Happy New Year, friends and family! Since we’ve been pretty good at updating you regularly about all of our Israeli adventures, we won’t be sending out the traditional season’s greetings card. Instead, here’s a New Year’s Day post – we are thinking about you.

For Channukah this year, Noah’s Aunt Deborah gave him a mystery book called the Caves of Chelton about some children who find hidden treasure in some caves during their summer vacation. When we finished it Fri. night at bedtime, Noah jumped out of bed and ran around the house declaring it the best book he had ever read in his entire life. To celebrate that enthusiasm, we went the next day to some caves 20 mins. south of Haifa. Sababa!

The centerpiece of the Nahal Me’arot (River of the caves) Nature Reserve are limestone rock formations–formed from reefs composed of rutists–long extinct cone-shaped mollusks. About 1 million years ago, this was all under the sea.

Some of the formations contain caves where archeologists have found evidence of continuous habitation by prehistoric humans and neanderthals dating back 200,000 years.  One of the caves had a pretty cheesy audiovisual presentation including a film of what life might have been like for cavemen.

Cave, with real simulated cavepeople

Inside, looking out

Some of the other hills are crisscrossed by hiking trails, with lots of scrambling across rough rocky terrain but nothing technical, sort of like a big scratchy limestone climbing structure.  We hiked one of them, which was quite different from the forested hiking trails we’ve been on up to this point.  In the distance, we could see rainstorms over the Mediterranean, and we got a few drizzles, but fortunately we never got soaked.

Amid all that stark rock, there are, amazingly, pretty little flowers

As we we finished the hike, Noah announced, “I’m so hot, we should buy ice cream.”  How could we refuse?

A well-deserved גלידה break.