Saturday, December 28, 2013

Temple Square: Gotta do it!

Salt Lake City's Christmas time showplace: Temple Square.

I usually try to get to the Square during an semi off Christmas season night.
By that I mean not on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, a weekend night, or a Monday night.
(Monday night around this town is LDS "Family Home Night" when families do things together either at home or out and about.  Visiting the Square on Family Home Night is an obvious choice for a lot of families, and by families I mean groups of up to 20 people moving along together.)
My targeted times slipped away...the night after Christmas was designated for our own kind of family outing.
Bernie and I found street parking a half a block from the Square right after the park meters shut down for the night.

Jeff, Rachel, her brother and his girlfriend were coming to meet us on the north gate of the Square.
With Luke, of course.
I had been eager to see his reaction to all the colored lights!

The Holy Family on an island in the middle of the reflecting pool surrounded by golden glowing bubbles is always a stunning sight in the middle of the Square.

This year I was more fascinated by a tyke in a blue ski jacket and "Elmer Fudd" style plaid hat.

He liked what he saw.
He liked the shoulder rides even better.

With temperatures well below freezing and crowds galore, Luke took in the sights probably wondering what on earth this was all about.

Some of the time it is possible he actually had no sight himself.

Well  maybe his blue peepers did get a peek now and then.

Frost covered tree stood out in natural beauty compared to the light covered ones close by.

In some places hardly an inch was left unlit.

I have difficulty getting my camera to focus once it gets below freezing.
Add trying to shoot rapidly to capture a squirming child and dodging crowds of people...well, any almost in focus shot became a keeper.

Luke wanted down...we played hot potato with him, passing him between ourselves.
Letting him walk around with so many people did not seem wise.

When we found a slightly less crowded space he did get to walk about for a tiny bit.
Moments later Bernie and I saw a child who was probably the same age as Luke  (20 months) walking along beside us.
The crowd thinned...and no one seemed to be with the little guy.
He made a U turn, walked a bit more, turned again, then froze with his small mitten clad fists pressed up against his eyes.
Bernie and I were scanning the area looking for anyone who might be looking for their lost child.
I rubbed the boy's back gently and wondered what we should do.
After what seemed like an awfully long time but was probably more like four minutes, a man came and swooped the boy up.
 Smiling and calling "Thank you!" to us,  he hurried off.
Gave. Us. Chills. thinking of losing our own little boy in such a setting.
Families with 5, 6, 7 and more children seem a lot more relaxed about keeping track of their kids...
Just sayin'. 
The outcome is not always so good either.  :-(
We had made a group decision to only make a loop around one side of the Square.
A quick peek inside the original tabernacle building served to warm us up a bit, and then we decided to cross the street on the south side of the Square to go over to City Creek Mall.

City Creek Mall entrance.

My camera focused on the fountain stream of water?
And caught THAT in focus and left the people out of focus??
Cold weather does strange things to cameras.

Rachel's brother and his girlfriend...out visiting from Boston.
The cold didn't faze them at all.


There is a music coordinated fountain area that puts on shows regularly.

Part of the Mall is outdoors and part of the Mall has a retractable cover.
Going inside the covered area to warm up had a lot of appeal just then.

City Creek Mall is so named because it is built with City Creek (a natural creek) flowing through the center.
I comment that fishing is allowed inside the Mall.
Jeff challenges me on that detail and asks if I want him to go ask a security guard about that.
I said "Go ahead and ask!"
(No guards were around to ask.  We may just have to go over there with a fly rod and check this out for ourselves after the  holiday crowds have cleared out.)

Maybe fishing is or isn't allowed.
Ditto throwing rocks into the creek.

When one is a boy and 20  months old, creeks and rock throwing go unquestionably together.

He threw three rocks and was so dismayed when he was forced to move on to see the rest of the mall.

We rode up the escalator to the mall's second floor where one could look over Temple Square.

Lights gleamed everywhere.

Luke checked out the scene down below.

Longing looks...

Another boy was busy tossing rocks into the creek.
Oh the inhumanity of it all!
To see the creek and NOT be able to stand on the shoreline and throw rocks all night long.
(Luke also felt that riding the escalator was just great.  Why we had to go ruin it by walking off the thing at the top and bottom was beyond comprehension!)
And so ended our annual Temple Square visit, and Luke's first visit to see the lights.
I've have had visits there in falling snow, and misting rain (which produced the absolute most amazing photos with the lights reflected on every wet surface.)
This time...was special in its own way too.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Need (older) grandkid...

The Grand America Hotel in downtown SLC decorates thirteen inside windows each Christmas season.
This year the theme was Elves and Santa's workshop.
I've never made it to any of the other years window displays...
This year it made my list of "things to go see during the holiday" list.

The details in each window were marvelous.
Plus each elf was moving throughout the scene on whimsical helicopters like devices.
This "Candy Cane Canyon" window was great!

The Spirit of Winter.

The elves road along with snowflakes...
(Elves are a lot smaller than I thought apparently.)

Chocolate factory elves rode on hand cranked beaters.

Probably the most exciting window:
The Yenti Caves of the North Pole!

(The hotel had "passport" guide handouts with a letter and word to find in each window. This window the children had to decide if the letter Y was for Yenti or Yellow for instance...)

Each year the windows are different so I wonder what happens to these adorable elf creations after the season ends?

Fabric and Sewing Department

(Looking back...even a 14 month old boy was fascinated by the Yenti!)

The elves sewed so beautifully.

The hallways to walk through all the windows was thankfully not very crowded today.

At the end of the hall was this creation.
A gingerbread house.

A BIG gingerbread house.

Holy smokes!

The details...
(When I showed the photos to Bernie he asked what they will do with the house after the season has ended.
Throw it away I imagine.)

(Nice of Picasa to add sparkles to my photos. I was surprised!)

Santa was surprised too apparently.

I peeked into one of the hotel ball rooms and admired this chandelier.
The red and green glass seemed very Christmas-y.
Upon closer inspection I found there are also glass daffodils sprouting throughout the chandelier too.

The matching wall scones with a closer look at the daffodils.

The hotel is build around a court yard which is closed for winter.
It must look lovely lit up at night and seen from inside though.

My favorite window was the Paint Department windows.
The paint was splattered about so well.

This elf pumped away at a paint sprayer.

His fellow elves flew about with hot air balloons and paint guns.

Painting space guns for little children is quite an elf intense production scene.

Engineering Department?

Oh...that kind of engineering!

Little girls will swoon to see the Fashion Studio.

Oh so serious...Quality Assurance Division.

Quality assurance apparently involves bopping balls with a mallet!

Just about now the idea of real toys sounded pretty appealing.
The Hotel does has a toy shop.

This wall of photos is like the paintings walls in Harry Potter: they change and talk as you go along.

Some of these toys I don't quite get.
Are they some kind of deal that kids know about but I don't?

I get the Disney Princesses Christmas ornaments appeal though.
And the pink or blue trimmed white baby shoe ornaments are awful sweet too.

The life size robot talked at me as I walked around.
He turned and followed me.

Very cool back packs...

An entire area was filled with collectable fairy dolls.

I wanted the display car, especially if it really runs.
(And I would like it in my grown up size please.)

I wouldn't mind having this chandelier somewhere in my house.
Maybe outside.
Over the Jacuzzi hot tub would be nice.

Grand America is where Bernie and I went for my birthday tea last April.

This day after Christmas tea was quite popular with families with several young girls and what looked like young mothers and grandmothers.
Pretty special!

Another window was Shipping and Handling.
The stockings were being filled and ready to load into Santa's sled.
(I never knew Santa would deliver a stocking too...)

A reindeer stable...Blitzen looked pretty chipper.

As did Donner.
The elves were busy attaching sleigh bells to Donner, or perhaps taking the bells off after last night's sleigh ride?

The clever details on each elf and the mechanics of having them glide!

The hotel also has a bakery shop where I stopped for a look-see.
How about baking themed Christmas ornaments?

(Jelly doughnuts are part of Hanukkah...)

Decorated eggs...

Glass cinnamon rolls!
(Feeling a bit roly-poly myself right now...maybe I should consider just visually feasting on holiday baking themed ornament next year.)

Buying one tiny Buche de Noel log to share would be a smart ploy to remember next year.

I wound up buying a passion fruit French Macarons.
Oh my.
I've heard they were addictive.
Awesome treat.

Outside the bakery the elves were checking their Naughty or Nice list.
I didn't see my name listed in either column.
Sounded about right to me!

Munching my macaron, I left the Grand American and trudged down the snow bordered sidewalk back to my car.
My scouting trip was over.
I've added the Grand America Christmas windows to my "To Do with a Grandchild" list.
It is a someday list, maybe in two or three more years.
Something to look forward to in future holiday seasons.