Sunday, February 17, 2008

Mt. Gilboa/Yitzpor

As some readers of this blog already know, Yo moved operations over to the Albright a few weeks ago. This entailed a bit more work than usual to cross a border, because in addition to the usual suitcases, 7 boxes of books, notes and papers were lugged along. Here is Yo preparing to leave Amman, not exactly traveling light!

Nevertheless, through the good services of Arrow VIP services and at some additional cost everything arrived and Yo stayed with Dr. D, a friend of many years. After about 10 days there was space at the Albright and Yo moved into his small room with the unheated bathroom and shower down the hall. This was just in time for a big snow, which didn't quite shut down the city, but pretty close. It was a very wet snow, and so walking around entailed getting soaked within minutes. Here is the Albright Institute in the snow.

And here is the Mt. of Olives in the snow, with the Church of Mary Magdalene barely visible.

In the more north-easterly direction is Mt. Scopus, not really visible behind all the fat wet flakes falling.

And here is the Rockefeller Museum tower.

However, this snow was about two weeks ago, and yesterday was predicted to be fairly nice.

So, Yo joined Albright resident scholars A, R and C to visit an area near Mt. Gilboa, to the west of Bet Shan. This entailed going down Rte 6666, otherwise known as "The Way of the Beast" - or at least, in our car, thats how it was known.

Arriving at the muddy entrance to the small park, a collection of cyclists came zooming past in the early morning sunshine.
Our intrepid group had three goals for this trip into the heart of Nahal Yizpor: 1) identify and photograph irises, 2) re-enact popular biblical narratives, and 3) try bbq rock hyrax.
To our surprise, many wildflowers were in bloom.

Here we see A examining some specimens more closely to judge whether or not they might be irises, or at least good bait for hyraxes. They were neither.

The way down was very muddy and thus very slippery. Stopping on the way down, a quick enactment of Saul falling on his own sword allowed us to check off goal number 2 for this trip. For good measure, a smiting scene was thrown in....
Heading down the wadi, the valley bottom with Beth Sean and the Jordan highlands in background became visible. Finally we were able to find a sunny place with flat rocks for a lunch of hummus and strawberries; it was also an ideal vantage point for spotting the rock hyrax for the bbq later.
As we headed back out, Dr. T was viciously attacked by a bush; A. galantly saved her just before we were about to abandon her to her fate with the voracious local wild hyraxes.

The way back up was much easier because the ground had dried and our balance was easier. After returning to the car, we moved up to the next short hiking area which offers short trails leading up to an old tower and provides wonderful views of the Jordan Valley, Jezreel, and even the Jaulan in the background.

After all of this we were all getting a bit whiny and hungry; some needed coffee, others a beer, still others a nap. Although we had reservations for 6 pm at the Herb Farm (thanks for the number and directions B!), we arrived more than an hour early. Through a pure charm offensive, the waitress was persuaded to let us dine earlier; the many available tables might also have been a contributing factor. We had a yummy meal, with great salad, homemade breads, pasta and other treats. Oh yes, especially the "chocolate treats" option - highly recommended by Dr. T. and Y.

Dr T and Yo with the great view in the background that A and R were able to enjoy while at the Herb Restaurant. Although we failed to find any irises or hyrax bbq, it was still a great day!