Sunday, September 14, 2014

Utah State Capitol and Mormon Temple Square

Posted from Park City, UT   (Click on Pics to Enlarge)

Recently we visited Salt Lake City, UT to see the State Capitol Building and Mormon Temple Square.   To see more pictures for the Capitol visit  this link.
               To see more pictures from Mormon Temple Square visit this link.

Parking is a bit tight around Temple Square, so we parked in the free parking near the Capitol and walked approximately 1/2 mile to Temple Square.  It was a pretty day, so it was an easy walk.

Let me begin by saying that we are not Mormon and make no judgement about the way they carry out their beliefs, but it felt a bit strange going inside the Mormon "compound".  Here's the view one has from outside the Temple Square.  Notice the high, grey walls.

There are entrance gates on each side of Temple Square so that access can be easily controlled.

Once inside, a visitor is exposed to an immaculately kept area.  The landscaping was beautiful and well tended throughout.

On the north end of the Temple Square is a visitor's center where those interested can sign up to take a tour of the complex.  Tours are offered in MANY different languages.  The visitor's center also showcases the origins of the Mormon faith.

Here is a picture of the Mormon Temple from the west side.  Non-Mormons are not allowed entry into the Temple.

Tours are allowed entrance into Assembly Hall.

The organ inside Assembly Hall was beautiful.

One of the main reasons we came to Temple Square was to attend the organ recital given daily at noon in the Tabernacle.  The organist gave a brief example of the excellent acoustics inside the Tabernacle prior to playing.  The organ is one of the largest in the world and was quite impressive.

After the conclusion of the recital we walked back to the Capitol Building and took a guided tour with a docent. The outside of the Capitol reminded me of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, DC.

The north side of the Capitol backs to a square which includes other government buildings and this pretty reflecting pool.

The Capitol building contains a lot of solid marble inside. Here's a view looking straight up at the interior dome from the rotunda area.

None of the representatives are in session currently, nor was the Governor in state, but it was nice to visit his ceremonial office.  This office is used for press conferences, bill signings, but not day-to-day operations.

This Capitol building was completed in 1916 and a restoration was most recently done between 2004 and 2008.  The building is still having some work done even today, however.  There are only 29 Senators which represent the citizens of Utah.

The House Chamber is larger due to the number of members who work there.  The elaborate trim, paintings, and furnishings are beautiful.

The Supreme Court still has a chamber in the Capitol Building due to Utah Constitutional requirements, but normal business is carried out in another building in the city of Salt Lake City. I was struck immediately by how small the Supreme Court Chamber was.  The capacity is only 65 persons.

The last part of the tour was optional to those who wanted to take a trek to the basement. During the restoration a large part of the money was spent on installing over 200 earthquake isolation dampers beneath the foundation of the Capitol.  These are supposed to allow the building to move side-to-side 2 feet and withstand a 7.0 level earthquake.

There are many more pictures of both Temple Square and the Capitol in the links referenced at the beginning of the blog. Please take a look.

Thanks for stopping by to take a look!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Utah Olympic Park Complex

Posted from Park City, UT    (Click on Pics to Enlarge)

On Tuesday we moved from Arco, ID (elev. 5309 ft.) to near Park City, UT (elev. 6353 ft.).  I mention the elevation change because it's sure a lot cooler up here in the mountains of Utah.  I guess this is a good thing because many of the 2002 Winter Olympic events were held at what is now called Utah Olympic Park only a few miles from our current RV campground. (How's that for a segway?)

We're staying for the week at Park City RV Resort.  If you ever visit, I would advise staying on the upper level.  All sites are concrete with grass between.  The sites are close to each other, but it seems as though everyone's out playing tourist everyday anyway.

Verizon cell and data signals are very good.  We have a clear view of the sky for satellite as well. We were surprised to see several other Tiffin products in the park.

Mountain views are abundant in all directions in the park.  Heck, there's a lot of mountains in this part of the state.

Yesterday we played tourist and went over to Utah Olympic Park.  As mentioned earlier, this was the site of many mountain events of the 2002 Winter Olympics held in Salt Lake City.  It's nice to see that the facility is still being used as an Olympic training center in addition to housing the Alf Engen Ski Museum and the Eccles Foundation 2002 Olympic Winter Games Museum.

Both of these men were prominent figures in the development of skiing in Utah.  Here's Karen with their bronzes at the front of the facility.

There is a wealth of adventure activities available for a fee, but both of the museums are free to enter.  Also, walking around the facilities is open to visitors.  Although neither of us are really skiers, we found both museums interesting.  Karen had a chance to be photographed with the Olympic flame. (Well, not really, but it looks real.)

Here are a few of the actual props from the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Games.

This was the symbol for the 2002 Winter Games.  Inside the symbol is a collection of pins traded by visitors to the Games from around the world.

After visiting the museums we went outside to watch some young Olympic hopefuls practicing aerial maneuvers in the pool. Some of these folks were pretty young.

The pool gives persons a chance to practice aerial maneuvers such as flips, rolls, tucks, and other crazy things and land in the "forgiving" waters rather than on a hard packed surface.  In real competitions, these maneuvers are landed on snow.

Here's a short video of several runs showing some of the aerial maneuvers being practiced.  Note the "bubble action" in the pool when the people land.  The grid system in the bottom of the pool is activated as the competitor glides down the ramp to cause air bubbles to rise to the surface and break the surface tension for a softer landing.

             (The video is best viewed in 1080p and full screen view)

After watching the jumping for awhile, we decided to take a 1-hour bus tour of the complex.  The first stop was at the base of the K90 and K120 ski jump hills.  I can only say that I have a new appreciation for the courage of those persons jumping off the hill.

If it looked scary from below, take a look at the jump from the start house at the top.  Sorry, but I'm too chicken to have tried this even in my younger days.

We were taken over to the start house area for the bobsledding event.  During the summer, you can buy a ticket to take a ride with an experienced driver in a 4-man bobsled.  Even during these runs, speeds of 65 MPH are reached and acceleration factors of "4g s" are experienced.

Karen and I were not so bold, but we did have our tour leader take a picture of us in a bobsled. Probably as close as we'll ever get!

If you ever get a chance to visit the Utah Olympic Park Training Center, it's well worth your time. It's somewhat hard to imagine all of the spectators and stands which were in place when the Olympics were underway.  This place must be heaven for folks who like outdoor winter activities.

Thanks for stopping by to take a look!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Arco, ID

Posted from Park City, UT     (Click on Pics to Enlarge)   

Wow, I can't believe how far behind I am in posting.  We traveled to Arco, ID last week with the intention of visiting two of the area's main attractions. (Hey, there isn't much in Arco, ID.)  Arco's "claim to fame" is that it was the first city in the world to have electricity generated by nuclear power. This occurred on July 17, 1955.

I guess the other landmark in Arco is an area named "Number Hill".  It was a tradition which began long ago when the high school graduating class placed their "year" on the nearby mountain.

The first area we wanted to visit was the Experimental Breeder Reactor 1 (EBR-1) Museum approximately 18 miles east of Arco. That didn't happen as the museum is only open from Memorial to Labor Day each year.  If you'd like more information on this one, take a look at this link.

The other, and largest draw for this area, is the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.  There is only one entrance to this area off of Rt. 20/26/93, so it's pretty easy to find.

A Presidential Proclamation in 2000 expanded C of M Monument to approx. 750,000 acres to protect almost all of the Great Rift volcanic rift zone which stretches 52 miles and ends at the foothills of the Pioneer Mountains.

There are two predominant types of lava seen in C of M.  The first is called "pahoehoe" and means rope lava.  This type is formed when the lava is free flowing rapidly before cooling.

The second type widely seen here is A'a (pronounced "ah ah").  It is characterized by free chunks of angular material.  There is a lot of this type to be found here.

Inferno Cone is one of the largest in C of M accessible to the public to climb.  Cones are formed when gas-rich froth erupts high into the air and piles into a mound of cinders.

The view from the top of Inferno Cone.

There are several caves in C of M which were formed by lava tubes. Lava tubes are formed when the outer edges of the flowing molten lava cools and hardens, while the lava inside is still flowing. The only cave available for entrance without a flashlight was Indian Tunnel.  A short walk through the lava fields led to the caves.

The Indian Tunnel cave is the most visitor friendly.  No flashlight is needed as there are several openings to the surface which provide natural lighting.  Heck, there's even a metal stairway to the entrance.

Here we wander through the cave leading toward the exit.

Because we didn't have a flashlight with us on the first day, we just decided to hike a few of the other trails.  We came upon this multi-colored lichen lava along the Tree Mold trail.

When we returned to C of M on a subsequent visit we (I) went down to explore Buffalo Cave.  I might be a bit too large to do any "real" cave exploring, but these were pretty cool.

We were actually somewhat surprised at the lack of "park supervision" for visitors going down in the caves.  There was no personnel around. No sign-in logs when entering the caves. These are totally "wild" caves.  No improvements whatsoever.   The only signs we encountered were "Danger" signs when roof collapses had occurred.

One of the caves named Boy Scout Cave was discovered by a group of Boy Scouts in 1927.  The description of this cave indicated that it had ice on the walls and slick floors, but I didn't locate any.  It must have been too late in the year.  The light in the center of the picture is from surface light at the entrance.  Believe me, it's VERY dark inside these caves without a flashlight.

If you're ever in the area, a visit to this National Monument is definitely recommended.  There are many more pictures of the C of M in our Google+ album.

We actually left the Arco, ID area today and headed to Park City, UT. Hopefully, I'll be a bit better with keeping up with our blogging activities in that area.

Thanks for dropping by to take a look!