Monday we headed to Kirtland, OH. We arrived at noon and jumped right in with a tour of Historic Kirtland, starting with a movie about the Ohio period. We then saw the sawmill, ashery, Newell K Whitney Store, the Whitney home, and hotel now turned into a room with exhibits. It was amazing to learn about the growth of the church during this time and how much knowledge and learning occurred here. We ate a picnic lunch and the kids squeezed in much needed playing in the dirt time.
We rushed over to the Kirtland Temple to take a tour. Emily did great walking up all the flights of stairs and all the way back down again. We were all feeling a bit sluggish and spent a decent amount of time just hanging out on the steps after our tour ended. Emily and Nathan sang and danced all over the little brick area in front, with Nathan shouting, “busssssss!” every time a large vehicle drove by (something he has been doing for a few months that we all love).
We went to the Isaac Morley Farm where they tell stories about the saints that lived there in the 1830s. The kids were 100% focused on playing in the dirt and had zero desire to hop back in the car to head to Maumee, OH where our hotel was for the night. The both feel asleep immediately and woke up when we stopped to get dinner about an hour into our drive. We went to a local hamburger restaurant that had lots of character and delicious sauce that they are famous for. The whole experience took close to two hours, but the food was worth it!
We got settled at the hotel around 10:45pm. The kids slept until we woke them up at almost 9 so that we could grab breakfast and drive home. The whole Jackson crew stayed in West Lafayette for about 36 hours – just enough time to do countless loads of laundry, buy food for nine traveling people, and let the kids play at the playground. Andrew took his family on a tour of Purdue Campus while the kids and I hung out at the playground Wednesday morning.
On Thursday we jumped back to the car to drive to Nauvoo! Our very first stop was pioneer pastimes where Emily and Nathan fell in love being pioneers. They dressed up in clothing, played pioneer games, and probably would have been thrilled to move in permanently.
When the rest of the Jacksons arrived we went and saved seats for the Nauvoo Pageant and then headed to the condo where we were staying for the next couple of days. Andrew and I unpacked and got the kids beds all set up while we baked pizzas and made a salad.
After a cozy meal with nine of us squeezed around a small table, we ran to see Sunset on the Mississippi. Emily made a hat and participated in the children’s parade with Andrew. Both kids seemed to enjoy the show. It was a little hard to tell; they didn’t take their eyes off what was happening but they didn’t react much either. One of the songs was about a guy kidnapping a girl over and over again with different heroes helping her escape and Emily really didn’t like the villain and talked about him for days.
About 8:00pm when the show ended we went over to the activities by the pageant. Emily fell in love with chasing after a hoop Andrew would roll as hard as he could on the ground. The pageant started at 8:30pm and both kids actually loved the show. Emily loved seeing the pretend Emma and Joseph. It made an impact on both of them. They were also both fell asleep during our 5 or so minute drive and went right to bed since it was after 11!
We started Friday out with a wagon ride around the outskirts of Nauvoo. It was pretty chilly so everyone bundled up under lots of blankets. They told some amazing stories about the saints that lived and established the city.
We went to the Community of Christ section of Nauvoo and toured the Smith homes. I had never been there before and it was really neat to see where Joseph and Emma Smith lived and hear stories about their family. After the tour we had a picnic lunch outside of the Red Brick Store. We bought a bag of cherry hard candy there which Emily LOOOVED. When we had been home for a few days and the hard candy ran out she said, “When we go back to the place where Relief Society started, we should buy more of that red candy.” She absorbed more than I thought!
The plan was for us all to go on a carriage ride at 1pm but we were a few minutes late so they only had spots for Andrew and I to go with the kids sitting on our laps. We were all pretty tired and Nathan fell asleep as we rode along. As soon as we got off though they were off to pioneer pastimes and back to playing in their favorite pioneer world. Andrew’s family went to the temple so we had a few hours in the afternoon with our little family. We went to the brickyard after peeling the kids away from playing and then went back to the condo for a little break and dinner.
Andrew’s family arrived just as we finished making dinner – complete with a peach pie (fabulous idea Jenny!) – and we enjoyed a good meal together. We slowed down a little bit and headed to the pioneer games after everything was cleaned up. Nathan fell asleep on the ride over so I stayed in the car with him for a half hour while Andrew and Emily went off to play the hoop game.
I woke up him as it was approaching 7:30 to join Andrew and Emily. They watched a puppet show, we did a handcart pull (Nathan cried the entire time we were pulling him), danced, and played another marble game. Andrew’s family joined us shortly before the British Pageant started. Emily was really excited to see the show but fell asleep on me after about an hour and slept the entire way home and transferred right into her bed (that was a serious first in her life!). Nathan was just starting to perk up and spent the majority of the time running up and down the row of Jacksons getting us to lift him up and do horsey rides on our legs. He had a great time!
On Saturday morning we slowly packed up, ate breakfast, and got ready to drive home. Andrew’s family left early to see one more thing in Nauvoo and while we waited for them to return I took a much needed nap at 9am. Our home doesn’t have much direct sunlight, so Emily and Nathan were mesmerized by the little dust particles in the light. We drove home and had an uneventful 5 hour end to our huge trip. The kids are troopers and spent lots of time reading and singing in the backseat.
We are so grateful we were able to go and spend that time together as a family and with Andrew’s family. Seeing the church history unfold in such a short time was particularly meaningful to each of us and we all felt a deepening testimony and commitment to the gospel.