Thursday, August 28, 2008

On Our Way

Pedro and I packed our life into my little Mazda 626 and his Ford Ranger with a trailer and left the familiarity of Provo for the open road to Minnesota on Monday, August 18. We enjoyed visits along the way; grandma in Heber, mission president's wife in Vernal, great aunt in Nauvoo and cousin in Iowa. We slept under the glorified tarp Pedro made (yes, he actually sewed it together) in state parks or national forests along the way.

A morning hike in Dinosaur National Monument was our last Utah adventure before climbing slowly up the steep canyon roads in Colorado to Rocky Mountain National Park. Camping and hiking in this park reminded me of family backpacking trips in the Uintahs and the Windrivers. We saw a mama & a baby moose, a fox, elk, lots of friendly rodents and a black bear at Mills Lake (across the lake from us, gratefully). Beautiful pine forests with reddish hues not from autumn leaves changing colors, but from the destructive pine beetle, covered the canyon walls. Park rangers thwarted our attempt to paddle our little kayak to camp on an island in the middle of one big lake. They said the island was privately-owned in the middle of this big expanse of federal land. Foiled!

We cooked oatmeal, ramen and soup in a cup on a little gas stove Pedro made from a pop can. PBJs and Wendy's value meal kept us alive, too. Though for more than one meal, we scarfed Sister Cranney's amazing zucchini bread. Thank you Hermana Cranney!

Goodbye mountains. Hello corn fields and big sky. Kansas had a nice visitors information center. That's about it.

We arrived in Independence, Missouri about 2:30 a.m. because we couldn't find the state park in Kansas, so we decided to sleep in our car. A good thing because a big storm raged that night.

The LDS visitors center in Independence was very nice. I especially appreciated the simple beauty of our temples after seeing the thick, twisted spiral of the RLDS (now Community of Christ) church's temple. Before we knew what it was, we joked it looked like the great and spacious building. No offence to the RLDS.

Liberty Jail had a special feeling of sacrifice, humility and revelation. A testimony that the three go together; whereas Carthage had more of a sobering feeling. Far West and Adam-ondi-ahman lay in the midst of beautiful rolling hills of farmland. I never realized how hilly Missouri is. We felt a sense of peace and quiet and waiting calm as if the disparity of the saints situation in the late 1830s dissipated with the wind.

Nauvoo was alive. We rode our bikes through the historic town visiting restored homes of Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Lucy Mack Smith, John Taylor and others. Because the pageant had ended the week before, more couple missionaries occupied Nauvoo than anyone else, so we felt like we had the town almost to ourselves. The sunset over the Mississippi River glowed bright orange as the statue of Joseph and Brigham points to the west.

An endowment session in the Nauvoo Temple made our time there so sweet. The majesty of that sacred edifice stands as a memory to the sacrifice and dedication of the early saints. The beauty of the inner walls shows the simple beauty of the gospel of Christ and the glorious plan of happiness.

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