I have a lot of enemies. I don’t know them personally, but I’ve noticed many drivers passing me on the road who don’t seem to be particularly happy with me. They do not wave and smile as they pass. They sometimes have an angry look on their faces and often it seems that one of their hands is permanently attached to the horn. What can I say? I’m not an Indy 500 racer, which puts me in a negligible minority in this country. Driving on the road is not my favorite activity either. Just so you know.
My husband had a meeting scheduled in Haifa today. We decided that I would join him, and we’d make a day of it. We planned to take the train, which we expected to be a pleasant and relaxing ride through a scenic route. We were about to leave the house when my husband received a text message alerting him that there was an electrical problem at the Herzliya station. A phone call to the Train Authority confirmed that there would be no trains to Haifa until further notice. They recommended that people take alternate methods of transportation.
With my husband’s recent back problems, I became the alternate method of transportation. My husband doesn’t like to be a passenger in any car, especially when I’m the driver. But there was no choice. I’ll spare you the details but let’s just say that my usual reminder to say T’filas HaDerech proved unnecessary.
Every time I get on an Israeli highway, I am amazed anew. Today I noticed that a sign telling people to drive slowly was literally right next to the 100-kph speed limit sign. I wondered how that could be. 100 kph is 62.14 mph. That’s slow? But I didn’t need to wonder for long. I understood the oxymoronic placement of signs when I traveled a bit farther down the highway and noticed another sign that publicized the 120-kph speed limit. That’s 74.5 mph. For the basis of comparison, the speed limit on the Van Wyck Expressway is 50 mph. The NJ Turnpike limit is 65 mph.
While it’s true that 100 kph is slower than 120 kph, the speed limit here is not quite limiting enough in my not-so-humble opinion. I think it’s time for Driving Reform! There are many anarchists on the road, and the police don’t seem to crack down on too many of them. It is everyone’s democratic right to travel safely on the roads. I believe this is something everyone in the country can agree on.
But until Driving Reform happens, I stick to my guns and travel at a speed that I deem appropriate, much to the chagrin of my fellow drivers. I try to stay in the right lane as much as possible. This suits me well since, despite my being a lefty, I’m a “righty” in every other way. I always try to do the right thing. I’m always right. Politically I’m right-wing. When I speak with people, I look them right in the eye. Whenever I have to do something, I get on it right away. I try to make sure everyone is all right.
In any case, I drove until we reached a rest stop along the way. At that point, my husband miraculously felt well enough to drive and he took over the wheel for the rest of the trip. Although I like to be a good wife and look out for his well-being, I can’t deny that I was thrilled about the sudden marked improvement in his condition.
We made a stop at Park Hakishon, located at the Kishon River, which empties into the Mediterranean Sea. The Kishon River is heavily polluted because, for years, petrochemical companies in the area dumped toxic waste into the river. Unfortunately, Israeli Navy units trained there in the past not knowing that it could cause major health damage. Soldiers who swam in the water became sick with serious illnesses at far higher rates than the general population. The Israeli government is investing millions of shekels to implement a comprehensive cleanup project and develop a recreational center along its banks. The park, which is part of this project, has a beautiful view of the river, the marina, the port, and the Haifa landscape including Haifa University.
Our next stop was the Railway Museum located at the Haifa East railroad station. The museum traces the history of rail travel in Israel from 1892 to the present. Many old trains are on display along with old-fashioned signs, timetables, and equipment.
For me, a highlight of the museum was the Palestine Railways saloon coach, which provided VIP transportation for the famous and wealthy, including the King and Queen of Belgium, Sir Winston Churchill, Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, and David Ben-Gurion. The cars of this train that were on display were first class.
Coach No. 4720 was built for Egyptian State Railways. During World War I, it was converted into an ambulance for the Sinai Military Railway. Israel captured it in 1956 when it invaded Sinai and used it on breakdown trains.
We walked around the German Colony a bit and then drove to a lookout with a beautiful view of Haifa from the top of the mountain. All in all, it was a beautiful day.
I hope that you all enjoy your summer outings. Most importantly, safe travels!