Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Road trip part 1 of 3: Nauvoo & Carthage

I have lots and lots of pictures in this post. Wednesday June 25th Scott and I got up at 3am, loaded all the kids in the car and began our drive across the country. We would spend 58 hours driving over 6 days roundtrip, traveling through 11 states (counting Colorado) and driving over 3800 miles.

 We fit all seven of us in our seven seater van, with all of our belongings for the next 12 days, food etc and without any sort of rooftop carrier. Pretty impressive if I must say so myself. We made sure to pack enough clothes for 4 days and then after that we just did laundry.
 When we started our trip we were already through most of the first Harry Potter audio book (Jim Dale the narrator, is amazing! Seriously sounds exactly like several of the books main characters!) so we finished that and began Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. We ended up getting through books 2, 3 and most of 4 by the end of our road trip. Book 4 is over 20 hours. They were SO entertaining for the three oldest kids (6, 8, 10) and for Scott and I. And audio books are especially nice for those who might normally get car sick...this way you're still entertained and using your imagination but you don't get the sickness from reading and writing or even focusing on a screen. Nora, our 2 year old, had a harder time than the rest but even then, she did really good. She slept a little each day but usually only for 30 minutes to an hour. She had her love and watched the surroundings and when she got really fussy we'd turn Frozen on our dvd player or kindle fire or my iPhone. I don't normally let them do media much, especially as babysitters, but these were lifesavers on this 58 hour trip!
 Our first stop was in Omaha, Nebraska for a late lunch with one of my BYU roomies and her kiddos. Ashley is an amazing woman and I am blessed to know her!
 We kept on driving and made it to Nauvoo, well Keokuk, that night, so about 12 hours but with our gas and lunch stops about a 15 hour day on the road. We stayed in a hotel in Keokuk, about 20 minutes outside of Nauvoo. We wanted to stay somewhere that had a complimentary breakfast and I had a hard time finding one in Nauvoo (perhaps there are some but I couldn't find any available) so that's why we chose Keokuk. Though the hotel was pretty run down and smelled like smoke and moisture which we didn't love, but I guess most places in that area have the same problem; luckily it was only for a night and then we left early the next morning. It was so cool driving over the Mississippi River that first time, I was by myself so I could get there early and get tickets, it was so peaceful and beautiful and I got to thinking of the Saints in the early days, crossing that very portion of the river with their handcarts on wooden floatation boards.

Something awesome about Nauvoo is that everything is close together and everything is free: free wagon rides, carriage rides and oxen rides, free musicals and plays, free tours some which give you a free souvenir at the end. BUT, you have to get tickets for a lot of these things even though they are free because there is limited space. You can order the tickets for the plays and musicals in advance over the phone which I did, but the carriage and wagon rides are only given out the morning of and once they're gone, they're gone, so I went by myself at 7am that morning, 30 minutes before the the visitors center was open, and picked up our advance musical and play tickets and also tickets for a carriage ride later that morning.

 I loved doing the carriage ride first thing because included is a guided tour or the area so we were able to scope out the entire area and see and hear about each place and decide where we wanted to go most since we only had about half a day there. Here is a picture I took from the wagon of the Nauvoo temple. This was rebuilt several years ago, a replica of the original. The one the early saints built was destroyed once they fled the city from their persecutors.
 We saw the homes of Joseph and Emma Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor and many others.

 This is one of the handcarts on the wooden barges they made to cross the river.

 Later that afternoon I ran into the Red Brick Store which is now owned by the RLDS (different than LDS or Mormon) church and took a peek upstairs so I could see what it looked like since that's where the Relief Society was first organized amongst other important affairs/meetings etc.
 Joseph and Emmas first home here and the cemetery where many of their family members are laid is connected.

 Once we finished our guided tour carriage ride, we went over to where a kids play was going to be starting soon and got to hear a band play while we waited. The play was called, "just plain anna Amanda".

 They started out with a puppet show where the kids participated in singing some children's songs.
 And then there was a 30 minute play about a girl who could have lived during the mid 1800's in Nauvoo.
 We packed peanut butter and bread amongst other snacks and fruit and veggies and so after the musical we set out our blanket and had a picnic lunch on the grass. We all wore our 5k BYU mile high shirts so that the kids were easier to keep track of.
 After lunch we went into the family living center and watched the older missionaries perform different tasks and teach us about home and life during the time of the pioneers. This missionary was weaving a rug.
 We watched a woman make bread and she taught us about their cool ovens.

 We also learned how to make rope and even got to make a piece for our family.

We went outside and walked over to the bakery. Outside we saw their wheat grinding mill.

 Then we went inside and learned a little more about the bakery and we each got a gingerbread cookie that the sister missionaries made.

 Next we went to the 'pioneer pastimes' area where they have a bunch of pioneer activities for kids and families.  We stayed here for about an hour. This was the kids favorite place to visit in Nauvoo and if we had more time we would have come back or stayed longer.
 In the background of this picture near Scott and Charles is the 'bear pulling' game which was pretty fun.
 And I finally got he stilts down (remember I tried them out in Denver at the 4 mile historic park, but wasn't very successful then).
 Scott and Charles enjoyed this stick and loop throw game.

The girls enjoyed dressing up and playing house and school.

 After pioneer pastimes we went over to learn from the blacksmith.
 At the end we each got to pick out a ring made from a shoe-horse-nail.

 From the brickyard we stopped by the Red Brick Store which I mentioned above and then stopped by the brick making building where Scott and a couple of the kids went in and learned about making bricks from water, clay and sand and then got a brick to take home with a Nauvoo inscription on the front. Nora had fallen asleep in the van so I was the only one to run into the Red Brick Store and then I stayed behind when they went into the brick making building. Afterwards we saw a musical called "The Promise" which was a story about the pioneers in Nauvoo.
 From there we stopped by the Nauvoo temple and took pictures of the kids on the grounds.

And then we were off to Carthage which is about 30 minutes away.
 This is the jailhouse where Hyrum and Joseph were martyred. Joseph, was he was shot, feel from that top window.
 This is the jail room next to the bedroom they were in at the time of the shooting, where John Taylor hid Willard Richards(under the hay beds) after he had been shot several times.
 The bullet hole is still in the door that came through and killed Hyrum.
We sat in the bedroom where they were martyred and listened to a short audio retelling of the story.
 And the window Joseph fell from. Great men, Godly men, who have blessed the lives of millions to come. Even though Joseph did not have much academic education, he did a great work because he was doing God's work which is the only way possible that the Book of Mormon was able to come about; by the hand of God he was able to translate those ancient writings of prophets and publish them in such a short period of time, making another witness of Jesus Christ, to go hand in hand with the Bible.

It was so neat being able to experience this part of history and see these places for ourselves. I would love to go back again some time and spend a week there because there really was so much to see and we just didn't have enough time.

 While family members were using the restrooms after the tour, Charles and Nora 'juggled' a ball with some teenage boys :). These kids can make friends wherever they go :). After our tour we stopped for subs for dinner and then drove on five hours to Indianapolis.  The hotel there was much, much better. Not smelly, more spacious and was much better kept and taken care of than the last. Whew, what a relief!

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