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Salt Lake City
The birds were happily chirping this morning—and there was no rain drumming along to the melody! Hurrah—the sun was shining!
We took advantage of the free shuttle from the campground to Temple Square. We were planning on just wandering around and looking at the Temple and other buildings that had been built by the Mormons. However, as soon as we got out of the shuttle van, a nice elderly man convinced us that if we took a free ½-hour tour conducted by two Mormon guides, we would get to view some buildings that we wouldn’t otherwise see. (This did not prove to be true, but that was okay.) Ben and I initially were hesitant, as we did not want to listen to proselytizing; however, we thought it might be interesting to learn more about the Mormon church and history.
While we were waiting for the tour to begin, we admired the Nauvoo bell, which had been brought from the town of Nauvoo, Illinois in the 1840's when the Mormons had been expelled.
Sebastian pointing at the bell:
One of the side panels on the bell memorial:
Our tour guides were Sister Fan (from Tiawan and California) and Sister Pomeroy (from Oregon). They began the tour by taking us to the Assembly Hall, which had been constructed in 1882.
Genevieve outside of the Assembly Hall:
Inside the Assembly Hall--Sister Pomeroy is on the right, and Sister Fan is on the left:
The pillars and the pews in the Assembly Hall had all been constructed of pine, but they were painted to resemble other materials. The pillars were painted to look like marble (a beautiful and realistic result), and the pews were painted to look like stained oak.
While in the Assembly Hall, the two guides provided a brief explanation about basic Christian beliefs.
I spied a beautiful spiral staircase above us on the second floor:
We then walked to the exterior of the Temple. We could see the Temple towers above the trees:
Here are Sisters Fan and Pomeroy explaining the history of the Temple:
The Temple had been built over a forty year period, 1853 to 1893. Each of the massive blocks weighed 5600 pounds and had been transported via wagons and oxen from 20 miles away.
We were not allowed into the Temple, as you cannot enter if you are not a member of the Mormon church (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).
We then were taken to the North Visitor’s Center, where we saw the 11-foot marble statue of Jesus Christ.
The two Sisters then talked about how important Jesus was in their lives, and we listened to a recording of a man acting as Jesus and talking about how powerful he was and his connection to the universe.
There was one other building in the tour, but almost half an hour had already passed, and the tour wasn’t exactly what we had anticipated. So we thanked the Sisters and headed off on our own.
We had lunch at the Nauvoo Café in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. The café was excellent, with fresh and delicious food, friendly and efficient staff, and very reasonable prices.
A woman on our shuttle this morning had said that we “had to see” the views from the observation deck on the 26th floor of the Church Office Building. The children were excited about going up so high, so located the building on our map and set across the square.
This sculpture was near the fountain out front:
Genevieve wanted her picture taken by the fountain.
We didn’t realize until we were inside the building that the fountain shoots a pattern of water in the air every so often.
The Office Building:
Visitors are not allowed on the observation deck without an escort. We went to the information booth where we found a lovely older woman, who volunteers her services here two days a week. First, she took us to the lobby to view the huge mural entitled “Go Ye Therefore, and Teach All Nations . . .”
Ben and I (both painters) admired the colors used to paint the skin tones of Jesus and the apostles.
The volunteer escort then got a key to access the elevator and took us to the 26th floor. The views were expansive.
The capital building:
The Temple and new construction:
The conference center, with its extensive rooftop gardens:
In the distance, we could see the Great Salt Lake, beyond the airport:
We had a great perspective of the Temple, where we could see many brides in their white dresses on the surrounding grounds. There are two brides in this picture:
We met Elizabeth, a volunteer guide:
Elizabeth was originally from San Luis Obispo, California, but she has lived part-time in Salt Lake City since her husband’s death. She was very helpful in pointing out some places of interest, including the capital building. She explained that there is a faultline that runs through the mountain on which the capital building sits, and that the building recently had undergone extensive seismic improvements so that it could tilt from side to side in the event of a large earthquake.
She also showed us the valley through which Brigham Young and his followers first arrived, and the hill that he looked upon before announcing, “This is the right place.”
I had always thought it was unusual to have founded a city by a large salt water lake, so I inquired about the source of fresh water. Elizabeth explained that the city gets a lot of fresh water from the melting snow in the nearby high mountains, and she showed me the valley through which a river runs into the downtown area. She also pointed out some irrigation canals that were used by the pioneers.
Outside of the Office Building, another bride and groom were walking by—the bride was wearing bright pink high heels and was having a difficult time walking in them:
After watching his bride struggle along, the groom finally scooped her up and carried her piggy-back:
We passed another bride and groom getting their wedding photos taken—and you can see an additional bride and groom in the far background:
There was an afternoon organ recital in the Tabernacle, which I wanted to attend. The Tabernacle is oval with a curved roof, and it houses a huge organ with 11,623 pipes.
Genevieve and Sebastian outside of the Tabernacle:
Another view of the exterior:
Our family in front of the organ:
Before he began playing, the organist Clay Christiansen provided a demonstration on the wonderful acoustics in the Tabernacle. First, he ripped a piece of paper, then he dropped some pins and a nail; he also turned 360 degrees around while talking without a microphone, and the sound of his voice did not diminish even when he was facing away from us. We listened to the first song, which was beautifully performed. Then Mr. Christiansen began describing the rest of the songs he would play, and he gave the audience an opportunity to leave the auditorium if desired. While we had really enjoyed the first song, Sebastian was already getting a bit restless, so we decided it would be best if we left.
The final building we visited was the Museum of Church History and Art.
Outside of the Museum was a small wooden cabin that was an original, not a replica:
Downstairs in the museum was an extensive exhibit about the founding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Upstairs was an interesting exhibit about the building of the Tabernacle’s curved roof. Each of us found something to interest us in the museum.
Genevieve loved this small church and figures, made in Peru:
Sebastian liked the large ship model in the downstairs exhibit:
Both children liked the recreation of actual size sleeping berths that people could climb into and experience.
I enjoyed some of the wonderful contemporary art exhibited in the Museum:
We took the free shuttle back to our campground. While we waited, the children played on the grass.
Back at the RV, Ben took Genevieve and Sebastian to the pool while I did some laundry—I actually enjoy the solitude of doing laundry, finding a bit of space to read or write while surrounded by the soothing hum of washers and dryers.
Genevieve joined me in the laundry room after the pool:
Genevieve and Sebastian also made some friends with three children who were camping nearby. They all played together for a couple of hours—riding bikes and scooters, doing magic tricks, and playing “school.”
Here are the kids riding scooters and bikes:
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