Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Yankee Spirit Art Exhibit

West Rock, New Haven - Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900)

If you can't go to the art, let the art come to you!  I thoroughly enjoyed "The Yankee Spirit" art exhibit at BYU's Museum of Art.  This exhibit features paintings from the New Britain Museum of American Art in New Britain, Connecticut, and has selections from many artists you may be familiar with, and probably a few that you aren't.  Sprinkled among the works of the widely known Norman Rockwell, Georgia O'Keefe, Thomas Moran, and John Singer Sargent are some less recognizable treasures.

This exhibit contains both art information and history lessons.  For example, did you know that before he invented the telegraph and Morse code, Samuel F.B. Morse (1791-1872) was an artist?  One of his paintings is in this exhibit.  Also of interest are works by painters who are notable for their circumstances and place on the historical timeline.  Lily Martin Spencer (1822-1902), the exhibit tag informs you, was the mother of 13, and the principle breadwinner for her family.  This was definitely unusual for the time!  Her painting "This Little Pig Went to Market" captures an intimate moment between mother and child, and was also unusual subject matter for the era.

African-American artist Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937) was more accepted outside of his home country.  As you look at his "Wynkoop House, Old Haarlem," notice his quote about America featured beside the painting.
I love it and am sometimes sad that I cannot live where my heart is.
Rockwell Kent's "Toilers at Sea" brings to mind a Winslow Homer painting, while the Winslow Homer in this exhibit is of a different subject matter altogether.  His "Butterfly Girl" is a fairly straight forward picture of a young woman.

Toilers At Sea - Rockwell Kent

Butterfly Girl - Winslow Homer

James Whistler's (1834-1903) spare "The Beach at Selsey Bill" contrasts vividly with Ernest Lawson's (1873-1939) vibrant "Spring Tapestry."  The bright colors and movement of this piece bring to life the energy and rebirth of spring.
Spring Tapestry - Ernest Lawson

John Haberle's (185601933) trompe l'oeil "Time and Eternity" is so well executed that at first I thought he had used actual cards in a collage-style.  But no!  This is an actual "flat" painting.

Time and Eternity - John Haberle

Christopher Gallegos' "Interior With Three Rooms" is so inviting that it is roped off so people won't walk into it.  One of my sons loved Peter Blume's (1906-1992) "Boulders of Avila."  Blume mixed marble dust with his paint and applied it with a palette knife to create the texture on the rocks.  Another of my boys' favorites was Maxfield Parrish's (1870-1966) snug cottage in "Dusk."

Dusk - Maxfield Parrish

So, if you are in the Provo area, take some time and rest your eyes on the translucent green wave curling toward "Seal Rock" (Albert Bierstadt), or stop a minute to watch the sunset over the "Ipswich Marshes" (Martin Johnson Heade 1819-1904).

Seal Rock - Albert Bierstadt

Celebrate the Yankee Spirit and take in this wonderful exhibit while you can.  It runs through October 29, 2011, and it's FREE.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Visiting Ophir

Firehouse in Ophir

What makes something a ghost town?  Old buildings?  Historic origins?  Some Utah "ghost towns" are still inhabited.  Ophir is a tiny town in a narrow, pretty canyon.  Back in the day, it was filled with miners and activity.

Welcome sign as you enter town.

I had read some internet reports that visitors were not welcome in Ophir, but the sign at the entrance of town proclaims otherwise.  We received a friendly wave from a local sitting on his front porch.  I suspect residents don't want you trespassing on their private property, so mind your manners and you'll be fine!

Mine shaft visible as you enter town.

As you drive up the canyon, you can see remnants of the mining that once took place here.  There are pieces of old equipment and old mine shafts on the mountainside.  We stopped at the Ophir historic site, driving up the steep gravel driveway and parking behind the schoolhouse.

Columbine at the Ophir Historic Site

There are several cabins here with walkways.  Whoever erected the outhouses definitely had a sense of humor!

Outhouse at the Ophir Historic Site

A sign indicates tours are given on Saturdays between 11am and 3pm.  As we visited on a Monday, we did not take the tour. 

Building at the Ophir Historic Site

Obviously some care and effort has gone into preserving Ophir's history, and if you are in the area, it is definitely worth at stop.  There is quite a bit to see in just a little space.  Even on days when the tour is unavailable, you can peek into the school windows and wander between the buildings at the historic site.

Restored Mining Wagon

After a long day on the road, we opted not to backtrack through Tooele County to get home, but turned east instead and traveled through Utah County, and then back to Salt Lake.

If you go:
There are NO SERVICES in Ophir.
Visiting the historic site is FREE.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hogle Zoo Visit & Dino Discounts

Dinosaurs are taking over Hogle Zoo this summer!

Hogle Zoo is celebrating Zoorassic Park this summer, and there are many dinosaurs positioned around the zoo for your viewing pleasure.  The dilophosaurus even sprays water, so stand in the wet zone if you wish.  Of course, the zoo has the usual animal exhibits.  Zuri the elephant is growing, as are the tiger cubs.  On our zoo trip, we noticed some residents that resemble the dinosaur guests.

This rhino looks prehistoric.

An added bonus from now until August 28 is that if you take your zoo ticket stubs or membership card to the Ogden Eccles Dinosaur Park, you can experience MORE dinosaurs for 1/2 price.  So, if you have a budding paleontologist in your family, this is a great way to satiate their appetite for all things dinosaur and save a little money at the same time.

Lizards catching some warmth at Hogle Zoo.

We visited Hogle Zoo in the morning and found many of the animals up and about, including the reclusive wolves.  There are also fewer crowds earlier in the day.  The area that previously housed the bears is under construction, and there is a viewing area and "playground"  with toy construction equipment for your little ones to dig with during your visit.  The new area of the zoo will house polar bears as well as some other animals.  I am looking forward to the return of polar bears to the zoo!

Tyrannosaurus Rex at Hogle Zoo

The Ogden Eccles Dinosaur Park has paved trails for you to wander and discover dinosaur after dinosaur.  There is a museum and gift area, as well as a dinosaur-themed playground.  It is a wonderful place to spend all or part of a day. Remember to save your Hogle Zoo ticket stubs and bring them or your zoo membership card to the Ogden Dinosaur park and get in for 1/2 price through Aug. 28!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Horseshoe Springs

Horseshoe Springs

One of the joys of road trips is finding unexpected gems along the way.  After leaving Iosepa, we traveled north for 5.7 miles and turned west at the sign for Horseshoe Springs.  Just yards from the main road is a parking area and a boardwalk leading to the springs.

Boardwalk to Horseshoe Springs

This is a BLM property, and was once used as a stop on the California Trail during the westward migrations of the 1800s. Take a moment to reflect on how many people watered their animals here before heading west into the desert.  The ill-fated Donner party is reported to have stopped here as well.  As in many places in the west, apparently you can find wagon ruts near the springs.  We did not look for them during our stop.

View of Horseshoe Springs

We saw tiny fish and  two different types of dragonflies while we were at the springs.  One dragonfly was bright orange, and the other was baby blue and black.  This place is very picturesque, and I am sure some of our photos from today may end up in a painting!  There are no facilities at Horseshoe Springs.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Days of 47 Parade Trivia Answers

If you are like me, and walked out of the room at the wrong time and missed one of the answers during KSL's coverage of the Days of 47 parade today, you are most grateful if someone posts the answers online to help you out!  Now, I can only personally vouch for 7 of these answers, and if #3 is accurate, I am forever grateful to the person who put it online.  Good luck...and I hope you win the playhouse and I get the Disney trip!
1)  1947
2)  dragon
3)  arts
4)  the world
5)  Mormon Tabernacle Choir
6)  stick pull
7)  5
8)  ferris wheel

I was sad my favorite float didn't win the People's Choice award this year, but there was some pretty good competition.  Hope you all enjoyed watching the parade!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Days of 47 Float Preview

Float depicting Wilford Woodruff fly fishing.

Celebrate Pioneer Day early with the Days of 47 Float Preview.  This two day event takes place at the South Towne Expo Center, and is FREE.  It runs July 20 and 21, from 11am to 9pm.  If you have ever wanted to see a float up close in air-conditioned comfort, this is your chance.  Some of these floats have moving parts or characters.  One float this year even has a waterfall (with running water).  It is hard to imagine the hours and dedication it takes to put one of these together.

This float honors the diversity of churches in Utah.

If you have questions, there are people around who actually worked on these floats who are happy to talk to you about their projects.  Many floats have displays nearby that show the progress of putting the whole thing together.  Some people are handing out candy, and on one float, kids could even have their pictures taken with a mermaid.  One woman told me she traced 1864 leaf patterns to construct 932 leaves on the tree on their float.  Just thinking about cutting out all of those foam shapes makes my hand ache! There are balloons and face painting for children, as well as live entertainment during the event.

Flower detail from one of the floats.

Take the time to examine these floats in close detail.  Some have foam flowers, like these.  One float had live plants and flowers all over it.  Then step back to get the big picture.  These are amazing creations.   Don't forget to pick up a ballot and vote for your favorite!  This is how the People's Choice Award and Children's Choice Award are selected for the big parade on Monday.

Float from Draper, Featuring Eggs

I even learned a little bit of history while strolling through the floats.  Draper, Utah apparently was nicknamed the Egg-basket of Utah.  Who knew?  In the 1920s, the farmers formed an egg co-op, and during World War II, they provided eggs to US servicemen all over the world.

Hole in the Rock float

This float depicts a harrowing wagon journey from Utah pioneer history.  Floats in this parade honor many different cultures and heritages and reflect Utah's ever-growing diversity.  The Days of 47 parade began in 1849, and has become a wonderful Utah tradition. I hope it continues for a long while to come.

South Towne Expo Center
9575 S. State Street
Sandy, Utah
Tuesday and Wednesday, July 20 & 21, 2011
11am to 9pm

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Day Trip to Iosepa

Iosepa Cemetery Greets You

Would you leave your home and venture to a completely different climate and culture, then settle in a remote area to start over?  Hawaiians did just that in 1889.  LDS church members left their native Islands and came to the Utah desert, settling in a place called Iosepa (yo-seppa) in what is now Tooele County. The group remained in this colony until 1917, although the cemetery has been in use more recently.  While in Utah, these settlers grappled with Hansen's disease, planted orchards, farmed, and built homes.  I had never heard of this colony until a few years ago when my child did a report on it for school.  I was long overdue to visit this piece of Utah history, so I piled everyone in the car and off we went!

Today at Iosepa you will find a small cemetery that is tended regularly, a pavilion, a restroom, and a tiny playground.  The restroom is kept locked.  Once a year (Memorial Day) the Iosepa pavilion comes alive with a large gathering to commemorate these hardy souls.  But on the day we visited, Iosepa was quiet and empty.
View of the cemetery

One of the graves at Iosepa

I like cemeteries...I like the stillness.  I like epitaphs, and the different cultural manifestations on headstones and graves, and the different traditions like rocks placed on a headstone.  This little cemetery is memorable for its Hawaiian touches.  I took a few minutes to walk through and read headstones and take photos.  I did not go looking for the remnants of foundations that I understand remain nearby, but confined my visit to the cemetery itself.  If you take a few minutes, you can imagine a place filled with orchards and houses not so long ago.

Iosepa is about 75 miles from Salt Lake City, and is easily accessible by car.  Travel west on I-80 from Salt Lake, and exit south onto U-196.  There are signs to help you locate the turnoff to the cemetery.  Once you leave U-196, there is a well-maintained gravel road leading up to the cemetery.  Take a minute to sign the guest book.  If you would like, leave a donation to help maintain the cemetery.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Johnson Cabin at the Benson Mill site

Johnson Cabin at the Benson Mill site

This little cabin at the Benson Grist Mill was built in 1864 by Andrew and Elna Johnson.  They had a homestead in the Tooele area.  The Johnson cabin eventually came into the possession of the Louis Vorwaller family.  (Louis Vorwaller's wife was a granddaughter of Andrew Johnson).  This little one-roomed cabin had additions built on, and became swallowed up in the larger house.  When the larger home was taken down, the cabin was discovered inside.  One wall had been removed to accommodate the additions.  The Vorwaller family donated the cabin to the Benson Mill site, and a new log wall was built to restore the cabin.  Originally, this cabin had a loft inside, but the restored cabin does not. 

There are photos on display inside the cabin that show the demolition of the larger house, revealing this tiny cabin within its walls.  It is interesting to imagine raising an entire family in such a small space--very unlike most homes today.

Cabin interior

Prior to visiting this site, my father indicated we might see this cabin here.  Apparently we are related to the Vorwaller family who owned this cabin.  I really enjoyed seeing a piece of my family history at this location!  You never know what you might find when you venture out on a day trip.

Johnson Cabin Interior

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Visiting the Benson Grist Mill

Benson Grist Mill

If you are looking for a fun excursion sans crowds and costs not far from Salt Lake City, the Benson Grist Mill is a great place.  It rests peacefully just off the road near Stansbury Park in Tooele County, Utah.  The original mill was built in 1854, and was restored in the 1980s.  Other buildings have been added to this pleasant site, making it a worthwhile day trip.

Grounds at the Benson Grist Mill Site

The grist mill is named after Ezra Taft Benson, who was sent to the area by LDS Church leader Brigham Young to find water and oversee the building of the mill.  Several other buildings have been moved to the spot, and this historical interpretive site includes restored cabins, a blacksmith shop, a sheep camp, replica wagons, and a country store.  The mill's original grindstone is on display outside.  It was brought over from France in the 1850s, completing its journey to Utah without the benefit of the railroad.  I don't know how many oxen it took to transport this stone, but it must have been a hefty task.  Those building the mill tried other stones at first, like granite, but found them unsuitable, so they imported a stone from France similar to the ones they had used in the eastern United States.

Original mill stone

Inside the mill you can see the grain elevator, hopper, storage bins for grain waiting to go through the grinding process, and more.  The miller made notations and calculated figures in pencil on the storage bins.  Some of the writing remains legible, bringing the past to life.  My group was fascinated by the machinery and process, all powered by water.  One of my favorite pieces of machinery sported the label "Bug and Dust Collector."

Bug and Dust Collector

This is a very large building for a mill, and you can climb the narrow stairs to the upper floors.  The grain elevator has little scoops on belts that would transport the grain to the upper levels.  I had never seen a grain elevator before, and this was definitely not what I envisioned when I heard the term, so this was educational for me!

Grain elevators inside the mill

Next to the old mill is a new building where you can see a replica mill in action.  I found the mill to be surprisingly quiet after our guide got it running.  She indicated that the noise level would be far different if it were really grinding corn.  A sawmill was built south of the grist mill, and later changed configurations and usages, serving as a tannery, and later, as a wool pullery.  There, residents could process sheep carcasses in order to salvage the wool and sheepskin for sale.  Old foundations remain at the site.

MILL TRIVIA:  Grist means the material found in the mill (grain).

Only one other family came while we were there, making this a peaceful, charming stop on our day trip.  Inside the country store you will find crafts, toys, candies (we tried the honey stix with flavors like raspberry and wildflower).  You may also purchase commercially packaged ice cream bars, soda and water.  Before leaving we were given a booklet entitled "Memories of the Mill."  It contains historical information, a description of how the mill works, biographical sketches of those connected with the mill, and anecdotes from residents.

The Benson Grist Mill was my family's favorite stop of the four places we visited on our day trip.  Stay tuned for my family connection to this site.

The Benson Grist Mill is open from May 1 through Oct. 31, 10am - 4pm.
Cost:  FREE    (donations are accepted)
There are various activities scheduled at this site throughout the summer season including Pioneer Days, a Harvest Festival, and a Pumpkin Walk.