After lunch on Day Three, I headed back to the hotel to rendezvous with Anne, who had reported to work hours early by request in exchange for an earlier departure. They would’ve been more than happy to let her work ten or twelve hours, but excess overtime hadn’t been part of trip planning. She also really liked the idea of having time to rejoin me on the sightseeing before all the best places closed. She’d missed out on nearly everything I did Monday. In my book, she deserved to see more of what Colorado Springs had to offer.
We did our best to make it count. Next stop: the U.S. Air Force Academy, one of the few military installations in the city that allows civilians inside. We’re not allowed access to all 18,500 acres, but of all the permissible parts, the most fascinating is the Cadet Chapel.
Most of these photos were shot inside the nave during early sundown. Above: the view toward the altar. Below: straight-up shot of the vaulted, pointed ceiling.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
Each year my wife and I take a road trip to a different part of the United States and see what sorts of historical landmarks, natural wonders, man-made oddities, unexplored restaurants, and cautionary tales await us. From November 1-6, 2015, we racked up a number of personal firsts. My wife Anne was invited on her first business trip to Colorado Springs, all expenses paid from flight to food to lodging to rental car, to assist with cross-training at a distant affiliate. Her supervisor gave me permission to attend as her personal travel companion as long as I bought my own plane ticket and food. I posted one photo for each of the six days while we were on location. With this series, we delve into selections from the 500+ other photos we took along the way.
The Air Force Academy has been in service since 1954, with the Cadet Chapel added later after a series of funding campaigns and dedicated in 1963. Its modernist steel frame comprises seventeen spires and contains multiple rooms for varying worship purposes. The Protestant nave hosts traditional as well as contemporary services (much like our own church, minus the magnificent lighting) and is the largest and most stunning room. Pictured below is the Catholic chapel on the lower level. A LED reader board outside also flashed schedules for Jumu’ah, Shabbat, Catholic mass and confession, and Buddhist meditation.
Anne and I spent a good while wandering, staring, sitting, gaping, staring more, listening in the silence for any still, small voice. Followed by more staring. Anne took advantage of the situation to get in another photo of me, since I obviously wouldn’t be taking many of those on my own throughout the week without her.
Even the kaleidoscopic struts on either side of the nave had their own allure. First shot is aimed east toward the city; second shot is west toward the Rocky Mountains as they covered the sun’s retreat.
An extremely gracious caretaker greeted us while we immersed ourselves in so much weirdly vibrant light, but we knew closing time wasn’t far away and we didn’t want to keep her. We saw another room with Jewish artifacts, we noticed doors to other rooms that weren’t open to intruders, and I wished someone had been on hand to play a few tunes on the spooky, pretty organ perched above the narthex.
When we exited the Cadet Chapel, it took us a few minutes to regain our bearings, leave behind so much capital-P Presence, and go back to being simple vacationers. Unwittingly helping our transition, dozens of cadets were out on the neighboring field performing their various sports-team practices, while someone’s super-sized sound system blared, of all things, “Hooked on a Feeling” as we descended the concrete steps. I had to laugh.
To be continued!
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