Yakima 97

I’ve often thought, “How do you define travel?”  Is it going on holiday to the same lake that you’ve been to on vacation the last 20 years?  Is it going to a new country?  Perhaps it is both.  In the case of this post, it is a drive to a place I’ve never been before.  As I was making this drive I thought to myself how beautiful the scenery was and thought that I’d make a post about it.  I don’t suppose that too many international travelers will make the drive up Hwy 97 from the Columbia River heading towards Yakima but I’ve had some surprises with this blog.  Some posts that I didn’t think would be popular have turned out to be the most hit pages here including Dog on the Menu and Tomsk: Siberian Houses.  I get Google search hits every day for the Siberian House post; it seems to be especially popular with architects and people considering adding some wood carving to their homes.

I began this drive in Hood River, Oregon and drove east along the Columbia River.  Hood River sits on the south bank of the Columbia between the intersecting White Salmon River and Hood River.  The town has picturesque views of both Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood, pine tree covered mountains and flowers in the spring.  But one of the biggest draws to this area are the many sports, specifically water sports including wind surfing, kite boarding, sailing and kayaking.

As I crossed the river and turned north to crest the northern bank of the river valley, I was greeted with a beautiful view of the hillsides and the big white windmills that are common to this area (above).  The onshore flow from the ocean west of Portland is funneled into the Columbia River Valley and creates an almost constant wind that makes an ideal windsurfing location and a clean power source.  As Hood River is located just around a bend in the river, it is shielded from this constant breeze but just offshore a dozen yards or so the wind blows at 20 or 30 miles per hour most days of the year.  The town has grown to be a very popular kite boarding location and in the summer the river is full wind surfers and kite boarders.

I pulled over to get some “safe” shots of the windmills – I didn’t want to crash my car trying to get these shots!  As I looked back toward the south I could see the World War I Stonehenge memorial (center right of photo below).  The area is dotted with vineyards and wineries.

Until you get up close to these windmills it is hard to understand how big they are.  I’ve seen the propeller blades carried on 18 wheel trucks that use a flatbed that is twice as long as a normal truck bed.  Imagine an 18-wheel truck and realize that just one of these blades is almost twice as long as a full length truck.  There must be hundreds of these windmills up the river valley and it is nice to see so much green energy.

Once I cleared the river valley and climbed up the plateau on the north side the land flattened out and Hwy 97 snaked through some beautiful hills that were covered in green pine trees.  After a year overseas in a desert-like country it was so refreshing to see (and smell) the beautiful forests.  It was a very relaxing and beautiful drive – if you ever have a chance, give Highway 97 a try, you won’t be disappointed ;-)


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Odessa

My first visit to Odessa – I’d been to Ukraine before, but never to the Black Sea Coast.  It was summertime after all, what better to do than spend 5 or 6 days at the beach on a work break?  As I had been studying Russian a bit, I thought that this would be a great opportunity to practice a bit.

In hindsight, I really should have taken more photos.  But, this was a holiday for relaxation, not necessarily a trip for the sake of travel.  I realize now that I didn’t take a single photo at the beach, but heck, who wants to babysit a camera when swimming in the ocean?  And so, each day, I walked to the beach from my hotel, did some running, a little cross-fit (push-ups and pull-ups) and got a little sun.  The beaches were just covered with beautiful (and fit) Ukranian girls and sadly, I don’t have one photo to post.  LOL

In the photo above is the Saint Panteleimon Cathedral and Monastery.  Built in 1876, it served as a resting point for religious pilgrims traveling to the holy places: Constantinople and Jerusalem.  It is just across the street a few hundred meters from the Odessa train station (below).  Both are a two dollar cab ride, a .15 cent trolley ride or a 20 minute walk from the “walking street” district with its prominent McDonalds restaurant and park.

The train station (voksal) is a good meeting place and had a large square in the front and a nice park across the street.  In the square are vendors of all kinds and you can find a nice lunch or a snack.  Looking through my photos, I see two Ukrainian couples that are typical of what you might see on a summer day.  Everyone is always asking, “Are the Ukrainian girls as beautiful as we have heard”?  In answer, “Yes.  Yes they are.”  It’s not that American women are not beautiful, they are just 10 or 20 kilos larger (on average) than Ukrainian women.  Oh, and the Ukrainian women glam it up every day.  High heels, mini-skirts, makeup and jewelry are common every day sights.  You won’t ever see a girl in jeans and a t-shirt.  Ukrainian women are all about feminine beauty and it’s almost a competition between them.

For the men, the dress is definitely European except for the tell-tale Russian “bowl” haircut that is so popular in the East Block and the Balkans.  Many Ukrainian men (actually many E-block men) cut their bangs straight across, and, you actually see this hair style with a lot of women.  I often see men wearing – what I call E-block “bowling shirts” – like the man on the right is wearing.  At the night clubs, shiny long sleeve “pimp” shirts (like you would see in the movie Night at the Roxbury) are the norm.

The Ukrainian people have a mixed look; some appear a bit Mediterranean (even Latin or Middle East looking), some look Slavic (traditional Russian looking), and some look Germanic or Nordic.  It is interesting as some people have a mix of different “looks,” and I wonder from where their ancestors originated.  What is always surprising is the large number of green-eyed people here.  The most blue eyes I ever saw were in Croatia, in Ukraine, a large portion of the population is blue, hazel but there are so many with green eyes…

So, back to women’s fashions.  I was having breakfast on my balcony when I spotted this woman across the street at in a commercial parking lot.  I thought I’d capture her photo as she is “all Ukrainian” in her dress.  I mean, get a load of those high heels!  Can you imagine a woman in America dressing like this just to go to market?  Again and again, I noticed how the women here take some time and make the extra effort to look feminine.  It was a refreshing look after the baggy sweats and “frumpy” look that we seem to have embraced in the west.


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Stories, posts, reports, photos, videos and all other content on this site is copyright protected © and is the property of Scott Traveler unless otherwise indicated, all rights reserved. Content on this site may not be reproduced without permission from Scott Traveler. My contact information can be found on the home page.

Back to home page: http://scotttraveler.com