Early morning, Friday July 10, 2009 we set off on our summer vacation. Our goal to Return to Nauvoo, following in the footsteps of the pioneers. We started later than planned but travel went well until our wagon wheel broke.
We had just gotten new wheels but amid the steep Wyoming mountain slopes it blew! No one was hurt thankfully and we were close to a town, which is a great blessing in Wyoming. We lost 3 hours with this trial but at least it was only hours and not days.In the middle of Wyoming we struggled to find more fuel for the horses. We were getting worried as the fuel got lower and lower. Silently offering prayers that something would come over the next rise. (There is NOTHING in the middle of Wyoming). Our prayers were answered at Muddy Gap, just before Martins Cove. We had traveled through 3/4 of a tank of gas without any other fuel available! After paying the highest price of our trip, $3.99, we traveled on, reaching Martins Cove at sunset. The bugs tried to feast on us but we retreated to the safety of our wagon.After making camp in Casper we set out early to continue eastward. Through Wyoming we stopped at the Gernsey ruts and Register Cliff. What an amazing site! Name after name of those who braved the elements and unknown to follow the command of the Lord's prophet to settle the Salt Lake Basin.How many wagons had to pass by here to carve 5 foot ruts into solid stone? I can only imagine. The hills and mountains were not gentle slopes. They had to struggle and suffer unimaginably!
I looked over the vastness of the wilderness and my heart was full of gratitude and respect for our ancestors. The Mormon Pioneers were, despite hardships, the greatest pioneers in history.
We made a few more significant stops including Scotts Bluff. We passed by Chimney rock shortly after the sun reach it's zenith. Nebraska brought rolling hills filled with corn, corn, and more corn. Once again we traveled good interstate roads making good time. It seemed we were destined to remember our forefathers trials as we struggled to find a campsite with room. Rolling into a Prarie Oasis at 1:00 am we struggled to set up our camper in the dark. We didn't have the hitch locked in place causing it to come crashing down on my hand! All the weight of the camper rested on my wedding ring! Seldom is my diamond centered on my finger as it should be but this night it was. My finger was pinched pretty good but greatly saved with my diamond ring carrying the weight. It is smashed nearly flat. I still have the diamond, having survived great pressure. Perhaps our bishop (and jewler) can help. Another blessing....Setting out the morning of Day 3 we were anxious to reach Nauvoo by the end on the day. After making good time on the interstate we stopped at Winter Quarters. One of the highlights for me of the trip. I was moved to tears more than once to see and FEEL what the pioneers experienced. It was Sunday morning as we walked through the mormon cemetary on the bluffs at Winter Quarters. How many children and infants lost their lives? How many mothers and fathers cried as they left their child's grave behind to continue westward? So many, sooo many......
Traveling through county roads and past small farm towns with amazing farm houses we crossed the Mississippi and traveled up to Nauvoo at sunset.President Hinckley said everyone should experience Nauvoo at some time in their lives. I could not agree with this more. This is a time when a pictures 1000 words is not enough. You cannot explain the FEELING of Nauvoo. To walk where such great people, the Lord's people walked. Where the prophet Joseph Smith walked, ohhh, it was nothing short of amazing. Robin and I went through sessions at the temple- INCREDIBLE! We had fun, shed tears and laughter from the heart and soul. Tuesday night we experienced the Nauvoo Pagent!!! Words just cannot explain the emotions felt as we watched the history of Nauvoo portrayed on stage, culminating in the destruction and rebuilding of the Temple. As they lit the beautiful Temple on the hill, we listened to President Hinckley talk at the dedication. Only the Nauvoo Temple faces West. "Like 2 bookends, the Salt Lake and Nauvoo temples face each other".
The morning that Joseph and Hyrum left for Carthage they were "calm as a summers morn". Joseph said these are the greatest people on earth and the lovliest place on earth. Little do they know the trials that await them.....
What a great experience. I hope the boys will remember the way they felt walking the streets of Nauvoo for a long time!
On the way back we stopped at Mt Rushmore and the Cosmos. We managed to get home a day earlier than planned as it didn't take as long to return as it did on the way there. We missed Independence, Missouri but plan to go back in a few years and will see that then.