From the Edge of Heaven

I don’t know who all reads this blog (or why!!!!), but I am a Christian and I believe in a life to come.  I believe in heaven.  I believe it is a place that makes the most amazing vistas and views of this world look like slums and dumps!  Do I KNOW it is there?  No, but I am firm in my faith that it exists and that it is beyond anything we can imagine or conceive of.

That being said, I love seeing and photographing landscapes and nature.  To me, it is incredibly relaxing and exciting.  I feel a deep peace when confronted with magnificent scenes.  I get lost in the wonder and magnitude of creation and am dumbfounded by the power and majesty found therein.

Today’s photo was taken from one of the most photographed spots in California (if not the United States or world), so this scene will be nothing new to you.  It is the view as one reaches a spot about 10-15 miles into Yosemite National Park on highway 120.  You are driving along when you come around a corner and there is this view of Yosemite Valley from a distance, Half Dome looming proudly and defiantly in the distance.  It is a difficult scene to capture, however, because of the lighting contrasts, especially on a sunny day.

Still, one has to pull over the car and get out and fire away, even knowing that it’s been photographed thousands and thousands of times by greats (Ansel Adams, Galen Rowell, etc.) and the much-less-than-greats (Galen Dalrymple, Laurel Dalrymple, etc.)  So, why do I stop?  Do I think I can catch something that eluded all those who have shot it before me?  No.  I stop and shoot it because it….is….simply….THERE, and so am I.  Standing out on a rocky overlook to take this picture is a bit like standing on the edge of heaven and sneaking a peek in to behold its wonders.  Glorious!

_MG_2087_8_9_tonemappedON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 2000, a Russian nuclear submarine sank to the bottom of the Barents Sea on this day in 2000; all 118 crew members are later found dead. The exact cause of the disaster remains unknown.

The Kursk left port on August 10 to take part in war games with the Russian military. Russian ships, planes and submarines met up in the Barents Sea, which is above the Arctic Circle, to practice military maneuvers. On August 12, the Kursk was scheduled to fire a practice torpedo; at 11:29 a.m., before doing so, two explosions spaced shortly apart occurred in the front hull of the submarine and it plunged toward the bottom of the sea.

The Kursk was 500 feet long and weighed 24,000 tons. It had two nuclear reactors and could reach speeds of 28 knots. It was the largest attack submarine in the world, approximately three times the size of the largest subs in the US Navy.

With the fate of the 118 Russian soldiers onboard the Kursk unknown, several nations offered to contribute to the rescue effort, but the Russian government refused any assistance. When divers finally reached the Kursk a week later, they found no signs of life. Under a great deal of pressure, Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to raise the submarine from the sea bottom for an investigation, although no ship or object that size had ever before been recovered from the ocean floor. Furthermore, given that the Barents Sea is frozen for most of the year, the operation had only a small window in which to work.

Using $100 million, the best available technology and an international team of experts, the Kursk was raised on September 26, 2001, about a year after the accident. Unfortunately, however, the team was forced to cut off the front hull from the rest of the sub in order to bring it to the surface, leaving the best evidence of what caused the explosions at the bottom of the sea.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: On the stone temples of Madura in southern India, there are more than 30 million carved images of gods and goddesses.



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