Heading Home!


Our traffic adventures in Israel were relatively uneventful.  No major traffic jams, no crashes, far fewer people in a rush and not one complete (okay maybe one) idiot like I see many times a day in the USA.  That’s not to say that everyone was polite and unhurried, there was plenty of the usual rush hour grind, but it just didn’t seem to be the madness I see in the Chicago suburbs, anyway.

The only auto related issue we had was that our tour van’s air conditioning broke a couple hours from Eilat in the Negev desert.  Well that and Jon thowing up the first day.  As for the air conditioning, it actually wasn’t as bad as it sounds, even the kids didn’t complain (much).  Things like this happen, so no big deal at all.  In fact, our tour guide, David, was excellent, as was the transportation and driving.  If you are going to Israel, definitely give KIDS’  Israel Adventures a call if you need a guide.  Dave is originally from California (Los Angeles) and speaks perfect English.  He also has all the local connections of a licensed guide who has been in the biz for 15+ years.

We actually booked our whole tour with Authentic Israel and they happened to pair us with David as a subcontracted guide.  I can recommend them also.  They were a bit pricey, but good service.  David wasn’t our scheduled driver back to Jerusalem today, even if his A/C hadn’t broken.  So, our tour company sent another driver for the 5+ hour final leg of or tour.  This time, it was an older Mercedes Vito minivan.  While it seated 8, two rear seats lacked a head restraint and all rear seats lacked a shoulder belt.  There was a newer Evenflo high back booster, but I didn’t have the heart to reject it on the basis of a lap-only belt;-)  The ride was a bit bouncy, but on the plus side, the A/C was nice and cold!  Our kids liked Dave’s van best of all of them, though!

It’s back to the USA traffic for us.  I leave still wondering how high motor vehicle traffic ranks as a cause of death in Israel and the West Bank or how their rates compare to ours on a per million vehicle miles travelled basis.  Can we help them, or can they help us?  Or maybe a little of both?


Britax Marathon 70 Review – Part I


I’m going to break the entire Britax Marathon 70 review into smaller bite-sized pieces. Partially because I don’t have a lot of time today, partially because it’s 100 degrees outside right now and partially because I know everyone is anxiously awaiting more info and I don’t want to keep you waiting longer than necessary.

The Britax Marathon 70 is a convertible child restraint rated for children 5-40 lbs in the rear-facing position and up to 70 lbs in the forward-facing position.  It has a listed height limit of 49″ tall but since all children are proportioned differently, it’s possible that it may be outgrown before that listed height limit is reached.  Since many of our readers are familiar with the original Britax Marathon model, many of my comments will be comparative.

Quick Observations from the Middle East


Yesterday in Bethlehem, I asked our guide about child seat use.  He is a resident of Bethlehem and has a small baby.  It sounded like child seat use was not all that common, though they are readily available.  He was considering buying one for his baby but found the prices very high, about the equivalent of US $100 for a Chicco model he had been considering.  Most babies ride on their mother’s lap from what I understood.

That said, the driving didn’t seem to be as crazy, either in the West Bank or in Israel.  People generally were not whizzing past everyone else in a great hurry.  I haven’t observed a crash yet, something that seems almost daily sometimes in our suburban area.  The roads are dominated by small and midzise sedans.  There are some wagons, small SUVs and short wheelbase minivans.  I have seen two small pickups (used on the grounds at tourist sites) and no large SUVs at all.  Aside from that, you see mostly buses and full size vans for tours and deliveries.  Not a trace of 18-wheelers and fewer large commercial trucks than you might expect.  The vehicle fleet seemed relatively modern also, perhaps even more than what I see in the Chicago area.

Our guide in Bethlehem, Elias, was great.  The whole experience was awesome and very much worth the time and effort of the border crossing into Palestine and back.  I highly recommend him if you ever travel there.  We were paired with him through Fred at Tours In English in Jerusalem, but his own company is Grace Tours located in Bethlehem.   I left him a nice tip for his amazing service, including his way with crowds to get us some very nice photos.   I hope he buys a nice convertible child seat for their baby!

First Look at the New Britax Marathon 70 Convertible Carseat!!! (Video Review)


So, I’m crazy late for my camping trip to PA with the kids and I’m sure that I’ll be pitching our tent in the dark tonight but who cares!  The Britax Marathon 70 is here and there was no way I could leave after I saw the UPS truck pull up as I was literally backing the van out of my driveway.  I promise more info, measurements, installation comments, etc., when I return on Monday.  I hope this is enough to tide you over until then.  Oh, and while I was waiting for youtube to load the video – I skimmed through the instruction manual and discovered:

  • There are now 3 recline positions (fully reclined #3 position MUST be used when the seat is installed rear-facing)
  • The harness height can be adjusted from the front of the seat without un-installing it. Very nice! You just squeeze a lever at the top of the adjustable head restraint and voila – it moves up and down!

Check out Part I and Part II of the MA70 Review which are now posted!