Sunday, September 15, 2013

United States Air Force Academy

Roger here...  In a cardboard box somewhere there is a picture of me and my younger brother standing in front of the Cadet Chapel at the United States Air Force Academy.  I was probably about 11 years old at the time, which would have made the chapel two years old.  My parents always took us to interesting places, and I am so grateful to them for expanding our world.  On that visit to Colorado, I remember being particularly fascinated by the Air Force Academy and especially the chapel.  Our visit yesterday brought back a flood of memories and the confirmation that I was correct in being impressed by that iconic building.  

For those of you expecting a "reveal" of Dianne's newest project, you will have to wait.  She took the day off yesterday to do a little sightseeing with me.   

 After an inspection of the hatchback area of our Toyota by a friendly, clean-cut cadet (all he found were lawn chairs and hiking poles) and a review of our driver's licenses, we were admitted to the United States Air Force Academy.  We passed by views of the clean lines of this impressive institution that is nestled into the foothills of the Rockies just outside of Colorado Springs.  Our first stop was the impressive Visitor Center.  As we wandered through the displays I was reminded of two of my former students who graduated from the academy.  One was actually the academy's valedictorian.  I wonder what they are doing now? 

The walk from the Visitor Center to the Cadet Chapel was 1/3 mile along a paved walkway.  Very pleasant on a beautiful morning.

After ascending a hill and winding around a turn, we caught our first glimpse of this amazing architectural gem.  

The chapel was dedicated in 1963, making it 50 years  old.  It was considered to be a very modernistic structure.  It still appears that way to me.  The building effectively  moves one's eyes to the sky.

The chapel provides dedicated sanctuaries  for four separate religions and space for two others.  I remembered this from my eleven-year-old days and thought it very appropriate at the time, having been taught that religious freedom was one of the cornerstones of the founding of our country.  I still feel that way.   What a facility they have to follow their beliefs.

The Protestant Chapel that seats 1200 cadets occupies the upper level.  From this photo, you can see access to the Catholic, Jewish and Buddhist sanctuaries and the meeting areas for Muslim cadets and Earth-Centered- Spirituality cadets in the lower levels.  Let's take a look at the Protestant sanctuary.  The inside is every bit as impressive as the outside.  

The nearby mountains were framed in stained glass in this spacious and awe-inspiring place.  It seems to be a rare occurrence in these times to have both a patriotic and a spiritual experience at the same time.  If ever there was a place for it, this is it.

Ok, enough of the sentimentality.  In this shot, I wanted to show how the stained glass vaulted all the way to the ceiling.  The picture does show that, but also notice the water damage.  Did you know it has been raining in Colorado?  I did not see the water spots until I posted the picture.  Dianne just now said, "Well I did!"  "Didn't you see the wet hymnals and pew cushions, and the lady who was mopping up the floor?"  "Men are so unobservant!"  Ouch.  I guess I was too wrapped up in the beauty to notice  :-).  (Dianne here:  Our hearts go out to the folks in Boulder and Denver (and even Colorado Springs) who have been affected by the terrible flooding.  We have had tons of rain, but for us it's been just a minor inconvenience.)

We were disappointed that the Jewish and Buddhist sanctuaries were not open due to services; (I guess that is what they are for), but the Catholic sanctuary was open.  Glad it was.

This 500-seat sanctuary had the same natural light from the stained glass windows and the same beauty.  The alter was certainly the focal point.

As we exited the Catholic sanctuary, Dianne stopped to look at (and read every word) of a display near the exit.  She does that.

The display showed how cadets from the Academy used scientific means to create a three-dimensional life-sized statue of Christ from the Shroud of Turin.  Now I was interested.  The display mentioned that the statue was on display in the chapel.  I went back into the sanctuary.  No statue.  We looked all around.  No statue.  We finally gave up.  THEN, looking through a glass window at the left of the exit, we found it, floating above a stairwell.  Wow.  Look at this, another spiritual experience:

Before leaving the chapel, I want to show you a couple of views of the campus below us.  I love the straight lines, the wide-open spaces and symmetry of this place.

The right-angled, flat-roofed buildings of the campus are cut into several terraced levels.

We enjoyed listening to the rock music that was drifting through the campus as the cadets enjoyed a Saturday morning.


Friends told us that we should have lunch at the Broadmoor Hotel.  It was on the way back to the campground and we were hungry, so, what the hay!

After figuring out where to park, we entered the hotel and began the search for a place to eat.  We found a menu outside The Tavern. It had an exhaustive description of the dishes that were served in the establishment, but no prices.  (Not a good sign for retirees).  We wandered around the perfect grounds for a while and found a place that served appetizers, but we were hungry.  We finally went back to The Tavern figuring that if the prices were too expensive (and this is a fancy place), that we would excuse ourselves and head for a Subway.  

We were seated in a glass covered green house called Le Jardin.  Sounds French.  Sounds expensive.  We were surrounded by flowers.

As it turns out, the prices were reasonable, not inexpensive, but reasonable.  And the food... Dianne enjoyed her chicken salad, melon and zucchini bread.

My steak (roast beef) sandwich provided a third spiritual experience for the day :-).  It tasted like a bowl of French onion soup, only it was a sandwich.  Sooo good.

As I type this, Dianne is still working on her project.  There will be a report, someday...

The pet picture of the day.....  We have been talking about the deer that wander through our campsite every day, but have not shown you any pictures.  This pretty young doe dropped by today.

They usually drop by to get a bite to eat.

They are extremely tame.  Notice the guy in jeans walking along the path in the background.  This girl could care less.

What big ears you have, my dear (deer)!


Steve Conrad said...

Hey. I have no internet on my computer so I am doing this on my phone. Really enjoyed this post. Brought back lots of memories. My oldest son and daughter-in-law graduated from the Academy. My son just retired from the Air Force.

Glad you two are safe despite the floods.

Bill and Nancy said...

Thanks for the great tour!! We love military academies. The chappel is amazing!!

heyduke50 said...

lived there when i was a kid... need to go back soon i guess...