Sometimes it is necessary to just leave for a little bit. Tasks get repetitive and you start feeling closed in. Pesach was a nice opportunity to take a step back. I spent a lot of time with the family, something we don't get a chance to do very often, and even though it is a bit much being with children all day every day, I did enjoy myself. (though my dear wife might tell you that I didn't)
I even took off an extra day and went on a final tiyul on Thursday. We missed the belly dancers at mimoona, but jumping into the pools at the upper zavyaton was well worth it. More on that later.
The only company we had for the seder was my sister, so we really did a kid-focused seder. As always the high point of the evening was the essig fleisht (In yiddish it means "eat meat" and is comprised of stringy meat with meatballs) with the 10 commandments coming in a close second. This year number 1 was Moshe, number 2 was God, number 3 got to throw some of the plagues and my wife was paroh. I was the uberlord and told god what to do. Number 4 just wanted to play with the dead cow (5th plague). 1 found the afikomen that 4 had hid, so it was a good thing my wife convinced me to get presents for not only number 4. Our minhag (which I started last year) was the child who finds the afikomen has to give everyone else presents. Since they don't have presents and I don't want them to cry I give them the presents to hand out. So everyone got an afikomen present. We finished eating the afikomen an hour and a half before chatzos, just to be extra machmir (pesach is all about the chumra) and completely finished the seder before 12.
Friday we started the tiyulim. We picked up my cousin and his girlfriend at the train station at 11 and headed to nachal yechiam, right next to yechiam castle and yechiam meat producing place. My wife turned around with number 4 after about 10 minutes and we continued down without them. When we got to the bottom, I pondered climbing the hill again and didn't like the thought of it. Luckily I had my trail map and decided it wasn't such a far distance to the road at the end. When we got there I called my wife and asked her to pick us up. She had a hard time finding us, because there weren't any good signs, but after some time she arrived. It was a good 3 hour hike.
Sunday morning we left at 5:30 AM to go camping by the dead sea. The plan was shachris at some yishuv on in the Jordan valley and then heading on down to ein gedi for nachal arugot, a 5 hour hike. We were in Nachal arugot when it started to rain. It doesn't rain by the dead sea ever and certainly not on pesach, but apparantly someone forgot to mention that to God and we got soaked. Meanwhile number 1's sandal completely ripped in the missle of the hike and she was just hopping along. We finally got out and by the time everyone made it out of there the rain had pretty much stopped. But the campground place said they were flooded so we decided to open up the grills and have a bbq by the dead sea while we figured out what to do. It started raining again in the middle of the bbq so I opened the trunk and moved the grill underneath, for protection from the rain. Some friends found us a place to stay in the Masada youth hostel and we had an enjoyable evening there.
Next day we did the masada sand dunes and the kids had a great time running up and down, but by the time we finished, I had one kid barefoot and another one crying for no reason so we decided to head on home. Lunch was in Qumran and we got back home around 6:30. We did manage to stop by the dried up section of the Dead Sea and pick up some salt.
On Thursday we headed out on what will forever be known as the sandal hike. For those of you new to this concept, here's how it works.
Wife says: There's a shoe store near katzrin that I want to go to, can we go on a hike in that area?
So we went to Yaar Yehudiya, and did the upper zavyatan. It was anice hike, but the water is too deep for kids. There wasn't any place that I could stand and the water was so cold that after swimming a bit it took me about 10 minutes to catch my breath.
Also the shoe store was nowhere near katzrin, it was next to kiryat shemona. But she did get a very good deal and the exact type of sandals she was looking for.
My advice: if you are going to go on a hike because there is a show store nearby, find out where the shoe store is first.
We then went to tzfat for dinner, we couldn't find the burger place I was looking for, so we ate pizza and headed off for home.
Friday we did some bike riding at the agam and had a quiet shabbos.