In the best of circumstances, getting out of the house on time is not one of my strong attributes.
I had hoped to depart for our camping trip sometime mid-morning on Tuesday.
Since Sunday, my eldest daughter had been camping by the Kinneret, with her friends. She and I had considered meeting by the Kinneret. When it became clear that I would not get up north until at least the afternoon, she decided to join her friends, who were returning to Jerusalem, and then drive up again with the family.
That meant a lot of extra travelling: she would travel for 3 hours by public transportation, be home for about an hour, then travel with us an additional 2 hours by car, ending up almost exactly where she left, 6 hours earlier!
When my daughter arrived home, she felt, not surprisingly, completely drained and exhausted. Only the promise of going out to her favorite restaurant, The Pagoda, in Tiveria (Tiberias) excited her. Our family loves The Pagoda, and I had already made a reservation, because the last time we wanted to go, you had to make reservations 2-3 DAYS in advance!
Truth be told, I was happy to have her with us for the drive up. I really wanted this to be a family experience, and getting there (and back) is part of the experience.
I had also expected her help packing up and loading the car, but it became clear, when she fell asleep on a chair, that she would not be able to help much on this side of the journey.
Both of my younger kids were amazingly helpful packing the car. My son got to climb onto the roof of the car to help strap our bags to the roofrack, which we borrowed for the trip (thanks SS!!); he liked that part! In the past, when we went camping, we usually had to stuff the car to the gills, piling our things on the back seat and practically burying the kids. The roofrack made a huge difference; this time, we had plenty of room in the car!
When I still thought we would be leaving early, I planned on visiting my friend from Sde Eliyahu on the way up, since we would be passing right by her kibbutz. I figured it would be a good place for a pit-stop, and maybe we would even join her for lunch.
We finally left home at around 6:00 in the evening. We were not going to stop anywhere.
We actually made good time. We were out of the city by 6:15 and met our friends at Tzomet Tzemach (Tzemach Junction) at around 8:00. We passed Sde Eliyahu around 7:30, but we were in a "do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars" mode, as we were already late to meet our friends.
When my kids realized we were meeting friends, they protested that this was supposed to be a family vacation. They mellowed out a bit when I explained that my friend, IEM, was the catalyst for this vacation. She had called me to ask if I wanted to join her on a camping trip and then I asked the kids if they wanted to go. If it were not for her, I never would have planned this trip! I also explained that while we would be sleeping at the same site, in the end we would each be with our own families during the day, since her family would be going on tiyulim and ours would be hanging out on the Kinneret. That last bit of information confirmed for my kids that we really would be spending the time together.
Once again, I felt so blessed to have three teenagers who chose to spend the day hanging out with their siblings and their mother. God is so good to me!!
At Tzemach, we found our friends, snagged a table with some light, and perused the maps, trying to figure out what we were doing and where we were going to sleep.
Several friends had recommended campsites in the area, ranging from 60-100 NIS per night, per car.
We chose to camp at Yarden-Kinneret, which was the closest, provided the opportunity to swim in both the Kinneret and the Jordan river, and, we thought, cost 80 NIS per night, per car.
The Yarden-Kinneret campsite charges 110 for 24 hours and 150 for 32 hours. Even though it was after midnight, two nights would be around 36 hours. That extra four hours would cost us an extra 70 shekels! And there were no lifeguards at either of the waterfronts. The guard offered to charge us 200 NIS instead of 220, but we decided to move on. For that price, we at least wanted a lifeguard.
We headed towards a beach that cost 60 NIS, when I saw a sign for a beach that charged only 55 NIS per night! We pulled in to check it out. They had everything we needed: bathrooms, showers, and a lifeguard! They even had trees.
We had a minor upset when we chose a place that was too close to other people for one of my children, who wanted to be far away from civilization. There were more remote campsites, but I needed to be close to the bathrooms and I wanted to set up camp next to one of the palm trees, so we would have some shade during the day. With the help of the other kids, we resolved our crisis and decided to stay. When we went to pay, I saw a more isolated spot, and we all agreed it would be perfect for us!
I knew the melt-down happened because we were all hungry.
As soon as we chose our spot, the kids set up camp and my friend and I cooked supper.
My family brought two tents. For my girls and I, we brought a large tent that had two separate rooms with an awning between them, one side of the covered area was closed, and the other side had a flap that could be zippered shut on either side or rolled up, leaving the area open, yet shaded.
My son really wanted to bring his four-person tent, since it packed up almost as small as his two person tent, but gave him a lot more room. When he showed me the packed tents, side by side, I let him choose which to bring; he was so happy setting up his larger tent.
Would that all our conflicts could be resolved so easily.
When I started cooking our food, my son worried that we did not have enough, since I "only" bought one package of hamburgers and hot dogs. He wanted kababs too. I kept explaining that we were not that many people (my friends ate vegetarian hot dogs), so he would have to settle for less variety. He would not accept the limited menu; he really wanted kabas as well. I knew his hunger was talking and that he would mellow out once he had some food inside, which he did. In the end, we had plenty of leftovers, so he had to admit that we had enough food. (Though he would have eaten kababs, if they were available!)
Once everyone ate, the kids were ready to rest! My son asked if I would like to play a game of chess before going to sleep. I felt pretty tired, but how could I say no?
It turns out, our mini chess set only has backgammon pieces! We were both pretty disappointed, since it would have been simple to bring chess pieces with us. Nevertheless, we made the best of our situation and played several games of backgammon. We had fun playing together.
My youngest daughter found it stifling in the tent and had a tough time falling asleep. My son generously suggested that she sleep in his hammock. Within minutes, she fell fast asleep.
I stayed up a bit longer than I should have, talking with my friend, but I am glad we had that time together. She is my oldest friend in the world (we have been friends since we are seven!), but I rarely get to see her since we do not live close to each other.
The air was heavy, but I enjoyed an occasional gust of cool air. Before long, I drifted off to sleep....
Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.
With love and optimism,