I have this longing to return to this glorious Abbey to explore and spend a day (or two) visiting the site and exploring the shops, the cafe’s and of course the Abbey itself. This Abbey is located on the coast of Normandy, and was first settled as a sanctuary around 800 AD by monks. If you would like a print of this image, you can get it at my ArtPal Store.
PFTA: Valley of Fire, AKA Veridian III
Today, I decided to go back a couple of years to re-visit Valley of Fire State Park, in Nevada, or, as my friends call it, Veridian III. It was here that the ending of Star Trek: Generations was filmed. It’s an amazing place with a lot of history and gorgeous vistas.
9/11 Never Forget
19 years ago today, I was living in North East Colorado. I was just getting up when I heard the news about the first tower getting struck by the airplane. The second plane struck as I was getting ready for work. The towers collapsed as I was driving to work. It was a very emotional drive that day. It was a very surreal day at work and very few calls came in that day (I worked at a call center).
Last year I was able to visit the 9/11 memorial. It’s a somber place and dedicated to the memory of the 3,000 who perished that day.
May we never forget those who perished and the heroes that lost their lives running up the towers when everyone else was running down. Also, lets not forget the sacrifice of the thousands of soldiers who fought in the War on Terror since this day 19 years ago.
Happy Independence Day!
On this date in U.S. history…
1776: In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Continental Congress adopts the Declaration of Independence, which proclaims the independence of British Colonial America from Great Britain and its king.
The declaration came 442 days after the first volleys of the American Revolution that were fired at Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts and marked an ideological expansion of the conflict that would eventually encourage France’s intervention on behalf of the Patriots.
The Declaration of Independence was largely the work of Virginian Thomas Jefferson. In justifying American independence, Jefferson drew generously from the political philosophy of John Locke, an advocate of natural rights, and from the work of other English theorists.
Of the 56 who signed the Declaration of Independence, nine died of wounds or hardships during the war. Five were captured and imprisoned, in each case with brutal treatment. Several lost wives, sons, or entire families. One lost his 13 children. Two wives were brutally treated. All were at one time or another the victims of manhunts and driven from their homes. Twelve signers had their homes completely burned. Seventeen lost everything they owned. Yet not one defected or went back on his pledged word. The 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence proved by their every deed that they made no idle boast when the composed the most magnificent curtain line in world history. “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, an our sacred honor.” We are so grateful for their sacrifice. #HappyBirthdayAmerica
May we always remember the freedoms we enjoy because of the sacrifice of the Founders and all our ancestors that fought the world’s most powerful army-and won!
Today during your celebrations, please read the Declaration of Independence to remember why we celebrate and to instruct the rising generation of our great country.
Here is that sacred document:
The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Robert Treat Paine
D-Day, Plus 76 Years
76 years ago today, Allied forces invaded Nazi occupied France. It was known as Operation Overlord, and it was the largest invasion force ever assembled up to that time. The US forces landed at Utah Beach, Omaha Beach and Point du Hoc, which lies between the two beaches.
Last year, I was privileged to visit these beaches for the 75th anniversary. I also visited Longues-sur-Mer, which is above Juno Beach where British forces landed.
These brave men gave everything including their lives to liberate the world from fascism and tyranny.
Over 8,000 US soldiers were killed during the initial invasion, and several more thousand would join them during the coming months of fighting.
Several days before D-Day, the 101st and 82nd Airborne dropped behind enemy lines to secure bridges, roads and crossroads to keep German forces from getting to the beaches in Normandy for a counter offensive.
Looking around at what is happening in the country right now with the protests, riots and civil unrest, it is more important than ever to remember what we were fighting for a generation ago. We were fighting for freedom from oppression, fascism and tyranny not just in Europe but in Asia.
Today we face many issues that are tearing our country apart at the seams. I hope and pray that we as country can get through these difficult times with our country intact. If we can create a national and local dialogue to solve the problems we now face with civility and respect, we will get through this civil unrest to rebuild our cities and country to be stronger, more unified and better than ever. This is my wish as we celebrate D-Day, to remember what we fought for so we can keep freedom alive and strong from oppression and tyranny, for everyone.
Happy Independence Day!
Recently I was privileged to visit Utah and Omaha beaches on D-Day. It was sobering to see what our soldiers were up against to liberate Europe from fascist control. Here lie thousands of our boys in solemn ground after giving their lives for freedom.
Remember, the only reason we’re celebrating our Independence Day is because our forefathers rose up against tyranny and oppression of the Crown, said enough is enough and defeated the greatest military on earth at the time with a ragtag group of farmers and craftsmen. Afterwards they created the greatest government that has ever existed on the planet, at the base of which is the belief that all men are created equal, and are endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and governed by consent of the people, not a monarch born into power.
Remember freedom isn’t free and it is only one generation from extinction, so it must be fought for by the voting in those people who understand and believe in freedom and personal liberty, otherwise once a freedom is lost it can never be regained.
Wandering Around New York City
After visiting the World Trade Center, we walked all over Lower Manhattan in New York City. A couple of blocks from St. Paul’s Church is Trinity Church. This is the one featured in a recent Hollywood blockbuster film. Interestingly enough, the original was built in 1697 then destroyed in the Great Fire in 1776, the second church was built in 1790 and later damaged by a heavy snow storm in 1838 and later demolished to build the one standing today and dedicated in 1846. It is still an active parish with regular services and community outreach.
A brief history of Trinity Church.
Trinity Church is currently undergoing some structural reconditioning.
Trinity is the burial place of Alexander Hamilton, his wife and her family, and many other people from the time of the Revolutionary War.
A few blocks south of Trinity Church is the Bull of Wall Street, although it seems that it’s on Hollywood Boulevard and not Wall Street. It’s also nearly always heavily occupied by tourists that want their photo with different parts of the bull. Go figure, right?
Just around the corner from the Bull is the old Custom House which is now the Native American Cultural Museum, part of the Smithsonian Institute.
Across the street is Battery Park and the Statue of Liberty. It was amazing and awesome to see Lady Liberty.
Coming out of the subway in another part of the city, the first building I saw was this one, that looks like it has a helipad next to the penthouse suite.
Just down the street is the Empire State Building.
Another subway ride away is Times Square.
The saxaphone player on the left was jamming out some hot jazz, so we stopped there for a while to listen. It’s crazy how many people are in Times Square. It reminded me of the crowds in Zion Narrows.
Looking for a place to enjoy lunch, we found Bryant Park. It has a nice pavilion for concerts, several cafes and a great view of the City Library.
Somewhere along the way near Central Park I found one of the oldest operating Jewish Synagogue in the country.
I had a great time in New York, but this was just a stop over point to Paris and Normandy.
New York City Revisited: World Trade Center
I made it home from my trip to France without too many difficulties. Luckily I still had my passport, prepaid airline tickets and hotel rooms. If you’re wondering why, see my last post on Paris and a Lesson Learned.
Anyway, I’m going through my photos from this adventure, and I decided to post some about every part of this trip (this is what happens when there are over 3,000 photos to sort through).
On arriving in New York City, it was decided to store our luggage so we wouldn’t have to drag it around the city all day. After negotiating the subway system (and seeing a string trio playing beautiful music at a station, another station had a rap performer), we made our way to the World Trade Center Memorial.
I know I briefly touched on this in a previous post, but I wanted to give this some more time because it is a significant place of honor in our country. Standing at the memorial was humbling and moving experience and a privilege to witness what these people went through on that fateful day. It must have been a harrowing experience for them knowing they might not survive the day, and many did not. To the families of those who perished and to the survivors, you have my deepest respect and sympathy.
The second image shows a special tribute to some firefighters that gave up their lives to save others. Thank you for your service, you will never be forgotten!
Not far away is the World Trade Center 1, aka, The Freedom Tower.
The other buildings surrounding the Freedom Tower are also part of the World Trade Center. It’s quite a complex.
Nearby is St. Paul’s Chapel, where George Washington dedicated America on 30 April, 1789. This church survived the attacks on 9/11/2001 when many buildings were damaged or destroyed by the falling towers nearby.
I found it interesting that the World Trade Center complex was built on land that once belonged to St. Paul’s parish.
On a plaque in the chapel above George Washington’s pew, it reads “Almighty God, we make our earnest prayer that you will keep the United States in Holy protection.” source
Standing here in the shadows of these buildings made me realize that it’s important to remember George Washington’s plea to keep our hearts and minds in tune with Almighty God and to serve those around us with love and peace.
A Long Night: Traveling to Paris
What’s more fun than taking a 9 hour flight from New York to Paris? Taking a flight that’s delayed two hours (sitting on the plane) for a major storm that stopped all flights until it passed. Once the storm passed, we taxied out to the runway, and after sitting there for a half hour, the captain announced we’re waiting to clearance to take off and that we were number 20 in queue. Then the plane drove around JFK for about a half hour before takeoff to get to the right runway. Finally we took off two hours after we were scheduled to leave New York.
The plane had this cool feature of a tail camera that was shared with passengers during the flight.
My watch showed 2:00am, but the local time was 10:00, so I opened the window shade (couldn’t sleep anyway) and saw this:
About two hours later we landed in Paris.
It’s really hard to fathom how green everything is, coming from a desert that has multiple shades of brown and red. Here it’s multiple shades of green.
We drove straight to Normandy to our B&B on a farm. It’s absolutely gorgeous here! Woke up to hearing church bells and birds singing, and this view from the window.
Last night for dinner we drove to the next village for pizza, and found this nearby:
It’s now a church, but it was a castle at one time. It deserves further exploring.
Teton Dam Disaster
Last weekend, I went to Teton Idaho for the funeral of my uncle. It was good to see family that I haven’t seen for a very long time.
While there, I took a side trip to the site of the Teton Dam Disaster.
I remember vaguely from my youth watching this event unfold on TV and seeing the devastation it caused. Well, I did a little research into this incident and found some very interesting information.
It turns out that the Bureau of Reclamation was in charge of building the dam. Construction began in 1975 to build an earthen dam, and it was completed in November 1976. During construction, many caves and holes were discovered in the strata surrounding the dam site, which was primarily basalt and rhyolite. The solution was to fill these holes with grout and move on with the project.
After the dam was completed, at a cost of roughly $34 million dollars, filling began at the standard rate of a foot a day. Soon after, the winter run-offs began so the filling increased to four feet per day. It took until June 4th, 1976, to fill the dam.
The morning of June 5, 1976 at approximately 7:00am, a new spring was discovered not far downstream from the dam. Not long after, water was seen coming out of the left side of the dam. A construction worker in a DC-5 excavator was pushing dirt over the hole, but soon it was too much for it to handle. By 11:00am, the order was given to evacuate all residents downstream in the nearby towns of Sugar City, Teton, Rexburg, and many others.
Approximately 2,000,000,000 cubic feet of water was flowing out of the dam that was 240 feet deep and several miles long. This destroyed the ecosystems in the Teton River valley, thousands of homes and farms, and killed 14 people and many more injured.
The remains of the dam. The point in the middle is the only part of the dam intact. The breach is on the left where all the water came out. On the right was additional flooding.
This is the Teton River Valley. In the distance is the flood plain where all the damage to the towns occurred. The flood was stopped at the American Falls Reservoir, which barely survived breaching itself.
This is the spillway that was never used. It turns out the dam burst the first day the dam was filled.