life travel

California Dreamin’

I could really use some sleep. It’s 1:00AM (Alberta time) but I just can’t wait to let you all know what a great time Anna and I are having down here. I went to Disneyland and California adventures on Friday, Saturday, and again today (Sunday – yesterday technically). I am definitely having the time of my life down here. Anna-Maria made all the cuts and had her final call-back today. She preformed wonderfully. Only about 7 people were offered jobs but she is one of them.

Anyway have a good night, I’m coming back to Canada tomorrow.

Update: She decided not to take the job.

life travel

Goodbye Canada Hello Disneyland

In an act of sheer lunacy Anna and I have decided to go to Disneyland for the weekend. That’s right, they are having auditions there for Character Cast Members and Anna-Maria and I are in the process of planning our trip. I am really excited, and can’t wait to go.

Update: I need to get back to all my errands and I’ve been getting calls from everyone tonight. Most recently was Anna saying that maybe we should call this crazy trip off. It’s still up in the air, but I think we should go for it. If you’re reading this why not comment so I can hear what the “Internet” thinks? Go for it.


My Christmas Vacation and Training Camp in Southern California!

My Christmas vacation was a blast. I took a bus down to California — 46 and a half hours[1] later I arrived at the Disneyland Hotel. Quite possibly the happiest place on earth. (Especially after a bus ride like that). After spending four days with Anna-Maria and her family I hopped on another bus and drove down the State to meet up with my swim team. Lots of practicing, lots of time on the beach, and plenty of sun all around — it was a really fun time. I was glad to get home though and now that I am home I switched into the New Media program and things are going just great.

[1] Never again.


California Training Camp

Here are some pictures from my trip. More details to follow (later).

My Christmas vacation was excellent. I’ll post the pictures when I have them zipped.

Update: The pictures are down.

Sport travel

Planning My California Getaway

I am trying to get down to California so I can spend a week with Anna and her family before my swim camp (which is also in Southern California). Anyway if I take the bus down and don’t take the flight down with the team the airline will cancel the ticket for the return flight. So my coach sent out an email to see if anyone on the team who is not going would like to take this last chance and if someone replies then I guess I’ll be going, otherwise it doesn’t look good. For sure I won’t be leaving until Saturday at the earliest.

In other news, I haven’t been accepted to the Faculty of Fine Arts in Multimedia, but apparently they are accepting me as some multi-classified student or something weird like that. Whatever it is, it means that I will be eligible to compete on the swim team.


Trip to Israel Day 10

Today, the first thing we visited was the Western Wall (known more commonly as the Wailing Wall). Next we visited the Temple Square and saw the Dome of the Rock. We also stopped in at the church of the holy seplucer. I didn’t really like that place with all its gold and jewellry ornaments everywhere.

On our way through the old city where walked into a wide area, that seemed a lot to resemble a parkade, but instead of parking spaces it had very large rocks for the flooring, and there was a Russian imigrant playing her violen. It was probably the most beautiful sounding violin that I have ever heard. I asked her to play “Jerusalem of Gold” and she did. The sound of her violin echoed of the old rocks of the area, while a bright stream of sunlight flooded in. I really enjoyed it.

The city of Bethlehem has been closed for the last week due to civil unrest, but it was opened to tourists this morning so hopefully we will be able to go there this afternoon.

We stopped at the mall for lunch. After I finished eating, I took a look at some of the computer stores. The prices seemed either the same, or slightly higher.

The next place we visited was the city of Bethlehem. We visited the Church of the Nativity, (where Jesus was born).

We went to a wood carving shop in Bethlehem and saw how they make some of the olive wood carvings. I wanted to take a piece of olive wood for my dad, so I asked how much it would cost. When he told me $25 dollars, I told him that for a piece of wood that was too much. He said, “well, I could make a $100 item out of that wood, but I will give it to you.”

Next, we went to some shepards fields and saw the very place where the construction of new Jewish homes had caused so much protesting by arabs. There were military check-points, but no one was there protesting.

Ruth Tallstrup read from the book of Ruth in the bible, and I enjoyed the time I spent there. Someone found a turtle and I thought that it was cool.

Later that night, we stopped in David and Golieth country. We stopped at the same river where David picked up his five smooth stones. Ami set a rock up on a tree and asked us to see who coul d throw another rock and knock it down. I was the first person to knock it down (and with my first throw).Some U.N. observers stopped and came over and talked with us.

On our way back we passed the place called Bet Shamesh, the place where Deliela had men cut off Samson’s hair.

We went back to the hotel and after supper some people went to Ben Yahuda street for shopping. I was sick of shopping so I just went to sleep early.


Trip to Israel Journal Entry Day 9

We are driving on the East side of the Sea of Galilee and the city of Tiberius can be seen in the distance looking down over the large body of water.

We are getting out of the bus to see the Jordan River.

We are now travelling in one of the most notoriously dangerous places in Israel, the west bank. Despite the image that the media puts on this place, it does not seem very dangerous at all. To our left is Jordan and on our right are some refugee camps, but almost half the people on the bus are sleeping. (Apparently they are not worried about the “danger”).

There are several anit-terrorist protections that Israel has. They have a mine field, a touch sensitive fence (if anyone touches the fence soldiers will come to investigate), a dirt road that is smoothed so that if anyone crosses it, their footprints will be left behind, and bunkers located all along the border with soldiers that keep watch 24 hours a day.

Jerrico, a city over 9000 years old is just over these mountains (hills). The children of Israel circled around Jerrico 13 times. Six times in the first six days and seven times on the Seventh Day.

We stopped at Jerrico for lunch, some people rode camels here, and then we headed back to the Concord Hotel for some sleep. It felt good to get some sleep after a long day of touring. Later that night we went to the Old City and Ben Yahuda street for some shopping and some well appreciated McDonalds’ fries.

When we got back some of the girls in our group wanted to do laundry but none of them had a bath tub in their room, so I told them they could use ours.


Trip to Israel Journal Entry Day 8

Today we visited the Mt. of Beattitudes where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount (St. Matthew 5,6, and 7).  Together we read through Matthew 5 and compared it to the things Jesus taught in 3 Nephi chapter 12.  After we read and talked we sat for a moment in silene, to reflect upon the things we had seen and felt.  I didn’t really want to leave that place but we had other places to see.

We are now looking at the Jordan River.  It is not very wide but looks very pretty.

Now we are driving through a mine field.  When Syria had control of the Golam Heights they planted mines and did not map them.  It is against International law not to map mine fields.

I just discovered that the film in my camera was not advancing so I lost a full role of pictures.

We stopped in Qazrin for a quick break and then off for some of St. Peter’s fish.

When I first saw the fish, I was quite surprised.  We were told that it was some of the best fish in the world, but some of the people insisted that it didn’t matter how good the fish was, they just didn’t like fish.  Dave told the people that didn’t like it, he would buy them something else.  Well, I don’t think that anyone who got the fish was disappointed.  It looked like fish, including fins, gills, and its head.  Despite the strange fully formed appearance of the fish, it sure tasted great!

After supper, we took a boat ride across the Sea of Galilee. The Galilee area is beautiful and the cool breeze made the ride an even more wonderful experience.  We stopped and read some scriptures in St. Matthew 14. I really enjoyed the peaceful feeling.  Looking out over the Sea of Galilee, you knew without a doubt that Jesus really was there and that he did walk on the water, and that this was the place that it happened. I imagined Peter stepping out onto the water, and Jesus stretching out his hand and catching him. I will always remember that day.

The next place we visited was a kibbutz to see what the life was like there. A kibbutz is a small colony of people that live without income, but have everything they need provided for them.  It seemed a lot like the Hutterites there, but they had some major differences which might make life there more enjoyable.

The most amazing thing happened there.  I was feeling kind-of down and out, and we walked into the kibbutz gymnasium.  When it came down to a game of 5-5 I was sure to get on the old guys team (Phill Tallstrip, Jack Hickens, Dave Clark, and Bruce) because I’ve learned that the young team will hardly ever win, especially when it’s half court. I had a really good time playing with those guys. The rest of our group cheered us on from the stands. It really cheered me up. Even Phill Tallstrup told me he was pretty impressed. He said I could have easily played for his team in Magrath.

Later that night, some of the kids went swimming in the Sea of Galilee. Jesse slipped on the rocks and got his shirt a little wet and slimy, but he was ok and we all laughed, but felt bad for him. The water was pretty cold at first, but we all got used to it very quickly.

I love it here in the Galilee area.  We had a little bit of rain here, but it was so soft and didn’t last very long. It’s too bad we are leaving so soon, but that’s the way it has to be.


Trip to Israel Journal Entry Day 7

This morning I went to have a shower but the boiler was off and the water was freezing.

Last night, after supper I went for a walk with Julie Whitehead. She found out about the trip one day while buying shoes at Doug’s sports and came home with a trip to Israel. She also told me about her missionary boyfriend whom she is actually waiting for. He is coming home soon and she is very excited for his return. She is 22 and her missionary is the same age.

We are heading toward the place where Jesus was transfigured—Mt. Tavor. On top of the mountain I can already see the church of transfiguration. Mt. Tavor is a very round mountain with trees and a small village on its side. Buses cannot travel up the mountain, so we must take a taxi to the top.

The top of Mt. Tavor was beautiful. The church there was very nice and I enjoyed the short time we had to spend there. Today I decided to wear shorts, so did Jamie Clark. But when we reached the top we discovered that you were not allowed to wear shorts on the church grounds. Luckily I brought jeans to change into if I got cold. (I just put them over my shorts). Jamie had to wrap a coat around her legs.

We are now on our way to Nazereth. We are going to Mary’s Well, (the place where the angel Gabrial announced the birth of the savior to Mary). Nazareth is a good example of a town where Jews and Arabs live together. About 25 000 Jews live along with 40 000 Arabs in Nazareth.

Nazareth was Jesus’s childhood home, where he studied and worked. While we were there, we saw a rock quary, the place believed to be where Jesus was threatened to be stoned. We read Luke 4:16-30. After that we sang the first verse to the song, “I Wonder When He Comes Again”.

Nazareth has been inhabited since biblical times, although no mention is made of it in the Old Testament. Its history was marked by successive cycles of destruction and renewal, and Christian residence in the town was prohibited following its devastation at the hands of Sultan Beibars in 1263 until the 17th century.

We just visited Mary’s Well. It probably was the true place, but I didn’t really find it that exciting. ther is a giant church (300 years old) built over a Cruisader church (1200 years old) built over a Bezenien church (1600 years old).

At the bottom of a small walkway is a tiny well with running water. There were many people chanting/singing and they poured water from the spring on their faces and heads.

We are just leaving Nazareth. There are lots of very expensive houses that Arabs live in. Some of the homes are not finished yet. People here will start a building (for example; if a young couple has enough for a foundation, that’s all they’ll build) and finish it later when they have the money. In the mean time, they will live at a relatives house.

We just drove by the place where Jesus was invited to a wedding and they ran out of wine, so He turned water into wine.

We visited St. Peters home and read St. Mark 5:23-43 and saw an old synagogue built on top of a church from Jesus’s time. The scriptures mention this church.

We are now on our way to Tiberious. On the way we pased some “rock rabbits” and mango trees that live in this very green area. The Galilee area is very beautiful. Ami told us that almost (if not all) plants will grow here. (I think he was referring to fruit bearing plants). Tiberious is a winter and summer resort. We are going to stop in the center of Tiberious where we are going to be able to see most of the town. We are going to an outlet to shop “till we drop” (We are going for an hour and a half, and I’m already ready to drop).

I am now very worn out from shopping. I bought a panoramic photo of the view of the Old City of Jerusalem and a postcard with Albert Einstein on it.

We are now on our way back to the hotel. Supper will be at 6:45pm as usual. Tonight there will be a disco dance (although I doubt it will really be a “disco” dance) I think that the english term for dance used to be disco and it probably just stuck. I found the same thing in Japan.


Trip to Israel Journal Entry Day 6

Last night I never slept very well. They told us to have our bags ready in the hallway to be picked up no later than 7:15am. I think I dreamt that I forgot to put my bags out and woke up. I asked Rob what time it was and he woke up and just said he didn’t know. I was worried that I wouldn’t have my bags out in time so I asked him again to check what time it was. I felt bad that I had woken him up when I found out that it was 2:15am.

We travelled (on the bus) back out of Jerusalem the same way we came in (toward Tel Aviv).  We drove past some orange trees and through a city with many skyscrapers.  Our tour guide explained many of the situations in Israel, including information about terrorists.  The Palestinian Liberation Organization (P.L.O.) is a very large terrorist group that has begun negotiations with the Israeli government.  To understand where and how this group was formed you must understand the history.

During the 20th century many, many, thousands of Jews from around the world immigrated to Israel. The Palestinians did not like this and as a result of civil unrest in 1947 the U.N. suggested a peace plan in which the state of Israel give the Arabs designated land.  The Arabs in Israel did not object to this but other Arab countries did and they attacked Israel. Israel lost some land known as the East Bank, the Golan Heights, and others. Before the Arabs attacked they told Arabs living in the area to move out for two weeks while they attacked. Some Arabs said no and lived in peace but others left.  After the war in 1948 many of the Arabs that left Israel were stuck in refugee camps. (Israel left the border open for ½ a year allowing those Arabs to come back). These refugee camps became the home for many terrorists who are angry at Israel.

We just visited Caesarea. Some of the things that I saw there were the theater, the aqueduct, and the Mediterranean Sea. I picked up some pottery, coral, and a shell, that had all washed up onto shore.

We are now driving to the top of Mount Carmel where we are going to eat falafels. Falafels are made of petabread with salads and chick-peas inside. Each falafel is made with different spices so the taste of a falafel will be different depending on who made it.

We are passing a Drewz village. There are about 50 000 Drewz in Israel.

At the top of Mount Carmel we read from the bible 1 Kings 18:17.  It tells of a story that happened at the very place we are—Mount Carmel.

A jet flew over our head and disturbed our reading.  Someone asked if it was an Israeli plane.  Ami explained, “When you see a plane flying over Israel, count to three and if it is still there, then the plane is Israeli.

The next place we visited was the city of Haiffa. We encouraged our bus-driver to go on the less travelled Eagle’s View road. Ami said that if we liked Ouries driving that we could all sign a petition from the Israeli Department of Transportation and maybe he can get his license.

We just visited the valley of Armageddon (Revelation 16:14-21) The valley here is covered with beautiful green grass. It seems ironic, that such a nice looking place, will be the ground for such a horrific battle. In my mind, I have always imagined Armageddon as a dry, dark, desert. Maybe it is just the season though, it probably is not this green all year round. We walked through the city’s underground well. It was a source of water for the people outside their city, but was kept hidden by sealing up the entrance and camouflaging it.

We are now driving through the valley of Jezrael. Along time ago this valley was covered with swamps and mosquitoes. Arabs owned this land but did not live here because they were afraid of the mosquitoes and malaria. When the Jewish people offered lots of money for this land the Arabs could not understand why they would want to invest so much into this useless land and quickly sold it to them. The Jews pumped the water out and built their homes on the fertile soil. Only five years later, when Arabs saw what had been done with their land, did they want it back.

We drove by the place where Jesus feed 5000 people with only two fish and five loaves of bread.

I can now see the Kineret Doret Village Hotel where we’ll be staying for three days. It looks out over the beautiful fresh water—Sea of Galilee.