Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Archive for August, 2011

Craters of the Moon Displays Unique Lava Fields

“A weird and scenic landscape peculiar  unto itself,” is the way President Calvin Coolidge described Craters of the Moon. Definitely feel like you are no longer in Idaho, when you reach the Craters of the Moon National Monument in the southern part of the state. This geological extravaganza of rugged lava flow covers 750,000 acres, roughly the size of Rhode Island, and it is the largest lava field in the lower 48 states.

The Great Rift, located along the border of the Snake River Plain, is a showcase of volcanic activity.  Lava flows, fissures, and cinder cones were created by a break in the earth’s crust about fifty miles long. Twisted rivers of lava coil around and through caves and tunnels.

But the eruptions here are not like those you would expect.  When we think of volcanoes, we picture a high cone shaped mountain with steep sides and a crater at the top.  However, Craters of the Moon eruptions are called “fissure eruptions” – outbreaks which occur along the cracks in the earth’s crust.

The Shoshone Indian legend tells the story of the volcano’s first eruption where the Snake River runs today. Many moons ago, flashes of lightning frightened the serpent so dreadfully that he squeezed the mountain until liquid rock came out of it, cracks had fire coming from them, and the mountain finally exploded. While there is evidence Indians hunted and sometimes camped here, no permanent settlements would have occurred. Perhaps they did use the basalt for their arrowheads.

Estimates date the first eruptions here about 15,000 years ago. The black lava flows were from the most recent eruptions, which occurred approximately 2,000 years ago. This desolate landscape has been described as a “garden fit for the devil,” and was later named Devil’s Orchard. Today scientists, hikers and curious visitors journey over many trails to explore the area. Need your walking shoes on, as the paths are sometimes steep and often quite long.

Isolated spots of vegetation called “kipukas” give clues to the type of plants growing in the past. High up on the hillsides you might find a 700 year old juniper tree, old sagebrush, or native bunchgrass. Down on ground level, collapsed tubes and caves demand that you use caution as openings can be hazardous. Many tunnels require special entry permits to ensure safety as well as protect sensitive geological features.

As you might guess, Craters of the Moon was used by NASA astronauts in training for the moon exploration back in 1969. They explored the unusual environment and studied the volcanic geology in preparation for their space journey.

Today Craters of the Moon is neither active nor extinct.  Just sleeping! Scientists actually expect some activity to take place in the area within the next thousand years.  Enjoy exploring where you can let your imagination run wild! It’s a great place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.

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Lily Dale – City of Light

Use your Sixth Sense! Transforming the inner self to use that sixth sense of intuition and spiritual awareness  is the main goal of Lily Dale Assembly,which has been around for a long, long time. Established during 1879 in Chautauqua County, New York, this small village has been the world’s largest center for spiritual development through Spirtualism religion.  A Spiritualist is a person who believes that life continues after death and individuals are responsible for their own behavior.  Many Spiritualists are also Mediums or Healers, but not all.  They are busy searching for the truth.

A feeling of peace is prevalent throughout Lily Dale.  During the summer there is a varied program of world renowned speakers.  Over the years, this has included such names as Neal Rzepkowski, John White, Deepak Chopra and Wayne Dyer. Mediums, teachers, and healers frequent the place on a year round basis with a permanent population of nearly 275.

Set on the eastern shores of Cassadaga Lake, the energy of the spiritual world can be felt in this serene setting. As you travel the paths deep in the woods, you will find Forest Temple where communication services are held at the end of each religious meeting to receive spiritual messages. Here many people feel they receive messages from loved ones who have gone on before.

At the end of the forest trail is Inspiration Stump, a sacred spot. Visitors often say they feel a profound sense of peace and heightened sense of awareness when sitting here. This is the site of the most intense spiritual feeling at Lily Dale. Since 1898, two services are held here each day where mediums receive messages from Spirit to members of the audience.

A purification ceremony in the Indian sweat lodge is performed several times during the year. Approximately ten feet in diameter, the sweat lodge is covered with a heavy tarp to keep the heat of the stones inside.  In early times, the Indians would have used animal skins for a covering over the bent birch branch framework. While crawling through the door, participants are smudged with smoke from sweet grass, sage or cedar as initial cleansing. Inside everyone, dressed in loose, comfortable clothing, sits on the floor cross-legged in an attitude of peace.

One at a time, hot stones are brought in and added in all four directions to the fire at the center. The door is then closed and water poured over the hot stones. The steam called “sacred breath” is used to cleanse mind, body, spirit and heart. This is definitely one of those places where “You can feel the temperature rising.”

Staying in Lily Dale is half the experience.  Everyone congregates on the front porch in the evening to exchange stories and experiences.  No connection to the outside world is encouraged so there is a complete lack of television, radio, or phone service in the rooming houses.  Rooms are sparsely, but comfortably, furnished with shared bath facilities in most places.

Every visit here is a new adventure. Where else would you hear a person run from the hotel saying, “Someone’s sweeping the hallways again, and no one’s in there!”  In her book, “Lily Dale,” Christine Wicker concluded, “Did I believe it? Sometimes yes. Sometimes no. But I’d like to.”

Abraham Lincoln

“Lincoln and Liberty,” the song Abraham Lincoln used in his campaign for presidency, opened a fun filled evening on the final night of Coshocton’s Bi-Centennial Chautauqua celebration.  Wildwood & Friends got the crowd in the mood with several Civil War era songs, including what they said was Abraham Lincoln’s favorite song, “Old Hundredth,” although some say it was “Dixie.”

When the easily recognized figure of Abraham Lincoln appeared, complete with top hat, he was greeted with a standing ovation. Dr. Richard Johnson, Professor Emeritus at California State Polytechnic University, became for the evening a very believable Abraham Lincoln.

“That reminds me of a story..” was an oft repeated phrase throughout his presentation as he fulfilled his reputation for humorous tales.  His first joke was told similar to this, although the exact words were not recorded:

In Washington D.C., they say that I am the homeliest person they have ever seen. This reminds me of a story…a woman I met once told me, “You are the ugliest man I have ever seen.”  To which I replied, “I can’t help it.” The woman then said, “You could stay home.”

The Republican party chose Abraham Lincoln as their candidate for president because he was a great spokesman and a moderate candidate, who they felt could get a lot of votes.

As the Rail Candidate, Abraham Lincoln’s candidacy was depicted as being held up by the slavery issue. In this cartoon characterization, Lincoln says, “It is true I have split Rails, but I begin to feel as if  this rail would split me.  It’s the hardest stick I ever straddled.”  The black man complains, “Dis Nigger strong and willin’ but its awful hard work to carry Old Massa Abe on nothing but dis ere rail!”  One of Lincoln’s foremost supporters in the Northeast, Greeley here assures him, “We can prove that you have split rails and that will ensure your election to the Presidency.”

During his election campaign, an eleven year old girl wrote to Mr Lincoln stating that she felt he would look much better with whiskers.  Lincoln answered her letter but made no promises; however, shortly thereafter began growing his beard, which is a familiar part of his image everyone recognizes today.

His wife and sons played important roles in Lincoln’s life.  Mary, his wife, was an ally in Springfield, but in D.C. was not a good advisor.  This perhaps due to the death of their son, Willie, which devastated Mary.  At this point she attempted to gain comfort from spiritualists and even conducted seances in the White House.

Lincoln felt the Civil War was worth fighting to protect future children and give them a chance to make something of themselves.  The government at that time and their sacrifices made this possible.  He called out for freedom in the land, and proclaimed that “We must come back together.”

The evening under the Chautauqua banner would not have been complete without the now famous Gettysburg Address, which received another standing ovation.  Later Lincoln said that he composed it in no more than seventeen days, and was actually still working on it when it was delivered.

His career advice to those entering the legal profession seemed very practical:    Try to be an honest lawyer.                                                                                                            Be honest in what you do.                                                                                                              Be respectful of others.                                                                                                                     Help them when you can.

Very simple advice, but still a wise lesson for us to follow today… as it was for Honest Abe.

Every summer the Ohio Humanities Council in conjunction with Ohio State University’s Humanities Institute provides compelling first person historical portrayals around the state of Ohio.  Tune in again next summer for another exciting line-up of influential figures in our country’s history.

Original New Woman of the Civil War Era at Coshocton Chautauqua

Sitting by the roadside on a summer’s day                                                                   Chatting with my mess-mates, passing time away                                                           Lying in the shadows underneath the trees                                                                        Goodness, how delicious, eating goober peas.

Under the Chautauqua tent in Coshocton, Ohio, music of the Civil War entertained the crowd. Performed by Steve Ball and Larry Stahl, “Goober Peas” was one of the most popular and silliest songs of that era.  Not only did they sing such old popular songs as “Rally Round the Flag,” and the most popular love song of the day, “Lorena,” but they gave a short history of each song. This  made for an interesting introduction to the 2011 Chautauqua Civil War evening.

Guts, determination, and lots of humor described Dr Mary Edwards Walker as she was indeed a Civil War female activist. Debra Edwards Conner, a native of nearby Cambridge, gave an outstanding performance in the role of Dr Walker. The crowd under the tent, gave her their undivided attention at the Coshocton Bi-Centennial celebration.

As a graduate of Syracuse Medical College in 1853, Mary headed to Washington to assist with the wounded of the Civil War.  Cots were set up in the halls of the US Capitol and even amid the exhibits of the US Patent Office, where Mary eventually worked as an unpaid volunteer.  Her request for a commission was denied as they felt a woman’s brain was too small to remember medical knowledge.

Medical care was not high on the list of priorities for the military at that time as noted when one general said, “If all doctors sank in the ocean, it would be better for mankind and worse for the fish.” Death surrounded her as filth accumulated everywhere from improper disposal of waste. Two thirds of the deaths were from Tennessee Quick Step…dysentery. While little equipment was provided, there was a blade for amputations. During the course of the war, Dr Walker said three fourths of nearly 39,000 amputees survived. Using a chloroform soaked rag for anesthetic, it took three minutes to amputate, stitch the wound closed with cotton thread, and then wait for infection.

Mary persisted in her quest for a commission with the Army even after the medical board said she did not have adequate knowledge or training. Finally, General George Thomas, commander of the Army of the Cumberland, made a landmark decision and hired Mary Walker as the first woman doctor in the US Army.  General Thomas said, “It would be easier to take the capitol at Richmond, than to argue with Dr Mary Walker.”

Accused of spying by the Confederates while on a medical mission, Mary spent four months in Castle Thunder Prison. There she slept on the floor on a bed of straw in a room overrun with rats. Maggots usually crawled in their infested food supply. They were served” Lincoln coffee,” wood splinters boiled in water. When released from prison in exchange for a Confederate surgeon, she weighed 69 pounds.  Her health and eyesight deteriorated greatly during this prison time.

After the war, Mary always needed money desperately with only $8.50 a month in pension. So she donned a top hat and trousers and lectured regarding women’s rights. A lifelong advocate of freedom for women, when she married right out of college, Mary refused to use the word”‘obey” in the ceremony. She would not take her husband’s name, and even wore trousers to the wedding. Needless to say, this marriage did not last long, and afterwards Mary always referred to him as “that vile man.” When lecture opportunities disappeared, she was reduced to giving lectures at carnivals and dime museums. This was in her words, “A show for the poor where I could speak to keen minds with empty pockets.”

After the war, she was honored as the first and only woman to have ever received the Congressional Medal of Honor…and that honor stands to this day. At one point in 1917, the medal was rescinded by the government saying that it should only be given to those engaged in actual combat. The determined Dr Walker refused to give them back the medal.  Instead she made herself a uniform, promoted herself to major, and wore the medal proudly wherever she went. However, Jimmy Carter in 1977 restored Walker’s Medal of Honor.

Dr Mary Walker was indeed a trailblazer for women’s rights and certainly deserved the title of “Original New Woman” for her profession and dedication during the time of the Civil War.  The word “obey”  never appeared  in her vocabulary.

 

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