Tripping Israel with Roger Nygard

The day after Icon we managed to get some sleep, and then I went to
visit my grandmother while Lee stayed at home resting some more. I got
a call from Alon Peer inviting us to join a dinner with Roger at Jacko,
a fish restaurant chain.
Later I get a call from Hagai tell me that Alon also invited us to join
a trip to Masada with Roger on Saturday, and that we have to be at the
bottom of the serpent’s trail at 14:00, and later it was earlied to
13:00.  You all know my tendency to wake up late. Especially now
when I’m vacating at home with my World of Warcraft addiction. We
figured that getting to massada would take around 3 hours. so that
meant waking up at 9:00 which i wasn’t used to. You can imagine how
tired I was, waking up 5 hours before you usually get up.
The plan: 4 cars taking 14 to massada. 2 from Jerusalem, with a bunch
of people like Mike the man, Joe Brown, and Shmuel Shmuel, and 2 from
Tel-Aviv, with us and Hagai in one car, and Roger, Alon, Nadav and
Yaara in the other car.
I drove with my bicycle with my parents back from my grandmother’s and
stopped by at their house to pick up their Volvo car so we can make it
to Masada.
We woke up early and went to pick up Hagai in Rishon, and met with Alon
and the others at Rishon’s train station, where THIS happened:
Alon's car gets stuck
Alon’s car break down. His battery is Dead.
So we have a big decision to make. Either ditch Alon, Nadav and Yaara
there and take Roger in our car, find another way to get them to
Masada, or jump start the car with our battery, and continue, hoping
for the best.
We decided or the later. Probably a mistake. I’ll philosophize about it later.
On the way, Hagai suggests we make a stop at the Phillip farm, to have a Pita and Labane breakfast.
While Lee and Hagai stood in line, I took some pictures.
Roger and a camel
Roger and camel.

Roger enjoying his Pita
Roger enjoying his Pita

A bit late, we continued to Arad, on the way to Masada.
In Arad, I detect a sign saying “Tourist Information” so I decided to
stop and ask for direction, the time was already around 14:00, already
an hour past our rendez vu time, and with more way ahead of us to the
Serpent’s trail.
The lady at the counter says that Masada site closes down at 16:00, and
that the way from Arad to the Serpents road takes more then an hour,
and then more then an hour to climb up, at that we’d miss all the point
in going to massada, since we’ll be forced to leave as soon as we go
up, she suggest that we go to the Battery trial.
For all you non Israeli blog readers, Masada mountain has two trails
leading to it, one from the east and called the Serpent’s trial, and
one from the west called the Battery trail. The Serpents trail is a
tough, steep climb, and the Battery trial, which was built by the
Romans,  is relatively short and easy. There’s also a cable car
going up and down from the East side of the mountain for those who
don’t want to climb, or simply can’t.
There’s no road connecting the two sides of Masada. You have to go
through Arad in order to get from one side to the other. The drive is
about 50KM in length and is full with dangerous curves.
Dangerous curves
Watch out ! Dangerous Curves.

So we inform Shmuel and the 2 other cars that they should start going
up, and that we’ll drive to the Battery trial and meet them on top of
the mountain. This wasn’t the plan, but with  the current
circumstances, that was the best choice we had.

On the way, we saw some camels. Literally.
It’s no wonder Americans think that Israel is all about camels. In the
single trip we take outside suburbia, we see multiple camels !
We Almost made it to Masada, and then I lose sight of Alon in my rear view mirror.
We stop and call them up, and they say that they’re stuck, but that someone was helping them.
So we take some pictures:

A very nice view of the mountain, with the Battery trail.

Lee and Hagai
Lee and Hagai.

Lee and Me
Lee and Myself

All of us
All three of us !

We make it to Masada and start our climb up.
Alon taking picture of Roger taking picture
I took a picture of Alon taking a picture of Roger taking a picture

up and away
Roger, being in very good physical shape, and jogging  a lot,
simply ran up the mountainside and was way ahead of us in mere seconds.

Lee on the back
Lee’s physical shape had the opposite effect.

Shadow play can make things look different…

on the top
Soon after we reached the top, a bit tired from the climb…

but not as tired as these guys.
I’m glad we went up and down the Battery and not the Serpent…
The time was already 15:05, less then an hour to go, and Shmuel Shmuel had a long series of lectures about the place.
He started lecturing, and we strolled behind relaxing and chatting to ourselves.
I, naturally, took some pictures.

Lee with Mike the man and Nadav and Yaara in the back
Lee with Mike the man and Nadav and Yaara in the back

Naama is filming with Roger’s camera while he’s taking her picture.

And showing her how to use the camera.
I haven’t met Naama before, and I asked Nadav about her, he didn’t know
as well, but according to some gossip, what I understood, is that Naama
is a member of the Role player’s organization and became a groupie of
Roger during Icon, and subsequentally joined Starbase972.
Yay to Roger to enlisting more people to Starbase unknowingly !
More about Naama later.

Mike nadav yaara
Mike, Nadav, and Yaara.


Alon and..
Alon, and his girlfriend, which name eludes me at the moment.

And all of `em together,

Lee and Mike
Lee is Tired, and Mike is sunburnt.

Look ! Over there !

No ! Over There
No ! Over there !

There’s a similar picture from Roger’s camera, but the one I took  from my camera turned out better.

Abandoned Roman camp.

Massada ruins
Masada ruins

Group Photo
Group photo of all of us !

The time was nearly 16:00 and the cable car shuts down at 16:00, so the
other half of the group were in a hurry to leave, and we had to decide
what to do. Alon wanted to head straight home in order to spend as much
time driving while there was still light. So we suggested that we’ll
take Roger ourselves and meet the other two card in the dead sea and
eat something there before we go home.
We walked down and while Lee and Alon went to jump start Alon’s car and
charge his battery for a while, me and Roger wondered to look at some
water caves.
Mountain side, The dead sea, and caves.

Roger inspecting something down.

This is one of the caves, There were two, this was the first we saw.
It is VERY high, the next picture should give you some perspective
Yeah. That’s Roger standing there. The stairs were missing the hand rail, and I was VERY SCARED climb down the stairs.
Roger just ran down easily as if there was nothing to be afraid of. I’m
scared of my own clumsiness. I tend to slip and fall in less dangerous
Oded Crab Crawl
After a few steps down, I started “Crab walking”. Roger was very amused. I wasn’t. Maybe a bit.

The climb up was much easier.

cave WITH rail
A few seconds later we found a second cave. It was very annoying finding out that this one HAD a perfect hand rail.

Roger in massada
Roger and Masada.

And then we started our way back to Tel-Aviv, and to Arad on the way.
Sadly, the 15 minutes that we charged Alon’s car didn’t do much good. A
few minutes after we started driving back his car stopped again.
We repeatedly jump started him, along with a few more charging minutes and drove 2 more km’s.
All in all we did the 20km from Masada to arrad with about 6 stop. It
did take us 2 hours to get to Arrad, and another hour in Arrad to
figure out what to do with Alon’s car, while he was on the phone,
arguing with his parents, and trying to find out a tow truck.
The whole situation wasn’t very pleasant. On one hand, Alon is a
friend, and we didn’t want to leave him stranded 200km away from home,
on the other hand there’s Roger, our guest, which I was getting hungry
and irritated, and yet, he didn’t show it at all. He was a real good
sport about the whole ordeal, and gave us some helpful advice along the
I though about my trip to Taiwan, and try to imagine them dealing with a situation like this.
Chinese, and therefore also  Taiwanese have a big thing with
“face”. It’s really important to them the way they look in the eyes of
others, especially international guests.
First, I’m sure that they wouldn’t have organized a trip like that, but hire a bus to take us all to massada.
Lets assume though that it this might have happened to a group of
Taiwanese. They’d probably ditch Alon and Nadav and Yaara in Tel-Aviv
and go without them. They wouldn’t have taken the chance of this
But we have a higher sense of friendship, of togetherness. I couldn’t
have left them in Rishon without the satisfaction of going to Masada.
We took a risk. Risk is our business. That is what a starship is all about.

In the end we left Alon there waiting for his parents to come form
Tel-Aviv, he found a car battery in the Arad shopping mall, and managed
to get home.
We decided to go eat something in Beer-sheva. Wanting to try some more
local food, we took Roger to Nafis. We had a very big dinner of
Jachnoon, Humus, Fatoot, Jerusalem Mixed chicken and many other small
and tasty dishes.
Finishing the meal with some Nana tea and an empty plate of Bavarian cream.
All in all it was a very exciting and eventful day, and with many nice pictures to fill up my hard drive.
We got home by 22:30, tired but satisfied, and went to sleep preparing for the next day.

Going to Jerusalem with Roger

Again, waking up way too early for me, we were set to pick up Roger from his hotel.
Having no obligations on Sunday, we volunteered to escort Roger to
Jerusalem, as he had some interviews to complete with Rabbi’s who lived
in the greater Jerusalem area.
They day itself was pretty uneventful. We drove to Jerusalem, while
Roger made some phone calls to set up the interviews. We got there,
left him to the interview, and went to eat brunch with Ofir in a coffee
shop nearby. Then we came back to pick up Roger, sat with with at the
second half of his prolonged interview with Rabbi Baruch Kaplan.
Then we drove Roger back to his hotel.

roger blessing lulav and etrog
A local religious man, passing by us, gave us Ethrog and Lulav to bless.

shatner st.
Can you believe that there’s a street called “Shatner St.” ???

Pretty uneventful, but yet enlightening. On the way, We talked with
Roger about his documentary’s subject – Existence, about film making,
about health food, about Israel, and about himself, and ourselves, and
about some other stuff.
He had another meeting with an Israeli screen writer, at his hotel, and invited us to stay and hear what the guy had to say.
I wasn’t impressed personally by the story or the script, and even more
by the lack of presentability that this writer came with.
Although it’s based on a real life story, the story I heard wasn’t
unique, or new, but a the same ol’ dramatic presentation of some life
altering events which I’ve seen over and over in the cinema. I tend not
to like things that are “based on true stories” as they tend to be
Moreover, the fact that he insisted that the movie relies on two big
Hollywood persona’s as main actors, only strengthen the fact that his
story was weak to begin with. When I see a movie, I prefer a
breathtaking story with two unknowns in the lead. Like “Free
Enterprise”, which is also based on a true story of the life of Robert
Burnett and his friend Mark. They had a great story with good unknown
actors in the lead.
After the meeting we said our farewells to Roger as he went on a dinner
date with that Naama girl. I hope they had fun in their date, as they
both looked very eager to.

To summarize, we had tons of fun hanging around with Roger, we hope to
see him next year when he finished his documentary and comes back to
show it, or sooner, if we take up on his offer to visit him in LA.

Thanks Roger !
See you soon !

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