Day 1 Tel Aviv to Mitzpe Ramon (Hotel Bereshite)

Shamrock Racing Team ready for the Rally
We had a great first day and my rookie Navigator (my wife Ilene) did a splendid job. But the day started a bit strangely.....we got into an accident before the Rally began. Our car was parked in a subterranean garage on level -4. The carbon monoxide bothered Ilene so prior to the start we drove the car out of the garage and parked it in a lot awaiting our turn to go through the starting gate. The motor was off and the handbrake on. Another competitor decided to do the same thing. However, in attempting to park behind us he forgot to brake and ran into the back of us. He was driving anJaguar XJ Convertible which has a very long front end/nose. He said he misjudged the length of his hood and apologized for his carelessness. We sustained a small dent in the rubber on our bumper, but no other damage.

We had a police escort to help us navigate morning traffic in Tel Aviv. Our course took us south along the Mediterranean coast.

The Honeymooners on their first rally together
Our morning stop was Sapir College in Sderot in the Upper Negev Desert. This is Israel's largest public college (not University) and has the most diverse student body.....Jews, Druse and Arabs all studying and living together.

The college is about 2 miles from Gaza and has been the recipient many times of missiles coming from Hamas. Each classroom is built like a bomb shelter so during a missile attack the students are instructed to stay put inside their classrooms. In addition to their studies, students are required to become active in the surrounding community so they can improve the quality of life in the surrounding towns and villages.
Following this stop we continued driving south into the Negev. Surprisingly, our next stop was the first proper racetrack built in Israel. While not completed, the track itself is in and we were able to take spin on the new asphalt......clearly Israel has come a long way and Zionist priorities have changed a bit. The track is so new that it does not yet have a proper name. 

Following our laps we continued moving south. Our goal was to reach Mitzpe Ramon and the resort/spa of Beresheet (Genesis, in English). This very beautiful resort, that will be our home for two nights, is right in the middle of the Negev. It sits on the edge of a very large crater which we will go down into tomorrow on our way through the Negev to Eliat, the southern most point of the Negev and Israel. This southern most point sits adjacent to the Red Sea, but we will talk about that tomorrow.

After dinner, we had a presentation from Erel Margalit. Erel is an old friend; the founder of Jerusalem Venture Partners and a former Member of the Knessett (Israel's Parliament). He gave a very inspiring talk on how high-tech joint ventures around the country and among many diverse segments of society can improve the quality of life for everyone in a community. He talked about setting up the high-tech collaborations among regional players in this part of the world. It was a very upbeat speech and a nice way to end our first day.