Our Trip West

We left North Carolina on August 9 and traveled to Kirtland, Ohio. We hadn’t been to Kirtland for more than 40 years and it was interesting to see the difference. We loved being able to visit the LDS historic sites and to visit the Kirtland temple.
From Kirtland we drove to Lake Forest, Illinois and had dinner with Bob’s college roommate (and the best man at our wedding), and his wife — Bob and Kathy McFarland. It was great to catch up with them. It had been quite a few years since we last saw them.
The next two days we spent with our family in Gurnee, IL. On Friday, we saw Ryann for just a few minutes before she had to hurry off to work, and we took Isabelle and Bobby out to lunch and a movie. (We saw Pete’s Dragon.) Their mom, Maria, joined us for dinner near the theater, and then she had an evening commitment. We went back to their house and played games with the kids.
On Saturday, we picked up Isabelle and Bobby and took the train downtown. Spent some time at the Art Institute (fabulous!!) and at the Navy Pier.
Isabelle had fallen off her board about a week before she got there and her hand was still swollen. Even though she didn’t complain, I think she was uncomfortable with it while we were out. She seemed eager to get home and put some ice on it. (I expressed my concern to her mom that I thought it could be broken, but last I heard, Isabelle had still not been seen by a doctor.)
We had a bit of a mad dash to the train on the way back from Chicago. The scheduled bus leaving Navy Pier didn’t arrive, and the next bus, scheduled 20 min. later was more than 20 min, late! When we got to the train station, we raced to the track we needed and got on the train. We were barely inside the train when it started backing out. Sure glad we made it!
That evening we ate dinner at the Japanese restaurant where Ryann works so we’d have another chance to see her.
On Sunday morning, we drove to Rockford, IL and went to church in the Rockford 1st Ward, then went to spend the rest of the day with my twin brother, Bill, and his wife, Julette. It was a great visit!
 Monday morning we continued our trek west, stopping outside Minneapolis to visit my father’s gravesite. The last time I was there was when he was buried, and if it hadn’t been for some good information from my brother, Bill, I’m not sure I would have found it.
We also stopped in Alexandria, MN to see the Viking Museum, including a 3/4 scale of a viking ship. It was an interesting museum. I don’t remember ever learning that the vikings came this far inland, but there is plenty of evidence that they did.
Continuing our journey, we then stopped for a late lunch at the Fryn’ Pan restaurant in Wahpeton, North Dakota. (ND is one of the states we needed to include so we can someday say we’ve visited all of 50 of them. We’ll also be in SD, NE, and OR for the first time on this trip!)
From ND, we headed south and spent the night in Sioux Falls, SD. Traveling across South Dakota took all day, but, there were several interesting stops to help break up the trip. SD helped me appreciate the phrase in our national anthem about “amber waves of grain.” Lots of wide-open spaces here.
Our first stop after Sioux Falls was at the Corn Palace in Mitchell. Its amazing that this town redesigns and constructs all the images on the outside of the building every year. This year the theme was rock and roll. Its a clever way to get people to a town they might not ever stop in otherwise! :-)
On the other side of the state, in Wall, SD, is the famous Wall Drug. If you travel across that state you can’t miss the numerous billboards encouraging you to stop there. And, there is quite a bit in this one shop. It was fun to browse, and I was able to buy some sun screen since mine was getting low.
Our next stop was Sturgis and we were glad we were able to spend a few minutes in the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum. (We arrived later in the day than we had hoped so didn’t get to spend much time there.) Interesting place!

Our lodging for the night was at a nice little B&B in Keystone, SD, very near to Mount Rushmore. After dinner, we drove up to try to catch the night show at Mount Rushmore, but there was some lightning nearby, so they cancelled the show. The next day we got some great views, though! Its incredible to know that 90% of the “carving” that was done was done with dynamite.
We also drove to see the Crazy Horse Monument. What a massive undertaking! And, since they won’t accept any federal funds, (you know, that whole Native American vs. U.S. government thing) and are relying on private donations to complete the work, its going fairly slowly. It will be fabulous when its complete! In the video they show at the visitors center they say that the people who are dynamiting here have so much experience, that although the national standard for blasting is to be able to get within 8” of where you want to be, they consistently are able to blast within 3”. Amazing!
 To get an idea of scale, you could place all of the heads on Mt. Rushmore in the rectangle just behind Crazy Horse's head!
From here, we drove to Nebraska and stayed near the Chimney Rock National Historic Site. This site and our visit to Scott’s Bluff the next morning really gave me an appreciate for all those pioneers to walked across these plains! As slow as their progress was, it must have been discouraging to see one of these sites in the distance and yet it took days and days to get there. They were a brave lot, traveling so far into the unknown as they did!
 View from the top of Scott's Bluff
On Friday we made it to Fort Collins, CO, met up with my nephew, Steve Wade, and he went with us to tour the new Ft. Collins temple. What a beautiful place! (I found myself feeling a bit jealous for our little Raleigh temple.) Steve is not a member of the church, and we enjoyed being able to answer his questions.

We then went to dinner at Austins. This was the best meal of our entire trip!! I need to visit my nephew more often just so we can eat there! :-) Steve is going to be participating in a triathlon in a couple of weeks - swim a mile, bike 56 miles, then run a half-marathon. I’m still wondering how people think that’s fun, but, hooray for him!
Saturday morning we met up with my niece, Cheryl Meakins, and her family at Steuben’s in old town Arvada, CO. Steve also joined us since he hadn’t seen Cheryl in several years either. We had a good visit over a late breakfast, then continued on.
We stopped in Vail along the way and I finally understand the attraction. What a lovely place! We enjoyed seeing the peaceful, little Betty Ford garden nearby, too.
From there we drove to Grand Junction and spent the night.
After attending church on Grand Junction Sunday morning, we drove to Utah and spent about an hour in Arches National Park. (Since we have Senior Park Passes, we get in to all the parks free.) We didn’t have time to drive through as much of it as we would have liked, but, we enjoyed what we did see.

That night, we checked into our hotel in Salt Lake City. It felt great to know all that driving was behind us.
On Monday, Aug 21, we secured a storage unit at a facility not too far from the apartment we’ll be living in. We decided it would be better to put everything in storage that we don’t absolutely have to have with us this week. It felt great to lighten our load. We also went to Mr. Mac and bought a couple of suits for Bob that he’ll need for the mission.
Tuesday was the first time we could just relax in the room for the morning. Aaahhhh!
Because we’ve never been to Oregon, and we had these few extra days in Salt Lake before we head to the MTC, and because the 24th is our anniversary, we decided to take a quick trip, just for fun. So, Tuesday evening we flew to Portland.
On Wednesday (our anniversary) we went downtown, enjoyed having lunch at the Portland Soup Company — one of the permanent “trucks” that is part of Portland’s famous food-truck row. Bob had soup, but I had a delicious pork sandwich. Yum!
After lunch we met up with Keryssa, who gave us a Segway tour of the city. It was our first time on a Segway and we really enjoyed it. We’ve been blessed with beautiful weather for almost all of our trip across the country and this day was not exception.
We asked our Segway guide to recommend a good place for dinner and she suggested the Portland City Grill, so that’s where we went. It did not disappoint. We had a window table with a great view of Mount Hood, and the restaurant staff even put fun anniversary “sprinkles” on our table. (Tiny hearts and cutouts of the words “Happy Anniversary”)
We also used Uber for the first time while we were here. It was a really quick, cost effective way for us to get around.
Before we left on Thursday, we visited the beautiful Japanese Gardens in Portland. There was some construction going on, which detracted some from the peacefulness one usually feels in such a place, but it was wonderful to see, anyway. I love Japanese gardens!

Late Thursday afternoon we flew back to Salt Lake City and drove to Sandy, where we stayed for two nights.
Friday, we did a little more shopping and ate lunch on the 10th floor of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. The food was just okay, but, the view can’t be beat! (I’d forgotten how beautiful the Joseph Smith Memorial Building is!)

On Saturday, we put the luggage we’d been using this week in storage and pulled out the things we needed for the Mission Training Center (MTC). Then, we drove to Provo and checked in to our MTC lodgings. We were able to get there in time to go to an afternoon session at the Provo City Center Temple. Oh, wow! What a fabulous place!! We didn’t want to leave.
We had sacrament meeting that Sunday with the International Branch at the MTC. All the missionaries in this branch are from other countries and speak English as a second language. (The meeting was held in English.) One speaker was from Guatamala and one from the Dominican Republic. We also heard from a member of the branch presidency and his wife. But, the highlight of the meeting was a special musical number by a choir from one of the districts. It was a medley of Primary songs, and different parts of it were sung in different languages — Spanish, Japanese, and English. It was beautiful and the spirit was really strong.
We also attended a couple of special devotionals that evening. Super experiences! So glad we had the opportunity to attend those.

1 comment:

Patti said...

I loved being able to follow you west on Facebook, or maybe it was instagram. Either way, having the trip all in one place made a very enjoyable read. What fun! And you're not the only one with a tinge of temple envy. I was talking with a sister who serves in the Denver Temple and asked her if she had been up to Ft. Collins yet. She said she was going this week, but she was bracing herself to not feel jealous. She had heard it was bigger than the Denver Temple, and a lot nicer. It helps me to know the same ordinances are performed in each of these temples, no matter the size.