We could see the tower from Mitzpe Netofa. This seemed like an irresistible attraction. The view from there must be tremendous! A quick look at the map showed a dirt road that leads up to the tower. The entire X family gets into their Mitsubishi Spacewagon and starts the journey.
In the photo above you can see the tower is sticking out on the left side of the horizon. A word for the wise: Don't travel on dirt roads in the Galilee mountains with a Mitsubishi Spacewagon. Take a jeep or some other "rechev shetach". Not only that: make sure that you have a detailed map for hikers, the kind that The Society for the Protection of Nature puts out. I should have known better. Mea Culpa!
My oldest son was at the wheel and I was sitting by his side, playing navigator with the map in hand. The wife and the other kids were in the back seats. The road is not in good shape. Some parts of the road were alright, but others were bumpy and full of potholes.
"Dad, with this journey you have fulfilled the obligation of taking us on a jeep trip," jibed my son. In the meantime nobody is panicking. Good.
Then we came to the fork in the road. "This isn't on the map!" I thought to myself. "Turn right," I said to my son, relying on my sense of direction.
"Dad, the fuel light is lit. We are running out of gas."
We continue forward and we see a pickup truck with the Jewish National Fund insignia on it. "Follow him," I commanded.
Sure enough, the JNF truck brings us to the observation tower on the top of the mountain. I am happy, and so is everyone else. We climb up to the top. A group of ultra-Orthodox Jews that arrived before us is singing sections of the High Holiday prayers, in two part harmony. One of them embarks on an embellished cantorial solo. A cool breeze caresses us as we enjoy the view.
All good things must come to an end. How do we get out of here? Someone else who is on the mountain had one of those hiker's maps from The Society for the Protection of Nature. Thank God! "Go on the green path, turn right on the blue path, and turn left on the black path. That will bring you to the rear gate of Mitzpe Netofa."
The colors he was referring to are lines that are painted every so often on stones on the side of the path. We follow the instructions. The path in front of us now makes the earlier path look like a superhighway. "Son, let me take over, I have more experience."
I take the wheel and press down on the gas. My son doesn't understand how I can drive so fast on such a bad road. Then I stop. In front of me is a section that looks unpassable for a Mitsubishi Spacewagon. The "low fuel" light is still lit. I imagine myself standing before a firing squad comprised of my kids, commanded by my wife: "Cock your weapons. Ready, aim..."
If we get stuck here I'm in big trouble!
I say a silent prayer and continue slowly. Somehow I successfully maneuver the car and we pass what I though was impassable. In front of us is the rear gate of Mitzpe Netofa, and it is locked.
"Excuse me, could you open up the gate for us?" I yell to someone in the distance.
"No, I don't have a key. Turn around and travel back to the main entrance."
"I can't, I'm low on gas," I plead. The guy gives me the kind of look that informs me that he thinks that I am an idiot, even if he doesn't vocalize the thought.
"The guy who has the key is davenning Mincha now. After he's done he'll open it for you."
Mincha! How could I forget? It's almost sunset. I face south in the direction of Jerusalem and pray the afternoon prayers among beautiful pastoral surroundings.
Finally the guy with the key shows up. "Please forgive me for bothering you to open up the gate," I say.
"No problem. How did you get here?" he asks.
"We were on Mount Tir'an."
"Why didn't you go tho the main entrance?"
"We're low on gas," I answer. He sticks his head in the car and takes a look at the gas gauge.
"You got enough gas to get to Afula!" he exclaims.
"But the light was lit," I protest.
"When the light goes on you can still travel about 40 kilometers!"
I wasn't in the mood to argue with my benefactor, especially since he was probably right. The main thing is that I didn't face a firing squad that night.