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.

Entrance of the D-Day Museum near Omaha Beach

These brave men gave everything including their lives to liberate the world from fascism and tyranny.

American Cemetery at Omaha Beach

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.

Monument at La Fière Bridge to the 82nd Airborne

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.

PFTA: Grand Canyon Bird’s Eye View

Today’s Photo From The Archive comes from the Grand Canyon.  I took this in 2005.  You may be wondering how on Earth I took a photo of the Grand Canyon, looking straight down at the Colorado River with the South Rim Village off in the distance.  Well, I wasn’t on Earth when I took this photo.  I was sitting in the back seat of a helicopter on one of the arial tours of the Canyon.  For someone who has a hard time with heights, it was actually a pleasant journey, and something I’ll never forget.

IMG_1674 copy.jpg

Enjoy,

Kelly

Paris Revisited

I have a few more planned posts of Normandy that I’m skipping by request from a friend to “get to Paris!” These posts are to revisit Utah Beach and Omaha Beach; also, for Point du Hoc, Longues sur Mer, Saint Mer Eglise, La Fiere Bridge and Pegasus Bridge.  I will publish these in the near future, so keep an eye out for them.

After arriving in Paris (and a lengthy stay at the police station-see my post Paris, and a Lesson Learned for details), I was able to explore the city with my friends as planned.  I was able to see the Eiffel Tower at a distance, but never got close.  I also wanted to photograph the Tower at night, but apparently they turn the lights off at 1:00am, so I missed it.  Although as compensation, we drove around the Arc du Triumph about six times while raising a ruckus.

IMG_3544

Not far away, is Napoleon’s Mausoleum and Tomb, these are next door to the Military Museum.  I will have a post on the Military Museum at a later time as well.

IMG_3557Napoleon’s Mausoleum IMG_3562Napoleon’s Tomb

Looking toward at the Military Museum and Napoleon’s Mausoleum:IMG_3585

By the way, the police station is under the far right side under the park.  Going the other direction is the River Seine and its magnificient bridge.IMG_3579

The River Seine, with the Eiffel Tower in the background:IMG_3588

No visit to Paris would be complete without visiting the Louvre.  We had actually planned it for this day since it was open later than normal, but that was scrapped because of the visit to the police.  On the second to last day in France, we were able to make it to the Louvre but they closed at 6:00pm, and we didn’t arrive until about 8:00pm.  It’s still an amazing place.

IMG_3788IMG_3808The Louvre is extremely large, this is inside one of its courtyards.

After leaving the Louvre, it’s easy to get lost in traffic even with a GPS unit, and what do you see when you get lost in Paris?  Why Notre Dame of course.  I was hoping to visit this magnificient edifice but that was dashed when it caught fire earlier this year.

IMG_3811

Paris is an amazing city.  There are many interesting things to see.  If you do visit, secure all belongings and don’t carry too much cash, especially on the subways.

Enjoy,

Kelly

Normandy American Cemetery and Museum Colleville-sur-Mer, France

I’ve been wanting to post this for a while now, but life seems to be getting in the way (that and my internet connection is extremely slow). I also know I’ve had a couple of posts already about the American Cemetery in Normandy, located on the bluff overlooking Omaha Beach. At the visitor center, there is an amazing museum that has artifacts and comprehensive displays of the history surrounding D-Day and what the costs were.

However, it was quite crowded there a couple of days before the 75th anniversary of D-Day, so we had quite a walk to get to the museum and cemetery. Along the way were vintage WWII vehicles, and a person well known for helping defeat Germany in the war, none other than Winston Churchill, of course this is a re-enactor, but hey, he looks the part.IMG_1986IMG_1991

The displays in the museum start with the occupying of France by Germany, how the French people were treated, and the Allies’ goal of liberating France.

It also has a replica of the Czech hedgehogs designed by Rommel as part of the “Atlantic Wall”. There were several layers of defense put in place all along the coast of the English Channel, here specifically are the coastal defenses.

The French Resistence played a major role in helping the Allies get intelligence about the occupying forces, their movements, etc., and they had to risk their lives to do so.  Even owning a radio was forbidden.

Did you know there was a training exercise for D-Day?  It was called Exercise Tiger, which had heavy casualties causing the US military to take actions for training so the actual invasion would be successful.

Operation Titanic was designed to take the focus off of the paratroopers landing in France, it consisted of dropping exploding dummies among troops to confuse the Germans.

There were displays of several US troops and their stories.  Here are three.

Hundreds if not thousands of civilians were also killed on D-Day and following the Allies’ arrival into France.  Saint-Lo was totally destroyed by air bombings in a matter of hours.  It was such an important crossroad that it was necessary to create a gap in German defenses.  I’ve read somewhere that the treasures from Mont Saint-Michel were taken to Saint-Lo for safe keeping but were destroyed in the bombings; however, I haven’t been able to verify that yet.

The human cost of the invasion was extreme: approximately 8,500 US and Allied troops were killed, wounded or went missing in action on D-Day alone.  Approximately 225,000 Allied troops were killed during the Normandy campaign, and about 18,000 French citizens were killed during this time as well.  The Germans suffered approximately 400,000 casualties during the liberation of Normandy.

Which brings us back to the American Cemetery.  In our history of engaging in war on foreign soil, we were never there for conquest or gain, only for freedom and liberation; all we ever asked for were plots of land to bury our gallant dead.

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.

IMG_1706.jpgIMG_1702.jpg

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?

IMG_1937.jpg

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.

IMG_1925.jpg

Across the street is Battery Park and the Statue of Liberty.  It was amazing and awesome to see Lady Liberty.  IMG_1899.jpg

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.IMG_1810.jpg

Just down the street is the Empire State Building.

IMG_1811.jpg

IMG_1823.jpg

Another subway ride away is Times Square.

IMG_1842.jpg

IMG_1838.jpgThe 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.  IMG_1773

I had a great time in New York, but this was just a stop over point to Paris and Normandy.

Enjoy,

Kelly

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.

Enjoy,

Kelly

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.

Enjoy!

Kelly

The Road Less Traveled

Have you asked yourself lately where you want to be? At work? Home? In the desert or mountains?

Sometimes I’d just like to curl up next to a roaring fire with a good book and a steaming mug of hot chocolate. But my first choice would be out in nature, either in the mountains or desert. It’d have to be the desert this time of year because of snow in the mountains.

But my favorite place to be is where few others go: The Road Less Traveled, because there are things to see there that are just too beautiful to describe.

Have a great day and enjoy your road less traveled.

20140206-093905.jpg

Wild Weekly’s Photo Contest – Exploring

I’m participating in the online adventure travel magazine LetsBeWild.com’s Wild Weekly Photo Challenge for bloggersThis week’s Challenge is: Exploration!

I explore the desert of Southwest Utah quite frequently.  However, this time I decided to post an adventure I had that made me quite queasy (literally).  I went on a seven day, seven night Western Caribbean Cruise.  One of the destinations was Grand Cayman Island.  I had never been snorkeling before, so I decided what the heck.

38231-R1-07-18A

Notice the reef in the harbor? It means that large ships can’t dock here, just small personal water craft or ferries.  Did you know there is a shipwreck in the harbor?  Well, it wasn’t caused by the reef like you would think.  It was caused by a coal engine.  Apparently, the vibrations from the engine rattled the ship apart.  Of course the ship wasn’t designed for a coal engine, it was originally a wind powered ship.  When the ship made it to harbor, it was leaking so bad, the officials determined to just sink it where it was.

38231-R1-01-24A

This was the engine for the ship.  It’s a popular spot for fish to explore.

38231-R1-06-19A

 

Not just fish, but for snorkelers (like me) and scuba divers like him:

38231-R1-03-22A

 

Of course, that’s about the time claustrophobia kicked in and I had to leave the water.  It was fun while it lasted, though.  I had a blast.