After returning from Utah we had one week to unpack, start a few projects that I had been loosing sleep over while traveling, and pack up again for our road trip. We left for Erie, Pennsylvania on Thursday morning. This trip completely snuck up on me and it was a scramble that morning to get on the road and be prepared to be in the car for 7 hours the first day. We made excellent time leaving at 11am and arriving at 6:20pm, with only a few bathroom stops in between.
We stayed at Andrew’s cousins home. Jordan and Caitlin are on year three of medical school and it was so fun to see them and catch-up a little bit. On Friday morning we drove three hours to Palmyra, New York. Andrew’s parents and three siblings, Sam, Mindy, and Kimby, met us there after flying into Chicago and driving to Niagara Falls. Our little Jackson family explored the Hill Cumorah while we waited for them to arrive. As we approached the visitors center the kids saw the statue of Jesus through the window. Nathan started crying because he didn’t want to walk up the stairs and Emily ran over and said in the sweetest voice, “Oh Nathan it’s ok. It isn’t the real Jesus it is just a statue.”
We looked at the exhibits and then went on a “hike” up the hill. Emily is really in love with hiking right now so this was a much looked forward to highlight for her. She was really excited to see the statue of Angel Moroni on top, and even more excited to hike down the back pathway.
Emily is really into making silly faces these days.
When we finished Andrew’s family was still a few minutes away so we told them we would meet them at the Joseph Smith log home. While we were waiting in the parking lot there Emily really wanted to see the log home and said, “Andrew you should call your folks” so that we could see how much longer they would be.
Andrew gave each of the kids m&ms while we waited…Nathan’s was blue.
Andrew proving his parents had arrived.
We started the tour of the Log home, the frame house, and the sacred grove close to 4 pm and our kids quickly realized this would be a bit of a long tour. Nathan occupied himself by giving all of the newly arrived Jacksons fist bumps for an hour and being wrangled upside down or on someone’s shoulders. Emily did pretty well but would join in Nathan’s games every once in awhile and they would both get really loud and excited.
I’ve been talking with the kids about visiting the sacred grove for months. When we were in the bathroom at the visitors center Emily was really excited and said that she was going to feel the Holy Spirit while she was there. I pulled her aside at the very beginning and we had a little moment to talk. Then she was off finding bugs, playing in the dirt, and doing “1-2-3 Weeeeee” with any pair that would swing her into the air. I think it was a great introduction for a three year old. Nathan preferred being held or climbing on the benches, and he did a lot of both.
The other highlight from this church site was the stream that ran under the bridge. The kids spent loads of time dropping sticks or leaves on one side and then running to the other as fast as they could to watch them come out the other side.
Our developing goal for this trip was to eat at local places instead of typical fast food chains. On the first night we ate at a delicious Chinese restaurant that had excellent ratings and a local customer base with regulars. The food was delicious and it was fun to try a good variety from their menu. Another surprise was how COLD it was. I didn’t pack jackets (because it has been 100 degrees for weeks) so Emily ate wrapped up in a blanket. The weather didn’t stop us from going to Chill and Grill for ice cream. A small had four large scoops of ice cream in it. Andrew, the kids and I shared a kiddie cone with three large scoops of strawberry (Emily’s current favorite) and black raspberry.
Saturday morning Andrew and I went to the temple. Around 11:30 we switched and Andrew’s family went and did baptisms.
We took the kids to Aldis to restock on groceries and then back to the hotel for much needed naps. In the afternoon we went to the Grandin printing press and saw the process of printing and binding the Book of Mormon. The kids were engaged as they explained the printing process. Nathan was most interested in balancing on one leg while swinging the other back and forth. Emily found a sticker that provided the entertainment at the very end of the tour.
We made a quick stop at the bookstore and each bought a peppermint stick for a quarter to eat on our drive to the Peter Whitmer farm. It was dinner time so we made a stop at a local Mexican restaurant on the way that was so delicious. The Peter Whitmer farm had an excellent video that explained the history of translation and the involvement of the Whitmer family which we didn’t know much about. After seeing the house and talking with the senior missionary we looked at the exhibits for a long time. They had a bunch of kids games you could play like herding sheep, gathering eggs, cutting down trees, and churning butter. The kids got a kick out of it and it was fun to watch them laugh and talk. We got back to the hotel super late at night.
On Sunday we went to sacrament meeting at 9 and then our little family went to the sacred grove for 45 minutes to walk around. We had a great experience until I started getting attacked by mosquitos and we made a quick exit. We had a picnic lunch and then drove back to Erie to spend another afternoon with Jordan and Caitlin with all the Jacksons. After dinner they took us to the beach 15 minutes away. It was awesome. Nathan was in heaven throwing rocks into the water, drawing in the sand, and setting up rocks in the sand. Emily collected a stash of tiny white rocks and would bury them and dig them back up. She grabbed a Gatorade lid to transport her treasures back home.