Touring in Israel

Sunday we went with the JUC group on the student activity day. They do one each semester. Last semester we went hiking in the Golan Heights. This time we went on a short hike in the Shephelah and then to the beach in Ashkelon.

The Shephelah is agricultural land here so it was really green. We got rained on a bit and it was cool, but the hike was beautiful and not too difficult for the pregnant lady. 🙂

At noon we barbecued and then headed to the beach. Joanna’s been near the beach a couple of times here but never in the water. This time she got to go in the water. She was very hesitant at first and took a little while to warm up to the idea of water rushing at her feet. Eventually, she figured out that the water came to her and she got excited each time a wave came close.

This was our last big outing as a family in Israel, and it was so much fun!


My parents flew in last Thursday. It was a rough landing…

On a more serious note, we’ve been having a great time.  We spent a few days this weekend at the Sea of Galilee. We started at Caesarea on the Mediterranean, spent a day driving around the Sea of Galilee, saw many ancient ruins, took a boat ride on the sea, stayed at a wonderful guest house and had lots of fun together.

Here’s Grandpa and Joanna playing in the Sea of Galilee.

Brandon taught us while Joanna played in the ruins.

We’ve also been exploring a bit more in Jerusalem. This morning we went to the Garden Tomb, a possible location of Jesus’ tomb.

Mostly Joanna’s been having fun with Grandpa & Grandma here.

This morning Joanna and I went with some friends to the Jerusalem Zoo. This was Joanna’s first zoo experience, and she loved it. She especially liked the monkeys. The weather was perfect, the zoo had very few visitors and the only noises were animal noises (no horns honking, bells ringing or Muslims chanting). It was wonderful.

Friends: Maryann (18 mo), Zoe (2.5 years) and Joanna (18 mo). All three are blonds and all three have August birthdays.

We had a fun morning at the zoo!

Today was my dad’s last day here so we spent some time at Sambookies and walked down Ben Yehuda street.  Here are some of the pictures of the day.  By the way, today is National Plant a Tree Day here in Israel. 

It was crazy on Ben Yahuda St.  In celebration of plant a tree day, there were a number people dressed like plants and trees. Dad loved it.

This is one strange looking lily.

After our time on Ben Yehuda, we took a long stroll back to our place.  On the way, my dad had to take a picture with the windmill.  I guess I would question what kind of Dutchman he was if he hadn’t.

After the windmill and a stroll through a park, my dad found some new friends.  It is too bad they can’t go home with him.

He will be leaving on a shuttle back to the airport in a couple of hours.  It has been great having him here.  We were able to see more of Israel and show him how we have been living for the past couple of months.  We hope that he had a great time with us and we will be really excited to see him again in May.  Thanks for the great time dad.

This morning Grandpa and Joanna made rice crispy treat houses.

This afternoon Brandon and Bill went to Bethlehem. They saw the Church of the Nativity, Shepherd’s Field and their taxi driver insisted that they go to the Milk Grotto.

Bill actually got to see the star, marking the tradition place of Jesus’ birth. Typically the line is over an hour long, but he only had to wait 15 minutes.

Here they are at the fountain in Shepherd’s Field.

Here’s a look inside the Milk Grotto (I’ll let you google that one yourself if you want more info.)

We can hardly believe that his week here is nearly over. We have just a few local things planned for tomorrow and then it’s off to the airport.

This morning we all piled in the car for a trip to Masada and the Dead Sea.

Although you’ve already seen several pictures from Masada, we thought this is a new one. This is a columbarium tower which housed pigeons in  the little compartments.  Pigeons were equal to today’s email.  Pigeons always fly back to their birthplace so the Romans would tie a message to the pigeon and release it.  For example, a pigeon born at Herod’s palace in Jerusalem would be taken to Masada and it’s birthplace noted. When a message had to be sent from Masada to Jerusalem, they would attach it to this bird and release it to return to Jerusalem. Pigeons were the fastest way of communication.  In addition to providing messages, the pigeon droppings were used for fertilizer and the feathers were used for pillows. 

This is Grandpa Bill and Joanna on the top of Masada looking towards the Dead Sea.

Dad floated in the Dead Sea. The water was very rough and he had a hard time dodging the waves but at least we got a couple of pics of him on the water.

Tomorrow we’re headed to Bethlehem.

For the past couple of days my dad and I went to the Mediterranean Sea to tour Caesarea and Akko.  It was really cold as there was a strong breeze off the water and it was raining.  But, we stuck it out and enjoyed our time at those sites. 

Dad waving from the steps of the theater in Caesarea. 

It rained on us at the Akko harbor. Akko is one of the world’s oldest known seaports. It was already established in the times of the Phoenicians (possibly as early as 1200 BC).

Me in the rain 🙂

Today we spent time around the Sea of Galilee.  It didn’t rain, but it was still a little chilly. Here’s Dad at the Church of Beatitudes.  (He also lost his hat there.  Thank goodness I was able to find it and save the day.)

And here he is at Capernaum.

Taking a dip in the Sea! 

Standing on the banks of the Jordan River (and no it was not commercialized when Jesus was baptized.) 

Our last stop of the day was Beit Shean. Dad is standing on stage in this picture.

Tomorrow we’re headed to the Dead Sea and Massada.

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