October 30, 2012 – US Air Force Academy and the Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, CO

This morning we headed south to Colorado Springs where our first stop was the United States Air Force Academy which is tucked up against the Front Range of the Rockies and not far from Pike’s Peak.

Entering the campus, you are greeted by a B-52.

While the entire campus is not accessible, the academy’s iconic Cadet’s Chapel is a not-to-be-missed building.

The Chapel is unique in its design and concept, permitting it to house many chapels, allowing cadets from many faiths to freely exercise their religious traditions and practices.

Within the structure is a Protestant Chapel seating 1,200 with a 120 -seat choir loft,

Nave, Looking Toward the Altar

Nave Looking Toward the Entrance

Looking Directly Up at the Ceiling

Stained Glass Windows – with Views of Cadet Parade Grounds

Altar

a Catholic Chapel seating 500 worshipers with an 80-set choir loft,

 

Nave Looking Toward the Altar

 

Stained Glass Windows

a Jewish Chapel seating 100 worshipers and

a Buddhist Chapel seating 20 worshipers.

Each Chapel has its own individual architectural character supporting the religious services for which they are designed.  The Muslim cadets and Earth-Centered Spirituality cadets communities also hold their services in one of the four multi-faith use rooms in the Chapel throughout the year.

From outside the Cadet Chapel, we were able to look down on the Cadet parade grounds where four USFA aircraft were on display, including

 

F4 Phantom II

F15 Eagle

F16 Fighting Falcon

The Visitor’s Center was excellent and had an actual mock-up of a two-person cadet room.

While we tried, unsuccessfully, to get into Falcon Stadium, we were able to see it from a distance.

After lunch at the Visitor’s Center Subway, we were off to the

outstanding geologic features of the park are the ancient sedimentary beds of red, blue, purple, and white sandstones, conglomerates and limestone that were deposited horizontally, but have now been tilted vertically and faulted by the immense mountain building forces caused by the uplift of the Pikes Peak massif. Evidence of past ages; ancient seas, eroded remains of ancestral mountain ranges, alluvial fans, sandy beaches and great sand dune fields can be read in the rocks. A spectacular shear fault can be observed where the Tower of Babel (Lyons Sandstone) contacts the Foundation formation. There are many fossils to be seen: marine forms, plant fossils, and some dinosaur fossils.

The hogbacks, so named because they resemble the backs and spines of a pig, are ridges of sandstone whose layers are tilted. Instead of lying horizontally, some layers are even vertically oriented. Each hogback can range up to several hundred feet long, and the tallest (called North Gateway Rock) rises to a height of 320 feet tall. A notable rock feature on this hogback, the Kissing Camels appears to be two very large camels sitting face to face with their lips touching.

 

Tower of Babel

Sentinel Spine

Indian Head

Gray Rock with suspended Ledge

Lichen-caked Boulder at Cathedral Spires

Eroded Rock Formations

Balancing Rock

HOWEVER,

The Real Reason the Rock is Balanced

The area is also very popular with technical rock climbers.

As for wildlife, pigeons have found the eroded holes in the cliffs safe nesting sites

while a bluebird which sat quietly and posed for us.

 

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