Of the trips to 30 countries, 50 states, and 43 U.S. national parks I’ve taken, the trip we took in April with Bob Goff in Israel is likely my favorite.
We started in Galilee, explored the Golan Heights, sailed the Sea of Galilee, walked in Capernaum, picnicked at Mount of Beatitudes, saw a newly excavated first century temple at Magdala, drank wine at a wedding chapel in Cana, and gazed from Mount Carmel into the Jezreel Valley, site of the Battle of Megiddo (i.e., Armageddon). And that was all before we got to Jerusalem.
Then, we walked at night to the Temple Mount, one of the most surreal “I can’t believe I’m standing at this place I’ve seen on the news my entire life” moments I’ve ever had. Later, we walked through tunnels in the wall, where we could see centuries upon centuries of rock wall from the various peoples who’d lived and worshiped there. We saw Shiloh in the Judean Desert and Samaria, walked about Qumran to see the caves where Dead Sea Scrolls were found and floated in the Sea (before having a cold beer at the lowest bar in the world) and dining outside in the West Bank area of Palestine.
We had communion in the Garden of Gethsemane, saw the Mount of Olives, shopped in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, shuffled about the packed Holy Sepulchre Church before relaxing in the peaceful park surrounding the Garden Tomb. The final day, we toured Bethlehem and walked the Valley of Elah before our buses took everyone to the airport to head home (for most folks; my bride and I spent a final night in Tel Aviv before sleeping maybe 3 hours and flying home the next morning).
Every meal was awesome; the people we met on Bus 13 (our group was divided into 4 buses, so we spent the 10 day trip with, for the most part, the same 40 or so folks and forged new friendships with the ones who sat near us in the back) were awesome; the scenery and landscapes were awesome; the impact of the places we experienced was awesome.
I can’t believe this was Bob’s first such trip/event, and now I badly want to go back and bring the children.
Below are April’s 30 seconds, which started with my sister-in-law’s wedding and some free days in Birmingham, included my firm’s 14th birthday, was dominated by the trip to Israel, and concluded with a black tie gala and an amazing VIP concert experience with Taylor Swift for my 2 daughters + wife/me :