September 23, 2007

Overwhelmed by the breathtaking views, I didn’t even notice the bumpety bump of the trail.My husband Ilan has a mistress who has disrupted our quiet familial existence. The mistress is off-road jeeping and Ilan spends his free time enthusiastically planning every meticulous detail of upcoming jeep trips.

Now he wants to build a customized storage unit which would slide into rails which he would solder into the floor behind the jeep’s backseat. He’s already assembled a roof rack, purchased an impressively long picnic table that folds flat and a special cooking pot which can sit right on top of an open fire. All these “toys” are meant to enhance the off-road experience.

I don’t like jeep trips at all. In fact, I detest them. We are one of four families, each led by an off-road jeep enthusiast, who regularly “jeep” together. So, like it or not, I end up being thrown into the arms of Ilan’s mistress every few weeks despite my vow that “this is the last time”.

Different people enjoy off-road jeep trips for different reasons. Some like the lush mountain ranges of northern Israel or the reddish rocky splendor of the Negev Desert. Others enjoy communing with nature. For Ilan, it’s the challenge of “conquering” a particularly difficult trail.

I, for one, don’t understand the point of detouring off a perfectly good road simply to abuse our jeep on trails which are “paved” with boulders. Worse is when one side of the trail is on a cliff with a drop into oblivion. While I do understand that navigating these trails must give the driver a rush of adrenalin, the passengers’ experience is more like that of being knocked around in a washing machine.

I start to get cranky at the mere mention of a jeep trip but when Ilan suggested that we head up to the Golan Heights, I softened. I would move to the Golan in a heartbeat and Ilan knew he had pushed the right buttons by suggesting it.

We jeep wives have begun to insist on indoor plumbing and beds instead of sleeping bags and tents, so our group met at a field school in the southern Golan. It wasn’t the Sheraton, but the accommodations met our criteria.

For the first time, Ilan didn’t rush us out to hit the trail at the crack of dawn the next morning (which never fails to set me up for a really grumpy day). And when he mentioned that the entire trail was only about 10 miles long broken up by a hike down to a natural spring, I felt my spirits soar. In fact, I was truly overwhelmed by the breathtaking views offered in the Golan that I didn’t even notice the usual bumpety bump of the trail.

This natural spring was a slice of paradise. The dads and kids swam in the ice-cold water while we jeep wives watched from a shaded distance. Despite the fact that the walk back up to the jeep took me 20 minutes in 90-plus degree weather, I felt exhilarated. The rest of the jeep trail led us right to the shores of the Sea of Galilee where we enjoyed a picnic lunch.

On our way home, Ilan commented that I seemed in unusually good spirits throughout the trip. And I was. The off-road portion was short and the social aspects were many.

Ilan’s already busy planning the next jeep trip which will include three nights in the desert and four glorious days filled with 200 plus miles of Israel’s roughest terrain. What I’m most looking forward to about this trip is that it’s “boys only” so I don’t have to go. This jeep wife will happily wait at home for her husband to return from his mistress who, in small doses, really turned out not to be so bad after all.

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Executive Director

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