Adventures in Israel: Picnic in the Snow

From the heat of the desert to the windy shores of the Mediterranean Sea to the winter wonderland of the mountains, Israel is one of those countries where you can experience most of the seasons in one day. All of these choices shout for an adventure, so with spring upon us, it seemed only fitting to make a trip to the snow before we officially said goodbye to winter. 

Despite living in Israel for ten years, I had never ventured up the winding mountain road to play in the white frosting that coats the ground every year. Realizing this shocking fact, I immediately went to my mom and demanded a girl’s trip! With Israel finally relieving the lockdown restrictions, we excitedly planned our first trip of the year, anticipating an entire day of snow, fun, and adventure. Of course, in true Russell fashion, an expedition cannot take place without a bit of drama! 

The day of the trip arrived, and my mom and I spent the morning gathering the essentials. After months of not traveling further than twenty minutes from our house, the idea of going out for an entire day caused us to overthink and pack way too many supplies. By mid-morning, an hour later than our scheduled leave time, we finally set off, the car filled with extra coats, food, water, and emergency supplies that we probably wouldn’t use but had just in case. 

Days earlier, my mom’s friend had posed for pictures in the snow on Mount Meron. Hoping the sunny weather hadn’t melted away the pure white landscape, we set off in that direction. However, as Waze told us that we had almost reached our destination, apprehension set in. Throughout the drive, we had not seen a single speck of white. In fact, with five minutes remaining until our supposed arrival, the only color surrounding us was green! 

Did I set the GPS to the right place? I questioned as I looked at my mom, laughter bubbling inside us as we thought of our bad luck.

“This is so typical!” I mumbled with an amused laugh. Nevertheless, we trekked on, determined to make it to Mount Meron before we decided our next course of action. 

It appeared suddenly.

Watching our surroundings intently, as though we were bird watchers on the prowl for a rare sighting, we turned the last corner and, “THERE!” my mom shouted. 

I jumped, startled at her sudden excitement, before turning to see the small pile of snow lying on the side of the road. The size wasn’t what mattered; its existence was the evidence we needed to keep pressing on; our hearts pounding at being so close to the snow we looked forward to seeing.

We’re almost there!

Our destination was not exactly what we expected. Getting out of the car, my mom and I looked around at the small patches of snow spotting the ground. Though it wasn’t much, I smiled as we watched a group of soldiers having a snowball fight in the trees, lavishing in the few bits of snow that remained in the area. This wasn’t the landscape I’d had in mind, but it was still snow — something I hadn’t seen in over five years! 

Within five minutes of walking on the muddy road, my mom turned to me and declared that we would drive somewhere else. The look on her face told me that she was determined to complete the mission we’d set out to do, so sludging through the puddles, we piled back into the car to drive another hour and a half to Mount Hermon, the largest mountain in Israel. Surely we would find snow there! 

Now, this is what I’m talking about! 

Even before we reached the foot of the mountain, we could see the snow. True glee hummed through the car as we got closer to our destination! It felt as though we’d traveled to Switzerland or been transported into a snow globe. The anticipation leading up to this moment reached its peak and, despite our protesting stomachs, we were on cloud nine as we continued our journey up the mountain, dreaming about taking that first step in the deep snow! 

With smiles plastered on our faces, we crawled up the road, watching children have snowball fights, and families build snowmen. Nothing could take away our excitement — well, almost nothing… 

Heading toward the ski resort, we kept a lookout for the perfect spot to eat our long-awaited picnic; however, our drive came to an abrupt halt as armed guards informed us that we were not allowed through the barrier unless we had a ticket for the resort. Our smiles loosened, but with so much space, there was sure to be another place we could enjoy for a few hours. 

Revving the engine, Mom eased on the accelerator, but rather than moving forward, nothing happened.

Have you ever heard of a car’s gears overheating? I sure hadn’t until that moment. Apparently, our car had decided that it was done climbing up and down mountain roads and had declared a siesta, right in the middle of a busy road!!

“Uh oh,” my mom exclaimed as she heard the car clunk out of gear. “That didn’t sound good.”

Sitting on the road, we were thinking about what to do when a policewoman knocked on our window. Oh, boy!

“You need to move your car,” the officer tried to inform us in broken English.

“My car is broken; I can’t move.” My mom explained.

Thinking it was a joke, the officer continued to ask us to move, not understanding that we couldn’t even if we tried. Then, in true Israeli fashion, the exchange caught the interest of a passing stranger, and he joined the conversation, attempting to make sense of what we were saying.

“You need to move your car,” he said after speaking to the policewoman in Hebrew.

“I’ve already told her, I can’t!” My mom said, growing frustrated at how many times she had to repeat herself. “My gears are shot, and there is no way I can make it down the hill!”

Once again, the man began talking to the officer, their backs turned away from the car, but the longer they spoke (seemingly about more than our predicament), the colder we became with the open window. So, my mom decided to close her window while the two discussed whatever they were talking about.

Noticing our movement, the man quickly put his hand on the window, stopping its climb to the top, and said, “Hey, she could arrest you for that! Keep your window open!”

Great, I thought. So, we have a broken car, and now we’re going to end up in jail… Well, I did ask for an adventure.

With no other choice, we tried to start the car again and were somehow able to drive it into a space in front of a kiosk. Though the owner complained at our presence, we were officially hangry and refused to go anywhere else (we couldn’t if we wanted to).

This was it! We were here… Wherever here was… And it was time for lunch. Now, all we needed to do was locate the perfect spot, away from all the people, and enjoy what we had packed that morning.

It took forty minutes of climbing through knee-deep snow, our hands full with our bags before we found a place to settle. Hangry and growing more aggressive by the minute, we plonked everything on the ground, quickly setting up camp before grabbing one of the sandwiches.

Breathing a sigh of relief as the hungry lioness mood melted away, I looked around for the first time. The view was breathtaking! With a beautiful overview of the city in front of us, rolling hills to the left and right, and wild horse gazing above us, it felt as though we’d found a little oasis.

Now, this is what I pictured our day would look like!

Rejuvenated by the food and our serene surroundings, we warmed up with some hot tea and rested on our picnic blanket. Most people go to the beach or forest for a joyful picnic, not the Russells; we go to the snow, where our butts freeze, but the fresh air and sparkly view make it all worth it!

The day might not have gone as planned, but it was a perfect adventure! The spot we chose was ideal in every way. Taking out my camera, we had our anticipated photoshoot, laughing as we threw snowballs at the camera and took all sorts of funny pictures. My mom is a natural in front of the camera, and I’m so pleased with what I could capture in the small window we had before sunset.

Hoping to catch the last rays of the sun, we packed up our things and headed back to the car, praying it would start. Thankfully, the car purred as we began our descent, obviously grateful for the rest. However, as darkness quickly arrived, we realized that it wasn’t as early as the car’s clock suggested, and we’d missed the sunset by half an hour.

Ah well, there’s nothing we can do about it now. Haha

Somehow, this was the perfect ending to an unexpected yet adventurous day!

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