Today we enjoyed a continental breakfast at our hotel and then headed to our first geologic stop--"book cliffs" which are aptly named for their joints and strands that resemble a bookshelf. The grey material here is oil sands, but unfortunately the oil would be too expensive and cumbersome to extract from the sand. We then stopped at an active underground coal mine, where a layer of coal was exposed along the rock near the road.
We then went into Salt Lake City and enjoyed lunch at a food court in Temple Square, where many of us dined on Chinese food. Next, we were first given a tour of the Temple Square Visitor Center by two informative Latter-day Saints missionaries. The two women led us to a beautiful statue of Jesus Christ in the center of a surreal mural of the universe. Regardless of it's religious affiliation, I found the room to be very moving and inspiring.
Next, we went to the original Salt Lake Temple, a magnificent feat of acoustic artistry built in 1853 by Mormon pioneers escaping persecution. The missionaries talked briefly about the history of their religion and read an excerpt from their sacred text, The Book of Mormon. We were given an impressive demonstration of the powerful acoustics when a missionary ripped a piece of newspaper, dropped a pin, and spoke briefly, all of which we could here perfectly from our seats in the back of the temple.
Then we entered the smaller nearby tabernacle, where we learned that the pioneers were so dedicated in their determination to make a place of worship that they painted the pews to look like oak and the columns to look like marble; had we not been told this, we'd never have known!
Finally, we went to the Conference Center, which boasts one of the world's largest pipe organs. We were fortunate enough to enjoy a brief recital, which was absolutely breathtaking and made even more impressive as the colored lights on the wall behind the organ changed from blue to orange to red with each song. We were all impressed by the organist's ability to master such a complex and grand instrument.
We then spent a few hours relaxing at the hotel, where some of us enjoyed the pool and hot tub and others simply a chance to lie down and relax for a while. After dinner at the Sizzler, we had one more geologic stop--Great Salt Lake. We could see the shore lines of where the massive, prehistoric Lake Bonneville once existed. Seeing clouds in the sky for the first time in 7 days was another notable part of the day. We eventually headed back to our hotel to prepare for the day ahead in Wyoming and Idaho.