Temples and National Parks Visited

Temples and National Parks map

Most of the time I am happy to stay at home so I have to have a few visual cues to prompt me to take a trip once in awhile. One of them is a large map of the United States on my wall with push pins indicating temple grounds visited (green), temples where I have performed ordinances (white), and national parks visited (red).

I am missing a few national parks that I can’t recall for sure visiting. Not shown but visited are the Nauvoo, Dallas, London, and Washington D.C. temples.

The Utah white and green pins, minus Brigham City, are the temples I visited on the 2008 Utah Temples Tour.

The Nevada and California white and green pins are from the 2010 California Temple Trip. The green Arizona pin is the Mesa Temple and the green pin in Canada is the Alberta temple. The red pin over the border is Glacier National Park.

Seeing all those temple pins has me making plans for an Oregon-Washington-Vancouver-Idaho Temples Tour in 2012.

The national parks pins I added this evening. Just looking at the map makes me want to get out and visit a few more parks.

See, the visual cues are working on me already.

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10 Beautiful Chinese Landscape Photographs

China is an ancient civilization extending over a large area in East Asia. China has the longest continuous history of any country in the world. Prior to the 19th century, it possessed one of the most advanced societies and economies in the world but missed the industrial revolution and began to decline. China was the source of many major inventions. It has one of the world’s oldest written languages.

According to Wikipedia, China ranges from mostly plateaus and mountains in the west to lower lands in the east. In the east, along the shores of the Yellow Sea and the East China Sea there are extensive and densely populated alluvial plains. On the edges of the Inner Mongolian plateau in the north, there are grasslands. Southern China is dominated by hills and low mountain ranges. In the central-east are the deltas of China’s two major rivers, the Huang He and Yangtze River.

I love to see beautiful landscapes. I have never visited China but if you have been to any of these locations please tell my readers about your experience. Click on the images for a larger photograph or follow the photo credit links.

Mountains of the Yangtze River gorge Yunnan China

Mountains of the Yangtze River Gorge Yunnan China

Photo Credit: Peter Morgan

Dazhai Terrace China

Dazhai Terrace China

Photo Credit: randomix

Guangzhou Moon China

Guangzhou Moon China

Photo Credit: shenxy

Simatai Great Wall China

Simatai Great Wall China

Photo Credit: Mary Helen McNally

Qingyuan Guangdong China

Qingyuan Guangdong China

Photo Credit: shenxy

Kunming China

Kunming China

Photo Credit: Steve Evans

Larima Xinlong Sichuan China

Larima Xinlong Sichuan China

Photo Credit: George Lu

Huangshan China

Huangshan China

Photo Credit: Chi King

Kuerdening Valley Yili Xinjiang China

Kuerdening Valley Yili Xinjiang China

Photo Credit: George Lu

Kawagebo Meili Yunnan China

Kawagebo Meili Yunnan China

Photo Credit: Fon Zhou

These photographs carry a Creative Commons license that permits copying, distribution, and transmission provided that they are not used commercially and attribution is given. Other restrictions may apply, follow the photo credit links for details.
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More Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

Mike walking around Bear Lake

On our second day in Rocky Mountain National Park, Mike and I traveled along Bear Lake Road to see Alberta Falls and Bear Lake. We weren’t planning on any grand hikes into the wilderness. Nevertheless we did appreciate that some areas were easily accessible with a little walking. This area of the park was busier than yesterday’s tour of Trail Ridge Road.

Rocky Mountain National Park

The 14,255-foot Longs Peak across this valley served as a navigational aid for centuries

Longs Peak

We took a moment to view Longs Peak, named after Major Stephen H. Long, who led a U.S. Army topographic expedition to the region in 1820. As Major Long and his party of 22 explorers neared the Rocky Mountains, he wrote, “a high Peake was plainly to be distinguished towering above all the others as far as the sight extended.”

Rocky Mountain National Park

Bear Lake sits at an elevation of 9,475 feet

Bear Lake

Bear Lake rests beneath the sheer flanks of Hallett Peak and the Continental Divide. The lake was formed during the ice age by a glacier. Several trails start from the lake. The trail around Bear Lake offers magnificent views across the lake to Longs Peak and the other high mountains surrounding Glacier Gorge.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Hallett Peak viewed from Bear Lake

Hallett Peak is flanked by Flattop Mountain to the north and Otis Peak to the south. Just to its east lies Dream Lake. Non-climbers may reach the summit of Hallett Peak easily by following the Flattop Mountain Trail to its highpoint, then walking south along the ridgeline and ascending the peak over talus piles (rocks at the base of a slope). We didn’t ascent the peak but instead visited Alberta Falls.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Mike caught me enjoying the views at Bear Lake

Alberta Falls

This is a very enjoyable hike. The trail is well maintained and the scenery is beautiful. The Falls are only .6 mile with a rise of 160 feet from Glacier Gorge Junction. We connected with the trail from Bear Lake. Once we viewed the Falls we doubled back on ourselves and followed the sign for Glacier Gorge Junction. We went downhill to the shuttle bus stop. We then rode back to the Bear Lake parking lot to pick up our car.

In the afternoon we headed for Utah via Trail Ridge Road. We enjoyed our time at Rocky Mountain National Park.

Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park

Wilderness

In 2009, Congress protected 95 percent of the park under the 1964 Wilderness Act. Road corridors and adjacent visitor use areas are excluded. Wilderness designation protects forever the land’s wilderness character and natural conditions, opportunities for solitude and primitive recreation, and scientific, educational, and historical values. In wilderness, people can sense being a part of the whole community of life on Earth. Preserving wilderness shows restraint and humility, and benefits generations to come. (Roaming the Rockies, NPS)
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Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park is one of over 390 parks in the National Park System

My brother and I passed through Rocky Mountain National Park on our way back home to Utah. I want to share with you a few of the photographs we took and information about the park taken from the map that is given to park visitors.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Trail Ridge Road rises to 12,183 feet, the highest major highway in North America

Trail Ridge Road

Set in the Southern Rockies, Rocky Mountain national Park could be called “the top of the world for everybody.” Here treeline and tundra –the miniaturized alpine world — are accessible to all along the park’s Trail Ridge Road. The highest major highway in North America tops out at 12,183 feet above sea level. Here is one of the the most expansive areas of alpine terrain in the United States. Nearly one third of the park is above treeline — 11,400 feet of elevation in the park — the limit above which conditions are too harsh for trees to grow.

Rocky Mountain National Park

In 2009, Congress protected 95 percent of the park under the 1964 Wilderness Act

Rocky Mountain National Park holds 72 named peaks above 12,000 feet of elevation. Longs Peak, at 14,259 feet, is the most northernmost so-called “fourteener” — peak rising above 14,000 feet — in the Rocky Mountain chain. Great Earth forces thrust the Rockies skyward 70 million years ago, but many of the exposed granite rockies in the park are much older: 1.3 billions years or more.

Rocky Mountain National Park

A 500-foot-thick glacier once covered the valley below.

Glacier

Three major glacial episodes from 738,000 to 13,750 years ago sculptured the scenery that inspired citizens to persuade Congress to make the national park in 1915, one year before Congress created the National Park Service. For over 30 years most of the park has been managed like designated wilderness — to preserve its natural conditions and wilderness character.

Rocky Mountain National Park

A U-shaped valley carved out by a glacier

As the valley glacier inched along over hundreds of years, it scoured out the distinctive U-shaped valley. Like a giant slow-motion conveyor belt, the glacial ice eventually carried its rock debris down the valley. At the farthest point of the glacier’s advance it deposited a load of rock fragments, called terminal moraine. About 15,000 years ago, the glacier began to recede. As it dissipated, the glacier dropped rubble along its flanks, forming lateral moraines, and the meltwater also left behind sediments that became the meadows of Horseshoe Park.

Rocky Mountain National Park

This trail led to a dead end.

Toll Memorial

The Tundra World Nature Trail of a half mile leads to the Toll Memorial. Mike and I took the wrong trail that ended in a dead end. We had to clamber up a steep slope to find the nature trail. Once on the trail at the end of the path we climbed up a rocky cleft. There was a memorial plaque commemorating Roger Wolcott Toll, the Rocky Mountain National Park superintendent from 192 to 1928 who helped Trail Ridge Road to become a reality.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Mike took this photograph of me standing next to the Trail Ridge Mountain Index. The plaque is directly below

Climb to the top of the rock outcrop to view a grand panorama. You can use the Trail Ridge Mountain index to sight landmarks up to 60 miles away. At 12,304 feet I found the view to be magnificent.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Trail Ridge Mountain Index at 12,304 feet

Sunset

We hung around in the park until sunset. Just as the sun was going down we stumbled across a herd of elk. They were so close it was hard not to get a good photograph.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

We continue our sightseeing in More Rocky Mountain National Park

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Wyoming Abraham Lincoln Monument

Bronze Bust of Lincoln

On my way east on I-80 last week, between Cheyenne and Laramie, I came across the Wyoming Abraham Lincoln Monument. It originally stood at Sherman Summit, 8,878 feet above sea level, the highest point along the old coast-to-coast Lincoln Highway. When I-80 was completed in 1969, the head was moved to its current location, about 195 feet lower but seen by many more travelers.

Wyoming Lincoln Monument

The monument was created in 1959 by Wyoming State Parks Commission and the sculptor Robert I. Russin, a University of Wyoming art professor, to honor the sesquicentennial of Lincoln’s birth. The bronze bust of Lincoln’s head is 13.5 feet tall. Russin required ten tons of clay and eleven months of work to create the head.

The original casting was done in Mexico City and the sculpture is comprised of thirty pieces that were bolted together. The bust, weighing two tons, sits on a thirty-five-foot tall granite pedestal. The base is hollow and when Russin died in 2007, his ashes were interred inside.

Lincoln Monument plaque

The Monument is a reminder of Lincoln’s Second Annual Message to the Senate and House of Representatives on December 1, 1862 wherein he detailed his plan for the remunerative emancipation of slaves:

It is not “Can any of us imagine better?” but “Can we all do better?” Object whatsoever is possible, still the question recurs, “Can we do better?” The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country. (Abraham Lincoln, Second Annual Message, emphasis added.)

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Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center

Johnson Space Center

Derek, Bryson, Sarah, Jill, and Rick taking our own picture while aboard the NASA Tram Tour

Last month while Jill and I were in Texas we visited NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston. Accompanying us were Derek, Sarah, and Bryson. The Center is the hub for human spaceflight activities. There are 100 buildings on 1,620 acres that are home to the U.S. astronaut corps. The Johnson Space Center was originally known as the Manned Spacecraft Center and was constructed on land donated by Rice University. In 1973, the center was renamed after Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th President of the United States.

Mission Control Center

Johnson Space Center

The Apollo Mission Control Center, now a U.S. National Historic Landmark

We started out our visit at Space Center Houston, the official visitor center for the Johnson Space Center. We procured a place on the guided tram tour with a first stop at the Mission Control Center (MCC). Since 1965 the MCC has been the nerve center for America’s manned space program. The MCC houses several Flight Control Rooms, from which flight controllers coordinate and monitor the spaceflights.

Johnson Space Center

Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin, crew of Apollo 11, pictured on the stairs to the MCC

Space Vehicle Mock-up Facility

After the MCC, we visited the Space Vehicle Mock-up Facility. The crews for each mission put in up to 100 hours training in this giant building. There are full scale mock-ups for different aspects of the Space Shuttle Orbiter and International Space Station.

Johnson Space Center

Soyuz spacecraft are used for transport to and from the International Space Station.

The Full Fuselage Trainer is a full-scale mock-up of the Shuttle, but without the wings. It has a full sized cargo bay area big enough to hold a bus. The Crew Compartment Trainers allow astronauts to learn how to operate many of the orbiter sub-systems.

Johnson Space Center

Full size shuttle mock-up, minus wings. Sarah's image reflects off the catwalk glass

Rocket Park

Next on the tour was Rocket Park. There are several rockets and rocket engines on display outside the Saturn V building but the most interesting is the Saturn V inside the building. The Saturn V was a multistage liquid-fuel expendable rocket used by NASA’s Apollo and Skylab programs from 1967 until 1973. It remains the largest and most powerful launch vehicle ever brought to operational status from a height, weight and payload standpoint.

Johnson Space Center

Sarah, Bryson, and Derek demonstrate the size of just one of the five Saturn V F-1 engines

Johnson Space Center

The center engine was fixed, while the four outer engines could be gimballed to control the rocket

The Saturn V stood over 363 feet high and weighed over 6 million pounds. It remains the largest and most powerful U.S. expendable launch vehicle ever built. From 1964 until 1973, a total of $6.5 billion ($43.57 billion in current dollars) was appropriated for the Saturn V, with the maximum being in 1966 with $1.2 billion ($8.04 billion in current dollars).

Johnson Space Center

With the Apollo spacecraft on top the Saturn V stood 363 feet tall

Johnson Space Center

Without fins the Saturn V was 33 feet in diameter

Johnson Space Center

Fully fueled the Saturn V had a total mass of 6.5 million pounds (3,000 metric tons)

Apollo

After disembarking from the tram we watched the film “On Human Destiny” in the Destiny Theater. After that we looked in on the Starship Gallery to see such things as the Lunar Module replica, the actual Gemini V capsule, and the last flown Mercury Capsule. I was most interested in the Apollo program and the Lunar Rover Trainer used to prepare astronauts for the Apollo 15, 16, and 17 missions.

Johnson Space Center

Lunar Rover Trainer

Three alkaline fuel cells were used to power the Apollo command module during the missions to the Moon. By combining hydrogen and oxygen, the fuel cells provide power and water to the spacecraft. After an oxygen tank explosion on Apollo 13, only one of the three fuel cells remained operational. With some clever problem solving by Mission Control, the crew was still able to utilize the available power of one fuel cell to return home.

Johnson Space Center

Three of these alkaline fuel cells powered the Apollo command module

The world’s largest public display of Moon rocks are housed in the Lunar Vault where visitors can touch a 3.8 billion-year-old piece of the Moon brought back to Earth by Apollo 17. According to the Houston Chronicle of July 15, 1969:

Space agency officials jubilantly hailed the success of Apollo 11 while a priceless cargo of lunar dust and rocks was flown to the Manned Spacecraft Center today.
One box of Moon rock … contained material from five inches below the surface and other surface samples for a total of about 20 pounds.

Johnson Space Center

Lunar Vault

Johnson Space Center

Jill touching a piece of Moon rock obtained in the Valley of Taurus-Littrow. This rock is basalt, formed by the cooling of molten lava.

Johnson Space Center

Sample of lunar soil. Not your usual Earth dirt.

Space Shuttle

You can climb aboard a full-scale mock-up of the forward section of a space shuttle orbiter. The controls on the flight deck and the equipment on the mid-deck are exact replicas of the Space Shuttle Endeavour’s on her maiden voyage in May 1992.

Johnson Space Center

Full-scale replica of Rick on the flight deck of Endeavour

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Temples from the Air

Salt Lake valley from the air

The Salt Lake valley from the air, with the Draper temple in the foothills


On the flight from Fort Worth to Salt Lake City my wife gave me the window seat. I took a few photographs as we approached Salt Lake. If you look closely at the first photograph (click to enlarge) you can see the Draper temple in the center of the picture in the foothills. The second picture obviously is the Jordan River temple. The last photograph has a lot of familiar landmarks. The Utah State Capitol, the U on the mountain, the Church Office Building with the Salt Lake temple to the left.

The Jordan River temple from the air

The Jordan River temple from the air


Salt Lake City from the air

Salt Lake City from the air with the Utah State Capitol, the U, and the Salt Lake temple visible


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20 Magnificent English Castle Photographs

I was born in England and lived there for 28 years. High on my list of places to see (and photograph) are castles. Yet I only visited two castles, and neither of those were in England. But the next best thing to being there is to see great photographs of English castles. Of course every castle is not pictured and even some famous ones may be missing.

If you have visited any of these strongholds, tell me all about it. Click on the images for a larger photograph or follow the photo credit links.

Bodiam Castle

Bodiam Castle

Photo Credit: PhillipC

Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle

Photo Credit: Jim Linwood

Leeds Castle

Leeds Castle

Photo Credit: mharrsch

Goodrich Castle

Goodrich Castle

Photo Credit: Jelle Drok

Brough Castle

Brough Castle

Photo Credit: spratmackrel

Herstmonceux Castle

Herstmonceux Castle

Photo Credit: antonychammond

Clifford's Tower, York Castle

Clifford's Tower, York Castle

Photo Credit: lhongchou

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle

Photo Credit: Chalkie_CC

Colchester Castle

Colchester Castle

Photo Credit: mgjefferies

Ludlow Castle

Ludlow Castle

Photo Credit: backseatpilot

Dover Castle

Dover Castle

Photo Credit: OliverN5

Bamburgh Castle

Bamburgh Castle

Photo Credit: freefotouk

Skipton Castle

Skipton Castle

Photo Credit: mrs.timpers

Arundel Castle

Arundel Castle

Photo Credit: MN Photos

Conisbrough Castle

Conisbrough Castle

Photo Credit: D-Kav

Pevensey Castle

Pevensey Castle

Photo Credit: neilalderney123

Scotney Castle

Scotney Castle

Photo Credit: Lincolnian (Brian)

Rochester Castle

Rochester Castle

Photo Credit: amaidment1980

Lindisfarne Castle

Lindisfarne Castle

Photo Credit: D-Kav

Nottingham Castle

Nottingham Castle

Photo Credit: D-Kav

These photographs carry a Creative Commons license that permits copying, distribution, and transmission provided that they are not used commercially and attribution is given. Other restrictions may apply, follow the photo credit links for details.
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12 Beautiful Mongolian Landscape Photographs

Regularly readers of my blog know that my son Daniel is serving a mission in Mongolia. Though he will be there for nearly two years these are some of the landscapes he will probably never see. As you can see from the photographs, Mongolia is a very beautiful and varied country. I like landscapes from any country, consider these varied vistas from China.

If you have visited any of these locations please tell me about your experience. Click on the images for a larger photograph or follow the photo credit links.

Sunset in Mongolia

Sunset in Mongolia

Photo Credit: shagal

Lone tree in Western Mongolia

Lone tree in Western Mongolia

Photo Credit: tiarescott

Mongolian landscape

Mongolian landscape with truck in the distance

Photo Credit: tiarescott

Khongoryn Els sand dunes Gobi Desert Mongolia

Khongoryn Els sand dunes, Gobi Desert, Mongolia

Photo Credit: PnP!

Grassland in Inner Mongolia

Grassland in Inner Mongolia

Photo Credit: shenxy

Hustai Nuruu National Park, Mongolia

Przewalski horse research station ger in Hustai Nuruu National Park, Mongolia

Photo Credit: m d d

Where Mongolia, China, Kazakhstan, and Russia meet

Where Mongolia, China, Kazakhstan, and Russia meet. Taken at 9,800 feet.

Photo Credit: kitseeborg

Near Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

A national park near Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Photo Credit: Michael Foley Photography

Khovsgol Nuui lake, Mongolia

Khovsgol Nuui lake, Mongolia

Photo Credit: PnP!

Amarbayasgalant Khiid Temple, Mongolia

Amarbayasgalant Khiid Temple, Mongolia

Photo Credit: PnP!

Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, Mongolia

Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, Mongolia

Photo Credit: yeowatzup

Ongiin Khiid, Gobi Desert, Mongolia

Ongiin Khiid, Gobi Desert, Mongolia

Photo Credit: PnP!

These photographs carry a Creative Commons license that permits copying, distribution, and transmission provided that they are not used commercially and attribution is given. Other restrictions may apply, follow the photo credit links for details.
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