Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sunday, Sept. 20 - Part II

After our tour of the Conference Center, Lois took me over to Temple Square. This is where the Mormon Temple, the Tabernacle, and other important Church-related buildings are located. There is a high wrought-iron fence running around the Square and it is locked at night. During the daytime it is open and hundreds of Mormon missionaries volunteer there, providing information and leading tours of the Square as well as individual tours of each building. We were happily surprised to see this on a Sunday afternoon (I had been afraid the buildings might not even be open on Sunday!)

These are some of the many flower beds in Temple Square. The flowers throughout the area are dug up and new ones planted every 6 months. Lois says it's an amazing sight. There are "garden tours" but we didn't take any. The colors and varieties, even this late in the summer, were lovely.

This is the outside of the Tabernacle, where the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performs each Sunday (when they're not off touring the world) and where the program "The Spoken Word" is broadcast from each Sunday, except in the summer months when the crowds are so big they have to use the Conference Center. We got a free tour (actually ALL the tours were free, and there seemed to be many missionary guides available in every building we went into --- and this was late on a Sunday afternoon.). As part of the tour, they demonstrated the amazing acoustics of this building by dropping a pin at one end and we could easily hear it at the other end! The building was designed this way so that a prophet giving a speech could be heard easily by all the thousands of people there to listen to him, before microphones were invented. There is a large organ in here also, but not as large as the one in the Conference Center.

"Temple Square" would not be complete without a Temple, so here is the great Mormon Temple of Salt Lake City. It is not where they go to pray, but rather a very holy place that only the most religious and "good" Mormons can enter for special ceremonies such as baptism or weddings. There is one in La Jolla, California, near my house. I remember getting a tour of the inside after they built it and before the final purification rites were performed, after which only Mormons in good standing with the Church could gain entrance. It was very beautiful and peaceful inside, as I'm sure this one is too.

Here is another view of the Temple. It has 6 spires with a gold-leaf statue of the the angel Moroni on the top of the main one. (Moroni is the one who gave the "Book of Mormon" to Joseph Smith who then started the religion. There is a statue of him on top of the Temple in La Jolla too; maybe it's on all Mormon Temples?

I call this my "artsy" shot of the Temple. There was a nice breeze blowing the grass to the side and it just BEGGED to be the foreground of a Temple picture. So here it is...

This is the Administrative Building for the Mormon Church (more properly called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). It's a big organization!

One of the buildings we were able to get a tour of was called "The Lion House." It is where Brigham Young and his large family lived after he brought his people to Salt Lake City. This is the family dining room.

This is called the "Assembly Building." I was surprised at the Star of David (Jewish 6-pointed star) on this building and asked one of the guides about it. She said it wasn't a Star of David, just a star design that the Mormons sometimes used. She said that the circle inside it made it "not a Jewish star." I'll take her word for it.

After we finished touring Temple Square, we drove a short distance to "Little America," a hotel and restaurant not too far away where we had a lovely dinner and talked for a long time. It was a wonderful visit with Lois and I am very grateful to her for taking the time to show me around this major part of the city. Not only did I enjoy seeing all the famous buildings, but I learned a lot about the Mormon faith which I really didn't understand before. Although all the Missionaries we met were eager to provide information on the religion (with the hope that you would ultimately convert), I did not find them to be overbearing or annoying which I understand they can sometimes be. I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon and evening.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday, Sept. 20 - Part I

This morning I went to second day Rosh Hashana services at Kol Ami. Rabbi Rosen led the services today. I did see several people I met yesterday at the luncheon and spoke with several of them after the services ended.

I went back to the KOA and waited for my friend, Lois Allred (a neighbor from Cascade Street who moved away about 20 years ago and eventually settled in Salt Lake City), to come pick me up. She was going to give me a little tour of the city. It turned out to be an amazing afternoon.

We started our tour at the new Mormon Conference Center. This is a HUGE building right next to Temple Square. It was built primarily to house the biannual world general conferences of the LDS Church. We were able to get a free 45-minute tour of the building. This picture is me standing outside one of the entrances; I liked the waterfall here.

This is the underside of one of the skylights in the building. Pretty neat, huh?

Inside the Conference Center, the corridors are spacious and beautiful. The same style of lights is used throughout; I thought they were rather pretty.

This is a really beautiful crystal fountains in one of the corridors. Be sure to enlarge and scroll down to see it all. The little thing that looks sort of like a flame floating in space above it, is part of it too.

One of many hundreds of paintings in the Conference Center. Almost all the artwork in the building depicts some aspect of Mormon history or beliefs.

I have to admit, I cheated here: this is not a picture I took, but a "picture of a picture" in a brochure. This auditorium in the Conference Center holds 21,000 people --- without a pillar or obstacle to obscure the view from any seat! It is massive, and beautiful, and there is no way I could photograph it with my camera. At the left you can see the large pipes of the organ and just below them is the seated Morman Tabernacle Choir. The main use of the auditorium is to house the twice-yearly world-wide Mormon Conference. Also, during the summer months, the Choir does their Thursday rehearsal and Sunday broadcast of their music and "The Spoken Word" from here because of the large number of people who come to hear it. The space is also rented out to other large groups for meetings.

This is Lois on the roof of the Conference Center. The trees planted up here are part of the massive gardens on the roof. A special type of low-density, light-weight (about 1/3 the weight of normal) soil was developed to be used in the gardens on the roof. (Remember, this massive garden, including all the trees, is on the roof of a building with no supporting pillars!)

This, believe it or not, is also on the ROOF of the conference center! It is part of the several-acre garden planted on the roof. This part is planted to represent what the native prairie grasses looked like when Brigham Young arrived here with the Mormons in 1847.

This view is from the Conference Center roof. The state capitol building can be seen behind the reddish building which is the McCune Mansion --- a house "built by a railroad magnate for his wife at the turn of the century and was constructed from materials gathered from all over the continent."

I thought this was one of the fountains on the roof, but now (a week later, unfortunately), I think it was on the grounds outside the Conference Center.

I'm not certain, but I think this mural is on the side of the "Relief Society Building." I thought it was kind of neat. You'll have to click on it and make it bigger to read the inscription.

[The tour continues in Part 2; it's too hard to put so many pictures in one post.]

Monday, September 21, 2009

Saturday, Sept. 19 - Rosh Hashana

Kol Ami is a combination Reform/Conservative temple. Today they had separate services for the two. I went to the Conservative Services which were led by a different rabbi as Rabbi Rosen was leading the Reform services. He was pretty good, plus we had the Cantor, choir, and organist. It was nice.

After the services ended, everyone was invited to attend any one of a dozen potluck dairy luncheons at various members houses. This was so nice, especially for an out-of-towner like me. I randomly chose the home of Sara and Eric Shapiro, which turned out to be a lovely, large home on the top of a hill with a gorgeous view of the valley on all sides. There were about 50 people there and they were all so friendly. I met several very interesting people, enjoyed the food and conversations and left feeling almost like I was a member of Kol Ami. I am looking forward to seeing my new friends at services tomorrow!

Tonight there was a huge thunder and lightning storm over the mountains. At the campground we only got some wind and a little rain, but it was really neat to watch from my cozy little house. I took some movies of it but no still photos. Sorry.

Friday, Sept. 18

The KOA Campground I am staying at happened to be right next door to the Utah State Fairpark. This was the last weekend of the Fair and, as I had a mostly free day, I decided to walk over there and see what it was all about. It was about a mile walk to the gate even though it was next door, but not too bad.

I am still fascinated by the colors and forms the clouds take out here. Some musician was playing "Ghost Riders in the Night" as this ghost rider cloud rose across the valley.

Okay, I know, I'm not supposed to be looking at clouds today...

This is a sugar glider, a small, cute marsupial they were selling (along with cages, food, toys, and supplies for them). Apparently they had just become legal to sell in Utah. No, Kelly, they are not legal to own in California.

and I have no idea why this paragraph is printing in blue!

There was a nice, but small, flower display.

There were pigs....

....and lambs (or sheep?)

... and dancing cows. However, these were made from 1200 pounds of sweet cream butter.

The beautiful cumulus clouds from earlier in the day had gradually turned to dark, menacing clouds by the time I was ready to leave. On the mile walk back to the campground, it was quite windy and started to rain but it never got too bad and didn't last very long.

I'm not sure how I managed to find so many things to buy, but I did. Now, where am I going to put it all????

After getting back to the KOA, I hastily changed clothes, had my own private Erev Rosh Hashana dinner of apples and honey (for a "sweet New Year), and drove over to Congregation Kol Ami, a conservative Jewish synagogue at which I had made arrangements to attend High Holiday services.

The evening service was led by Rabbi Rosen, a past rabbi at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, CA, whom Carol Neumark had told me about. In addition to her, there was also a Cantor, a choir, an organist, and a violinist. I enjoyed the service a lot. Most of the melodies they used were the same as at my home synagogue which made me feel even more "at home."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thursday, Sept. 17

This afternoon I went to visit some old friends who live in the Salt Lake City area: Barbara and Bob Aikin. Barbara was Charley Cochrane's head tech(nician) when I started working for him at Scripps in 1969. We worked together there for a number of years until Barbara retired in the late 70's (I think). We've kept in touch over the years and seen each other occasionally at various events. When I was in Salt Lake City two years ago, I was able to visit with Barbara briefly (Bob wasn't home). This trip I had more time to spend and we had a very nice visit all afternoon and then went out to dinner.

Bob was in the Army during WWII, stationed in Germany, and had a very interesting collection of weapons (knives) he had gotten while he was over there. There was also a very interesting coin collection that he acquired from from a German soldier. Their display also showed the various medals Bob had gotten, including a bronze star.

On our way back from dinner, the sun was just going down and the clouds and mountains formed a gorgeous picture that changed by the minute as the sun set. The clouds took on pastel hues and almost blended into the mountains. I am still a little confused as to why these clouds were pink and purple and looked for all the world like the sun was setting behind them, when, in reality, we were looking due east! Barbara assured me the sun was setting in the opposite direction and that these colors were the reflection of the sun's rays off the clouds and the mountains. Maybe the soft pastel colors were because of this and normally I have viewed the sun setting behind the clouds, rather than on the opposite side of the horizon. Anyway, for whatever reason, the cloud colors were beautiful tonight.

The white color on the tops of the mountains is not snow, just light-colored rock.

Now, if I used the "sunset" setting on my camera, the subtle pastel colors became a vibrant, reddish-orange which was more like the sunset colors I'm used to seeing, but, truthfully, I kinda liked the pastel hues better (and they were what we were actually seeing.)

This is the view through the car window. It was so beautiful, I just couldn't stop.

(and I still think the sun might have been glowing behind those clouds --- see the bright circle of light just to the left of center?)

Tuesday - Wednesday, Sept. 15-16

Leaving Laramie on Tuesday, I drove through intermitant rain showers all day. This is what I would call "a low cloud ceiling" picture.

This beautiful partial rainbow guided me today. I was trying to get to the pot of gold (easy to find with my metal detector, I figured) at the end.

And this is the same picture as above --- without hitting the "enhance" button on the computer. Now, I ask you, is that cheating?

This was taken at the campground I spent Tuesday night at in Rock Springs, Wyoming. You can see a little bit of a rainbow if you look closely.

Travel on Wednesday, from Rock Springs, Wyoming, to Salt Lake City, Utah, had fewer clouds (and rain) and more rocky landscapes.

Interesting rocks kept popping up...
Quick --- grab the camera!

Another of the beautiful rock formations along the highway (Interstate 80). You can really see the striations in these, indicating, of course, the different layers of sediment layed down over time.

This was my lunch/rest stop today (Wed.). It was about an hour before I got to Salt Lake City.

I checked into the KOA in Salt Lake City where we will be having the Genealogy Rally next week. The two couples leading this rally are already here. We went out to dinner together at a little Mexican restaurant next to the KOA.

I am here 5 days early because I want to see some friends that live in the area and Rosh Hashana starts Friday night and I don't want to be traveling during the High Holidays. I've made arrangements to go to services at a local synagogue (yes, they have a Jewish population in Salt Lake City!)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sat., Sun, Mon., Sept. 12-14

Drove all day Saturday through the rain but made it safely to the Chastains in Colorado Springs by 6:00 pm. It was great to see Betty again. We talked, ordered out for pizza for dinner, and enjoyed watching the animals all check each other out.
This is Betty and David Chastain, with Mollie (larger dog) and Maggie (smaller dog). (Their two cats are missing from the picture). Betty is a friend from the past at Scripps (she was an Administrative Assistant). We were at Scripps together for about 20 years (many memorable back-packing trips together!) until she and her husband David moved to Colorado Springs 10 or 15 years ago. Two years ago when I passed through Colorado Springs, I spent a couple days with them. That time Wayne Halsey, another friend of ours from Scripps who lives 100 miles away in Fort Collins came down for dinner but, unfortunately, Wayne couldn't make it this time.

The four dogs and two cats did quite well together, although, given a choice, my Maggie preferred to stay in the Roadtrek, under the table. Their little Maggie wasn't feeling too well. Sunday night they took her to an emergency animal hospital where they diagnosed early congestive heart failure. Hopefully the medication they gave her will be effective.

Juliet and Mollie check each other out...

...and decide to be friends. Juliet made herself right at home --- in the "other Maggie's" bed.

Betty retired last year and now has more time to spend on quilting, one of her many talents. (Although with volunteering for the American Cancer Society and the Colorado Springs Mineral and Mining Museum, I'm not sure she really has more time than when she was working!)

Dog cake in the grocery section of the Air Force Academy Commisary where Betty and I did some shopping on Sunday. (David is retired military so they can shop at the base Commisary which has prices much lower than regular grocery stores---and no tax). I didn't buy the dog.

We also went to Barnes & Noble Bookstore so Betty could get a book for her plane ride --- to San Diego --- on Tuesday. I thought I might get another book on tape to listen to while I drive, but I was informed that is ancient history at their store --- all modern cars have CD players, not cassette players. My Roadtrek, like me, is "ancient," I guess.

I left Colorado Springs today (Monday) and continued on my way.

I enjoyed the scenery as I drove today. This was a pretty rock outcropping somewhere between Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Laramie, Wyoming.

I played tag with the rain clouds all day.
I won.

I am spending the night at a nice KOA in Laramie, Wyoming.

...AND, I'm finally caught up on my blog!!!