Weekend lizard hunting and dancing

I am late writing this… and I almost decided to skip this week.  BUT….  I decided that I had best keep with my blogging goal (at least once a week) and write about my weekend family hike…


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The boys pointing the way to go… This is a train stop for the Heber  Valley Railroad… or as we always called it the “Heber Creeper”… (didn’t know that “Heber Creeper” was not the real name… wonder if they changed it…. hmmm… Creeper is such a cool name)  I used to smash pennies on this track.

Before I begin… I just realized how fortunate for all of you who are still reading this that I didn’t just lay around in bed all weekend and watch TV… that would have made for a really boring post.    Warning this might not be any better than that…


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Here is the start of the trail… nice and shaded.

Isabelle has taken upon herself to ensure that the family becomes “active”.  She purchased a year pass to all of the state parks and being extremely “frugal” she is going to make sure that we get our value.   This weekend we hiked the Deer Creek trail starting from  Soldier Hollow. ( this is the place of the 2002 winter Olympics and right next to my childhood home)

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I do not believe this trail existed when I was a kid.   I remember just walking the railroad tracks.   At the beginning of the trail you can see a big rock.   If you look closely you will see the profile of a face.

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When I was a kid I remember the first time I  hiked up to this rock.   I was with a friend named John and he insisted that I sit in the “eye”.   Once I did he explained to me that this was a “cursed” rock.  If anyone sat in the eye… they would haunted by the spirit of a Indian warrior.   I laughed when he said it but inside I was really freaked out.   In fact if you add up all of the nights I woke up with nightmares of arrows being shot at me by this ghost I think I lost at least a weeks worth of sleep.  John liked to scare me.  I liked John…  but just not that part of him.  He was also the one that introduced me to the Ouija board with all of the related scary stories.   Not cool now that I think about it… and well I might be just as bad because I wanted to have my kids sit in the eye and tell the same story.

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When going on a hike it is important to heed all state park signs.  This one told us that we couldn’t have motor vehicles.  We also have to leave our pet dogs or our pet cows in the car… or maybe even home.  Yep this is a “cow free” trail… (Cows are always unfairly excluded)   The sign included a warning for snakes with a picture of a rattle snake.   I told the boys (Gwen didn’t come) that I was big enough to not to have to worry about the bite being fatal… but they would probably die within minutes.   (You can never be too careful).   The boys laughed off my warning… little did they know what lied just up the trail.

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YES… The first “wild” thing we saw was a snake!  and as far as the boys were concerned this was a “baby rattler”.   Not sure why they thought this other than they didn’t know what a gopher snake looked like and I happened to mention that it looked like a rattle snake. (Didn’t lie… it kind of looks like a rattle snake… without the rattle)

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I mentioned that I used to catch lizards here and the boys asked if they could catch and keep one.   I said sure.  (Isabelle gave me the  “look”)   With this as a new goal, the boys began showing real enthusiasm for the hike.   Lizards are pretty hard to catch and with my eyes they are now even more difficult to see.  Can you see the lizard in the picture above?

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Here is a close up…  can you see it now? Fortunately for me the boys chased many but were not able to catch one.   (Lizards stink and Isabelle would have been very angry with me for letting them believe they could keep one)

While the boys enjoyed the lizard hunting… (Next week we are bringing our blow guns) Isabelle and I enjoyed the view and the flowers.   Here are some of those pictures.


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This is looking north towards our weekend “bunker”… (Isabelle hates it when I call it that… she calls it our “Maison de Campagne”)

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Looking South… towards the dam.   This is a reservoir.

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We hiked 4 miles round trip and the boys actually were making plans for the next weekend hike.   Isabelle and I were very happy that the children got out and spent some time away from all of their “screens”.   Both Ben and Sam at least were able to touch a lizard… Isabelle  said next hike we are going to bring hand sanitizer… and I re-lived some very dear childhood memories.  I use to “skinny dip” on this side of the lake.

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Here is the end of the trail and the end of this post.   Before I finish I wanted to share a video.   Ben and Isabelle went to a wedding reception later that evening and Ben proclaimed that he was the “KING OF DANCE”.   I hope you enjoy some of his “moves”.

Weekend and Father’s Day

Happy Father’s day to all of you fathers out there!  I want to share with you the wonderful day that I was able to have with my children and wife.   My children on this day reminded me how lucky I am to be their father.  It is very humbling to have such wonderful love shown to me in the form of words, gifts, and hugs.  I find myself again contemplating all of the “self improvements” I need to work on to be actually worthy of the title of father.  I am fortunate in that my kids don’t know better and accept me as I am.  (I still need to work on being a better father… even if they have low standards)

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Today was beautiful and began with a wonderful walk with Isabelle.   (It is nice that she helped me become a father and  it was  enjoyable… it is even nicer that she helps me become a better father every day… although maybe not as much fun… I told her in English what she did was called “nagging”… hope she doesn’t look that one up.).

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After our morning walk the kids were awake and were ready to start my day with gift giving.   I was not surprised that there were gifts since all of them had been talking non stop about my presents for at least a week.   I appreciate any gift (who doesn’t… ) but I especially love gifts that are made by hand.   I was not disappointed this years since each child made me a gift.

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My oldest daughter Hanna gave me this cactus in a colorful pot that she had “felted”.   I can’t wait to take this to work… I hope I don’t kill it!

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Ben with the help of Gwen and Sam made me a father’s day shirt.   Isabelle was a bit worried that they added well… weird art all over it… (you can’t see but they drew arm pit hair under each sleeve)…. I love it… I think this is an odd picture of me wearing a scarf (Inky Dinky Do scarf)

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Gwen made me a wooden puzzle in shop.  I love the idea of her building this for me and who doesn’t love wooden puzzles.   This is already more than I expected but she offered me several other odd “accessory gifts”.

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Wood glue in case I broke the puzzle she made
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a “gummy monkey”… hmm?


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And last a “grow a Unicorn”…ya… I think she is just messing with me…

The last gift was from Sam.  He went to home depot and got some plastic pipes, spray paint, and electric tape.   He used all of this to make me a “blow gun”.   It is actually a lot of fun to shoot.  I think he must have already tried it out since the moment I put it to my mouth his little brother Ben yelled don’t shoot me it hurts.  (the darts are cones made from post it notes… I plan on upgrading these cones with needles and cotton… which will really hurt! )

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As you can see I have wonderfully creative children and I couldn’t be anymore proud and feel anymore loved.


Weekend Home – Wrap up for trip to Israel

I am finally home and enjoying time with my family… which includes boring them all to tears with my stories and pictures of Israel.   (I guess my trip story telling is not as exciting as actually being there…kids can be rough critics…)   I am going to rid myself of all of my desires to share my trip here… so in other words I will be boring all of you to tears!… (Sorry wished I could promise more… although there will be a weird picture or two)

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Ben loved the idea of a big “chess” game…  I showed this to him while video chatting.   I think he was more excited to see this than me.

I stayed at Herods in the city of Herzliya.  (I finally know how to say the name of the place) I want to share some pictures of my hotel… ya… I know… if you are like my children you are rolling your eyes. You can look at them quickly if this bores you too much.

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This is the garden in between the two buildings that make up the hotel. I love this hotel!!!  The first time I stayed in the one on the right and this time I stayed in the one on the left.   On the other side of both buildings you can watch the sail boats come in and out of the harbor.   (The water is on both sides of the building and also directly in front of this picture)

Umm… I know that I shared breakfast pictures last time I stayed but in keeping with my “bore you to tears” theme here it is again. This time I will share just a small subset of the amazing breakfast buffet. (Click here Trip to Israel (part 2) to see a more comprehensive view)

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I had fish every morning.   On the far left you will see the smoked salmon with a sign stating that it was salmon.   This is one of the only fish that I could recognize with certainty.   What I found interesting is that the rest of the fish didn’t have signs. I never knew exactly what I was eating.  I wonder if there were no signs because the cooks didn’t know what they were serving.

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I also ate some of the nuts and dried fruits but to be honest I mostly ate bread with the honey. There is something special about getting it from the honey comb and this made me want to eat it every day. (you can see the honey comb upright near the nuts and small jars of jam)

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And yes… I gave into the temptation offered by this part of the breakfast buffet. I do not think I have ever eaten so much desserts for breakfast in all of my life.   This might be my new favorite breakfast… pound cake, cheesecake, and halva!

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Near the hotel there are great beaches. I had only visited the one south of the hotel not realizing that there was a much larger/nicer beach to the north.  I had a goal to walk along the beach south all the way to Tel Aviv (16 km round trip.. here is a map) but I didn’t get the chance to do this… maybe next time.

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The harbor also has many restaurants and stores and is a fantastic place to wander around aimlessly.  I love watching the cats, people and boats (millions of stray cats everywhere… ummm millions might be a slight exaggeration) .  The food was fantastic as well.  Here are some pictures taken near my hotel at the harbor.

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If you look closely you will see some cats. One up by the orange sign was the only stray that looked… well like a stray… it’s face was mangled.   I avoided it.  The rest I had no problem being near and if you were eating they had not problem rubbing up to you under the table… eww just thought about the mangled one rubbing up against my leg. Even with pants it would be disgusting.  I would probably have to throw those pants away.

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My first night there we ate at the harbor at Benny HaDayag (the fisherman).  I was not really hungry but thought that I would get a light fish dish.  I ordered a Moroccan fish dish… I know… not very light but it sounded good.  I had no idea that the order included a bunch of other stuff.

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We had no idea that this was going to come.  I just wanted a small plate of fish.
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Here is my fish… it was delicious!

Ok… I am going to stop boring you… well not really…  I want to share some more random pictures… hopefully more entertaining.   I often speak of creating a “coffee table” book.(yes I am all talk no action).   Here is another coffee table book idea.  “Art crap you see by or in the road”… maybe too long of a title. I know, I could just call the book – “Roadside Crap”.

Here are some pictures for that book!

Ocean themed roadside crap!

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The happy blue whale!  This could only be improved by adding a “whale -spout” fountain
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Sea snail… kind of nice… well at least in the sunrise it looks kind of nice.

Military themed roadside crap:

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Old canon… umm… probably something historic?
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Dual function… art and protection!   They also added a fountain how beautifully scary.

Intimidating or unrecognizable roadside crap:

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Reminds me of my father when he would find out that I had done something wrong.
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umm… just don’t know…
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Big green thing?… um maybe an anchor?

Ok, enough of that… sorry if the pictures were blurred.  I took most of these through a car window while riding in a car. (that was redundant… I can’t imagine a case where I would take a picture through a car window without being in the car)  I have just a couple more pictures to share.

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This was the most confusing bathroom I have ever visited.  The outer signs showed that the entrance was for both men and women.  Once you enter the door you have a women right and a man right set of signs.   I am sorry I didn’t take any pictures inside but from there it got more confusing.

Herzliya 26There were two doors and in between the doors a “man | woman” sign.   I figured that the door on the left would be the man’s door and the door on the right would be for women… but I wasn’t sure.   I was relieved when I saw urinals and started to do my business.  I looked up and then noticed the same “man | woman” sign above my urinal.  What did that mean?  Was this a “unisex” bathroom?  and my biggest question… Can women use a urinal?

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I am not sure what this sign meant… does it mean I should run down the stairs?.  On the other hand I knew exactly what the following sign meant.   “Danger of Death”… much better warning than “Danger of Electrocution”.

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For those wondering, A colleague of mine asked if McDonald’s was the same in Israel.(This would be very important to Ben) My colleague was told that it is exactly the same. You never want to just blindly trust what people say…and luckily we didn’t have to eat there to validate this since I was able to find absolute confirmation!

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I discovered a new candy bar…   CORNY BIG…   (I have been called worse)
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This is one of Ben’s favorite.  Not only did he like the big chess game, he loved what he called “EGG CHAIRS”

For the end, I want to share with you a statue I saw at a park in Ra’anana.  I was not able to get a picture so I borrowed one from the internet… (I usually don’t do that…  on this blog the photos are always mine).

I post this not just because it is fun to look at but it also serves as a public service warning.   For those of you who have not enough reasons for avoiding the accordion here is one big reason that should dissuade you from playing this awful musical instrument.

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Thanks for taking the time to read me again.


Weekend and Work Travel (Part 4 – Caesarea)


This is part 4 of a one day site seeing visit to northern Israel (in the case you have missed part 1 – 3 here are the other parts)

After writing up all of this into blog posts and trying to only post a small subset of the large set of photos (about 600) I am realizing how much I was actually able to see in just one day.   (This is probably the huge advantage of visiting a small country so rich in history) I hope you have enjoyed these “touristy” pictures…because I really enjoyed being the “tourist”.

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Let’s finish all of this with Caesarea…  a city that was built by Herod in 22-10 B.C.   Herod named both the city and the harbor after Caesar Augustus…  (The port was named Sebastos which is Caesar in Greek).


The first place we visited was the theater.  I was surprised to learn that it is still actually being used for plays and concerts.  They have resurfaced the top of the seats but the rest is “kind of” in its original state.  I am trying to imagine going to a concert or play and on the way in passing actual antiquities.  You enter by a Vomitorium which is not what it sounds like… that is just what they called the entrances or exits.   I can’t imagine sitting in a theatre that dates back to such ancient times… very cool!

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Behind the theater is what I am going to call a “column graveyard”.  I am hoping that this is their way of showing what has been excavated and not the result of some out of hand rock concert in the theater.

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My favorite column top… The “sad lion” column. (not sure where this one fits in the classical Greek orders… Doric, Ionic, Corinthian… but it is my favorite).   Next we move to Herod’s palace.  He placed it between the theater and the hippodrome…   (Entertainment is important for men…kind of like have to big screen TVs on each side of his house).  There is not much left of his palace.   The materials were recycled into other buildings during later times.

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Here is the palace pool… wouldn’t expect anything less

On the plane ride over to Israel I watched Ben-Hur… so when I saw a hippodrome before me that movi’es chariot races came to my mind and I walked through augmenting all that I was seeing with what I had seen in the movie.  I would love to see an actual chariot race.  (I wonder if there was as much death and maiming in the real races)

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This last picture you can see the starting gates behind a statue that loosely resembles a chariot being pulled by three horses… (I can only imagine bringing someone back from that time and them saying what the heck is that…)  There was something also interesting about this hippodrome.  This hippodrome was covered over with pottery and rubble and another much larger one was built just a little more inland.   The excavators left a small square so you can see what they had to remove.

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Next… the port…   This port was almost completely washed away so you are only able to see what remains on the south side along with a crusaders tower.  I think that tower use to be a light house and was changed to be a fort by reinforcing it with parts of the surrounding buildings.  If you look closely at the picture (the building with the green naked guy in front of a building) you will see columns laid down in the walls.. .I imagine this was done to add strength.

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They were actively excavating the port’s vaults…   (….little shovels and dust brushes) I wanted to stay and watch the process but I was on a “whirlwind” tour… and well they were not doing very much at all.

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Here is the Nymphaeum… hadn’t heard of that word… so in my mind this was a small pool “stocked” with very pretty naked women… I am sure I have to be somewhat correct right?

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Another column graveyard…   lots of marble and granite… which all would have been imported (you can’t find either in Israel)

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This outer wall is the last picture I will be sharing on Caesarea.   This is where I caught the bus and headed off for the other locations I visited.   This is also the last post of my “site seeing” day…  I will have one more general post on Israel with my kind of pictures. (you know the weird ones)

Weekend and Work Travel (Part 3 – Acre)

Acre (Akko)

The secrets of the city above and the city below.

-some… Tourist Brochure

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Part 3 of my site seeing day is in Acre (Akko).   I “quoted” the tourist brochure because in Acre you will see an old city with an even older city buried below. (and because it is much more clever than anything I would have written)   The city below  is a preserved (brochure stated “perfectly”… but that is not completely accurate) Crusader city and you can witness all of the efforts that have been made to unearth it and bring it back to life.  You can also witness the influence of the city’s conquerors and their religions.  (Canaanites, Romans, Crusaders, Turks, and British)

I am going to try to offer a quick glimpse of the Acre through my pictures…  but I first I want to jump to my favorite place…   Latrine Hall

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I love this image…   “Ummm…. Are you looking at me?”….

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You will note that all of the toilets are placed in two rows… and the actual places you sit are “face to face”… kind of curious…but what I found even more fascinating… This “Latrine Hall” was were double deckered.  You are looking at the lower hall and there was a hall right above it.   Not sure I would have wanted to use the lower hall.   Oh ya… they used rain water to flush the waste down below into a large cavern… (This is a very dry place… and I imagine that their  “rain based flushing” was a very infrequent thing…   another reason not to use the lower hall)

Here are the rest of the pictures… hope you enjoy.

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Entry into the old city

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The fist courtyard is an amazing place to sit… not only because of it’s beauty but because of the shade

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This stairway was completely buried and if I remember correctly in 2000 they started to excavated this area

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From this new level (old city level) you can enter the buildings.   Entering these old buildings is amazing!   In the pictures you will be able to tell “original” from the new based upon how smooth the stones are.

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We walked a long tunnel from one hall to another leading to an ancient church.  This part is probably the only uncomfortable part of the walk… (especially if you are claustrophobic)

In these pictures you will note the Ottoman empire influence on the city of Acre… including a clock tower… not sure what the clock towers have to do with Ottoman but this is the second one that I have seen in Israel attributed to the Ottomans… the other one I saw was in Jaffa.

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That small island was called “Island of the Flies”…   wonder why?


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Lunch…. I had a shawarma…


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I will end with this tree…. look closely it is half embedded into the wall yet has a beautiful top…   fascinating!   I have one more post on my site seeing day in Israel… please come back.  (By the way Isabelle… Napoleon was unable to conquer Acre!!!)

Inky Dinky Do’s Scarf

Here is one of my all time favorite posts… (from another blogger). It is not just because I am mentioned in the post. This post shows the source of my alpaca scarf… (an alpaca) wearing the scarf made from its fibers!… I love the idea of that. If you haven’t read Claire’s blog I highly recommend it!!!

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The wonderful and suitably weird Adam from weirdweekends sent me a scarf.

This is, however no ordinary scarf.

label.jpg I love the label

Some time ago I sent an alpaca fleece (Inky Dinky Do’s) and a Jacob shearling fleece over to the US as I thought he might like to use them in some of his weekend projects.

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All I can say about the scarf is wow. See his blog post here for a summary of the whole process and a list of all the individual posts where he explains how he washed and carded the fleece, then dyed it a variety of colours, spun it, plyed it and even evntually learnt to knit and knitted it.

This scarf is now one of my most treasured possessions not only because it is beautiful and snuggly, but because I know the extent of the journey it has been on – not just crossing…

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Weekend and Work Travel (Part 2 – Haifa)


I was told that in Jerusalem you pray… in Tel Aviv you play… and in Haifa you work. (I was kind of disappointed that it didn’t rhyme).   Haifa is the third largest city in Israel and this is a continuation of a single day’s worth of whirlwind site seeing.  If you haven’t read part 1 you can read it  at Weekend and Work Travel (Part 1)

I didn’t get to spend much time in Haifa… just 30 minutes and they were all spent looking down at the Bahai Gardens.   What an amazing site to see….  not only can you see the gardens but you have a fantastic view of the city and the port.  Before I share those pictures… here is one for my wife.

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This is not a great picture… but Haifa has an Ikea… (took this through the window as we drove by)

Now… to the Gardens… The Bahai gardens are known as the “hanging gardens of Haifa” These terraced gardens surround the Shrine of Báb.   When I was told this… I thought  it was the “shrine of Bob”…  a much funnier name.   I am not very familiar with the Bahai religion but I can tell you that their gardens are breathtaking.

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Here is the gate at the top of the gardens.  I could not get an unobstructed view so I took just the top part of the gate.   There is something intriguing about the white glass ball and the iron work around it.   Fantastic Gate!… I think this could be a new love affair… I am very fond of this gate.  (It was also awesome because our guide got in a huge argument with the guard at the gate… our guide left us while yelling… “I will not take responsibility for all of these people… they are adults…. You are all being insulted by this guard”)

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As you enter you view all of the “levels”…. and how the gardens are immaculately groomed.  You will also note the incredible view of the city below.   This would be an amazing place to have a drone camera.

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The gardens have really interesting places to explore and even share a romantic moment.  This couple was enjoying one of those “romantic” moments until they realized I was lurking in the back of this tunnel trying to take a picture of that “moment”

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Is it weird taking a picture of someone you don’t know who is taking a picture of someone else?… and would it be weirder if they didn’t’ know each other?  (I wanted to ask if they knew each other… but I talked myself out of it… would have been too hard to explain why I was asking)

It is getting late so I am going to share two last pictures and while I do that… I will be wishing that I was a better photographer… My pictures just don’t seem to do this place justice.

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Please stay near…. Part 3 will be coming soon!