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Not Really Funny

I returned to the train crossing to get a photo.  Again, I had to ride on a nearly abandoned road that ends at a closed gate. Beyond the gate is a dirt trail through an orchid that eventually becomes paved and finally reaches the train crossing.

I was wrong about a couple of points. First of all, the manually operated gate is always kept closed. It is only opened when a vehicle (tractor, scooter, bike, etc.) arrives at the crossing and there is no train.

The gate is normally kept closed

The gate is opened if a vehicle needs to cross and there is no train

I was wrong about something else. The last time I only saw two workers — one for each side of the track. Today, however, there was a third guy — he must be the supervisor.

He started asking me a bunch of questions and eventually we discovered that we could communicate using this thing called English. He wanted to know why I was taking photos and I told him that I thought the gates were interesting. He seemed unimpressed with my explanation.

Anyway, I suspected that all the extra precautions with the extra gates and personnel must be because people on tractors or bicycles sometimes try to beat an oncoming train and don’t make it. I asked him if that was the case. He told me that all of the precautions on this nearly abandoned train crossing are because it used to be a popular suicide location. Hmmm, not very funny after all. So, now they have people monitoring the track. Having said that, you would think it would be easy enough to get to the track through a field without using the roads.

I don’t want to end on such a sad topic, so here is yet another flower picture that I took today during the ride.

Purple!

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Categories: Flowers, Israel Tags: , ,

The Bike Trip

Last week, I started using my bicycle. I was riding north with my son. We were on a paved road that had almost no traffic. The road cut through fields of crops. Eventually, we came to an intersection — the road continued north and another road headed west.  There was also a paved bike path that followed both the northbound and westbound roads.  We continued north on the path and travelled for about a mile. Suddenly both the road and the bike path ended at a gate in a grapefruit orchard.

This seemed really odd that a bike path would end (or start) literally in the middle of an orchard — I always thought a bike path should both start and end at a place where people actually wanted to go.

We found a dirt trail around the gate and managed to continue through the orchard. This was much harder than it sounds because, in Israel, a dirt trail is mostly a sand trail with almost no traction.  We eventually found our way back to the Ra’anana industrial zone by traveling through the orchard.

Yesterday, I decided to spend a few hours riding west. I wanted to see if I could find a faster route to the sea. I wend back to that odd bike path with the hope that the westbound trail would go somewhere.

I travelled on this westbound bike path for about a mile. It suddenly turned south and ended in a road on the northwestern portion of Ra’anana. This bike path is really the strangest thing. It starts nowhere and dead-ends a mile and a half later at a place less desirable then nowhere. I guess there was extra money budgeted for a bike path and no one could figure out where to put it.

Anyway, I found another road heading west and I followed it for about half a mile until it turned into a sandy-dirt path through more fields. Eventually, it ended at a gate. The gate had a sign which I imagine said something like, “KEEP OUT” or “TRESPASSERS AT RISK OF ELECTROCUTION” or “MAD DOG RESERVE.” Since it was written in Hebrew, I had no idea what it actually said.

As I stood there trying to decide what to do, a guy on a moped drove past me and went around the fence on a little path. At that point, I realized that the sign probably said something like, “TWO-WHEELED VEHICLES WELCOME — TAKE PATH AROUND GATE.”

Persimmons!

Beyond the gate was another orchid — this orchid contained persimmon trees. The dirt path continued for a while and eventually turned into a paved access road. This road crosses the tracks of a commuter train. As I approached the train tracks, I was lucky enough to see a train pass.

The train travels quickly and it doesn’t take long to pass, so the wait is not a big deal. The crossing is a standard train crossing. It has the flashing lights and the ringing alarm bells and the gate that automatically drops on each side of the track to block traffic.

Keep in mind that this road is an access road to an orchard, so there really isn’t any traffic, but it is still really important to take adequate safety measures.

I guess it is really, really, really important to take adequate safety measures on this nearly deserted access road that turns into a dirt road through an orchid ending at a closed, chained gate, because in addition to the standard safety measures (flashing lights, ringing bells, and automatic gates that drop down over the road), there was also a second gate on each side of the road. The second gate, however, is not automatic. There is a little hut on each side of the track and when the lights start flashing and the bell starts sounding and the gates drops down, a man walks out of each hut, walks to the second gate, and manually swings it closed across the road. Later, after the train passes and the bells and lights stop, each guy opens his gate and walks back to his hut.

There are two guys, one on each side of the track, handling the important job of opening and closing the second gate by hand on a nearly deserted road. Incredible. In Israel, there is no excuse for not having a job.

Beyond the railroad tracks I found the communities of Shikun Rasko and Shikun Amidar. I continued west in my desire to find the sea. I knew that I would eventually run into Route 2 (a major north and south highway) and I assumed there would be no way to cross over it. I was pleasantly surprised to discover a pedestrian bridge crossing the highway. Unfortunately, I could see from the top of the bridge that there were no real roads (at all) on the other side.  The bridge exists because of a bus stop.

I went back to the east side of the bridge and started riding south. I travelled through a number of communities and parks until I finally reached a bridge that I could use to cross Route 2.  These communities are really beautiful.  Flowers in November!

Blue!

Purple!

Red(ish)!

Orange(ish)!

Pink!

Multi!

After crossing Route 2, I headed north into the community of Nof Yam and then turned west trying to get to the sea.  I discovered the sea at Apollonia. This is an Israeli National Park that protects the remains of a castle built by the Crusaders.  I had previously walked almost to this location along the shore, but I had no idea how to drive there.

I didn’t enter the park, but I found (yet another) dirt road that brought me to the edge of the cliffs that overlook the sea. In fact, I was located directly over the “Hermit’s House” that I wrote about last week.  There were trails running along the cliff edge, so I carried my bike along the trails for a bit.

The Hermit's House from above!

The sea from the top of the cliff

Looking down from the edge of the cliff

After I returned to the road, I continued south along the sea through Herzliya Pituah until I arrived at the marina.

After the marina, I continued south along (yet another) dirt road heading towards Tel-Aviv. This was actually a gravel road and after a while I became concerned about my tires. I turned around and headed back to Ra’anana.

The whole trip took about three hours and covered about twenty miles. I am more amazed by this amazing (and confusing and lovely) country every day.

Categories: Flowers, Israel, Trips Tags: , , ,
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