June 22nd and 23rd ~ Salt Lake City and Ogden, Utah
In 1847, Brigham Young led members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, (also known as “Mormons” because of the Book of Mormon), to the Salt Lake Valley where they established the church headquarters.
Today the city is neatly organized with a grid system where the Temple is at ground zero, and the blocks radiate out symmetrically. The street numbers become larger as you move out from Temple Square in each direction. Each block increases numerically by 100 and eight city blocks equals one mile.
This well laid out city is easy to navigate, but we did not need to…
Our KOA campground arranged a free shuttle service, provided by the church, that ran every half hour that would take us the 14 blocks to Temple Square, which is where we wanted to start our sightseeing.
Temple Square covers several city blocks, about 35 acres of land. Free tours are led by members of the church. We started out with a group of about 30 people, but jumped ship after a few minutes as the microphone battery died and we could not hear our guides.
One of the buildings that stood out, was the stately Assembly Hall.
But of course the center point was the enormous and impressive Temple.
And I should also mention the gorgeous grounds. Every flower and leaf were perfection. Not an easy task to maintain on a campus of this size, but the mainly volunteer staff have done an outstanding job.
Another place of interest for us to check out was the Family History Library which is the largest genealogical library in the world.
Tim had already done some research on Ancestry.com, but I wanted to start fresh. I was assigned a “helper” who got me started. I was able to find information on my paternal side going back to the 1600’s in Prussia and Germany which I loved.
We happened to arrive on the perfect date to attend the Millennial Choir and Orchestra performance inside the Tabernacle. This was their 10th Anniversary Tour, so they were performing some of their greatest hits. All performances were sold out, but we showed up early at the standby sign, and were granted some tickets that had been turned in. Lucky Day!
No photography or recording was allowed during the performance, but I was allowed to snap a shot as they were setting up. The choir filled in greatly after this shot was taken, but it will at least give some idea of the setting. The ages of the choir member ranged from four years up to senior citizens who can still sing!
I found this clip on YouTube of the group performing Amazing Grace which will give you an idea of how special this performance was to attend. Click here for clip.
But our day was still not over, as on Thursday evenings, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir rehearses. It is free to the public. Since the MCO were performing in the Tabernacle, the practice was conducted across the street in the 21,000 seat Conference Center. I was glad that we got to see and experience both.
I loved simply closing my eyes and letting the music embrace me.
On Friday, we once again picked up stakes and moved on. We were headed toward Bear Lake and on the way I had marked two possible diversions – the George S Eccles Dinosaur Park or the Hill Aerospace Museum. Tim voted for the museum, so off we went.
Admission was free, and we wandered around this well laid out complex for a couple of hours. It was primarily about the aircraft, but stories of how they were used in different conflicts was documented as well. I found the section about the Vietnam War especially of interest since that hit closest to home for me and my classmates.
For any war history buff, lover of airplanes, pilots, military or ex Air Force, you might find this collection fascinating. Here are just a few of the many aircraft on display that caught my attention:
I was curious about this tiny version of Air Force One and when it was used, as there was no placard telling about it. We asked at the information desk, and were told that President Kennedy had it built, but they were not sure if he ever flew in it. President Johnson would take it to his ranch in Texas, as the larger Airforce One was too big to land at the nearby airport. He also shared that the person rumored to have used it the most (according to one of their pilots) was Lady Bird Johnson who would use it to fly to New York for shopping.
GRATITUDE MOMENT: I am grateful to have been able to experience such a large number of beautiful voices gathered together to sing in praise. It was a special treat! Then the next day we had an extreme contrast – walking amongst huge aircraft, many that had carried weapons of mass destruction. What complicated times we live in. But I am thankful that at least for today I am safe, well and living life to the fullest.
As a side note, we would have LOVED to been able to share the Aerospace Museum with our 93 years-young friend, Rod Rodriguez, who has an incredible history with aviation. He was the youngest ever Latin aviator admitted into the Navy and enjoyed a long and successful career with Beechcraft out of the Van Nuys airport.
I’m confident he would have loved seeing this collection and been able to share some incredible and fascinating stories.