Monday, August 21, 2017

Tour of America Day #7

We had to leave early and so we said our goodbyes to the Wankiers.
This is a good looking bunch of kids! 

 Oh how I miss this sweet friend of mine. She understood me and viewed the world in much the same way I do. I love her testimony, strength, passion, talents, and reality. 
 We thought we would leave Hartford and drive down to New York City and glimpse the Statue of Liberty which was supposed to be a 2 ish hour drive and after 1 1/2 hours we still had 2 hours to go so we said sorry kids and headed to Gettysburg - the main destination of the day. 
 We made it to the visitor's center and museum with 2 hours to see it all. That proved to be a perfect amount of time for our little brood.  The cyclerama painting was magnificent. The detail was breathtaking. There are 2 men holding each other just above the wagon on the right. They are the Bird Brothers who spoke with the artist about their experience at Gettysburg in an effort to help him portray the events. 

 These are some good looking soldiers. 

 What is crazy to me about Jon in this picture is that many of the men were not much bigger than he was and there were plenty of boys who lied about their age to join so they were not much older than Joseph. 

 After seeing the museum and visitor's center, we drove around and saw a few of the landmarks. Sadly, due to our time delays in getting to Gettysburg, we missed the ranger talks at these locations. It was still a sacred place for sure. I am so grateful for the freedoms we have in this country and for the terrible price that was paid to maintain it. 

We had a long drive to Roanoke, VA after Gettysburg and it was late when we finally arrived but we were grateful for a place to sleep and to be out of the car. We drove through this really cool old, one way bridge. Both Peter and I, could not help but think of Beetlejuice.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Tour of America Day #6

After our goodbyes with the Boyers, we headed to the Priesthood restoration site. 
It was quite peaceful but our kids were not in the mood to tour one more old house and we were not in the mood to fight them so we made it a quick visit. 
 We then made our way to Connecticut to visit our friends the Wankiers. 
 Our kids were so excited to see their old friends. They  happily played, laughed and ate dinner together. I was so happy to see my dear friend Emily! 
They took us to see the birth place marker for Wilford Woodruff and the beautiful Hartford Temple. 
We all went out for some delicious ice cream and then back to their house for some much needed sleep. 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

17th Anniversary!!!

17 years ago on this day, even on a Saturday, we were wed for time and all eternity! 
We were young and so in love. We had a great friendship that finally worked into a romance when all of the pieces fell into place and we stopped getting in the way of what was our destiny. We had a crazy engagement, with me out of the country for most of it. We were wed a mere 18 days after returning to the country. Our wedding day was a dream! Our honeymoon was a great start to our marriage. Our reception was beautiful and rainy but full of so many great memories! 
We tried to take a selfie at each of the different places we went on our trip and it seems a perfect tribute to this man I love so much! We are not great at taking selfies, nor did these load in order but I pray we have decades more full of opportunities to take pictures and make memories and fall further in love with one another. 
 Mammoth Caves, Kentucky
 Niagara Falls, Canada
 Niagara Falls
 Niagara Falls
 Niagara Falls
 Palmyra, New York - Sacred Grove
 Mammoth Caves, Kentucky
 Kirtland, Ohio
 Niagara Falls
 Susquehanna River
 Hartford, CT Temple 
 Gettysburg, PA (Lincoln seemed like a fitting photo bomber.)
 Huntsville, AL Space and Rocket Center
After we finally made it home. 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Tour of America Day #5

Tuesday, July 18th we spent a lovely morning relaxing, playing, and catching up with our friends the Boyer's or in the case of the kids making great new friends. After lunch we went to see some church sites. We started at the Whitmer farm which was such a wonderful place to visit. The church was organized there and a great deal of translating took place there. It was a place of refuge for Joseph and a place of miracles- a highlight of the trip for me. 
Then we made the drive to the Smith Farm and Sacred Grove. 
 This is where it all began. Joseph had questions about religion due to the revival that was taking place at that time. He went to the scripture seeking clarity; something I know he learned from his parents. And that is where he read James 1:5-6 and felt the need to go to Heavenly Father in prayer. 
(This is where the Angel Moroni would later appear to him and direct him towards the plates so he could translate the Book of Mormon.) 
 And somewhere, here in this peaceful and sacred grove of trees not far from their home Joseph knelt to pray. He prayed out loud and with sincerity. He was taken upon by a dark force and as he called out once more he saw a light directly over his head. He not only heard the Father but saw Him and His son, Jesus Christ. 
 I don't know what Joseph expected he would get when he prayed but I am thankful for his prayer and his faith and the answer he received. That moment has shaped my life. Peter and I each took the time to share our testimonies with our children about this event and read with them from Joseph Smith History his account. 

 I met Mo (Maureen) while doing my Ragnar race in Austin last year. She actually lives in Utah and we ran into each other in Palmyra, NY. Crazy! 
 I love those people!
 After the Smith farm, we headed to the Palmyra visitor center and pageant. We intended to walk up the Hill Cumorah to the monument but we arrived at 6:02 and they close the pathways at 6:00 for the pageant. Oh well! Our kids were kind of over old places and buildings. So, we picked out amazing seats on the 2nd row and took turns holding the spot and letting the kids check out the visitor's center. And we found ice cream, after we had a delicious dinner of pizza brought to us by our friends the Boyer's, whom joined us for the pageant. 
 Picture with Moroni! 
 And it begins! 
A picture with the whole gang- Jennie's mom was visiting them helping them get ready to move. 
This pageant was one of the key reasons we went to Palmyra during this time of year. It was everything I wished for. There were great special effects and costumes and the story is so powerful and so true. I am thankful for the witness I felt there. I pray that my kids felt something that night as well and will remember it and rely upon it to build and strengthen their testimony. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Tour of America Day #4

 We went international on this trip- The Canadian Border Crossing.
 We were hopeful this would be a quick show them our passports and the kids birth certificates and answer a few questions but alas no. They were shocked we had driven from Texas. Then asked Peter if he owned any firearms. Peter being honest said yes some rifles for hunting. The guard then asked if we ever travel with them. No, unless we are hunting or moving. Did we have any with us now? No. A few more questions- what are your professions.... And then another, are you sure you do not have any firearms with you? No. Okay, well you will need to pull over to that parking space by that building and some officers will be with you shortly, do not get out of your vehicle. 
Then 3 officers came out and asked us to all get out of our car and proceeded to search the whole car. They asked what was in the rooftop carrier and Peter said luggage. More specific sir. Clothes, toiletries. The kids were really curious and we were just praying that the kids would not say something (not sure what) that would cause more questioning. After about 5 minutes, they let us back in our car. Crazy! 
 We parked a little ways away from the main action but it was free! 
 Niagara's Fury- it is a little video about the history of Niagara Falls and then you go into a room and stand on a platform that shakes and rumbles and water is sprayed at you and mist as you experience the formation of Niagara Falls. 
 Journey Behind the Falls
I don't know that this part where you go down a tunnel and stand behind the falls is really that impressive but there is an observation deck that you can walk out on that provides an upclose view of the falls. 
 So much water! 

 We had a lovely walk down to our next adventure and were able to have this lovely view of the American Falls. I think they are truly breathtaking with the cascading rocks. 

 We all loved the ride on the Hornblower. There was some wind and so the mist was spraying all over us. We were all soaked by the end of the ride. It felt good. 

 After the hornblower and some snacks we rode the bus down to the River Walk. 
This is a must see in my opinion. There is some incredible power in the water that is rushing down this river from the falls; huge rapids and waves. It is a true force of nature. 
 We then rode the bus again up to the butterfly conservatory. 
Jon was the butterfly whisperer. He had more butterflies land on him than anyone else. Samantha did finally have one land on her but we did not catch it on camera. 

We ended our time in Canada with some souvenirs at Niagara and then headed to Walmart for some Canadian candy and treats. 
There were a ton of cars crossing the border and so that took a really long time but we were eventually moving along and made our way to Manlius, New York and the Boyer family's house where we stayed two nights. It was such a joyous reunion with friends we had not seen in 14 years. Our kids totally hit it off and played so well together. At one point on our drive home, at the end of this trip we asked where the kids might like to go on a future trip and there was more than one vote to visit the Boyer's again.