Sunday, August 30, 2015

Getting Back To Our Roots In Nauvoo

For the last week of July, I was in Nauvoo with my family.  I know I've talked a lot about how great my family is.  I look forward to our reunions every year; they are a highlight.  I them.  A lot.  

I have never really been to Nauvoo, so this was a first for me.  I can't really even begin to describe every moment, but I'll give a run down: 

I flew to St. Louis, and just happened to sit next to the largest man I have ever sat by, who also happened to be one of the New England Patriots.  You know, the football team who won the Super Bowl this year.  It was a hysterical experience, since he is the age of my niece Jennifer (24) but still made his attraction clear.  Hey, I was definitely not complaining; don't judge. ;-)
We actually a great chat, and he was a very nice guy. A fun combination between a farm boy, southern gentleman, and a frat brother. Try to picture that, will you?
I met my parents AKA my travel buddies, at the airport, and we headed toward Nauvoo.

Church, naturally
Show put on by the performing missionaries, or something.
Trail of Hope

Turns out, there's a lot of us.

Riding Reunion Shirt Day!
Morning: Wagon ride 
Afternoon: Wandering around the city like some big amoeba, ever ebbing and flowing, going to the different historical sites all over the historical district.
Buffet dinner at the Hotel Nauvoo
Mission reports from Josh, Jen, and Ally- I am inspired by the three oldest grandchildren in our family.  They are amazing, and I'm so proud to call them mine.  How they have all grown in the last few years as they have served their missions is astounding.  It was awesome to hear and see, all week. #proudaunt

Truth be told, I started the day with a little run down to the river.  This is the spot where the pioneers crossed the Missouri when they were being pushed out of Nauvoo, including some of my ancestors.  It was very sobering, and sacred, to be there. I needed a minute by myself.  Fair warning: there are a lot of pictures of the river.  Just be OK with it.

The Women's Garden.  

Alma 37:37- Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and He will direct thee for good...

Selfies with Eva always make me laugh so hard.  Rachel joined in on a few, and there are so many more of these than I am posting!

Lunch with these crazies.

These cute girls discovered the dress up clothes.

And Elissa got herself a bonnet, and I wanted to eat her.  Really. (Sidenote: How is it, when we discuss the cuteness of children, our descriptions turn to violent images?  I know I'm not the only one.  Just a thought).

I can't decide which of these photos I like better...

I got schooled by my sister.  It's fine.

Morning: Temple for the adults
Lunch and Annie's Custard. (I mean...)
Afternoon: A little more wandering in the historical district
Temple for teens and parents
Christmas in Nauvoo for the kids, put on by Becca/Dave, Mike/Sarah, and me.  And by that I mean, I did nothing but show up. They picked out little gifts for each other, and had a "snowball fight" with jumbo marshmallows.
Nauvoo Pageant

There is a very sacred feeling here.  Even among temples I have been to, it is different.

My absolute favorites in the world.

My kids, all grown up.

Joseph, Emma, and Hyrum Smith's burial sites.  
The Smith family cemetary, with that view again.

Grandpa telling a Jack story, of course. Tradition.

Morning: TREK. (Oh, and another chance to wear the cool shirts Becca designed.  We got asked about them all over town.  We were the envy of Nauvoo. :-)  Not kidding.)
Pioneer cemetary.  Another very sacred place, where we stopped to hear some family history from Dad.
Afternoon: We finally just gathered in bits and pieces and hung out.  It was exactly what we wanted to do.  Some people went and did a few things and then came over to the gathering place later.  But really, we just wanted to connect with each other and spend some quality time with each other, Riding style.  Meaning, sit around and chat, some of the kids played ultimate frisbee with the uncles, some swam, and a lot of us did a lot of sitting and staring at the amazing view over the Missouri River.  It was heaven, a little bit.
That afternoon Layne also let us know how he is doing with his journey with cancer.  It was heart-rending, since he is obviously near the end.  I think I have been in his presence for the last time in this life.  Though I am saddened by it, I do know we are an eternal family, and I'm so grateful.  I'm grateful that Layne has been and is a part of our family.  To hear his testimony and see his faith was something I will never forget.  

Going to the British Pageant finished out the night, and served as our final activity together.

Jacob and Rachel, definitely equally yoked, I would say, and ready to go.

Ah, Lucy Loo.  This encapsulates your personality better than anything I've ever seen.  And it makes me so happy and laugh so hard, just like you.

Eva and Lucy, earning their keep by cleaning the handcart wheels.  You missed a spot, ladies.

Letters to our current missionaries, Chris, Ethan and Tristan.

These guys made it all possible.  In thanks for that, I made them do a pensive, off into the distance shot.  You know, the kind Dad used to make us take sometimes when out hiking or something.  From some overlook.  Thanks, guys!

My parents and I and Mike and fam headed to Hannibal, MO to pay homage to Mark Twain, which meant we went on a riverboat cruise to learn about him.  Mr. Twain, I salute you.  
Back to St. Louis
Gateway Arch
Ted Drewes with Mike, ah yes.  That happened.

Last shot of the incredible view.

I wouldn't even include this picture, because it's horrible of me.  But I just think it's so funny. And it's with my dad, so sometimes you just have to make sacrifices for the memory.  Ah, vanity.

Shaved ice? Yes, thank you.

This darling boy loved the Arch.  I, for one, realized I'm a little more claustrophobic than I ever thought.  I was very relieved to get onto the ground again.

It is pretty cool, though, I have to say.

A little bit of the St. Louis Botanical Garden.  
Nice job, St. Louis.  Who knew you were so awesome?
Unfortunately for me, that was the end of my voyage.  

I mean, seriously.  She's a flower.

More selfies with Eva.  Not sorry about it.

Lincoln and Sam, discovering the magic of the green screen.

I arrived home, tired and happy.  Needing a vacation after my vacation, as usual. And missing my family already.  It's a good thing I'll see some of them in September at a certain wedding...

Now that's going to be a good blog post.