Archive for July, 2011

Chicago Part I – Taste of Chicago

Map of Chicago

One FULL day in Chicago. That was an excellent choice. We pulled into our hotel very very late Thursday night and we were really worried that we would end up sleeping in and miss some important Chicago sites. Of course, we couldn’t see everything in just one day, but we did hit up a LOT of great sites.

First we took the Metra into town. Here you can see the city from the green-tinted windows of the train. It took us right to the historic Union Station.

Taste of Chicago is the largest food festival in the United States. It was in Grant Park. We were greeted by security guards and raging Indians on stallions.

M got the Chicago style pizza from Connie’s.

I got a Samosa. I wish I had gotten the pizza instead. I tasted M’s and it was a lot better than my fried curry mess.

To be continued…

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A big hello

From Macomb, Illinois.

where we got lost for a minute.

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Well, as you can see, we’re slowly catching up on our epic road trip so we can finally start posting about what we’re doing on the east coast.

Here are some pictures from our visit to the Carthage Jail, the place where Joseph Smith was martyred.

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Top ten moments in Nauvoo

10. Pizza from a gas station.

I was so tired of road trip food. Pretzels and oyster crackers just leave something to lack, if you know what I mean. My number one goal upon arriving in Nauvoo was to get dinner. But it’s a pretty small city, and pretty much everything was closed by the time we got there. Except Casey’s General Store (Don’t be fooled. It’s just a gas station). They make pizza to order, and while it was pretty tasty, we had to wait a good long time before it was ready, and I was getting real hungry. So while we waited, we looked at just about everything for sale in the gas station mini market:

This one gave us a good chuckle.

They were giving away a free order of cheesy bread with any large pizza purchase, so it lasted for a couple meals, which was extra nice.

9. Seeing Vocal Point on stage.

and hearing them do an LDS version of this classic:

8.  A camp ground with showers.

That was a lovely surprise. It was a lovely little camp ground with a nice view of the Mississippi River, right near the center of town. I would recommend it to anyone:

7.  Crossing the Mississippi River.

That thing is huge and never ceases to impress. M didn’t believe me when I said it’s about as wide as the Okanagan, but he said the bridge we crossed was probably as long as the bridge in Kelowna.



6.  Learning about how pioneers made stuff


Original sunstone from the Nauvoo Temple

like candles, bread, and tin pans.

5.  The Nauvoo Cultural Hall and Masonic Temple.

It’s not used as a masonic temple anymore, but it is still used as a cultural hall. The senior missionaries perform plays on the stage every night. The Cultural Hall was severely damaged and altered during the years between the exodus and the Church‘s reacquisition of the properties.

It did still have several beautiful original details, including pine pillars painted like marble, just like the Salt Lake Tabernacle, the original dance floor on the 3rd story, and a big bass drum from the band that played for the dances.

4. John Taylor’s home.

He had a pretty great story. You can read more about it here.

Rocking Horse

Believed to be carved by John Taylor

3.  Learning about the significance of Nauvoo to the pioneers.

They were a very industrious people and they made a very impressive community during the 5 years they lived in the city.


We took a wagon tour of the city to see some of the sites before we wandered around for ourselves. We only had one day in the city, so we asked for recommendations. One sister missionary had recommended John Taylor’s home, so that was our first stop. But we also visited the tinsmith, the bakery, Brigham Young’s home, and others.


2. Walking the trail of hope.

This is the path down Parley street where the pioneers left the city and crossed the river.

Now that the temple has been rebuilt, we really felt that pain of leaving the city that they did. You can look back over your shoulder and see the temple rising above the brick buildings.

1. Doing a session at the Nauvoo temple.



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Church History in Missouri

In Independence, MO we went to the LDS visitor’s center and the temple of the Community of Christ (a church formerly called the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a group that broke off from the mainstream LDS church after Joseph Smith’s death). Their temple is a little different from our LDS temples. It was modelled after a nautilus shell, which symbolizes going toward God while he comes toward us. The Community of Christ uses it for community events and prayers, and also for their church HQ. We had a very nice young tour guide who answered all of our questions.

Here’s an older RLDS (Community  of Christ) church, corner stone placed by Joseph Smith III:

I got to meet up with Kristen, an old friend from my first year at BYU-Idaho, who came with us to the Community of Christ temple and then to Liberty, MO.

At Liberty jail, Joseph Smith and five other church leaders were thrown in prison from December 1838 to April 1839. The local government at the time wouldn’t allow them a real trial to defend themselves of their made-up offences. They just wanted the Mormons gone (later they issued a Mormon extermination order) and hoped that putting their prophet in jail would weaken the membership of the church and get them out of the state. The jail was a tiny, filthy, and cold place. But miracles still happened here and Joseph and all of the men learned a lot. Jesus Christ gave Joseph this revelation while he was in Liberty Jail.

After Liberty, we made our way to Nauvoo, Illinois. On the way we stopped at Far West, which used to be a Mormon town with over 2000 people. All that’s left is the site where they started building a temple. The pioneers of that town must have been very excited for that temple and it must have been heartbreaking to have to leave before they finished it. I could feel their faith and hope while wewalked through the temple site. That was one of the highlights of the trip for me.

We also stopped at Adam-Ondi-Ahman. This place is fascinating in its history, even if it’s not much to look at (besides a beautiful view) now. Adam held councils here thousands of years ago, the Mormon pioneers built a settlement here 170 years ago, and Jesus Christ will come here in the future.

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Kansas City BBQ

Here’s a quick food post. Apparently Kansas City, MO is famous for its BBQ. Our friends, Jenika and Danny (Jenika was one of T’s high school friends), took us to Gates BBQ, a KC chain famous for meat and rude employees. When they say, “Hi may I help you…” it isn’t a question. And you better not forget to grab a tray on your way in or you’ll hear about it. Definitely adds to the adventure and personality of the place. I got BBQ beans and a burnt ends sandwich. It was delicious.

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Church History in Winter Quarters and Council Bluffs

We started out from our host’s home at around 8:30 am and headed to the Mormon Trail Center, which is right next to the Winter Quarters Temple in northeast Omaha.

The center was a great place to start. The Mormon (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) pioneers stayed here—and across the river in Iowa—for about four years. They created some of the most well-organized refugee camps ever, with tens of thousands of people living in tents, log cabins, and small farms scattered throughout the area. I never thought of the pioneers in quite that way, but the violence and death threats in Missouri had sent them seeking refuge outside their country. Nebraska was not part of the US and the Saints made a deal with Native American leaders to allow them to stay temporarily.

After our tour we walked through the cemetery and temple grounds next door. I had at least one relative buried there or somewhere near; she died when she was 6 months old.

Next we drove downtown to see a pioneer sculpture park.

Then we crossed the Missouri River to the Kanesville, Iowa where we learned more about the pioneers’ camps, about their service in the US Army as the Mormon Battalion, and how they built the Kanesville Tabernacle in 2.5 weeks—in the winter—to allow as many LDS members as possible to meet for a general conference and vote to sustain Brigham Young as the President of the Church. Over 1000 people fit in the building (this one was a replica built by Council Bluffs residents).

The flooded Missouri River had run right over the freeway, so we got to take a scenic highway tour through southwest Iowa on our way to Independence, Missouri.

This is no lake… it’s a farmer’s field!

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