Friday, November 30, 2012

Blog Progress

I haven't blogged about blogging in a while, but I thought it might make sense to take a break from writing a blog about Mount Rushmore to do so.  Today is the last day of November and counting this post I'll have made 37 posts this month.  Blogging isn't all about volume, but it can't hurt.  I know that it is far more interesting to go back and re-read my own blog during times where I blogged frequently.

Most of my recent posts are about vacations past, but I think these are still quite valuable.  I view them as virtual scrapbooking and a way to preserve my pictures, videos, and memories in a way I can review at a later date. I don't know if any way to preserve videos in physical scrapbooks, and printing out pictures is far too expensive anyway.  I really enjoy the vacation blogging anyway, besides the posterity angle.  I really enjoy the way that Picasa Web Albums tie into Blogger, making it very easy to integrate photos into my blog posts.  And additionally earlier this year I discovered that if I upload pictures via Google+ they don't count towards my web albums storage limit!

My goal is to blog more about daily life, the "additional" posts that I've been occasionally making alongside my vacation blogging.  I'm definitely going to upload a picture of the baby once we have an ultrasound, and hopefully once the baby is born I'll also include plenty of pictures.  I enjoy Facebook and like interacting there and uploading pictures--but I don't want to have everything tied into that infrastructure.  Timeline is nice--but what if Facebook changes things up again, goes away, or becomes irrelevant?  All of my data is trapped there, whereas this blog is likely to linger so long as Google is solvent.

Okay, this was a little bit rambling, and likely of little interest to anyone beyond me.  But I think it is still worth preserving, if only to see if I keep up with blogging about things other than vacations, especially when I run out of vacation material to post about at the end of the year.  If I'm not delayed in posting any more blogs I currently calculate that I have enough vacation material to blog until December 29 or 30.  Beyond that I'm going to have to generate more material on my own (since no trips are planned between now and then).  Or I'll dig into my archives and post something even older.  I do have notes from my 2008 trip to Chicago that I could post...


Coast Guard Station at Sleeping Bear

Tour the crew quarters and boathouse at the Maritime Museum at Sleeping Bear Point.  Exhibits highlight the U.S. Life-Saving Service and Great Lakes shipping history.  Short interpretive talks are given throughout the day.  A sand-accessible wheelchair and public restrooms are available.
--from NPS Sleeping Bear 2012 Visitor Guide newspaper
Until we visited this area I don't think I'd ever heard of the U.S. Life-Saving Service, but I ended up learning quite a bit about this predecessor to the U.S. Coast Guard.  The approach doesn't look like much, but it gets better, I promise.
This intriguing wheel chair was available to borrow and I can certainly understand why it was invented.  A regular chair would get nowhere off-road most places, let alone a very sandy beach.
The boathouse has two ramps leading out to the beach.  To facilitate movement over the sand the boats were mounted on wheels so they could be easily moved along tracks until they were at or near the water.
Here is one of the boats inside the shed.
There was quite a bit of equipment inside the boathouse as well as an older volunteer who was explaining much of it to some other guests when we arrived.
This is a Lyle gun.  It was designed to fire a heavy weight attached to a very long line towards a stranded ship.  The projectile would be fired over a line or pole on the ship to provide support for an apparatus that could be winched out to the ship to facilitate the rescuing of its crewmembers.
The rope was prepared ahead of time on these spindles to facilitate its rapid unwinding once the attached projectile was fired from the gun.  This apparatus was turned upside down to release all the rope, but because of the spindles it had been wound around it somewhat kept the shape once it was released from them--enough that it didn't tangle while in flight.
You could climb up next to one of the boats and look down inside it.
After leaving the boathouse we headed over to this building where the actual museum was located.  The structure is a Life-Saving Station that later became a Coast Guard Post.
Below you can see maps of various stations around the Great Lakes.

The U.S. Life-Saving Service was merged with the Revenue Cutter Service in 1915 to create the U.S. Coast Guard. This station was similar to the stations on North and South Manitou Islands and was typical of the 60 stations along the Great Lakes and many more on the Atlantic coast. The North Manitou Island station began operation in 1887 and closed in the 1930s, while the South Manitou Island station was built in 1901 and closed in 1958. There was another station at Point Betsie, just north of Frankfort, which began operations in 1876.
--from NPS Sleeping Bear Dunes website, History section

I believe this was a lighthouse light.
We saw a few mannequins showing some of the clothing that was worn.
The breeches buoy was often utilized to rescue people from boats after the Lyle gun had fired the rope out to the boat.

This video explains the drill that staff members went through to keep their skills honed.

The accommodations are a tad spartan.
Amy posed in the replica Pilot House, this room was recreated based on a turn of the century Great Lakes Steamer Pilot House (modified in the 1920s).
The Manby mortar, a predecessor of the Lyle gun, fired a projectile that carried a small rope to a wrecked vessel.  In one famous case, a Manby mortar helped save 201 lives from Ayrshire in January 1850.
--from exhibit signage
Once we left the museum building we walked out on the beach for just a bit.  It was a cold day, but the sight was still beautiful.
 A boardwalk took us most of the way, but it eventually petered out.
The colors were beautiful, blues of water and cloud with sand and green grass...
Next time we'll explore Glen Haven, a town that was built up to serve the steamships plying the Great Lakes.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mammoth Hot Springs

View of Mammoth Hot Springs from Upper Terrace
Our last area to visit before we left Yellowstone National Park, way back on June 12, was Mammoth Hot Springs.  The settlement was originally started as Fort Yellowstone, which was constructed when the US Army had cavalry stationed in the park to keep the peace before the establishment of the park rangers.  (See Museum of the National Park Ranger for more information on the rangers)

Now though there are plenty of tourist accommodations and stops in Mammoth.  You'll find a hotel, cabins, a general store, a visitor center, old Fort Yellowstone buildings, and the hot springs and terraces themselves.  It also appears to be one of the busiest parts of the park, or perhaps it was just the nicest day in the park so more people were out.  The cold weather earlier was a bit annoying, but it did mean that we didn't have to beat back crowds.  This large dining room/restaurant (which we didn't go into) reminded me of the Lake Hotel architecture.
Elk are everywhere in Mammoth Hot Springs.

We tried to not get too close, but you couldn't avoid being somewhat close to them if you wanted to leave your car.

There were of course signs cautioning visitors to remain away from the animals.
The permanency of the signs tells me that the elk are pretty much a permanent part of scenery.
I also spotted this little critter and was thankfully able to get several clear shots of him.

This sign was quite helpful since there aren't always restrooms inside historic buildings.
This restroom facility was located not too far from a large parking area where busses pulled up.

In the early days, Yellowstone's visitors began their park exploration at Mammoth Hot Springs, named after the steaming limestone terraces just above the hotel area. 
Today, Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel offers a warm welcome to summer and winter visitors. Elk routinely graze outside the hotel around the parade grounds of what was once Fort Yellowstone.
--from Yellowstone National Parks webpage by Xantera, Mammoth Hot Springs section

This is the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel.  It isn't quite as grand as some of the other accommodations, but still quite a nice building.
Notice how these flowers are protected from the foraging elk.
I don't know why I didn't get a better picture of the lobby, but you can see some of the furniture here.
And of course there was a fireplace in the lobby!  I don't think a building in Yellowstone is complete if it doesn't have a fireplace of some kind.


PS Here are more pictures:

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Reminder of Slavery

From Revealing Histories
This Sunday I started thinking about slavery.  It wasn't a typical sermon, but one of sharing that happens a couple times a year at our church.  I was reading along with several passages using the Olive Tree app on Amy's iPad (or my iPhone)--I really like making notes in the app and then I can sync them between devices so I always have them, even across multiple translations.  My preferred translation is frequently the HCSB (Holman Christian Standard) because of their translation of the Greek word doulos.

Are we servants or slaves?Slaves had no rights, but some servants did. So when readers see Christians called to be Christ's slaves in the Holman Christian Standard Bible, the radical nature of discipleship is clearer.
Next to every instance in the digital version of the HCSB you'll find this note that will pop up.  "The strong Greek word doulos cannot be accurately translated in English as servant or bond servant; the HCSB translates this word as slave, not out of insensitivity to the legitimate concerns of modern English speakers, but out of a commitment to accurately convey the brutal reality of the Roman empire's inhumane institution as well as the ownership called for by Christ."

I've posted about this in the past (back in 2009 actually) and I've read much of the way through John MacArthur's book Slave.  On Sunday I was prompted to search through the New Testament for instances of slave.  At some point I'd like to highlight each verse in my Bible app so that when I'm reading another translation I'll recognize that this is a doulos verse I'm reading.  Anyway, six different New Testament books start out with a reminder of the fact that we are slaves to Christ just like those whom God inspired to write these books.  All of the text below comes from the Holman Christian Standard version.

Romans 1:1
Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle and singled out for God’s good news —
Titus 1:1
Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to build up the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness,
James 1:1
James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ:
To the 12 tribes in the Dispersion.  Greetings.
2 Peter 1:1
Simeon Peter, a slave and an apostle of Jesus Christ:
To those who have obtained a faith of equal privilege with ours through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.
Jude 1:1
Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ and a brother of James:
To those who are the called, loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ.
Revelation 1:1
The revelation of Jesus Christ that God gave Him to show His slaves what must quickly take place. He sent it and signified it through His angel to His slave John,

They're all good reminders, even if we don't want to be reminded because we are uncomfortable to be reminded about slavery.  A review I found when just searching makes an excellent point about the subject.
The book takes us back to an OT understanding of Israelite slavery, recalling the oppressive slavery of Pharaoh to the Hebrews in Egypt.  Although God freed the Israelites from that form of slavery, he did not simply release them to their own desires.  Rather, God moved them from one form of slavery to another; slaves of Pharaoh have become the slaves of God.  MacArthur says, "the exodus from Egypt did not give the Israelites complete autonomy.  Rather, it issued them into a different kind of bondage.  Those who had once been the property of Pharaoh became the Lord's possession."  From there, the book asserts that Paul and the rest of the NT authors knew exactly what they were describing when they used the word "slave" to depict their relationship with Christ, fully aware of the Jewish history and Greco-Roman culture.
--from Philip

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Petrified Tree

After driving through the Lamar Valley we headed towards Mammoth Hot Springs on the northernmost section of Yellowstone's roads.  Before too long we came to an interesting stop, the Petrified Tree.
The Petrified Tree, located near the Lost Lake trailhead, is an excellent example of an ancient redwood, similar to many found on Specimen Ridge, that is easily accessible to park visitors. The interpretive message here also applies to those trees found on Specimen Ridge.
--from NPS Yellowstone website, Tower-Roosevelt Area section
To reach the tree you drive down a short spur road off of the main highway.  It winds down beside a hill until you reach a small parking lot. I think there is also a trailhead located at that location.  But to reach the tree you backtrack along the road on a boardwalk and then head up and up a short incline on a dirt path.

The tree stands up out of the hillside and is surrounded by a fence.  Apparently there used to be three trees, but the other two have disappeared entirely due to souvenir hunters chipping them to pieces.  When I read that I didn't mind the fence so much.  I guess that it makes sense when there is no ranger or other employee presence in the area and it is open most of the year (since the main road nearby is open year-round).

There is a gate, securely locked in the front of the fence.

We did get our picture taken in front of the tree, though I can't remember if we balanced the camera and used a timer or if someone else took the picture for us.

I also got up close so that I could take some shots without the fence being prominently visible.  You can see the size of the path as we walked back towards our car.

The other side of the valley is visible here.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Visiting the Sleeping Bears

It wasn't only on our big summer trip that I looked for national park sites--I've done it ever since we bought our pass.  Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore is located to the west of where we were staying in northern Michigan.  Initially I thought of driving over there the day we got to the cabin, but then my cousin told me how long the drive would be and I decided to put it off.  The morning we packed up everything at the cabin it was raining (it was fun to pack up the chair that I'd forgotten and left out the night before). Thankfully by the time we reached the shores of Lake Michigan the skies were mostly clear (as you can see in the picture to the left) even if Amy thought the day a bit chilly.  The main visitor for Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore is located in Empire, Michigan.  We made this our first stop of the day.

Long before there were roads and highways in Michigan, people and goods were being transported regularly on the ships of the Great Lakes. The Manitou Passage (between the Manitou Islands and the mainland) was a busy corridor for commercial shipping. The location of the Manitou Islands made them ideal for a refueling stop for steamers to pick up wood for their boilers. That was one of the driving forces for early settlement of the islands. Docks were built, and trees were cut to fuel the growing Great Lakes Shipping fleet. 
--from NPS Website, Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore history page
The lakeshore is located along the eastern end of Lake Michigan and encompasses several disconnected portions along the shore as well as the Manitou Islands just off-shore.

 Inside you'll find a decent number of displays about the area.
You'll find a larger number of local rocks compared quite helpfully with both actual samples you can touch and useful descriptions.
Quite understandably the fossils are protected under acrylic as they're not quite as easy to replace as the other rocks.
A series of signs explained the theorized history of the area including several of the ancestral lakes that are thought to have formed and disappeared over millennia.  First was Lake Algonquin:
Second was Lake Chippewa:
Then Lake Nipissing:

I was quite jealous of their collection of National Park brochures.  I try to get one from every park we visit, but I haven't been to nearly enough, ;-).

Another display encouraged people to think about what invasive species they might be transporting into areas.  I thought it was quite cleverly done and is something to think about--the board (see below) can be flipped up to reveal the answer to the question.  Though it is important to realized that especially since the Flood wiped all life off the surface of the earth and species have been moving around since then, that some species we consider "native" were once invasive.

Next I rather hurriedly took some pictures of various taxidermic animals as a short video (or slideshow video) presentation was about to begin.  As I've mentioned previously (at the Denver Museum of Science and Nature I really enjoy these displays).

Next time we'll look at the SBDNL Coast Guard Maritime Museum located a few miles away from the visitor center.