Monday, June 30, 2008

Homeless. Not homeless. Or somewhere in the middle

So Friday morning, in the middle of East Podunk Ontario, we stop for gas and suddenly, the cellphone, which has not had service for the better part of Canada, rings. It’s our wonderful new friends in Modi’in, Jeremy and Kelli. Letting us know that they called our future landlord just to check up on things.

And letting us know that they discovered that, despite having a contract and a deposit, our (former) future landlord had rented our (former) future apartment to someone else.

Four days before the end of the month.

Every try to find an apartment four days before the end of the month? Every try to find an apartment four days before the end of the month on the other side of the world?

We are so blessed to have Jeremy & Kelli, because with the help of another friend, Rachel, they found us a new apartment. It’s not really convenient to anything, but it’s a nice place, it’s cheaper, and most importantly, the landlord has promised not to rent it to anyone else.

Now we just need to find two guarantors who can come to Modi’in to sign papers. And get the Israeli Consulate in Toronto to send the papers today that they said they’d send last week. And get someone to drive us to Syracuse, since we can’t rent a car in Watertown, so we can get to Pennsylvania to see my family. And repack all our stuff so it will fit in the allotted four cases we have. And all the other things we need to do.

Anyone remember me saying that I couldn’t wait to get on the road, where the only thing I’d need to worry about was where to get gas and where to spend the night?

Yeah. I hear you laughing.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Mooses and foxes and bears, oh my!

Add some pea-soup fog at 3 in the morning, and oh, what a lovely mix it is.

We travelled from Falcon Lake, Manitoba, with intentions of making Sault Ste Marie, aka “The Sault (pr: Soo)” that night. That was all fine and dandy, except there was non-stop construction from the border to Marathon, Ontario. Non-stop. Oh, sorry, it wasn’t non-stop. We had to stop for 20 minutes at a time every 10 kms. There were LOTS of stops.


What should have taken about 7 hours to get to Thunder Bay, took 10 hours. We decided come hell or high water, we would make it to the Sault that night. We continued on slowly, but uneventfully (barring frequent stops for the construction, of course) until we were about an hour from Wawa (those of you in New Jersey are laughing right now, but it really is a town).

That’s when we started to see them:

MOOSES! (meeses?)

I saw a moose!! And then we saw about 4 or 5 more. The first one, standing by the side of the road, was very cool. The others, all either standing in the road, or crossing the road - not so cool. The two bears that were near-misses (both literally by 30 seconds or so) were kinda cool, once my heartbeat returned to normal. The two beautiful foxes were well across the road by the time we went by, so we were able to just enjoy the green flash of their eyes.

We stopped in Wawa around 11:00pm, at the Tim Horton’s (which was hopping! in this quiet little town). There was a party in the parking lot, where the topic of the evening was the moose party on the highway. Everyone was talking about how there were so many moose out on the road that night. A local cab driver told us to just take our time, and we’d be fine.

No one was counting on the fog, though. From WaWa to the Sault (about 3 hours’ drive) it was solid, pea-soup fog. So I drove about 60 kph, me looking back and forth for the moose and bears, Morey’s eyes peeled to the ditches where apparently, the moose like to hang out, praying the whole time that there wouldn’t be any moose and foxes and bears, oh my.

We made it to the Sault without seeing a single moose or bear, thank G-d. And boy, did we thank G-d :) Even the ubiquitous OPP (Ontario Provincial Police), who are known for always being where you don’t want them, made themselves scarce.

Once we hit the Sault, we decided to just keep driving. If we drove all night, we’d get to Ottawa around noon Friday, with plenty of time to prepare for Shabbat. If we stayed in Sault Ste Marie, we’d have to get up so early, it wouldn’t be worth it, and we’d get in to Ottawa too late to really be able to enjoy Friday night dinner. We did pull over for about half an hour for a quick power nap, and made it to Ottawa by 12:30.

Which gave us plenty of time to deal with the phone call we received on the road about having lost our great apartment in Modi’in…

Friday, June 27, 2008

Quick pre-Shabbat entry

The time lies; it’s still on Vancouver time.

Anyway, quick update before Shabbat, then I’ll post about the last day(s) of travel after Shabbat.

Thank G-d, we arrived in Ottawa safe-n-sound at 12:30pm. Ate, then crashed. Including Maimo - he’s still napping. We drove all night to get here with time before Shabbat, so needless to say, we’re a bit pooped.

But b“H, we’re done with Phase I of The Big Move - mooses, bears, foxes, road conditions and OPP notwithstanding (I’ll explain later).

Shabbat shalom!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Google maps vs Reality

Totally uneventful day. Until the end, of course. We left 1.5 hours later than we planned, but still made good time. In fact, our Google-estimated 14 hour trip took us 12 hours, including one lunch stop and two gas-n-pish-toss-the-ball-for-the-dog stops. We left Brooks at 9:30am and arrived in Falcon Lake at 11:30pm. But that’s 14 hours, you say.

Ah, it only seems like 14 hours. We went through two time changes, so we left at 9:30am Alberta time and arrived at 9:30pm Alberta time, 11:30pm Falcon Lake time.

The problem is, Falcon Lake is a provincial park, not an actual town, so the only hotels are lake resort hotels. The front desk guy (the bartender) let us sneak in Maimo, and gave us a break on the $130/night room, because the next stop was Kenora and that’s a long way away and we just couldn’t go anymore.

Actually, we could have gone further. Maimo had had enough. Poor little guy. He is not happy. He can’t sleep in the car, so he’s not getting his naps and I think he gets a little carsick, so he’s not eating.

Anyway, the moral of the story is, when I say, “There’s a Days Inn in Steinbach, 10 minutes off the highway. Should we stop?” the answer is always yes.

Ottawa arrival is looking like Friday. We have to make good time, because I don’t want to be spending Shabbat in Wawa, Ontario.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

7 things you should never hear while driving cross country

(an homage to the “7 Dirty words you should never say on tv” by George Carlin, ob-effin-m.

[written last night. See #9 for why it’s being posted this am]

1. The mechanic at Canadian Tire can’t see you until 2
2. Oh look! A bear crossing the road - Oh. That truck just hit it. (was okay, the bear just got clipped, slid on his rear, and got up and finished crossing. The truck, however...)
3. There’s a Bank of Montreal in Salmon Arm. We can stop there to wire the deposit for our new apartment to Israel. Oh. It’s going to take over an hour? You have to call Toronto? You can’t do a direct wire to Israel, it has to go through Poland?
4. Hey, it’s raining. I love sun showers! Especially when we have a duffel bag and a suitcase strapped to the top of the car. Oh, is that why we brought the tarp?
5. Is that… HAIL???
6. We can stop at Lake Louise for a few minutes. It’s beautiful, I’ve never seen it and Maimo could use a stretch. Um, is that rain? (it was sunny when we left the highway. We were thoroughly drenched by the time we got back to the car. As were the duffel bag and suitcase.)
7. The Trans-Canada goes directly through Calgary at 70KPH??? With traffic lights?? That’s just stupid.
And for bonus:
8. The renamed Princess Petunia of the Cherokee Jeeps sailed through Alberta like a trouper, clocking in at 130kph (outside of Calgary, of course). That speed on straight highway leads to lots of bugs committing bugicide on the windshield.

And on the duffel bag. And the suitcase.

Oh. THAT’S why we brought the tarp.

9. What do you mean the free wireless internet access signal doesn’t reach our room?

Reporting from Brooks “what is that smell anyway?” Alberta. Good nite.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Merritt or bust

That’s right. We travelled 270 km yesterday. At this rate, we’ll make Ottawa by August.


All our plans for the day fell apart, Sally Ann wasn’t taking any more stuff, the dump took about 7 trips, people who were supposed to pick up stuff didn’t, blah blah blah.

Thank G-d Sheryl showed up (so we said goodbye for the 14th time) early in the morning with a Starbuck’s box of coffee! Love you love you love you. The landlord kept calling and pushing us to be ready, so I just started throwing things into bins, the suitcase, duffel, etc. Normallly I am the Martha Stewart of travelling - I have utensils in the front, with well-organized snacks, the clothes for the next few days easily accessible on the top of the suitcase. Yeah. Not this time. I don’t know where anything is, including the Very Important Papers we need during the trip.

Anyhoo, by the time we dropped off all the last minute stuff, went to the post office (where I nearly forgot to do the change of address notification, which was why I went there in the first place), paid $6 to mail a poster to downtown Vancouver, forgot to stop by my eye doctor to pick up my patient summary, went to the bank, went to Omnitsky’s for over-priced pastrami sandwiches, we hit the road at 6pm. Woohoo. It took us over a half hour to get to Rte 1 because we forgot it was Monday, and got stuck in traffic.

Finally, we were cruising! Full car, Maimo in his crate, duffel bag strapped to the roof, off we go. Last week, we took the car to the mechanic to have an overhaul, and told the mechanic (whom we actually trust) that we were driving across the country. Somewhere around Fort Langley, the car starts getting “stuck” in high rev. Weird. It just won’t downshift for more than a few seconds. We think it just means we have to be going slower than 65 or much faster.

We think that until we get on the Coquihall Highway, and decided to pull over to switch drivers. As soon as we stopped the car, smoke started POURING out of the engine compartment, and from under the car. Crap. There’s oil everywhere, including a trail on the road, but we checked and the oil level was full. So we figure oil must be on the engine compartment and that’s what’s smoking, but what’s with the revving?

Okay, so instead of going past Kamloops, we decide to stop in Merritt (I LOVE this town!), going no faster than 45 or so (I imported my American car, so it speaks mph, not kph). We remember to say Tefillah HaDerech (the prayer for travellers). Going through the tunnel, there’s a huge cloud of blue smoke behind us, and I am a basket case. Halfway up the hill past the tunnel (where we’re being passed by huge 18-wheelers going UPHILL), the car suddenly downshifts, smooths out and stops smoking. I figured that was the calm before the death. I start having a very heartfelt convo with G-d, and the car continued to run beautifully until Merritt. Seriously, it’s never run better.

We find an awesome motel (I have to get over the fact that you just can’t get a motel room for $35 anymore) that takes pets and has free internet. And is so clean, I actually feel quite comfortable taking a bath. Sweet.

So that was my birthday. Thank you all for the all the cards and messages; I really needed them!!

Now we’re off to Canadian Tire to have a mechanic take a peek under the hood, and we’re back on the road. Let’s see if we get past Calgary…

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Last Day

We have to:
Take a carload of stuff to Sally Ann
Take a carload of stuff to the dump
take various things around town to various people
Keep running to Starbucks to check our email
clean, clean, clean
Plot our route


We can do it! I know we can!

Which means I have to get the hell out of Starbucks, get home, and get moving.

Riiiight after I finish my coffee....

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Apostate, Apropos, Apes, what?!

We interrupt our reminiscing to discuss an important topic: Apostilles

Apo-what you say?

Yeah, that’s what we said, too. In order for our lawyer to act on our behalf, she needs a Power of Attorney. Perfectly reasonable. A simple form that needs a notary signature.

For most countries.

Israel needs an Apostillization - basically, a notary on our notary - for our PoA. Problem: Canada doesn’t do Apostilles. Long story. Google “Apostille Canada” if you really want to know.

Solution: An Israeli government representative can “authorize” the PoA.

Problem: The only Israeli gov’t rep in Canada is in Toronto.
Problem #2: We’re leaving Vancouver in 3 days.
Problem #3: The Consulate wants us there in person.
Problem #4: We’re not in Toronto, we have no plans to be in Toronto, we have no way of being in Toronto.

A possible solution - according to the Israeli Consulate - might be to have the notary “authorized” by the Law Society of BC, but they’re not even sure about that. Then we would send the forms to the Consulate in Toronto.

Problem: While we’re waiting for someone in Toronto to authorize our PoA, we could lose the apartment. We’ll be on the road, travelling to Ottawa and won’t get there until the end of next week.


And I thought it all was going so well....

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Search for Rabbi

Many months go by, and we finally give up and call our former rabbi who now lives in Baltimore. Poor guy just can’t get away from us ;)

He wrote a lovely letter attesting to the fact that we are Jewish, which arrived during the December holidays. After working on this application for so long, I was determined to get the damn thing mailed before the end of the year (2007). We mailed the application December 31.

But of course, that’s just the start. You get photographs done, collect all your paperwork, get things notarized, pay the application fee and wait.

Then there’s the NEXT application. Nefesh b’Nefesh, the private organization that arranges for the charter flights and provides assistance, has its own application. Which, for some reason, is FAR more detailed than the government’s application. Go figure. But of ocurse, they need photos too. And notarized documents, and photocopies. And of course, the application fee.

Then we wait.

But while we were waiting, there was shipping to arrange, yard sales to plan, things to throw out/give away/donate/cry over (hey, it’s traumatic when you have to get rid of things because of space!), jobs to search, towns to research, apartments to find, trying to remember why we were putting ourselves through this…

Monday, June 16, 2008

The aliyah journal

*aliyah = “moving up” The word used to refer to people moving to Israel.

We’ve been asked by a few people to blog our journey. Better late than never, here’s the first post. I’ll try to bring you up-to-date. I’m also blogging on Facebook, instead of on a “real” blog, because that was part of the requests.


So 20 years ago, I went to Israel for the first time, and told my travelling companions that they could go home, but I was staying. The talked me out of that.

30-some years ago, Morey went to Israel for the first time, wanted to move there, but was too afraid of Army service. So he claimed he was a pacifist and stayed in Canada.

Many more visits to Israel followed, with my determination to live there getting stronger. Finally in Dec 2006, an aliyah emissary (shaliach) was coming to Vancouver, so I dragged Morey to the seminar she gave. I started talking to her, she filled out some paperwork and asked when she could schedule an interview. Next thing you know, we have a giant packet in the mail, along with an application.

I should point out that the application for immigration to Israel, the country where most of our technology comes from (cellphones, medical equipment, computers, etc.), is a many-times photocopied 2 page application.

By now, Morey was excited and we dove into the application. Part of the process is getting a letter from our Rabbi attesting to our being Jewish.

If only we had a Rabbi....

(to be continued)