The whole crew in front of Joseph Smith's family's log cabin
We drove through Chicago, but that was as close as we got to visiting. Hi, Chicago!
As we traveled along we saw signs for Notre Dame, which Allen decided to make a quick pit stop. The campus was gorgeous. As we drove through we were pointing things out, like the old cemetery right at the entrance and the amazing architecture of some of the buildings, but no one was listening. They were all completely focused on whatever screen they had in front of them, headphones in. So we decided to change things up a bit. Allen loudly announced, "Hey guys! Look! We're at Monsters University!" Everyone looked out the windows. "Really?" they asked, kind of excited. "Yeah, this is where they filmed it!" I responded. I know, I shouldn't lie. And that was a blatant one, considering it's an animated film. But the little kids were suddenly fascinated.
They eventually figured out that this was actually NOT Monsters University, but we played a game I called, You Don't See That Everyday to keep them looking out the windows, until it started to get ridiculous. First, they spotted things they had never seen before and would point them out. Then they started mentioning things like, "A whole van full of Mormons driving around a Catholic University, taking pictures. You don't see THAT every day!" So we stopped playing. But we kept looking.
Allen told me that the students call this mural at the end of their football stadium Touchdown Jesus, so I had to take a picture.
Before long we were back on the road. This was one of our really long driving days. We got to Kirtland, Ohio just after the sun had set and got a couple of decent pictures of the Kirtland temple before continuing on to Palmyra, New York, which is where we hoped to stay for the night.
Something crazy was going on here, I'm not sure how Hubba is levitating.
We drove as far as we could, but once it started to get late we knew we weren't going to make it to Palmyra. So we pulled off the freeway in Buffalo, found a hotel with two rooms available on our first try, and hit the sack for the night. The next morning we made it to Palmyra and stopped at the Hill Cumorah Visitor's Center first. Right when we walked in, Little O found a friend - his kindergarten teacher's sister who had come and volunteered in the classroom a few times. So cool!
After a brief presentation we hiked up to the monument at the top of the Hill Cumorah and got everyone together for a picture.
But then I counted and realized we were missing one. And that one was Little O. After a frantic search for about 15 minutes (it felt like hours!) we found him. He was racing the other kids back down to the visitor's center when we called them all over for the picture and he, not hearing me, kept running and came out the victor. He then tried hiking back up to the monument around the other way, where All-a-Boy eventually found him.
It would not be a real family trip without us losing someone, I guess. But that was definitely not my favorite part of the trip.
We loaded back into the van and stopped by the Palmyra Temple for a couple of photos.
And then continued on to the Sacred Grove.
Everyone kind of went their own way, but still stayed together.
It was so gorgeously green and peaceful there. I wish we had more time to spend in the grove.
There are three things that fascinate me in nature: clouds, birds and trees. I find them all beautiful in their own ways. Of all the trees in the grove, this one was my favorite somehow. It seemed to have a personality all its own.
We drove past a couple of other church history sites in Palmyra before heading back to the interstate towards our next stop: Boston!