Sunday, January 31, 2010

Teotihuacan Pyramids of Mexico

Trip to the Teotihuacán Pyramids

My wife and I had flown into Mexico City to join another group of friends who were already there. After uniting with them at a downtown hotel we were in time for dinner and fellowship.
We were all excited for the things we were planning. The first was visiting one of our churches in this huge city and worshiping together. Afterwards, we began to unload many boxes of sundries, medicine, and items not easily obtained there.
That afternoon we headed to Teotihuacán the largest known pre-Columbian city in the Americas, as well as the name of the civilization that ruled the city and the surrounding area. The area is located about twenty-five miles northeast of Mexico City, and the drive took us just under an hour.
We were fascinated at what we saw as we drove into the gate to pay our admission. Soon we were overwhelmed by the height and size of the many pyramids before us.
A friend and I began to start up the steps to the top of the largest one and soon found it was going to be too much for us and turned back downward. Afterward, I took out some information I had and sat with a cola and read much about this civilization.
The Teotihuacán history is a web of mystery. One writer said it once counted more inhabitants than contemporary Rome, but its citizens disappeared without a trace in 700 A.D. The name itself means "place where gods were born", echoing back the belief that the gods of the world created the universe here.
The first known settlements in Teotihuacán, Mexico were around 500 B.C. and the construction of the famous Teotihuacán Pyramid of the Sun began in about 100 B.C. The Teotihuacán Pyramid is the second largest in the New World (after the Great Pyramid of Cholula) and offers impressive views of the valley and ceremonial, "Avenue of the Dead" that open out below. (The Great Pyramid of Cholula is a huge complex located in Cholula, Puebla, Mexico. It is the world's largest monument and largest Pre-Columbian pyramid by volume.)
Many temples and sacred pyramids are located in the Teotihuacán region and despite the incredible size of this ancient city, evidence as to why it ended and what happened to its inhabitants is still not known.
After our afternoon here we stopped at a nice restaurant that proved interesting and inviting. Our group were all led to various tables and then told they had an open buffet. Everyone thought that would be faster so we all began to select our favorite Mexican food. However, something none of us had ever eaten was on the table as well. It was raw cactus. Out of curiosity all picked a piece and headed back to their place.
Shorty while we ate, three young couples in local costume began to present a show for us as they danced the “Mexican Hat Dance.”
Little did we know that the fun and festive afternoon would make nearly everyone very sick that evening and until the next day. Some were so sick they said, “I was so sick I thought I was going to die”. Everyone felt it was the cactus because that was the only think we all ate in common.
Some day we are told that as Christians we will all have a dinner prepared by our God called “The Marriage Supper of the Lamb”. “And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, these are the true sayings of God.”-- Revelation 19:9.
And in that place there will be “no sickness, no death.” “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” -- Revelation 21:4.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Pyramids of Egypt

Great Pyramids in Egypt

Over the years I have been fascinated with pyramids. My first was seen in the late 70’s while in Egypt at the world famous great Pyramid of Khufu at Giza.
A dear friend of mine, who was born in Lebanon, had always wanted to go the land of his birth. He was not a seasoned traveler and asked if I would allow him and his wife to join me on a trip I was preparing.
We had flown into Cairo after darkness from London and were taken to Giza and checked into a nice Swiss owned hotel. Since we had traveled by air for two days our body clock was off so I woke up before sunrise and decided I would take a walk. While sitting to rest, the sun began to rise behind me and the rays shown through a row of trees between me and some usual structures. The longer I stared the more they began to take shape. It was a row of pyramids
This was my first time to view them and I was overwhelmed by the size of these ancient wonders.
Suddenly, the older gentleman slowly came up behind me and I turned to look at him and he was crying. He was rejoicing to look at things he had only read about or been told by his parents over the years. We viewed them together with great interest.
Later that day we learned the closer one to us was the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in the Giza Necropolis bordering what is now El Giza, Egypt. I learned that day it was the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and the only one that survives substantially intact. It is believed the pyramid was built as a tomb for fourth dynasty Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu and constructed over a 20 year period concluding around 2551 BC. The Great Pyramid was the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 3,800 years.
The next day were visited some ruins in the area of Memphis, Egypt, about 12 miles south of Cairo. According to Herodotus, Memphis was founded around 3100 BC by Menes, who united the two kingdoms of Egypt.
We viewed a number of items there including an open-air museum. This museum has many Ancient Egyptian statues on display, the most notable one being the 33ft Colossus of Ramesses II, held in a small indoor building on the site.
On the way back to our hotel were saw the tomb of Zoser (His official name was Netjerykhet) who had also been a Pharaoh during a period when little is known about the kings of Egypt in the old Kingdom. It had been designed by the first named architect, Imhotep, around the twenty-seventh century B.C. This first Egyptian pyramid consisted of six mastabas (of decreasing size) built atop one another. The pyramid stood over 200 feet high, and was clad in polished white limestone.
Around the structure were statues of Egyptian gods and of Zoser himself with family members. Zoser is seen in a life size throne. Beneath the pyramid is an underground structure of unusual size with galleries and about 400 rooms. The whole site has been called, “a vast city of the dead.”
Later we saw the painted limestone statue of Zoser in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, which is the oldest known life-sized Egyptian statue.
At every pyramid one is stuck with the size of the foundation to support its height. We can take a spiritual message from this as the Bible says, “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. “-- 1 Corinthians 3:11

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Mighty Hoover Dam

A number of years ago my wife and I, plus dear friends from Columbus, Ohio were embarking on a 14 day tour of the western National Parks. We flew into Las Vegas and spent the night there in the famous Golden Nugget hotel.
The sun had already fallen and the glitzy lights filled the darkness making every kind of color change as its motion and movements fascinated the new comers. All types of invitations came from one building to another as were rode down the strip. It didn’t take us long to know why it is called “sin city.”
The next day we met our tour leader and boarded our bus headed for the first of the national parks and historic places we were to see. Actually from Las Vegas to Hoover dam was only about 35 miles riding though dormant country until our first view of the constructed wonder.
As we unloaded near the visitor’s center, I became so engrossed by the height, size and depth of the gorge that my thoughts began to wonder about how this dam was built and the length of time to do it.
There was a lot of information inside the center and after reading much of it, the realization of how all of this became overwhelming to me.
I learned construction began in 1931, and was completed in 1936. For these five years 8,000 workers toiled in the harsh, dry canyon bottom. Amazingly, they completed the dam in less than five years -- ahead of schedule and under budget.
Also that Hoover Dam was once known as Boulder Dam and that the concrete arch-gravity dam was in the Black Canyon section of the Colorado River on the border between the states of Arizona and Nevada. When completed it was both the world's largest hydroelectric power generating station and the world's largest concrete structure built a cost of $165 million.
Lake Mead is the reservoir created by the dam was named after Elwood Mead, who oversaw the construction of the dam and Herbert Hoover who was very instrumental in the dams possibly was honored by it being named after him.
Six Companies were contracted to build a new town called “Boulder City” for workers, but the construction schedule for the dam was accelerated in order to create more jobs in response to the onset of the Great Depression. However, the town was not ready when the first dam workers arrived at the site in early 1931. During the first summer of construction, workers and their families were housed in temporary camps like Ragtown while work on the town progressed
A popular story holds that the first person to die in the construction of Hoover Dam was J. G. Tierney, a surveyor who drowned while looking for an ideal spot for the dam. Coincidentally, his son, Patrick W. Tierney, was the last man to die working on the dam, 13 years to the day later. Ninety-six of the deaths occurred during construction at the site. These do not include other incidental and coincidental (heat stroke, heart failure, etc.) deaths during construction. There were 112 deaths associated with the construction of the dam I read later.
Looking over the dam I could see it was protected against overtopping by two spillways. The spillway entrances are located behind each dam abutment, running roughly parallel to the canyon walls. This complex spillway entrance arrangement combined with the approximate 700 ft. elevation drop from the top of the reservoir to the river below is a difficult engineering problem and posed several design challenges. The large spillway tunnels have only been used three times in the history of the dam. In addition to use in 1941 and 1983, spillway use was required in 1999.
Observe the following interesting facts:
Today, the Hoover Dam is the second highest dam in the country and the 18th highest in the world. It generates more than four billion kilowatt-hours a year -- that's enough to serve 1.3 million people!
Hoover Dam is 726 feet tall. That's almost 200 feet taller than the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C.
There is enough concrete in Hoover Dam (4.5 million cubic yards) to build a two-lane road from Seattle, Washington, to Miami, Florida, or a four-foot-wide sidewalk around the Earth at the Equator.
Because of the heavy traffic over the dam and the increase in tourism to the region a new bridge to by-pass the dam is under construction. It too is a feat of engineering and also will add to the wonderment of the area. (Go to my blog at to see a photo of this new bridge.)

“And God made the arch for a division between the waters which were under the arch and those which were over it: …”- Genesis 1:7 (BBE)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Water Keeps Running

Niagara Falls

We lived in Columbus, Ohio for 20 years while our sons were growing up. A pastor friend always went to Rice Lake in Ontario, Canada, every year fishing and after every trip he would encourage my family to join him and his wife for a week there.

Our first trip was a time our sons has never forgotten. In fact, after my sons married and had their own families, I once asked them what they remember most of what I did for them when they were teens. Both with concert have said it would the summers I took them to Canada fishing and just being together.

We fished from early to late each day and they had the time of their life. I must admit I also enjoyed it to, and the job worries from home were soon forgotten.

However, getting there was also highlighted by many beautiful stops of which the most unique was Niagara Falls.

I remember the first time we saw Niagara Falls. We first went to view closely the America falls and we were so overwhelm by it. But, it was from the Canadian side standing in the mist looking across at the Horse Shoe falls and around to its side, the American Falls presented the most beautiful views. Together they drop to the Niagara River nearly 200 feet below. Of course, I had seen many photographs of the falls. I had also seen newsreels, documentaries and feature films that clearly showed the falls. But none of them had prepared me for the impact the falls, when viewed directly.

On another trip with my wife, we ventured up the Minolta tower which rises nearly 500 feet above the Niagara River, for a meal together at the rotating restaurant and I cannot put to words the views at such a height.

Our last time there was nearly 25 years ago with our youngest son and his new wife. I still remember their awe for such beauty.

On every visit we made, we would stand on the very edge of the Horse Shoe Falls watching the torrent rush over that edge and hearing the thunderous noise it made. It was an experience that I will never forget.

After our return home, friends would frequently ask what Niagara Falls was like and was it worth the trip to see it? After my experiences I had but one reply to their question—you have to go and see!

There are times and experiences that cannot adequately be described by words or even pictures. Niagara Falls is like that. So is the Grand Canyon and so is the Matterhorn.
I have been blessed to have see much of the beauty of our planet, but I am expecting to see greater beauty in heaven described by the Bible, “as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

Sunday, January 3, 2010

2009 is gone

Good Riddance Day?

In New York City, Monday December 28 was Good Riddance Day in Times Square. Organizers encouraged people to write their grievances down and then throw the lists into shredders symbolizing the act of letting go of painful memories, bad experiences, foolish mistakes, bad relationships, dumb choices, and long-held grudges that had been loading up their insides. Participants could use a sledgehammer in case the shredder didn’t provide enough emotional release.
Actually, 2009, was a rather good year for me even in the mist of the financial downfall and a slow market. To be alive, to have friends, have a house to live in, and fairly good health has been a blessing for me.

My life has been a good journey and as my readers know I have been blessed to have been many places around the world. One thing I know for sure is that life is more than what you make it. It is more often what God does for us that make things better to live with.

As I grow older I am often drawn back in my memory to my youth and to recall the “good ole days.” However, I can’t pick out one era that was better for my wife and me before or during our 51 years of being together. I know of nothing I would change other than wishing we could be closer to our sons and their families, but each has his own family and are making life better for them.

During the year I was able to visit some of my old classmates which brought a pleasant enjoyment to me. While visiting the Wyndham Resort on Greer’s Ferry Lake, my wife and I were able to visit classmates I had not seen in 55 years. What a great visit we had with them. Another came when we were traveling to the resort, I remembered that the person who sat beside me during our 4 years in High School lived in Batesville. Having stopped at Wendy’s I called and reached them. Within minutes they were with us and the visit was wonderful. Unbeknown to me was that our friend was a dear friend of Dr. Charles Rorex, one of our city’s former leaders. They had been classmates at Arkansas State University and had remained close friends since. Shortly after our departure they called Dr. Rorex who afterwards called me at the resort and recommended we meet when we returned to Farmington. So this year I have added a new friend as well.

By now I was living in the past reliving my old class days. I had a high school class of those who accomplished much in life. I cannot begin to relate the many things each has accomplished over the years. Three have been ministers for over 54 years, one a city mayor, numerous college professors, school teachers, medical doctors, salesmen, farmers, successful businessmen, a NASA researcher, Airline pilot, printers, Fire chief, insurance providers, lawyers, store owners, a boxing promoter, along with a number of widows and widowers. We have some of the most beautiful woman and handsome men still in the class of 1955. To say with great compliment I was a part of a classy group of 72 year olds.

Some have died since our last meeting five years ago. It will never be the same again and will change faster as we get farther into the journey.

My travels about the world have slowed and I can only remember the beauty or uniqueness of the places, but our journey in life is more rapid than before. This year I was able to write “Come Travel With Me,” which is filled with 117 places I have been. That was published in February. “And Who Will Follow” was published in September. Both have been received well and are available from and other retailers. Already, I have begun three other books hoping to finish them during 2010.

I am grateful for the promises in the scriptures that reveal God’s concern for all of mankind. While these verses apply to another in the Bible, they are truths for us as well.

My life has been a good one and I would not want to say good riddance to much of my past.
Maybe we should make 2010 a Year of Good Riddance in which we say farewell to anger, bitterness, blaming, finger pointing, self-justification and a critical spirit, and ask God to grant us a fresh infusion of his grace in all of our relationships.

“And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee”. - 1 Kings 19:7

“And he said, Let us take our journey, and let us go, and I will go before thee.” - Genesis 33:12