The return trip home helped us grow an appreciation for our pioneer heritage.
First we stopped and experienced life in Nauvoo.
We caught the sunset at the edge of the Mississippi River where the saints left Nauvoo for the last time.
We walked the same streets many faithful pioneers walked.
"The door bell is ringing!"
The kids got to help make rope the Nauvoo way.
We did as much as we could muster strength and time for in Nauvoo. (Many missionaries said that you need a couple of days to really get the whole effect, but unfortunately we only planned a couple of hours.) Those few hours were worth it. Just being able to see the newly built Nauvoo Temple will be a treasured memory!
Our family standing where our first beloved Prophet Joseph Smith fell after being martyred.
(We just barely made it to Carthage in time to go on the last tour.)
Being pioneers is serious business...let me elaborate.
(Simple reenactment of handcart pioneers at W.Q.V.C.)
The previous night (prior to arriving at Winter Quarters Visitor's Center) we tried to camp just outside of Des Moine, Iowa. Setting up the tent proved uneventful. However, at around 3 a.m. the wind started to blow. (I have a hard time sleeping in tents anyway and I was the first one awake wishing the wind would stop blowing.) Within a few minutes the speed of the wind increased so that everyone in the tent was awake. The tent began to bend in half over the top of where I was sleeping and the worries kicked in. I asked Benji how bad it got in Wyoming before their tents started "flying" away (another story where tents detached themselves from the ground with people in them). He wasn't much help in putting my fears at ease. But Ben thought it best to stake down the tent some more. Through all of the talking and staking the wind speed was increasing. Kayla started screaming that she was going to die and took cover in the car. I wasn't feeling much better about the situation. After saying a prayer Ben and I decided we would pack up and go (sleeping really isn't an option when you feel like you'll be blown away in the wind). Ben ended up driving as far as he could and then we slept the rest of the night in the car. To say the least, tent camping gave us a true appreciation for a small portion of what the pioneers experienced--smeltering heat to high speed winds.
We made one last visit to the Moss Family's North Platte, Nebraska homes.
Here is the second one on Cedarberry Road.
Our goal was to make it home by Saturday noontime. But after the windy camping experience in Iowa we weren't in the mood to try it again. We managed with naps and a few pit stops to drive the rest of the trip home. I was almost in tears as I got into my own bed at 3:10 a.m. Saturday, August 13, 2011.
We couldn't pass up the chance to go to King's Island, so we decided to do an evening only. Our first ride was in the water rapids...
(little did we know that this was only the beginning, of getting wet, that is)
I had fun with the younger kids and caught some precious moments--Hyrum, especially as the flying ace!
Ally and the kids just couldn't keep their lips off of Snoopy.
The best part was Mom and Dad could "let down their hair" and be kids again!
P.S. It doesn't show, but we spent the last two hours of the night trying to dodge the pouring rain. Most of the rides were closed down, which led to some disappointment, but the memories will be forever embedded in our minds. Gene Kelly can't hold a candle to our version of "singing in the rain."
It seems I can't keep the clock from ticking. Hyrum turned a big four years old today. He got his wish come true--a CARS birthday! To sum up his first years here on earth? Professional Explorer. Like his daddy, there are always the questions--how does it work? what does it do? He can still be relied on for a warm hug daily, now known as monkey hugs (all four limbs around you at once). Happy Birthday, Hyrum!
Even on the go, we came up with some gifts that he loved (with the help of Aunt Nik--thanks).
To end the day we went on an excursion to the Cox Arboretum Metropark to take in God's perfect creations!
Our last night before reaching our destination we broke down and paid for a motel so that we wouldn't have to sweat it out. (Although, Ben still did, since he got sick that night.) Can't beat the free breakfast either!
As you can see, multitasking is not a problem for me.
We decided to take advantage of one last excursion to break up the monotony of driving--Lincoln's New Salem Village--in Petersburg, Illinois. If you look close at Kayla's face, she's forcing a smile. We were all dripping wet with the intolerable heat and humidity. You also have to note that the building behind the girls was the most original building in the village and it was where Abraham Lincoln spent many hours reading by the cooper's fire, educating himself for great things to come.
Thanks for coming along with us on our journey!
We made it to Ohio without any major difficulties (just before 11 p.m. EST) and the cousins were excited to see us. They haven't had any problems entertaining each other since we arrived.
Our first adventure on Monday afternoon was the Independence Visitor Center. (The Community Church of Christ's temple building is in the background.) Don't let our hair blowing in the wind fool you, we were frying hot!
William W. Phelp's printing press shop re-creation where we heard the story of the two youngs girls who saved some of the printed copies of the "Book of Commandments".
Sammie stirring up our grub in the mini-pioneer cabin.
"Hold on, Ally! This ride may get bumpy!" The kids had a great time moving west with this mini-wagon. To my surprise they even attempted to put the kid-size rocking chair in the back for the "journey." Hopefully it didn't get too worn during the move.
The kids were getting ready for a family picture in front of the Christus. One of the Sisters caught this precious moment.
Benji put up with "my people in every picture" quirk. "It's hot out here, Mom, take it quick!" This will be the new Kansas City, Missouri Temple.
The kids weren't so sure about the army of bugs that greeted us at Adam-ondi-Ahman. The noise from them "hurt our ears." The view was amazing! (Someday I'll have a camera that will capture it. Hint, hint honey.) We ended up spending the night in a motel, since sleeping in the heat and humidity wasn't very inticing after experiencing it in Kansas.
We are in Kansas, Toto (okay so Toto is our friend the "lizard")... After traveling from Denver with not much to stop and see, just flat farmland, we picked the best place to sleep in Kansas (not realizing the temperatures and humidity might preclude a good night's sleep). We beat our record of setting up camp by 11:00 p.m. Thanks to Ben's pillow fan the kids fell asleep right away. Then in the morning we were able to cool off in Wilson's Lake.
Unfortunately, we did have to leave our newest pet frog behind.