Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Archive for April, 2011

World of the Giant Redwoods

Magnificent! On my first trip to Northern California’s Redwood National Forest, could find no words to describe this magical world of  towering redwood trees. Their size and power created a state of awe and silence.  This is the place to find most of the giant redwood trees remaining in the United States, including trees that are several stories taller than the Statue of Liberty. Located along the Pacific Coast, this mist-laden forest produces the tallest trees in the world.

Just to demonstrate their massive size, they have three redwoods that you can actually drive your car through.  This was a great experience, and hopped out to take a picture of my car inside Shrine Tree near Myers Flat in the Humboldt  Redwoods State Park. A small fee is charged for driving through the tree as it was privately owned, but it was worth it. For safety sake, the tree is anchored with steel cables even though no movement has been noted. These drive thru trees were an early way to draw attention to the giant redwoods and attract tourists their way.  Today the practice of cutting tunnels through new trees is basically frowned upon by environmentalists so the present tunnels are being cared for tenaciously. There is also a great little gift shop  inside another redwood tree. Many gifts were handcarved items using the available redwood, which is very hard to carve as it splits easily. Purchased a six inch tall redwood bear while stopping there. 

Nearby there was a fallen log that was wide enough to drive your car over. This log was cut in 1900 and weighed approximately a hundred tons with length of 40′ and width of 8 1/2′.  Have to try all these things because the size of the trees is just so amazing. Another surprising thing is the beautiful scent of the forest. Again, you have to be there to fully understand. “Seeing is believing.”

Back to the Avenue of the Giants, stopped by Founders Grove with a 350′ tree. You look up and up , but never see the sky it seems. These redwoods grow upwards straight as an arrow and their bark at ground level is also exceptional. The road is hilly and windy but you really don’t mind as you have spectacular views on all sides and upward.  The Dyerville Giant was 370′ when it fell, 200 feet taller than Niagara Falls. This Giant weighed over a million pounds.  Overwhelming!

Without a doubt, in my travels this is the most breathtaking work of Mother Nature in the United States as words can not describe, not can pictures show, the feeling of standing amongst these giants.  Return visit? Definitely!


Yellowstone Park Erupts

Old Faithful is the biggest, regular geyser at Yellowstone National Park, the world’s first national park.  It erupts every 70-120 minutes for 1-5 minutes. This cone geyser can throw up to 8,400 gallons of boiling water into the air 90-180 feet high in a single eruption. The benches around the geyser are 300 feet away but you can still feel the spray and even get wet if the wind happens to be blowing your direction. The platform here is constructed from approximately three million recycled plastic milk jugs.  Another great viewing point is Geyser Hill.

An elevated boardwalk, the Geyser Hill Loop Trail, is a splendid way to view many smaller geysers and hydrothermal pools as well.  It is an easy walk, just over a mile, and you can enjoy feeling part of a volcanic field as you journey through this unusual landscape. This is a strange, new exciting world. Some places there is a railing along the plastic boardwalk, but other times you walk carefully over the bubbling pools.

The Old Faithful Indicator of when the next eruption will occur is best based on the size of the crowd around the geyser.  As soon as it erupts, everyone leaves.  As the predicted eruption time gets closer, the crowd gathers sometimes making it impossible to even find an empty bench.  But still it erupts when it is ready!

For about twenty minutes before it erupts, Old Faithful will bubble and shoot up small streams of water.  Just teasing the crowd it would seem. But the crowd is patient with cameras ready for action.  Old Faithful was given its name by the Washburn Expedition in 1870 as they were amazed at the regularity of its spewing boiling water and steam to such great heights. So you can see it has been a crowd pleaser for many years. 

The park is filled with volcanic activity.  Makes you wonder if this sleeping giant of a volcano, named Yellowstone Park, could possibly be in major upheaval someday soon. You feel like you are walking on dangerous territory.  Things here are constantly changing so repeat trips can be as interesting as the first. You can be sure that Old Faithful will still be quite the attraction.

Utah the Honey Bee State

Deseret was the name of the first Mormon settlement in Utah.  Its name is from the Book of Mormon, meaning ‘land of the honey bee’.  This territory extended between the Sierra Nevadas and the Rocky Mountains, covering a vast area in Utah. The Mormons were on a mission from God, attempting to create a model society in this new wilderness.

Four days after arriving in Salt Lake City, building began on the magnificent Salt Lake Temple, which took forty years to build.  This Mormon Temple is the centerpiece of the city and an easy icon to spot as you walk the streets of the city.

Close by on Temple Square is the Mormon Tabernacle where the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performs at selected times during the year.  We have timed our stay to include a Sunday morning performance of the choir.  They give us a short introduction to the astounding acoustic construction that gives the organ and choir such a unique sound. They demonstrated that even dropping a pin in the pulpit could be heard throughout the auditorium due to the fantastic acoustics.  And it worked!

Adding to the sound and beauty of the choir is the 11,623- pipe Tabernacle organ, whose golden pipes are hand carved from Utah lumber. This is one of the most elaborate organs in the world.  The combination of organ and choir were magnificent entertainment.  Of course, you couldn’t leave without wanting to buy a CD for future listening.

Touring the Utah State Capitol building here, you are able to see the unique art, architecture, and history of the building.  The beautiful domed rotunda with bronze sculpture groups delights the eye inside, while outside the flower gardens are exquisite.

This city was laid out with the widest streets imaginable and shows a lot of foresight on the developers’ part back in the late 1800s.  From the steps of the Capitol building, you get a beautiful view of downtown Salt Lake City.

Eagle Gate, where a 4,000 pound Eagle is perched atop a beehive,  stretches across the wide street. Originally built in 1859, the gate has been moved as the city developed but was originally the gate leading to Brigham Young’s farmland.

Another historic spot downtown is the Bee Hive House, which was the Salt Lake City home of Brigham Young.  Built in 1854 with a beehive on top as a symbol of productivity and diligence. it is the older of Young’s two local residences.  Here you can see how Brigham Young and his family lived at that time. Young had numerous wives and children, being considered the most famous polygamist of the Latter Day Saints Church.  The Brigham Young Monument downtown Salt Lake City, at the corner of Temple and Main Streets, provides a beautiful picture with the famous Mormon Temple in the background. Most of the cities landmarks have a connection to the religious beliefs of the founding fathers.

The experience at the North Visitors Center was one of the highlights of the trip to Salt Lake City.  As you walked up a spiral staircase inside the building, you were greeted at the top by an 11 ft figure of Jesus with welcoming arms outstretched to greet you.  What a very breathtaking surprise!

Everywhere you can see the hand of the Mormon Church is still very active in this area with friendly faces at every stop along the way.  This is a pleasant spot to relax and enjoy the tranquility.

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