Wednesday, April 6, 2016

There's a damn good reason it's the road not taken

With all due respect to Robert Frost and his sense of adventure, I had a moment last week where I was cursing the fact that I was on the road not taken ... at least not taken very often.

Let me paint you a picture. After driving for two hours south from Ra'anana to outer Sde Boker, my travel companions and I found ourselves with minutes to sundown and absolutely nowhere near where we were supposed to be.

Outer Sde Boker looks very similar to Sde Boker, but with even less people, cottages, and mountain goats. Miles and miles of desert for as far as the eye can see. It is truly beautiful in a barren, raw, silent, lonely sort of way. Keep in mind it is where Ben Gurion went to get away from all the craziness of fighting Arabs, manipulating world leaders and founding a new country.

"What the hell are you doing at Sde Boker?" barked one of my friend's husbands into the phone.

"Ah, following your very stupid and very cryptic instructions about where we have to meet you," we all yelled back.

We were on our way to meet our husbands who have been hiking the Israel National Trail intermittently for the past two years. Since they knew we had no interest in the hiking part, they thought they could entice us with a night in tents in the desert. Admittedly I thought it might be fun.

However, there we were at 6:40 pm (sundown: 6:58 pm), miles from where we needed to meet them. I won't bother to explain how we managed to get lost. Let's just agree that technology and middle-aged men can be a dangerous combination.

"Turn around and head towards Dimona," said my husband, who in retrospect may have been the only one capable of getting us to our final destination point.

"But that's not the way to the crater," said my friend Orna.

"What the hell is she talking about?" asked my husband who could hear the conversation in our car. "Who said anything about getting to the crater?"

"They said we were sleeping near the crater," which in our minds meant somewhere near Mitzpe Ramon and its famous gigantic crater.

A few more seconds passed. There was a lot of thinking going on in our car.

"No," they both said. "We are going to Bereshit, if we don't die out here." As the most expensive and fancy spa hotel for hundreds of kilometers in any direction, heaven knows it was sounding like a serious option.

"Wait, I see a sign for Yeruham," yelled someone in the car. Hard to say who since everyone was now talking at once.

Have you ever heard of Yeruham? Exactly.

By this point, we had no gas, spotty internet, and testy travellers.

We rolled into THE Yeruham gas station on the last of the gas fumes.

However, once we had gas again it dawned on us that we were truly in the drivers' seat: we now had a full tank of gas, all the food and credit cards; the world was our oyster. Of course our husbands wanted us to arrive quickly; we had the food, the wood for the fire, and much of the camping gear!!!

Suddenly we were feeling so empowered that we agreed to continue to look for the camp ground.

We gathered some vague driving instructions from a Yeruham local (yashar, yashar or yeah, yeah, go straight) and off we went into the darkness, leaving urban Yeruham behind us. The next thing we knew we were surrounded by absolute night on what appeared to be a one-lane, one-way road that wound down the side of a smaller crater.

"Just follow the road slowly; it's one way," I said. Except that it wasn't one way as we quickly discovered when we confronted a car coming directly at us. Keep in mind, if we veered too far right so the other car could get by, we ran the risk of falling off a very steep cliff.

"Oh, I guess it's not one way." Understatement of the trip.

We drove for what seemed like forever but was probably 15 minutes. We met my husband who was sitting at a nearly invisible desert road junction and we lived to eat dinner, build a fire and tell this story.

All I could think on that windy, dark, desert road was why anyone would take the road untravelled. But we took it and it made for an amazing adventure. Apparently Robert Frost knew what he was talking about. I wonder if he ever travelled to Israel!