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Posts Tagged ‘myths’

Once you enter Death Valley California, you have your choice of various places to visit. One of the most obvious being the Ubehebe volcanic crater at the north end of the valley, and then there are the extensive lava beds around the area, and the Joshua Trees have their fans as well….

But for the truly adventurous, keep an eye out, as you start the short loop that leads to the volcano, and you will see a track receding to the southwest, with an unassuming sign post that reads “The Racetrack – 27”. Follow that road and after 27 miles of slow driving over washboard gravel, you will be rewarded by entry into “The Rock Racing” area, and the Grandstand, which is the uplifted bedrock that stretches to the base of the bare mountains that surround it.

When you step onto the dry lake bed, first you may notice the countless fingers of tiny cracks, stretching to the horizon. Then you will begin to notice a beige smear, here and there, across the dry sand. But this is a prelude to the main event, follow the Park Services signs, walking for about ten minutes to find the Grandstand, a 100 by 500 foot natural outcropping, left behind when the lake receded, leaving this island high and dry.

Now, make the three mile walk southeast to the beginning of the racetrack, and you will find the main attraction. As you get further across the lake bed, you will find hundreds of very scattered rocks.

Among the rocks, you will see smears in the sand. They run straight, jagged and even cross over one another or turn back on their own path, and most of those smears lead to a rock.  A racing rock.

Since the rocks seem to move at a glacial pace, there have been no confirmed reports of any one actually having seen them move. Since camping is not allowed in the park, it may never be possible for a human to actually witness the racing first hand. But if you would like to be a witness of the strange rock race in Death Valley, please remember that moving rocks is unfair and spoils the fun, and is also a heavily fined breach of decorum with the Rangers.

Geology.com has pictures and some well-based scientific theories on what is happening here. But as even the authors of the article agree, “Perhaps this story will remain more interesting if the real answer is never discovered!”

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Everyone thinks of Santa Claus as a jolly elf that wears red and has a belly that shakes like a bowl full of jelly, with a long white beard and flying reindeer. But long before Coca Cola introduced that image there was a long history behind the Main Man of Christmas.

The origin of Santa begins with a Bishop by the name of Nicholas of Myra, born in Asia Minor, or Turkey.

Nicholas of Myra was granted Sainthood due to many miracles that were attributed to him by the faithful. One legend holds that Nicholas was traveling between Myra and Alexandria where he was attending school, and he saved a sailor whi fell from the ship’s rigging from from certain death In Germany, he is the Patron Saint of Mariners, who place a piece of sailcloth along with their votive candle offerings to ensure a safe voyage.

Another paints a picture of Nicholas being not only a miracle worker, but also a grand detective. During a time of famine in Greece, a despicable butcher murdered three children and brined their remains to be sold as ham. Nicholas was in the region bringing food to the hungry populace, and saw through the horrific deed the butcher had committed, not only bringing the criminal to justice, but also bring back the young victims from the dead through his fervent prayers.

Of course, the most famous legend and the one that lends itself to the evolution from Saint Nicholas of Myra to the Santa Claus of today is that when the Bishop heard that a parishioner was so poor that he could not provide dowries for his three young daughters and they would have no suitors to wed. Bishop Nicholas decided that he was going to do something to help this family, and he dropped a bag of gold coins down the chimney of the man’s home. By some accident of fate, the bag fell into a shoe or stocking left drying by the fire place.

The historical Saint Nicholas is remembered and revered among Catholic and Orthodox Christians. He is also honored by various Anglican and Lutheran churches. Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, and children, and students in Greece, Belgium, Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia, Russia, the Republic of Macedonia, Slovakia, Serbia and Montenegro. He is also the patron saint of Barranquilla, Bari, Amsterdam, Beit Jala, and Liverpool. In 1809, the New-York Historical Society convened and retroactively named Sancte Claus the patron saint of Nieuw Amsterdam, the Dutch name for New York City. He was also a patron of the Varangian Guard of the Byzantine emperors, who protected his relics in Bari.

But how did the name Santa Claus come about? Well, the Dutch had a different name for Saint Nicholas, they called him Sinterklaas. Sint-Nicolaas is the Patron Saint of Children in the Dutch tradition. After immigrating to the “New World” of North America, the Dutch retained their customs for celebration and religious symbolism, and this included the legend of Sint-Nicolaas, or Sinterklaas.

As already mentioned, the legend of Saint Nicholas has spread around the world. As befitting a Canonized Saint, in 1087his relics were furtively transferred to Bari, in southern Italy. Because of this transfer, he is also known as Nicholas of Bari.

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