April 22, 2006

Trip to the Golan Heights

Near the end of April we decided to take long weekend and visit the Golan Heights with the Abbotts. Scott took Thursday off work and we headed north. Our first stop was Hazor, which was the largest Canaanite city and was also conquered by Joshua. Later, it became one of Solomon's royal cities.

Hazor ruins

After visiting Hazor, we drove to the Manara cliffs. This was an important stop because it had the one major cable car that we hadn't ridden in Israel. Tyler was both excited to ride on it and a little scared.

Manara cliff cable car

At the top of the Manara cliffs, there were inflatable slides for the kids to play on. We also rode on a wagon pulled by a tractor. We stopped to see flowers unique to the area and we saw the fields where the kibbutz grows fruits. At the end of the ride we stopped on a road along the border with Lebanon. We even waved to a UN peacekeeper across the border.

After we rode the cable car down, we all rode on the alpine slide, except for Brooke who was too small. This alpine slide is more like a roller coaster than the alpine slide we rode on in Utah. A cable pulls the car to the top and then you roll down track, controlling your own speed. Tyler loved it and wanted to go faster.

Alpine slide

After the Manara cliffs, we drove to the Hula Lake nature preserve. Doug was able to talk his way into getting us a good deal on a golf cart rental. We then drove around Hula Lake in our golf cart. We saw lots of cranes (birds, not construction equipment) and coypu, large semi-aquatic rodents.

Hula Lake golf cart

If you look closely you can see the birds on an island in the lake. It was a beautiful evening and the weather was great. Scott enjoyed driving the golf cart and Tyler was very jealous. We barely made it back to where we started because the battery started to run down. All of the other golf carts passed us, but fortunately we made it back.

Hula Lake sunset

We then went to the hotel and tried to get the kids to sleep. It's always a little harder in a hotel because they are excited about the new environment. Even worse, we're all four in the same room. Ali was nice enough to come over and babysit so we could go out for a late snack with Doug and Mary. In the morning, we ate our breakfast of cold cereal and yogurt that we had brought with us. The hotel had a beautiful courtyard with many tables and chairs to use. Afterwards, we went to Tel Dan, a national park. Tel Dan is the source of the Dan River that eventually joins with the Yar River to become the Yar-Dan (Jordan) River. It is also the site of the ancient city of Dan.

There are several hiking paths through the park. We hiked past a water-powered flour mill to a small pool. We took off our shoes and waded in the pool. The water was cold and refreshing on a hot afternoon.

Tel Dan pool

After drying off, we hiked to an ancient Canaanite city, saw the ruins of an Israelite city and walked through an old army bunker. Dan was a strategic location in the northern part of Israel.

After our visit to Tel Dan, we ate at a wonderful restaurant called Dag Al HaDan, which means fish on the Dan. We had grilled fish raised in the fish nursery there and enjoyed the beautiful setting. There were streams running beside the tables and ducks and geese swimming in the water. Doug and Scott took Tyler and Brooke on a walk across a few small bridges to see the peacocks.

Dag Al Ha Dan

After we ate, we drove to Metulla, one of the northern-most cities in Israel. We drove next to a national park that was already closed for the Sabbath. We found this abandoned lookout tower on the same road because we were close to the border with Lebanon.

Lookout tower near border with Lebanon

This is one of the water falls in the Ayyun national park. We could only look at it through the fence since the park was already closed, but it was still a beautiful view.

Tachana waterfall

Down the same road, we found an old tank near a park. We had fun climbing on it and in it. Tyler was thrilled to "drive" the tank.

Metulla tank

We drove south again to visit Joshua's fortress and took this picture of Hula Lake from the road above.

Hula Lake from above

As we were driving through the hills, we found a small historical site with ancient ruins of a Roman temple. Doug and Scott went for a walk through the trees to the ruins. They saw several cranes nesting in the trees. However, we found this tree full of cranes just across the road from where we parked the car.

Tree of cranes

We returned to the hotel and then Doug and Mary offered to watch the kids so we could go on a date. We drove to a restaurant in nearby Rosh Pina called Macaroni and Grill. We ate a skewer of shrimp and delicious chocolate desserts.

In the morning we had breakfast in the hotel courtyard again. Doug took our picture in front of the beautiful flowers surrounding the courtyard.

Hotel courtyard

We then checked out of the hotel and drove to church. After church we went to Katzrin, an ancient Jewish village from the 4th to 7th centuries that has been restored. Tiffany tested what it would have been like to sweep the floor back then.

Katzrin kitchen

Scott is standing in the remains of the synagogue. It was used by the villagers for nearly 400 years and is the best preserved synagogue in the Golan.

Katzrin synagogue

Then we drove home after a wonderful weekend trip to northern Israel.

"You woke me up. Now I have to start my dream over." - Pretending to sleep in the car.
"Daddy, I wish you could be an army man." - Tyler is obsessed with military vehicles.
"Our energy is running out of time." - Tyler was getting too tired to walk.

"8, 9, 10" - These are Brooke's favorite numbers to count.
"More. Store." - Whenever we are out of milk.

Posted by sjbowden at 6:23 PM

April 16, 2006

Passover and Easter

Our friends, Rivi and Efrat, invited us to join them for their Passover Seder. The Seder is the dinner that starts the Passover holiday. Nearly every part of the meal symbolizes some part of the Israelite captivity in Egypt, the plagues, the passing over of the destroying angel and the exodus.

The Seder was in Givat Shmuel, near Tel Aviv, at Efrat's mother's house. It was a wonderful dinner. We stayed until 12:30 AM. The kids did really well and really enjoyed it. It was fun that we know more Hebrew now and so we appreciated the singing much more than the last two years.

Passover dinner

On Saturday, we had District Conference which was combined with an Easter program. As usual, the conference was at the BYU Jerusalem Center. The grounds were beautiful with spring flowers.

Spring at the Jerusalem Center

Brooke loved wearing her Easter dress. This is a view looking from the BYU Jerusalem Center towards the Old City.

Easter Dress

Tyler's favorite part of Jerusalem is the "Gold Dome" or Dome of the Rock.

Tyler and the Gold Dome

On Sunday, for Family Home Evening, we had an Easter egg hunt. The plastic eggs were filled with things relating to Easter. Then we used them to teach Tyler and Brooke the Easter story.

Easter egg hunt

After the Easter egg hunt, we colored eggs. Tyler was very intrigued by the colored water. It was Brooke's first year to participate in the coloring.

Coloring eggs

Next, the kids searched the house for their Easter baskets. Surprisingly enough Brooke found hers in her room.

Brooke's Easter basket

Tyler found his in his room too. It took a little while to get the kids to bed after we let them eat some chocolate and candy.

Tyler's Easter basket


"Jerusalem is better than all the houses in Haifa, because it's the gold dome and it's pretty there." - Tyler loves Jerusalem.
"Mixed hair" - About a boy with streaked hair.
"Does that look like a good idea?" - It sounds good to us.

"quares" - Chocolate squares, her favorite cereal.

Posted by sjbowden at 10:39 PM