’s Fortress, followed by an attempted hike up Mt. Hermon and then an afternoon hike along a stream to a waterfall. The visit to the fortress, along the ‘Road to Damascus’, was fascinating.
On Guard

It also allowed us to climb on the rocks and boulders like two children. The fortress is one of the largest in the Middle East. The civil engineers of the period were outstanding.
Drapes will make a difference!

It makes one think that if man would devote his energies to the positive rather than death, destruction and mayhem…sigh….. Room with a view

When we arrived at Mt. Hermon, the highest point in Israel and close to the borders, we met with ‘red tape’. We were stopped from climbing the route we wished to undertake. A soldier pointed to his ‘insignia’ and told us that’s how his battalion trained—climbing that impossible ‘hill’. We didn’t need to burst his bubble. We wanted to mention that our editor would be up and down that ‘hill’ before he could finish breakfast. We admit it was steep but we know our editor.
The afternoon hike, in dry heat climbing boulders and rocks, brought us back into the groove.

We enjoyed the day thoroughly, including driving through quite a few Arab villages. We caught a glimpse of the color of the north. The previous evening we had spent in Safed, which has its own charm. Too much has been written and not much said but we should stop and let you go.

Sunset in Safed

J & J