My journey to Tel Aviv

First off, thank you so much for all of your donations towards my work with Ultimate Peace! As of this afternoon I’ve raised a total of $2,775! My goal has been to raise $5,000 by the first 6/21 deadline, but that may prove to be a little overly ambitious. That being said, the summer fundraising window run until the end of August, so I’m hoping I can pull in my target amount before then. Thanks again for all of your support!

As for my travels…

On Wednesday afternoon, after 4 days of intensive packing, I left St. Johnsbury and headed south to my parents’ farm in Leverett, MA. As usual, the drive was quick, propelled by several podcasts, and the mopey looks of my two dogs in the back. On the way down I found out that Caleb’s first round Little League playoff game has been rescheduled to Saturday morning, so I wouldn’t be able to see him play! Instead of an evening at the ball park, we had a great family dinner at the home, and then Caleb and I went to a late movie. It was a grand evening.

On Thursday, I managed to sleep in past 9am for the first time in several months, which felt great. By 10:30 I was in Amherst, enjoying a nice pastry at my father’s Deli while getting some work done on Ultimate Peace and other summer projects. Also, school work never really, truly ends for the summer. At 1:30 I met up with my mother for a fantastic lunch at Panda East, my all-time favorite Chinese Restaurant. After lunch, Caleb joined me at the Sheep, and we had a fun couple hours at two local book stores. By 5:45 we were back at the Sheep where Caleb picked up his fancy graduation clothes. A short drive later, we were both over at Valentine Hall at Amherst College for his graduation from the Common School!

The graduation was utterly fantastic! Each graduate made a poster representing the most important things in the life. Here’s Caleb’s:

The core of the ceremony comprised of Caleb’s teachers reading a statement covering their thoughts of each student, followed by each student giving a speech about something they learned while at the Common School. All of the speeches were absolutely wonderful. Here’s some video from the event, including the speech about Caleb, and the one he gave:

After all the speeches, there was a bunch of dancing. Way cool.

Photos from the event are online right here.

On Friday, I picked Caleb up after his last (half) day of school, which was mainly made up of a large all-school water fight. We then headed into Hadley to run some errands, and then back to the Sheep to connect with Dad. After collecting a few more items for my trip, I said goodbye to my father and to Caleb, and drove into the city to connect with my other two siblings. In Boston, a big group of us ended up at a friend of a friend’s house for a really awesome cookout dinner he was putting together as a demo tape for a cooking show he was competing for a spot on. I got to catch up with some friends I hadn’t seen in a while, and have what I think was my first bison burger. Good stuff. By 11pm I made it to my brother Jesse’s house, and immediately crashed.

By 5:45am the next morning Jesse and I were on the road to Logan. With no traffic the drive was easy, but then I forgot that my first leg was on American, and ended up at the wrong Terminal. After another round of getting to the wrong place (you’d think I would figure all this out better after all my traveling), I got through security quickly and had a bit of time to rest at the gate. While waiting for my flight, I received a great book recommendation (Ready Player One by Ernest Cline) from my school’s librarian, and I immediately dove in. I ended up cruising through the book and finished it shortly before touching down in Tel Aviv. If you in any way like 80’s pop culture, and/or video/tech, you’ll love the book. Heck, you might even like it without liking either of those things. Any book that references Sneakers is 100% awesome in my world ;)

The flight from Boston to London was smooth and I managed to sleep most of the way. In London, I followed a very well labeled path to my new terminal and gate, and soon found myself in the El Al security line. I had a nice conversation with a couple security agents, and then my bag was quite thoroughly searched. After pulling out a third camera from my carry on, the agent exclaimed that I must be “one good blogger”. (We had already chatted about my travel blog posts.) On the next leg of the flight I screamed through the rest of Ready Player One and got more excited about all of the events that are coming up in the next few weeks.

After touching down shortly before 5:45am local time on 6/17, I flew through the rest of the transport process. My checked bag showed up immediately, and there were barely any lines at all at customs or at the passport control desk. Out in the terminal I changed some money, found the train station, and right before 7am I boarded a train for Tel Aviv, guided by Chelsea’s great directions. At the proper Tel Aviv stop, I found the right bus, and by 7:45am I made it to the right apartment building. Go me!

I’m now comfortable ensconced at a fellow Ultimate Peace coache’s apartment (Chelsea’s). I’ve met up with a third Ultimate Peace volunteer, Nathan, and we are going go head out into the city a little later today to get food and sim cards.

In the mid-afternoon we’ll be connecting with a group heading to Bethlehem to run a mini-clinic.

I can’t wait!

Here’s the view from the balcony of the apartment I’m staying in:

Off to explore I go!

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