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.

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

Teton Dam Disaster

IMG_6444 copyLast 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.

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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.

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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.

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This is the spillway that was never used.  It turns out the dam burst the first day the dam was filled.

Let it Snow!! Let it Snow!!!

Yesterday, we had a snow storm move in.  The forecast called for 2 – 4 inches of snow.  Well, let’s just say the weatherman has NO idea what he’s talking about!!  This is what it looked like yesterday when I went to work:

CRW_1622I love the way that the black and white looks with the snow here.

At 5:00pm yesterday, the snow was measured at 11 1/2″ of snow.  It finally stopped snowing around 8:00pm last night, with another 5-7″ accumulation.

This is this what it looked like this morning when I went up for breakfast:

CRW_1632These are our historic cabins here at Zion Lodge with Mountain of the Sun in the background.  Oh yes, we even have an invasion of snowmen, only one so far has shown up, but I suspect there will be more arriving later today.

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And here is the historic Zion Lodge, in all its splendor and beauty with snow.

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What’s really crazy, is that this is the most snow this area has seen for many years.  Washington County basically came to a standstill because of this storm.  The city of St. George, Utah, has only one snow plow, and it’s at the airport, which is also closed because it couldn’t keep up.  All the other towns and cities here have also closed down because they don’t  have any plows either, with all church services being cancelled due to snow, which is also a first.

The Arizona Strip, with Interstate 15 through the Virgin River Gorge is closed until further notice because three semis collided and jackknifed over night.  All the cars are being escorted out one by one out of the gorge by the Arizona Highway Patrol because of the accidents there. Snow is beautiful if you don’t have to drive in it.  Stay off the roads if you don’t have to drive today.

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I want to wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Remember this day is for gratitude for everything we have and cherish. Especially our freedoms and family. Please remember freedom isn’t free. Thank a Soldier and Veterans for our freedoms.

Here is President Lincoln’s proclamation making today a day of Thanksgiving in 1863:

The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.
In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.
Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well as the iron and coal as of our precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.
And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the imposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purpose, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.

Grand Canyon Revisited

On Tuesday, I was able to take a day trip to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  It was absolutely amazing!  It’s over 8000 feet above sea level there, it was a nice 74 degrees, breezy, and sunny.  The first destination was Point Imperial.  While there, I was able to get some shots of Mt. Hayden.CRW_1360

After lunch, we went for a walk through the forest towards the park boundary.  Along the way, were some great views of the Canyon, and off in the distance, you can just see Navajo Mountain.

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Along the trail, there were Ponderosa Pines, Quaking Aspens, and all kinds of shrubbery.  Speaking of Quaking Aspen,  they are currently changing colors!  They are absolutely gorgeous!  Take a look:

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Frequently the trail meandered through glades of these trees, and it was very peaceful to be there and enjoy nature.  The smell of decaying leaves, which is the smell of fall, was relaxing and brought to mind thoughts of cooler weather, tranquility, and joy.

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On the way back to the parking lot, this was the view of the fall colors:

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It was an awesome view!  Just to see acres upon acres of fall colors was just absolutely refreshing!  The rest of the afternoon was spent enjoying the view of the Canyon from the North Rim Lodge while enjoying a good book and just soaking up the sun.

Weekly Photo’s Challenge: Hiking

I’m participating in LetsBeWild.com’s Wild Weekly Photo Challenge. This week’s Challenge is: Hiking! 

Hiking.  It’s what I do!   It’s my favorite thing to do when I’m not working or sleeping.  Of course, it gives me the reason to go out photo shooting.  Recently I went hiking in the Kolob Canyon section of Zion National Park.  I went on the Taylor Creek Trail and believe me, there are some spectacular views in the canyon!

This is Taylor Creek:

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During the hike, it’s fun to look for things that are unusual or interesting.  Take  this lizard for instance, he’s enjoying the sun and warm rock.

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Along the way, there are a couple of pioneer cabins from the homesteading days.  Here is one of them.

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The ultimate goal of hiking of course is the journey and the adventure that goes with it, but sometimes there is a reward at the end of the trail.  In this case, it was a combination of all of these that prompted me to hike this trail.  At the end there is the world famous Double Arch Alcove.

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After the hike, it’s always fun to go up to the view point and look at the Kolob Fingers of Zion National Park.  This section of the park doesn’t get as much publicity or appreciation as the lower canyons.  But it is just as spectacular or more so.

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My philosophy with hiking is this: the journey is the reward, not the destination, although that helps.

 

 

Wild Weekly’s Photo Contest: Mountains

“I want to see mountains again, Gandalf! Mountains!” – Bilbo Baggins
I’m participating in the online adventure travel and outdoor photography magazine Wild Weekly Photo Challenge for bloggersThis week’s Challenge is: Mountains!

I love the mountains! There’s just something special about mountains, either looking up at them, or down from them. They are majestic, timeless and breathtaking. Sometimes it helps to get away from it all in the mountains just to contemplate existence and life in general.

Here is a tribute to John Muir and his favorite place: Yosemite Valley, specifically Half Dome and Yosemite Falls.

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Of course, a bit closer to home (but not quite) is the famous Horseshoe Bend. This is looking off the mountain at the Colorado River, just south of Glen Canyon Dam.

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Here is a very famous vista of Zion National Park, the Watchman Mountain.

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The only way to really appreciate the size and majesty of mountains is to get up close and personal. Here is a view of a mountain from the West Rim Trail in Zion. The ponderosa pine tree is about 60-80 feet tall. The cliff face is about 2000-3000 feet straight up. This gives a nice scale to Zion.

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Here are a couple of mountains from the West Rim Trail:

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This is the view from Deer Trap Mountain, one of the less popular trails in Zion. This is looking at Lady Mountain and into Heaps Canyon where the Emerald Pools are located.

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Here are the Eagle Crags, just outside of Zion, one of my favorite cliffs.

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Wild Weekly’s Photo Contest: Clouds

I’m participating in the online adventure travel and outdoor photography magazine Wild Weekly Photo Challenge for bloggersThis week’s Challenge is: Clouds!

Do you remember as a kid looking at clouds to imagine the shapes and objects you could find there?

Here is a dragon!CRW_0034

Clouds also means lighting storms.

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You normally see clouds in the sky, but sometimes clouds do strange things. For example, have you ever seen clouds below the rim of the Grand Canyon? At sunset, during the winter? Doesn’t happen very often.

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Sometimes storms can build very quickly, especially here in the desert. Here is West Temple in Zion National Park.

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Now, here is the same mountain ten minutes later:

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A couple of minutes later it gets even thicker:

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Within ten to fifteen minutes, it looks like this:

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Finally it cleared up about twenty minutes later.

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Looking at this storm was an awesome experience, since it has been a long time since I’ve seen a storm like this. What I found out later is that the town of Virgin, Utah was flooded out and some friends lost their homes from this flood.

Wild Weekly’s Photo Contest: Flowers

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

I love flowers!  When wandering through the desert and mountains, I often look to see if there are any flowers because they’re just so beautiful!  Sometimes, it’s all I’ll photograph if I’ve been through the area frequently.

Here is my favorite flower photograph!  I was taking pictures of these desert flowers when a bee landed on the flower!  Great shot, but I ran afterwards!  (Bees and I don’t get along too well.)

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A rose by any other name, is still a rose.

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Sometimes it’s simply amazing to see a flower grow among the harsh rocks where it’s hard to grow anything.

_MG_0415I’m not exactly sure what kind of flower this is.  I found it in my front yard one evening after work.

This one I found wandering in the desert around Cedar Pocket, inside the Virgin River Gorge.

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Of course, living on the edge of the Colorado Plateau, there is an amazing variety of plants and flowers that grow here, from the amazing Prickly Pear Cactus and its gorgeous flowers that turn into a delightful fruit that is delicious and tart.

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In the higher plateaus, you will find alpine flowers mixed with desert flowers, such as this blue flower, I’m not sure if it’s a violet or not.

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Then there is the world famous Sego Lily, Utah’s State Flower.  It’s very simple, yet delightful.

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What’s even more amazing, is that here in the Mojave Desert, or is it the Colorado Plateau, or the Great Basin??  Well, guess what- it’s all three!  All these different geographic features meet right here in Zion National Park!  Cool, right?!  Anyway, right here in this area, we have the Narrows, and there you will find all kinds of aquatic plants.  My favorite is the Golden Columbine, which loves the hanging gardens, along with Monkey Flowers and Shooting Stars.  Here is the Columbine, with Shooting Stars in the background.

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Enjoy these flowers and please feel free to comment and visit the other contestants as well.