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The Frozen Yogurt Store

The frozen yogurt shop

My wife and I enjoyed frozen yogurt today. There is a store called לבן (la’van: white) on the main street in Ra’anana. The yogurt is unflavored and you add a variety of toppings to satisfy your taste and mood.

We were tempted to enjoy the yogurt at the outdoor tables, but we ate inside instead. Two weeks ago we ate it outside even though it’s the middle of winter, but today it was too cold to eat frozen yogurt outside.  Other customers started outside and then moved inside.

The yogurt is very good, but it depends completely on the toppings. One wrong topping can ruin everything.  I stay very conservative with my frozen yogurt — strawberries, kiwi, chocolate, flax, and raisins — always a good combo.

While at the store, an item on the English menu caught my wife’s eye: Goat Cheese Smoothie. Why would such a thing catch her eye? Certainly not because she would order it. It caught her eye because recently I have been fascinated by goat milk products. She thinks the whole idea of consuming goat milk is gross; I suspect she was joking with me to see if I would actually be interested in a goat cheese smoothie.

On a side note, I have found the most amazing chocolate goat milk. It is the best chocolate milk ever… and as an added bonus, no one else in the house wants to drink it.

Back to the goat cheese smoothies: Truth be told, it sounds gross. What the heck is a cheese smoothie?

Before ordering such a thing, I had to find out what it really was. The guy behind the counter opened a refrigerator and removed a bottle of goat yogurt. The yogurt in the bottle is a very thick liquid.  He explained that the yogurt is dumped into a blender along with “toppings” and blended into a smoothie.

In other words, it is not a goat cheese smoothie — it’s a goat yogurt smoothie! Not gross after all! That sounds awesome.

I didn’t order it.

I have the same bottle of goat yogurt in my refrigerator at home. In fact, last night I tried to make a chocolate goat yogurt drink with it. The experiment failed because the goat yogurt is too thick and I could not stir the chocolate powder properly. I was thinking last night that I should mix it with a blender. Now, I can make my own goat “cheese” yogurt smoothie at home.

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Categories: Food, Stores 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: , , ,

It Came Back to Me!

It came back to me — the Feeling. I had it for a few weeks after I arrived, but it vanished about a month ago.  It came back to me this week and I cannot help but feel blessed and awed by simple things that I see around me.

I was driving my daughter to an activity today at dusk. We drove past a little playground almost completely filled with little children playing on swings and running around acting like little children.  Parents were sitting on benches chatting while sort-of watching the children. It was a completely normal scene. As I drove past with the windows down, it suddenly struck me that all the chatter and noise coming from the playground was in Hebrew.  Well, obviously all the talking would be in Hebrew, right?  But I wasn’t really thinking about it. The Feeling just bubbled up from my emotional core, this feeling that these people are talking (more or less) in the language of the Book, here, at the focal point of creation, and that I’m here too.

It is a hard feeling to explain. You cannot really explain the feelings created by an amazing sunset or a magnificent waterfall. This is a similar feeling. I’m quite certain most people would not feel it, but I do.

היום יום טוב מאוד!

Today is a very good day. This just feels like paradise. This is November. Shouldn’t it be getting cold? This is my neighborhood.

 

A house in the neighborhood

I live on this road

This week, I really love being here.

Yesterday, my wife and I decided to take a walk on the beach. Ra’anana is not a beach community, so we had to drive 15 minutes to reach the beach in Herzliya Pituah.

An entrance to the beach

The weather was beautiful — absolutely perfect. We walked for about a mile along the shore. The beach started as a sandy swimming area (with swimmers). This portion of the shore has a cliff line. As we walked, the beach became almost deserted. We passed rocky areas that were difficult to cross (in sandals) and more sandy areas.

We passed all the things you would expect to find at the beach. Crabs running in the sand, sea shells lining the shore, and a local neighborhood mosque.

The local neighborhood mosque is just over the cliff.

We also passed the “Hermit’s House” (also called the “Fisherman’s House”). This is a crazy structure apparently built by a hermit from debris. We didn’t actually see the hermit, although we did see his dog. My assumption is that he doesn’t have a permit for his house. I guess it would get torn down if it was built in the West Bank, but here in Herzliya Pituah, no one cares.

If we had walked a bit further, we would have come upon the ruins of a castle built by the Crusaders. (I discovered this later using Google Earth.) I’m going to try to make a bicycle trip to the castle soon.

This is just an amazing place. Right now, I cannot think of anywhere else that I would rather be.

Categories: Hebrew, Israel Tags: , , , ,

An Odd Morning

The first overcast sky

Something very strange happened this morning — the sky was overcast.  It actually looked like it might rain. The rain never came and eventually the cloudy sky broke.

We haven’t seen any rain since we arrived, although, it did rain once in the night.  Most of the rain had already evaporated when we woke up, but we found the evidence on the car; you could see water trails through the dirt on the car.

Today is the day before Yom Kippur and Shabbat.  I am pressed for time. I need to leave in half an hour to pick up my son in a town about 30 minutes away. I don’t recall the name of the town, but I was told to take the long route to avoid an Arab village.

Categories: Israel Tags:
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