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I think this is Mt. Ranier with windmills turning from the heavy winds blowing across the fields.

On my second day in Oregon, I got up from the wonderful home where I was staying in Hood River and headed east along the Columbia River. The scene was gorgeous and soon I was starting to see more desert landscape. The scenery was magnificent and changed continuously as I drove east and south. At one point as I was driving through low rolling hills and endless fields with wind generators dotting the horizon, I looked in my rear view mirror and saw a huge snow-capped mountain. I pulled off the side of the road to get a good look and then scanned to the left and saw another mountain in the distance. I’m pretty sure the one was Mt. Rainier in Washington. I don’t think any other mountain that far away could have been as huge as the tallest peak in America. I saw it once from a plane and now viewed it from land.

While I normally dislike the journey and am more of a destination kind of person, I fully enjoyed the drive and stopped to take photos as the landscape called to me. Oregon has a natural history filled with geological turbulence and regrowth. Ice ages, volcanoes, water, weather patterns, storms, and more formed the beauty we see today. Fields and prairies, hills and low bushes, tall beautiful trees, mountains in the distance, and windy rivers all captured my attention and made me relaxed and happy.

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The stage coach station in the old west town of Shaniko.

I stopped at a ghost town called Shaniko. In the old west, it was a thriving place but when the railroad passed it by, it became desolate. So the locals now make some cash from selling antiques in the old stagecoach station and from people like me who stop off to see a little tiny old west town.

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The Clarno Unit of John Day Fossil Beds.

After my short visit, I continued on a somewhat deserted road that turned sharply up and down the hills of central Oregon toward one of the locations of John Day Fossil Beds Parks. There are three sites that make up this park. I first went to the Clarno Unit, where I hiked about a mile and a half through in the high sun and along rough paths through ancient rocks. The scene of the tall rock monuments changed as I wound my way around the paths. These rock cliffs were formed from volcanic mudflows that swept through the area 44 million years ago and preserved a diverse assortment of plants and animals that inhabited a near-tropical forest. My heart was palpitating when I got to the top of a 450 foot elevation on a small rough path ending under an arch and a fossil of a tree embedded in the cliff.

I was in want of ice cream when I finally made it back to my pickup truck—the so called “economy rental”, but alas, no civilization was nearby so I continued along the windy roads to the next park, the Painted Hills. These colorful hills were beautiful. Reds, yellows, and spots of black flowed through the rolling hills as a result of ancient volcanic flows.

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The Painted Hills

The Painted Hills is one of those places where the view keeps getting better and different as you move along the paths. The hills look like sand but when you see it up close, it’s more like very dry, crumbly rock that has been colored. As I was making my way down from the top of one path, I noticed many people with dogs—they are allowed on leashes. And then, my eye caught one woman walking her little goat. He was on a leash, so I guess that works! One of the cool things about traveling is seeing all kinds of people who make it interesting enough to write about.

IMG_5306With my Fitbit buzzing at 10,000 steps, I called it a day and drove the final leg down to Bend where I would get to see my niece and her friend. More mountains dotted the landscape as I reached hippie town, USA. Seriously, it is a lovely town, about to burst at the seams as more and more people (and students) add to the 80,000 population. More on Bend and my fun with “Grasshopper” on my next post, but once again, I will say I thoroughly enjoyed the drive through this gorgeous state with seemingly vast resources and open land.

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Know anyone who rents a tomb? I know of only one. He used it for three days and then left it empty. That emptiness of the tomb is a symbol of fullness in everything else. You can use that empty tomb to store all the useless things in your life you don’t need.IMG_0318

I tend to cry on Good Friday and Easter during services. I used to think it was because of the insane brutality of torture Jesus endured. Now I know it’s partly that but it is also the overwhelming feeling of being loved so much by someone that He would take the burden of all my sins and die for me an excruciating death.IMG_0311

When the women who loved Jesus went to clean Him up on that Sunday 2,000 years ago, they found the tomb empty. The men did not believe them. Peter and John ran to the tomb to see for themselves. My pastor said this morning, when you are faced with bad times, indecision, hurt, or need help, run to the tomb. Run to Jesus.

Happy Resurrection day! Thank you Jesus.

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My continuing coverage on our trip to Greece and Turkey begins with the arrival in Athens, Greece where we were picked up by our guide, Kosta, from Homeric tours. As we passed through the ancient narrow streets that were lined with orange trees and tiny cars, we caught glimpses of the Athens Acropolis. The parking was limited so there were many cars parked up on the streets and sidewalks.

IMG_2101Very tired from the overnight flight, the three of us barely fit into the tiny elevator of the Athenian Callirhoe, and went up to our rooms. The beds were rock hard but the staff of this hotel were top-notch. Very helpful and nice to us during our entire stay. It was in a very good location, close to the major attractions and some metro stops and restaurants. Kosta directed us to where the locals eat and we had a nice meal before hiking through the streets where we helped the local economy.

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The streets didn’t match up with the maps but the shopkeepers were very helpful giving us directions and then inviting us into their shops. We were making our way up to the Plaka area. We bought our obligatory tourist stuff and gave some coins to some kids on the street who were playing bouzoukis (a Greek guitar) and accordions, attempting to make their daily quota for their adult lords. It was hot and I for one was very weary after traveling so we headed back and had a lovely dinner at the restaurant hotel.

One of my thoughts walking the ancient streets was how much human history lies beneath the concrete sidewalks we were stomping on. For now we have many wonders to explore and more are excavated each year.

IMG_2217One thing I notice when we travel is the general character and décor of the living spaces in these big cities. In some countries you’ll see satellite dishes or water tanks on the roofs. Here in Athens I would describe the apartments that are home to six million residents as having a drab type of architecture with lots of green foliage spilling off their balconies—most having awnings. Their roofs hosted solar panels that also dotted the landscape. None of the buildings were very tall because there was a law to keep the view of the Acropolis open to the surrounding region.

The Acropolis

My parents were here 15 years ago and also 50 years ago as a young couple. My brother was a third wheel of sorts on that first trip, but not quite out of the cocoon at that point. We have photos of my parents in 1965 at the Acropolis. They enjoyed seeing the ruins again as we hiked up the tall local hill to the top.IMG_2173

In each of the ancient Greek cities, there was an acropolis. Most people know the one in Athens as the only one but there are many throughout the country. The Acropolis contains several ancient structures including the entryway or Propylaea. A monument to Agrippa still stands as part of the Propylaea. Also on the hill top is the Parthenon, which is the main structure, and the Erechtheum which was a temple to Athena and Poseidon. The Acropolis was the center of the civilized society and where the ancient nobles lived. The little people lived below in the low lands.

IMG_2164As we walked among the ruins I was amused at some of the wardrobes of the tourists, including one woman with blue high heels. This was not exactly an easy place to walk around—uneven rocks everywhere.

A couple of historical side notes…

The story of the Parthenon involved a rivalry among two of the ancient Greek gods, Athena and Poseidon. Looking for a patron for the city, the King asked the two to participate in a contest. Each offered a gift to the people—Poseidon created a spring but it turned out to have salty water, which didn’t do anything for the people there. Athena on the other hand gave them an olive tree, providing sustenance and oil to light there lamps. So Athena won, hence the name Athens.IMG_2207

The Parthenon was blown up when the Turks, who were occupying Athens, kept their arsenal there. The Athenians were fighting back and bombarded the arsenal, taking the ancient ruin with it. It has a lot of scaffolding so they are working to repair it.

In the early 1800s, the British Earl of Elgin obtained permission from the Sultan (who ruled Greece at the time) to take whatever he wanted from the Parthenon and so the ancient Frieze that decorated the outside of the Parthenon went piece by piece to England where it was sold to the British museum.

Day two will continue in the next post with a tour of the Olympic Stadium and more!

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Mom and Dad in 2015.

Mom and Dad in 2015.

Mom and Dad in 1965.

Mom and Dad in 1965.

Frieze replica.

Frieze replica.

Part of the Frieze from the Parthenon.

Part of the Frieze from the Parthenon.

27.Parthenon

The monument of Agrippa (on the left) of the Propylaea.

The monument of Agrippa (on the left) of the Propylaea.

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