My first memory of considering a trip to Israel was sometime in the early 1970's. We were members of the First Baptist Church in Lake Charles, LA and the pastor, Hugh Van Eaton, used to take groups from the church to the Holy Land.
Two decades later, I'm working at a theatre in Pennsylvania and being housed in the spare bedroom of a widow. She had been a caregiver for her disabled husband in the last few years of his life and when he passed away, her children got her a cruise as a reward for her sacrifice. Another decade later, as my mother labored to care for my disabled father, a trip to Israel returned to my mind as something that might be a nice victory lap for her when my father passed away. 16 years after his stroke, my father passed away in April of 2010, and, curiously, one of the first things to pop into mind was that now my mother and I could go to Israel.
In 2008, a friend who had just been on an Israel trip had suggested the agency that booked her trip - Noseworthy Travel. However, they had nothing in the time frame I needed, so I spoke to the mother of another friend, who just happened to be the secretary of a church in the city where I was going to school. The secretary suggested contacting John Setterlund, a retired pastor who had lived in Israel and who regularly lead trips there. His November trip didn't fit into my schedule, but he suggested contacting L&L Travel in Champaign, IL. Lisa suggested looking at some of the guided tours from Globus. After looking through the packages and discussing further, my mother and I decided on TG 522 - a 9-day trip through Israel. The cost for the tour and airfare was $9,066, and cash expenses pushed the total cost up to around $10,000. Effectively, my frugal father was paying for it through his estate, and I'm not sure whether he would be delighted or horrified.
The trip to Israel was fairly straightforward, but the fact that both my mother and I lived in slightly remote locations, coupled with my distaste for air travel and some seasonal flooding made the trip a bit more complicated than it might have been for many other Americans. My trip to meet her in Louisiana involved a city bus to the downtown Champaign, IL bus terminal, a Greyhound bus to St. Louis, Amtrak to Longview, TX, and another Greyhound to Ruston, LA, where she picked me up at the bus stop.
The trip to Israel involved driving to Shreveport, taking a regional jet to Atlanta (Delta 5540) and then taking an international flight to Tel Aviv (Delta 152). Aside from the normal indignities and discomforts of contemporary air travel, the process was surprisingly crisis-free. On the ATL-TLV leg of the trip, we scored a bulkhead seat right behind business class, which gave us a very pleasant amount of legroom.
Next: Tel Aviv