Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Trip to Israel

We’re here in the Land and we started running as soon as we got here. I suppose I should start this Journal with our trip down from Alaska. Rand McNally claimed it would take 79.3 hours of driving from Anchorage to Newark. They were pretty accurate as we arrived at our destination within an hour of “the plan” every night. It was an awesome trip all the way to the 78th hour… We were and hour and a half from Atlantic City where my plan had us driving up the Atlantic Coast, dipping in the ocean for a few hours that night, finding a nice Walmart parking lot and then spending Shabbat playing at the Island State Park before getting on our plane on Sunday. Traffic had been heavy but was easy off as we drove through Philidelphia. All of a sudden our new GPS told us there was a severe delay ahead and that we should turn off the highway to detour around it. I had a split second to decide what to do and I followed its direction. All day we had been seeing flooding creeks and rivers and one community totally flooded as Pennsylvania was having record breaking flooding from heavy rains. The GPS twisted us around to a closed road so I started making my way around downtown Philly with no idea where I was headed. I had been getting tired, but all of a sudden I couldn’t hardly keep my eyes open even with all the adrenalin flowing from being lost. I pulled into a parking lot so Paul could drive and I could navigate. We had to turn the motor home around to get out and as we drove back out Paul noticed a trail of liquid and was concerned it came from our motor home. He checked it out and sure enough it was! Our transmission had overheated and was leaking. It quickly leaked out all the fluid. We asked around the Philedelphia University neighborhood and got the name of a nearby mechanic. We limped it to his shop and he directed us to a transmission shop two doors down. The transmission guy was just closing up for the weekend, but he said he would fix it while we were gone and then find a place to store it. He also said we could spend the weekend behind his shop. We took a walk around the neighborhood and made some friends. They said if we’d come a day earlier the streets here were closed because of the flooding. With all of our immediate concerns taken care of we started looking for a way to get to the airport on Sunday. As we were weighing all of our options Paul remembered that we hadn’t dumped the sewage tanks on the motor home since Whitehorse in the Yukon. It would be very stinky if we didn’t clean it out before we left for 2 ½ months. After talking to the mechanic on the phone we decided to drive to the nearest campground and dump. He said the drug/convenience store next to us sold transmission fluid. My mom found a campground online that advertised itself as the closest to downtown Philidelphia at 25 miles away. When we put in the transmission fluid nothing leaked out so Saturday we drove to the campground with no problems. It was a nice campground with great showers and a nice laundry facility. Exactly what we needed! I asked the manager if she know of a place to store out motor home and she said they stored them right there! Praise Yhwh! By this time we had consulted with several mechanic friends who felt that since it didn’t start leaking again then it was probably the main seal versus the pump seal?? We decided to store it and then drive it to North Carolina when we get home and Paul can change the seal there. It will be cold when we return so it should be okay to drive for a while. (If any of you mechanics out there have any input, we’d love to hear it) On the way to the campground we drove by the Philidelphia International Airport to rent the cheapest car they had. That evening Paul and I drove to the Newark airport and rented a 12 passenger van while the kids showered and did the laundry.
The trip to the airport was uneventful and the plane rides were great. The food was delicious and Jet Airways had pillows, blankets and passed out damp washcloths. We spent 11 hours in the Brussels airport which turned out to be a blessing. They have great couch areas every so often that provided a perfect place to rest for the day. Our little group had three subgroups, the little kids slept great on the plane and were full of energy and ready to play in the airport. The older group didn’t sleep well on the flight and was ready to sleep at the airport. Paul and I made the third group, we didn’t sleep well on the plane but we had to take turns sleeping so that one of could watch the younger kids. I got lectured in some foreign language about letting my children ride the moving sidewalk by themselves; “they could have gotten their fingers cut off” (she switched to English after she went through the whole spiel and got a weak smile from me.) The sidewalk in front of the area we were hanging out in mysteriously quit working until it was time for our flight to leave. Our terminal was pretty empty all day so it was perfect.
We arrived in Tel Aviv at about a half an hour after midnight and went through customs with no problems. Monty and Dayton Warren and Eddie H. were there to meet us. Monty helped Paul rent our van and we got to the Warrens rented home at around 3 am. The group living there was going to leave at 5 am to go pick grapes. We were all feeling pretty good, the little kids slept great on the plane again, so we went with them. They were just picking a field that was being harvested for the first time. It had been burned 7 times by hostile Arabs. They were just getting started so we didn’t pick a lot of grapes. We were done by noon and then we went and had a picnic on a nearby mountaintop. We could see all the way to Tel Aviv. We all took a good nap when we got home and Abigail, Deborah and I even had enough energy to go to Ben Yehudah street and eat a Shwarma and pizza. We all slept good that night. Wednesday we had the day off from picking so we organized our room and went to the museum at Ammunition Hill.
Speaking of our room, we were intending to rent our own apartment but they have been very difficult to rent this year. The Warren’s were able to rent a very large house in Jerusalem. Before we arrived they had 25 living in the house, we brought the total to 36. Last year Paul and Abigail stayed with the Warren’s their first two nights in Israel and the boys gave up their rooms for them. This year, once again, the boys gave up their room for us. When I say room I should explain. The room is the entire top floor of the main part of the house. It’s got lower ceilings like an attic, but it is great. We have plenty of room, our own bathroom and a balcony looking to the east. You can click on the Warren’s Blog on the left sidebar and see pictures.
Frost heave on the Alcan...

I celebrated my birthday on the road...

Riding the train around the Newark airport. My kids loved it and you can't beat the price!!!

Resting on the train...

We had a picnic of motor home leftovers at the Newark airport...

Jet Airways was awesome, they were very polite and pillows and blankets were waiting at every seat.
Everyone had their personal TV with movies and video games.
The food was great!!!

We had an eleven hour layover in Brussels. They had these great couch lounges so we got lots of rest.

We were also able to finish off our motor home leftovers.

We can't get away from chores even in the airport. Below Quentin and David are sweeping up the crumbs.
Here's the plane we flew in from Brussels to Israel.

We had three window seats and the kids had it worked out to trade for take off and landing.

Benjamin was supposed to have the window for takeoff but he fell asleep before we even got on the runway. So, we switched he and David so as not to waste the takeoff. However, David then fell asleep before we tookoff!

Deborah got one of the windows for our landing into Israel.

Collecting our bags after landing in Israel.


Constance Todd said...

So how did you guys find Israel? Were you able to check out all the places related to Jesus? How was the food? I've was there more than a decade ago in the year 2000, and mind you, it was a little too long ago. I wish I can come back soon because I had a really great experience for my first time being there.

Constance Todd

Susan said...

We had a wonderful time in Israel. We didn't come close to checking out all of the places related to Jesus. We did get a chance to tour around some though and we really enjoyed that. We really enjoyed the food. It was wonderful to have all of the fresh fruits and vegetables. We especially liked the swarmas and falafals. We would love to go back.