Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Loveliest Place and the Best People

In May April (where has the time gone?), we made a quick trip to Nauvoo, via Chicago and St Louis.  Sometimes I wonder why we make these crazy drives, but at least we enjoy ourselves! We started with a drive to Chicago, in what was the most amazing traffic we've ever not encountered: there was none. It was a straight shot, zipping along all the way, even when we hit downtown. Shocking!

We met up with Glade and Carolyn Myler, friends of Jim's from his law school days. (In their BYU law class, Glade was the oldest student, and Jim the youngest, and they somehow became good friends.) We spent the night in their timeshare, in the old Hotel 71 where Jim & I have stayed before. (We slept on a pullout bed that may have seen better days - but that night was definitely not one of them!)

The next day, Mylers turned in their rental car, and the four of us piled into our car, and drove to the St Louis airport, so that Mylers could pick up another rental (this convoluted maneuver apparently saved them beaucoup bucks). En route, we lunched at a Cracker Barrel restaurant, which gave us the chance to browse and be amazed.

We did NOT buy this beauty

We left St Louis in two cars, and drove to our hotel in Fort Madison, Iowa (a Comfort Inn - very pleasant, comfortable, great staff; I'd go there again in a minute). We ate in the restaurant next to the hotel - no idea what it was called, but Jim & I enjoyed dinner, and Glade & Carolyn enjoyed dessert.

The next morning, we drove into Nauvoo. We spent some time in the Visitors Center, and then took a wagon tour. It was cold, so we happily accepted the blankets they offered.

Glade - but we all looked like this

The wagon took us throughout Nauvoo, and the guide gave us lots of interesting info. Most of my photos from that tour are "meh," but here are a couple by the river:

This view reminded me of all the work that was required, to drain the swamp that became Nauvoo.

One of the horses pulling our wagon was named Nephi (which reminds me, for some reason, of my brother's pet mice, named Lehi and Nephi...)

Watching westerns on TV, I always imagined that covered wagons were huge. But, as this picture shows, this was not the case. They were only 3-4 feet wide, and 11-12 feet long. Once loaded with food and other supplies, I doubt there was much room at all for passengers.


We walked along Parley St, to the river. This was the path the saints took as they crossed the river and fled Nauvoo. The street is lined with markers that share writings from their journals, poignant, and expressing both hope and loss.

Here are some of the entries that were shared:
How well I remember what a hard time (father) had breaking in the animals to draw the wagon. There were six cows and two oxen. The oxen were well broken and quite sedate. But the cows were wild and unruly...while Father was breaking the cattle, Mother was praying...many nights when we were in bed asleep...she would go out into the orchard...and there pour out her soul in prayer, asking the Lord to open the way for us to go with the Saints.
~ Margaret Judd Clawson

Last evening the ladies met to organize...Several resolutions were adopted...If the men wish to hold control over the women, let them be on the alert. We believe in equal rights.
~ Louisa Barnes Pratt (this entry made me smile!)

My last act in that precious spot was to tidy the rooms, sweep up the floor, and set the broom in its accustomed place behind the door. Then with emotions in my heart...I gently closed the door and faced an unknown future, faced it with faith in God and with no less assurance of the ultimate establishment of the Gospel in the West and of its true, enduring principles, than I had felt in those trying scenes in Missouri.
~ Bathsheba W Smith
The temple today is a reproduction of the original, which was destroyed by arson in 1848. It is beautiful, and I can barely imagine how the saints felt as they left it behind.
I was in Nauvoo on the 26th day of May, 1846, for the last time, and left the city of the Saints feeling that most likely I was taking a final farewell of Nauvoo for this life. I looked upon the temple and City as they receded from view and asked the Lord to remember the sacrifices of his Saints.
~ Wilford Woodruff

The saints took their wagons, animals, families across the Mississippi on ferries like this one - neither very large nor stable! No wonder they were so relieved when the river froze over.

We lunched at Grandpa Johns' Cafe:

Took one more picture:

And we took a look at the statue of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, which stands opposite the temple, and above the river. The plaque on the statue reads:

"On the morning of June 24, 1844, Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum
left their families, homes, and fellow Saints for the last time. Traveling
on horseback, they paused on this bluff. Joseph looked admiringly
at the unfinished temple and the city of Nauvoo and declared:

"This is the loveliest place and the best people under the heavens;
little do they know the trials that await them

"Joseph and Hyrum then continued on to carthage, Illinois, where
they faced legal charges and eventual death at the hands of a mob."

The Prophet's Last Ride
Stan Watts and Kim Corpany

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