Seeking the Familiar in the New: The Columbia and the Rhine

I think it is human nature that we try to make sense of our world, to organize what we encounter in life so it makes sense with what we already know. I had this experience on our recent cruise along the Rhine River. Each place I saw, I thought, “This is like . . . ,” and tried to compare it with a place I had already been.

Much of the Rhine reminded me of the Columbia River. Not necessarily the section of the Columbia where I grew up, but the Columbia River Gorge downstream toward Portland, Oregon.

Here’s a picture of the Columbia River Gorge:

Columbia River Gorge, from Wikipedia

Columbia River Gorge, from Wikipedia

And here’s a picture of the Rhine I took on our trip:

LoreleiBut, of course, there are differences. I didn’t see any waterfalls along the Rhine, as I have seen so many times along the Columbia. I don’t recall vineyards right along the Columbia, as there are along the Rhine, though there are many vineyards in both Washington and Oregon in the hills beyond the Columbia.

And there are no castles overlooking the Columbia.

Castle along the Rhine

Castle along the Rhine

But the hills above both rivers offer lovely overlooks of the valleys below. Here is a picture I took near Vantage, Washington, of the Columbia River this summer:

Columbia from above Vantage

Columbia River, from overlook near Vantage, WA

And here is a picture from Marksburg Castle looking out over the Rhine:

Rhine from Marksburg Castle

Rhine River, from Marksburg Castle

The vegetation is different, but the majesty and power of the rivers are the same.

And now, after our Rhine River trip, I have a whole new set of familiar images to match against my future experiences.

What have you seen in your travels that reminded you of home?

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  1. Nice shots, Theresa. Thank you. I so enjoyed the Rhineland cities when I lived in Germany – nice to see some of those sights again. I remember an opera in one of those castle ruins…north of Stuttgart but I don’t remember exactly which. Nice memory! Thanks for bringing it back.

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