Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Creepy park

Welcome to Kelly Butte, a place guaranteed to give you the creeps.

Why so creepy?

If you believe that shadows of past events linger on in the present, this place is a goldmine.

Start with an extinct volcano.

Add a prison labor camp.

Switch the labor camp for an infectious disease ward.

Add an underground Cold War bunker. Abandon it.

Then, list the whole place on Google Maps as a 'natural area.'

Who's still up for a hike? :)

I didn't know any of this information when we went there. Inspired by live your own adventure advocate Polly, we picked this place at random one December day. It looked like a nice, green blob of park on Google Maps. (I read the "if you ever need a place to dump a body" review on the way there, but decided to not tell D that until after the hike.)

The park was deserted. The gate at the bottom of the hill was locked, but it was afternoon, so we walked around the gate. Massive piles of barkdust filled the parking area at the top of the hill.

There wasn't a clear walking trail anywhere, only a thin little path that wound into the trees.

The forest around us was absolutely still and silent. Sometimes, we would get a quick glimpse of the cityscape surrounding the hill, but most of the time the view was just ferns, moss, and wet leaves. Once, we came upon a towel on a branch, laid out to dry. Another time, it was a clearing marked with the om symbol and a suspicious plot of freshly-turned earth.

Finally, the trail opened up and began to slope downhill. We turned around at a government "No trespassing" sign.

Back at the parking lot of barkdust, we poked around a few other places. Not much turned up: graffiti, two teenagers, and a single syringe stuck into tree bark. Fun stuff.

Possibly part of the entrance to the bunker?... the city finally bulldozed dirt over the entrance 10 years ago.

It's only now, sitting at home, that I learned the history of this place. (Sources here, here, here, and here.) It was a creepy walk with only my imagination to interpret it, let alone historical fact... but still, I wish there were a way to check out that sealed bunker!

Would you run toward a place like this? Or away?

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Year Five of The Whale

Кит is going to be 5 years old this spring. Whoa! Here's a picture of him as a 3-month old kitten vs now- what do you think?

I haven't given him a whole post on this blog since he turned one. Most of that post is still true, except that his favorite food is now tied between cantaloupe and corn on the cob. He'll go ballistic if you don't give him a little piece to eat. He also will only drink from a dripping bathtub faucet. If there's no drip, he stands on the rim of the tub and meows obnoxiously. Good thing he's so cute!

In case you don't know much Russian, Кит rhymes with "sweet" and means whale. It holds up in Ukrainian, too- Кіт means cat. In English, people just think we came up with some weird cat name. ;) And he's turned out to be more of a кіт than a кит. I dreamed of an enormously fat cat, but nope. He's like my husband, able to eat anything and never gain weight.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Tall buildings in Ukraine

Happy Valentine's Day!

The stores are filled with cards right now. Romantic cards, funny cards, scornful cards, wholesome cards, and cards described by at least 20 other adjectives.

You know what doesn't exist?  

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Planners! (RU, UKR, ENG)

If you're not a planner person- quick, click away from here!
Try this or this or this instead.

Wait, you are a planner person? Perfect. And welcome. :)

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Winter snapshots

It's been a cozy winter this year, thanks to snow, ice, and the awesomeness of fuzzy pajamas. There have been many weekends at home.

When the weather is good, it's time to get outside. Walk until something interesting appears or rent a car and use Google to explore.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Pechersky Ascension Monastery

Until summer 2016, I think I'd never been inside an Orthodox church. There were tons of beautiful churches in Ukraine, but it always made me nervous to think of going into them. Plus, there was always the added step of finding a headscarf / long skirt, so I just avoided them.

Last summer, it finally happened in Russia. During a weekend in Kazan, we went on a whirlwind tour of mosques + cathedrals, each stop requiring a new headscarf / long skirt. Before that, though, we warmed up to the idea with an afternoon excursion to Nizhny Novgorod's Pechersky Ascension Monastery. This was perhaps the first time I'd ever been in an Orthodox church... and you know what?, it actually went fine.

What makes me the most nervous about these churches are the Orthodox priests.

Seriously, how could you not be intimidated by these guys? They're a terrifying combo of badass + thug.

(Watch this video and this video.)

Once I taught pronunciation to a Catholic priest from Mexico. He would show up for our lessons in jeans and a fleece vest, drove a Jeep Cherokee, drank beer, and was really down to earth. Perhaps I put too much stock in internet memes, but Orthodox priests really, really intimidate me. I could never imagine one showing up for an English lesson in a Patagonia vest. Instead, this is what I see in my head when thinking of them (this meme was floating around during EuroMaidan)-