Thursday, June 30, 2011

And there you have it..

..our camera broke.
Like broke, broke. Dead. Dead forever.
Dead as a door nail.
Kicked the bucket. Went the
way of the earth.
End of the road.
Never to return.

Monday, June 27, 2011

To Quote My Dad, "Sad day..."

Seriously, I can't believe it's Monday already!
When did that happen?
Collin and I spent this weekend
for some of the cutest kids. 10, 8 and 4.
They were a blast!
We ate ice cream, jumped on the trampoline, ate pizza and
macaroni, made 4th of July crafts, went to Hershey's Chocolate World
and had a movie sleep-over in the basement.
Truly, a kid's dream weekend.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.
Sunday morning Calvin (the 4 year old) woke up to find
his parents had come home.
He began to cry.
When his mom asked him what was wrong
he - devastated - replied, "My best friends are gone!"

I sure hope our kids turn out to be that cute!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Hello Saturday Morning - Let's Go Rappelling!

7:30am Saturday morning we were out the door
and headed for the great outdoors!
It doesn't take long to get to the 'great outdoors'
in Pennsylvania.. Even if you live in a well developed neighborhood,
you simply walk 30 steps out
your back door and you're in the forest again.
It's great!

And the fireflies are like nothing you'd ever seen before!
They're truly a miracle of nature;
bright, florescent, tiny beams of
light! Coming out of a very slow flying bug!
On for one second,
then off the next.
They're everywhere, especially the tall grass and trees.

We wound through the PA back roads,
taking us through cherry orchards
and groves of apple trees.
The hundreds of bright red cherries popped right
out on the green background of their mother tree!
I'd never seen cherry trees before, and to see so many at
once was another of nature's little miracles!

When we arrived at our destination
(which was almost EXACTLY at the halfway point along the Appellation
Trail - which begins in Georgia and goes all the way to Maine)
we hiked a few minutes to the top of a small cliff.

it was do or die!
I'd like to sound brave and say I wasn't scared,
but hanging over that cliff was
Luckily, after you made it over the initial drop, it was super fun!
Our new friends! Bishop and Linda (top right)
and the Yopse family (to the left.)

Bishop is the rappelling extraordinaire.
We had a blast.
(With the exception of the THREE snakes we stumbled upon!
I'm not sure which was more frightening;
hanging over a cliff or the snakes?)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Our Last Stop Before PA

Kirtland, Ohio
Collin and I agreed, Kirtland was our very favorite stop along
all the Church history sights.
I think a lot of that had to do with the
family who ran this store over 150 years ago.
Newel K. and his wife Elizabeth Ann Whitney were extraordinary people.
This table, this actual table, is a place where the Prophet Joseph
sat and taught his friends the gospel.
It resides in the top of the Whitney Store, next
to the room where the School of the Prophets was held.
Just down the path from the Whitney Store is a saw mill.
This was once a major source of income for the early Kirtland Saints.
We also had an opportunity to visit the Kirtland Temple!
Much like the Nauvoo Temple, you drive up a little hill, come around a corner, and
there it is! It was beautiful! An what was really neat, many
of the furnishings inside were the originals.
After Kirtland, we hopped in the car to drive another 5 hours
until we came to the close of this awesome journey.

Collin and I experienced so many
wonderful things! I now have a deeper
appreciation for this beautiful country.
I feel a greater scene of patriotism having seen
it the whole way across.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

We Interrupt This Travelogue... bring you freshly picked strawberries!!
Aside from the wonderful people we have met here,
this may be my most favorite part of Pennsylvania! Linda brought
me to this super cute hometown country farm
where you pick your very own strawberries!
Classic Pennsylvania back roads. I think this may be one of
the most beautiful places I've ever been!
Every good picker deserves a little treat!

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Windy City

The City was beautiful. The buildings were a mix of old and
new architecture. I loved looking up at the skyline!
(He's so cute!)
(Buckingham Fountain)
The other thing that amazed me about Chicago
was that this humongous city was built up right on the edge
of a lake, a very, very large lake! Not an ocean, a lake.
A lake so large, that you can't even see to
the other side. I'd never seen such a thing!
Collin and I spent the first half of our day meandering through
the city park.
Then, we bought an all-day visitor's pass to the transportation systems,
and took a bus downtown to the shopping district,
Magical Mile.
And it was magical!
Especially the Ghirardelli chocolate shop :]
We of course shared a hot fudge brownie sundae.
MUCH, to Collin's delight the Cubs had a home game that evening!
We took the "L" from the downtown city
out to Wrigley Field.
We bought some tickets when we arrived from some scalpers outside.
Collin was in heaven;
a Chicago Dog inside Wrigley Stadium.
What more could a boy ask for?
The Stadium was so old school! My favorite
part was the scoreboard.
Each inning, the numbers had to be changed by hand!
During the course of the game we hopped around to a few different seats.
All in all Chicago was a blast!
After the game we took the subway back to the parking garage
and got in the car to drive another 4 hours to our next destination!

Friday, June 10, 2011

On to Nauvoo

After finishing dinner at Aurthur Bryant's in
Kansas City, my Hero-Of-The-Highway (aka Collin)
made the 4 hour and 50 minute drive out of Missouri and into
Illinois where we would stop in the small,
yet historically packed town of Nauvoo :]
(It was about 2am when we arrived!)
Needless to say we had to stop a couple of times for sunflower seeds and soda pop.
We took the craziest, windy-est roads to get there. But get there we did!

It was an amazing sight when we arrived.
Our car came around a sharp corner, and all of a sudden
the Nauvoo Temple filled over view. It was completely
aglow with lights shining up all around it!
It was beautiful.

Our first day in Nauvoo was Sunday.
We walked to church. I got us a little lost... but eventually we found the church building.
At the edge of town there is a path, which has since been paved, that was taken by
the Mormon Pioneers when they were, once again, kicked out
of there homes. Along this path are markers
with journal entries of some of those faithful Saints. Many were
accounts of the people as they left their homes.
Many were testimonies of their faith in God.
Rising above the trees, the Temple stands in the skyline.
You can only imagine how much faith and strength and energy it must have
taken to leave not only your home, but
that magnificent Temple which had taken so much to build.
The next day we took a wagon ride and toured the now small, but once thriving community.
Afterward we made our way back through the town to see some of the homes
and shops of the people who once resided there.
(Like Collin's sweet goatee? I think it makes him look like
he should be on a motorcycle!)
Something SUPER neat, and maybe even my favorite part of Nauvoo,
was being able to find some of our ancestor who had once lived there! There is a records
office where you can look up the names of your family members.
Then, if there's a match, they will give you a map of where they lived!!
Collin and I each found a family member
that had lived in Nauvoo;
Zara Pulsipher and Christopher Layton.
We tried to track down the actual plot of land where Zara and his family
once lived, but we concluded his home has since been turned into something else (cause
we couldn't find it anywhere?)

After leaving Nauvoo we traveled a few miles to the city of Carthage.
When we arrived, we were amazed
to learn that this was the actual building, not a reconstruction,
where the Prophet Joseph and his brother
Hyrum were jailed, without cause, for the last time.
I felt a deep reverence for this building as we spent time inside.
Elder John Taylor, who would later become the 3rd Prophet of
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, wrote of the Prophet,
"He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of
God and his people; and like many of the Lord's
anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission
and his works with his own blood."
D&C 135:3

What a wonderful man the Prophet Joseph Smith was. How blessed
I feel to be apart of the great work he gave his life for!
So much lies ahead for the Latter-day Saints. I am thankful
for those Saints from earlier days who sacrificed
much, if not all, they had to press forward the work we now get
to move forward today!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

And The Journey Rolls On :]

The next stop along our journey was
Independence, Missouri.
But before we got to Independence, we had a very close encounter
with the gas in our gas tank, or rather, the lack of
gas in our gas tank!
THANKFULLY neither Collin nor I
ended up having to push our car to Zion. But it sure scared us a little!
Independence was a really beautiful place to be.
To think of all that has happened, and is yet to happen on those sacred grounds is
very humbling and exciting.

Just a few days prior to our arrival in Independence, a terrible
tornado hit the town and surrounding area of Joplin, MO.
While inside the Visitor's Center in Independence, Collin and I met a family from Joplin.
The relayed to us some of the sadness and destruction, but also shared
the hope and unity occurring in the community
as a result of the devastation.
In connection with the Mormon Helping Hands, wards, stakes, and community
members had begun pitching in; to comfort one another, and begin
the tremendous task of rebuilding their community.

Kitty-corner to the Independence Visitor's Center (above) is a plot of land
where the early Saints dedicated for a temple be built in the Last Days.
The state of Missouri placed this fabulous blue historical
marker to commemorate the site!
It was wonderful being in Missouri learning of the Saints who once
lived there and the sacrifices they made
to leave their homes and continue pressing forward.

We also had the opportunity to visit Liberty Jail. This is where the
Prophet Joseph, his brother Hyrum, and 4 other men
were held, without cause. In March of 1839, amid the terrible living conditions
the Prophet received revelations found in Doctrine and Covenants 121, 122, and 123.
"Therefore, dearly beloved brothern,
let us cheerfully do all things
that lie within our power; and then may we
stand still, with the utmost assurance,
to see the salvation of God,
and for his arm to be revealed."
D&c 123:17
This is the actual jail site. Standing in the lower room, Collin's (6'2")
head would graze the ceiling.

Along with all the things we learned,
and the encouragement we felt during our short stay in Missouri,
Collin discovered he will be just fine is Zion...
They have QTs!!!
Before we got too far down the road,
we made our way to Kansas City to experience one of the
"1000 Things To Do Before You Die..."
Arthur Bryant's BBQ.
After totally enjoying our meat/pork fest,
we texted my dad to tell him what a great dive we had just
indulged in. Collin and I were discussing
how much he would have loved this place. We wondered
if he had ever been in KC, and if he had, did we think he'd eaten here?
Sure enough,
when the text reply came
We love you Dad!