Tuesday I leave for Israel. Wow, I can't believe that it is already here!
I fly from Chicago to Atlanta where I catch a Delta flight directly to Tel Aviv. From there I rent a car and drive the hour or so to my hotel in Jerusalem. I should get to the hotel (the Olive Tree) around noon your time on Wednesday (8 hours later in Jerusalem). My biggest concern is getting to the hotel that first night, after being on the road for about 24 hours.
My first few days will be spent in Jerusalem. I will try to get adjusted to the new time zone, go to my favorite place in the world (the old city), and just get re-acclimated to the country. What I plan on doing is heading south to visit some of the sites in the Negev (Bet Gurion, Mamshit, Tel Beer Sheeva, Avdat, Makhesh Ramon, Nizzana, etc).
On Tuesday the 12th, I hope that I am able to head into the Galilee to stay for 8 nights in Tiberias (at the Scot Hotel) and visit all the wonderful sites in the north. If for some reason that is not safe, I have made arrangements that I can stay at the Olive Tree Hotel in Jerusalem the entire month rather than just at the beginning and at the end.
When I get back to Jerusalem (on September 20th) I will finish up the Hebrew Bible sites and begin visiting the Christian sites in the area. One of the exciting things is that I will be in Jerusalem for the Jewish High Holy days (Rosh Hashana, Sept 23 and Yom Kippur, Oct 2). They are a real wild card, because I have no idea what will be open that week (many Jewish sites will be closed). But to be there for these special days will be really special.
The first time I visited Israel, Nancy and I were there for orthodox Christmas (in early January), and I was also once there during the celebration of Purim (read the book of Esther). Being in Jerusalem for Judaism most Holy Days will be special!
I am very excited about going (even if I haven't yet packed a thing and will be gone until Monday). For me the hardest part is being gone from my family for a month. That is my biggest regret. Lindsey's soccer season will be over when I return (and her game last night was canceled because the pitch was under water). I will miss open houses at the schools, Haley's soccer games, and who knows what of Jessica's. OK, I really don't mind missing the open houses!
While I am gone, I will be on the internet regularly --- the hotel in Jerusalem has wireless access and I am hoping that the hotel in Tiberias will have some sort of access (if not I will find an internet cafe.) I hope to be on every evening and early morning. I get up early so that I can talk to my girls via IM (instant messenger) every evening. 6 am in Jerusalem is 10 pm the evening before here. My IM address is travelingsmc on AOL IM. If you are on the net when I am say HI, I am sure I will get very lonely for voices from home --- a month is a long time to be gone. Drop me an e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are off to Indy to attend Lindsey's soccer games in Zionsville (and somehow I imagine we will stop by Butler University).
I will try to post something else before I leave.