Wander Wednesdays - Israel

About two weeks ago I got back from one of the most amazing trips of my life. I had the pleasure of going on Birthright, a 10-day program that teaches you about your Jewish heritage and exploring the country with 40 plus people. I went in with very little expectations, but what I left with is a lifetime of memories and friendships. It's hard to put a trip like that to words, where you walk away feeling changed. There was a wonderful poet by the name of Rachel, who came to a kibbutz by the Kinneret Lake in Israel before it became a state. She wrote "...my Kineret...oh my Kineret. Did you exist, or did I dream a dream?" Our tour guide Joe (who was absolutely amazing) said that we may feel like this after leaving. He was absolutely right, and after returning home it feels like it all happened so fast. Part of being a photographer is capturing and preserving memories, and I’m so grateful to have the chance to do so. 

Below is a taste of the beautiful sites around Israel; ranging from snow-capped mountains to old cities to gorgeous beaches. Enjoy!

Wander Wednesday - Bear Mountain

“Wanderlust” is defined as a strong longing for or impulse towards wandering. Those of us with a passion for adventure? We feel this wanderlust every day. In order to really satisfy this ache, we MUST put our hectic lives on hold and reconnect with nature as often as possible.

Tensed from our fast paced NYC lifestyle, Michelle, Cesar and I had been trying to plan a nature getaway for weeks. Despite the cold and dreary weather, we decided that no matter what, it was time for a mini road trip. Bring on Bear Mountain!

We began our hike with a slippery trudge up the mountain. Wet leaves and moss blanketed the ground, making it difficult to keep our footing. We had bundled up well for this climb but little prepared us for the biting wind that would be hitting our faces! The wind howled as it cut through the trees. Sadly, halfway through our hike it began to rain and our hike was cut short.

Ironically, the minute we got to the bottom, the rain stopped. We decided to explore the area a bit…and there it was! The biggest frozen lake with an absolutely gorgeous backdrop of mountains and pine tree forests. It was so serene and peaceful, we couldn’t help but stare.

Gazing at this beautiful landscape, the sun setting right between dense clouds, made the trip totally worth it. The sense of importance in wandering and exploration had never meant more to us.

We came back feeling extremely refreshed, with memories of the beautiful sceneries we’d seen; ready to resume our fast paced lives again. So, whenever you start feeling a sense of wanderlust, don’t ignore it. Embrace it instead. Act on it. It’s your body and mind telling you how vital it is to travel and explore. Your everyday life will always “get in the way”, but it’s up to you to make time, as little as it may be. 

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"Wander Wednesdays"- Camping at Woodland Valley

Welcome to our first "Wander Wednesday"!

About a week ago Towfiq, Cesar, and I all took a camping trip to Woodland Valley Campgrounds. Before this I was the only one who'd been camping before, but the boys were ready to jump right into it (knives, bear spray, and all)!  

 

The trip from NYC was about 4 hours long. Besides for hitting 3 separate tolls (whyyyy), we thoroughly enjoyed the scenic trip up there. For someone like me who grew up in Ohio, it felt amazing to head out to the wilderness and get some fresh air. I mean, city life is amazing but c'mon, we all need a break every once in awhile.

Once we reached the campground and checked in, the lovely lady at the counter informed us that "there are tonnnns of bears here. But you already knew that. They stay at the top of the hills around the campground and watch. MOSTLY they're just looking for food." Well thank you, glad to hear it, I'll just be on my merry way now. She was a sweetheart though and when I told her we'd accidentally forgotten bug spray (I'm a mosquito magnet), she gave us a can on the house.

Now began the fun part; setting up our tent. This is something none of us had done before. Luckily we got the hang of it pretty quickly (sort of), and got it up in no time!

 

After slaving over our tent, we decided it was time to take a quick stop at the nearby river to relax and take some photo. The spot was absolutely beautiful at sunset and it gave us time to appreciate where we were and how much it meant to us. Not just being there, but being there with the people we love and care about.

After the river, we headed back to camp to make obligatory hot dogs and smores!! Mmmm.

 

Now that it was getting darker, Towfiq and I began to set our photo gear up. We'd been meaning to do night sky photography for quite some time, but living in the city doesn't give you the opportunity to do so; too much light pollution. "Wow" is literally the only way I can explain the experience. Taking photos in near pitch black night andthen having the most amazing scene appear on your camera screen? Priceless.

Even managed to catch a shooting star in the second one! :)

Fast forward now to sleeping time. Three of us in the tent. Here are some helpful tips if you're going to be sharing a tent with your best friend and boyfriend:

  1. They will potentially play footsy in the middle of the night, don't question it as it's "for warmth".
  2. PACK WARM. This means bring plenty of blankets/sleeping bags and assume it will be colder than expected at night. If you're the only one to bring a sleeping bag, yours WILL be stolen by the others and then everyone ends up shivering.
  3. Wake them up if there's a problem. For some reason I ended up with extreme stomach pain (hotdogs, I'm looking at you.) The boys were super sweet about it and took care of me until I felt better.
  4. You may not end up sleeping in the tent all night. We ended up being so cold that we tried to sleep a bit in the car. Note- if you're sitting in the drivers seat, watch where you put your feet....you may just end up blaring the car horn at 4 am.

Despite everything that happened throughout the night, there was no where I'd rather have been. Waking up to the brisk morning air, the mistiness, the trees; nature's beauty encompassed us and it took our breath away. I can't wait for the day we do it again, and for the million more adventures to come.


Live more. Be more. ♥