Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend Road Trip

Have I mentioned that Craig is slightly more adventurous than I am?  All he needs to spark a road trip inspiration is a couple of blank days on the calendar, a functioning vehicle, and some hotel points...and poof! the opportunities are endless.  A couple of weeks ago, when he looked at the calendar and realized that there was nothing scheduled for Memorial Day weekend, he suggested we go on a road trip.  My initial reaction to those kinds of ideas is always to think up some legitimate reason to say no.  I have no idea why I do that...  
But I have also lived with this man long enough to know that I've never been disappointed when I've followed his madness adventurous spirit.

This weekend, we drove 1526 miles, stopped in 10 cities, visited 4 church history sites, slept in 3 hotels, and listened to 5 million songs on satellite radio.  We definitely maximized this three day weekend.

Friday after school, we packed everything, rented a minivan (ours is no longer trustworthy on long trips,) and made a quick stop at the Freshman Center talent show to hear Megan sing before heading to Tulsa, OK (modified first stop since we weren't able to leave right after school...four hours closer to our REAL first stop...Independence, MO.)    

Oh, did I mention that we didn't tell the kids where we were taking them?  Craig gave them four days'  advance notice, told them to pack both casual and churchy clothes, to bring a pillow, and that we would be back on Monday night.  Oh, the faith of those kids...there is NO way I would have let him talk me into that.  

The catalyst for this impromptu road trip was the girls' upcoming Pioneer Trek in June.  They will spend three days re-creating the Mormon Pioneer Trek from Illinois to the Salt Lake Valley.  Our entire stake has been preparing for this trek for quite a few months.  All the youth have been assigned to a Ma and Pa so that they can travel with a handcart in a family group.  We've gathered authentic (well, as close to authentic as Goodwill makes possible) pioneer skirts and bonnets (or they might wear cowboy hats) for the girls so they can feel like real pioneers.  They're taking family ancestor names with them so they can think about someone who was an actual pioneer (not necessarily one who walked across the plains, but who may have blazed a trail significant to our family.)  Craig really wanted them to be prepared not just physically, but spiritually, too.  

Saturday:  Independence and Kansas City, MO 
We stopped at the Visitor's Center in Independence and learned a little bit about the history of the church and the circumstances that brought the original Mormon pioneers from New York to Ohio and then into the Missouri territory in the 1830s.  We also stopped at the Kansas City Temple to add to Savannah's temple tour, and then ended our day at Liberty Jail.  I loved all the sister missionaries we got to talk to on Saturday.  It had been a busy day for them, but we managed to time our visits between the crowds so we had a little extra time to ask them questions.  Amazing girls.  Amazing spirit in both visitors centers.  
This is the international headquarters for the Community of Christ church.  I know very little about their church, but we sure were intrigued by the interesting architecture of this building.

Kansas City, MO Temple
Sunday: Nauvoo and Carthage, IL 
We stayed in a hotel in Keokuk, IA on Saturday night and then got up on Sunday morning to attend church just across the Mississippi River in Nauvoo, IL.  There is an 8:00 sacrament meeting for visitors and the full time missionaries, but we knew we would never make that, so we opted for the 10:00 Nauvoo 1st Ward meeting.  What an interesting ward that must be with their constant influx of visitors every week.  We talked to a few of the residents and they said that during the summer months it's typical to have the overflow filled to capacity every week.  How on earth do you prepare for a congregation that triples in size three months out of the year?  Everyone we talked to in that ward was warm and friendly, though, as if it wasn't a common thing to have new visitors every week.  We spent some time after church taking pictures in front of the Nauvoo Temple and visiting some of the restored buildings in that historic little city.  After Nauvoo, we drove a few miles to Carthage, IL to visit the jail where Joseph and Hyrum Smith were martyred in 1844.

We had such a great day in Illinois.  I could have stayed there another couple of days, I'm sure.  Every time I leave that place I think that there never seems to be enough time to tour all the homes and buildings and talk to all the missionaries.  

On Sunday evening, we started our drive back toward Texas.  We drove through beautiful stretches of farms and rolling hills.  I tried to take quick pictures with my phone out the window as we were driving, but if I could have stopped at every single old barn and taken more time, I would have loved it.  There really are remarkably beautiful places in the United States.  

On Monday, we continued our long drive home and took a slight detour through Branson, MO, just to see if we might want to come back someday.  

Um...YES...gorgeous mountains, tons of family friendly activities, shopping, and music THE OSMONDS!  Yep, even without the giant chicken, I'm pretty sure Branson would be an absolute YES for me.  Maybe for our next holiday weekend??    

It was a crazy, whirlwind trip, but it was surprisingly unrushed.  We just did what we could and saw as much as we were able to see.  There were no high highs or low lows.  It was uneventful but extremely memorable.  I always resist these road trips, but I realized when I was in the middle of this one that I really LOVE them.  I love having my whole family cooped up in a van or a hotel room for three whole days.  I love seeing places I've never seen.  And I love that there are no lists or demands or chores when you are captive in a moving vehicle for miles and miles and miles.  All there is to do is talk, and think, and take pictures.  What a perfect way to spend three days.  

1 comment:

  1. I was hoping for this post, my friend!
    I loved every singe thing about it...
    I, like you, resist things like this.
    I, unlike you, have not embraced it. Yet.
    Now...I'm about ready to hop in the van and go!!!
    Thank you for sharing more than photos...but your thoughts and knowledge and faith as well.
    I loved it all...and could have looked at your photos forever. : )
    I love that you love the feeling of all your family together like that.
    Because I do too. So much.
    Now, if you need help planning your next adventure, let me know.
    If you continue a bit more east, and up a little...or wait!!!!
    Better idea!!!!
    We could meet half way!!!!