Thursday, June 12, 2014

Road Trip: Palmyra to Chicago

Monday we drove from Victor to Buffalo and then across the border into Niagara Falls Ontario Canada. The falls are amazing.

We all loved the ride up to the base of Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian version of the Maid of the Mist--the Hornblower.

Subway was our best open for a quick lunch. We resisted temptation to spend lots of money on the Street of Fun with it arcades, museums, games etc. I don't think this part of Niagara is on Marie's return list.

Both border crossings were quick and easy, We brought a notarized letter from the Pritchetts stating that we had permission to drive their van lest Canada think we were trying to bring a stolen car into the country, but didn't have to use it (although we did need it when we went to retrieve our towed car so I guess it is good we pre-planned to cross into Canada). And our children's' three expired passports (one month ago) got them back into the U.S. and we didn't need to use their just-in-case birth certificates.

We then drove via the New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio turnpikes (a fancy word for toll-road) to Kirtland Ohio. Can I just say that I am not a big fan of limited entry toll roads. Exits are farther spaced than usual interstates, getting on and off takes more time, and the service stops offer limited food options and higher priced gas and food. Also, my needed driving boost of Dr. Pepper is not always easy to find "back east." We got to historic Kirtland in time to enjoy the introductory movie at the visitor center. Dinner at Bob Evans (just OK).

Tuesday we started our visit at the Newel K Whitney Store. The Whitney's were prosperous merchants who joined the Church when Parley P. Pratt and three other missionaries arrived in Kirtland and started preaching. They then welcomed Joseph and Emma Smith to live and run the Church from their store building.

corn cob checkers

The store was also the post office

Kirtlanders would bring in goods for barter that the Whitney's then sold to others in town or exported via the Erie Canal to east coast markets.

This upstairs room (with original table) is where the Smith's entertained visitors and ran the Church and where several revelations were received.

Also upstairs was a room that was used for the first year of the School of the Prophets.

This upstairs storage room is where hired hand Orson Hyde (who converted, became an apostle and traveled to the Holy Land to dedicate it for the return of the house of Israel) slept.

The Whitney Store and several other historic buildings are located in the river valley where the two main roads intersect. The temple was built on the hill (top center). A few decades ago the LDS Church got permission (after many years of trying and with the help of 49ers quarterback Steve Young) to have the city of Kirtland re-route the main road around the Whitney farm area so that the historic area could be restored and be a pedestrian zone.

Two of the additional buildings in this zone are a rebuilt water powered saw mill (front) and an Ashery (rear)--where the ashes from Kirtlanders' fires were processed into potash that was then used to make soap and as a fertilizer.

These two paintings of the building of the Kirtland Temple and of the visit of Jesus to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the temple are displayed in a reconstructed boarding house that is used as an LDS visitor center for the temple since the real Kirtland Temple is owed by the Community of Christ (formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). The Community of Christ has an interesting movie about the history of Joseph Smith and the church in Kirtland. The movie and the 80 minute guided tour of the temple are mostly in sync with the LDS version, but there are some differences too. No photos were allowed in the visitor center or temple.

The original front door.

The two lower floors are large assembly rooms with priesthood pulpits on both ends. The dedication service was held in the first story. The second story was for priesthood meetings and training and the top floor held four rooms used as classrooms, the school of the prophets, and an office for Joseph Smith.

The pulpit behind the lower center window is where the Savior appeared.

Next we drove south (eating PB&J sandwiches along the way) 40 minutes to Hiram Ohio and the John Johnson farm. Since my first visit at age 16, this had been a favorite church site, well worth the trip off the beaten path. The Johnson family (as explained by the senior missionary couple) were, like the Smiths, Tambora refugees who fled Vermont for the greener pastures of Ohio after the failure of the year without summer. They established a large dairy farm and exported homemade cheese via the Erie canal to New York City.

When they built their home they dug a cistern first so that rain water from the roof would collect below and could then be pumped up into the summer kitchen.

The house was long inhabited after the Johnsons sold the farm to help buy the temple lot and moved to Kirtland to run a boarding house. When the LDS Church restored the building they removed multiple layers of paint down to the original (seen on the inside of the door) rust and mustard designs of Sister Johnson. The fireplace in the main kitchen was one of four centered on a central chimney that was built on a very firm foundation at the core of the home.

Sarah loved the colors used in the home--including this painted checkerboard floor. She saw Sister Johnson as a kindred spirit. This main floor parlor/sleeping room is where Joseph and Emma and their twin babies were sleeping the night Joesph was pulled from his bed by a mob and taken out and tarred and feathered.

(More original fun colors--perhaps chosen to combat the grey of the long Ohio winters.) Upstairs in a room accessed by a side entry stair was the room which the Johnsons let Joseph Smith use as an office during the year he and Emma found refuge in their home.

Over a dozen revelations now included in the Doctrine and Covenants were received in this room. Here is Joel reading the testimony of Joseph Smith from Section 76 (received in this room) which teaches about the three degrees of glory.

 22 And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!
 23 For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—
 24 That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.

We then set out for a long 6 hour drive to Chicago. We detoured into South Bend to see the campus of Notre Dame and to find some dinner (Wendy's again!). Then in Gary Indiana the closure of I-80 sent us off on a detour that soon fizzled when we lost track of the direction signs in a dark, rainy industrial area. We headed west in the rain and eventually found our way back to the interstate and on to our SW Chicago hotel.

Thursday morning my brother Jake drove 3 hours from his home in Charleston IL to join us for a fun day in the city.  We drove to Hyde Park on the south side via Cicero, 79th and Cottage Grove streets. We transected some the poorest neighborhoods of Chicago. We had fun, just as I did nearly thirty years ago, noticing all of the interestingly named store front churches in these African-American neighborhoods. I regaled everyone with stories from my driving through these and other south side neighborhoods picking up seminary students and scouts as part of my church callings during my three years (1985-88) in Hyde Park. We spent most of the day in Hyde Park. These ivy covered windows are in the the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute.

Here were are in front of Pick Hall which housed the Geography Department.

We stopped on the third floor to say hello to my dissertation adviser and mentor--Marvin Mikesell--who still teaches and comes into his office most every day of the week (including weekends) even though he is long past the age of retirement. He still has a great memory, keen wit and a knack for telling stories. He amused the kids by telling them how worried he was over whether or not this unmarried Mormon man would ever find a wife. He was happy to see me married and with three children!

This ivy covered building housed the dean's office (a sociologist who successfully lead the charge to drop the U of C's geography graduate program the year I arrived) and the Middle East Studies Center where after my first year I came to find out that I had miraculously been granted a FLAS fellowship which then paid my tuition and gave me a living stipend for the next two years--all I needed to do was take an Arabic class each semester (Thanks US Government). I still remember walking out of the door of this building after getting the good news and looking heavenward to say "thank you" and to apologize for having murmured and doubted.

The majestic Harper Library (now minus it many book shelves).

The book store where I worked 20 hours a week my first year of grad school, which gave me less time to study Arabic---which made we worry that I would never be able to get any funding.

Outside Regenstein library. A monument (atomic bomb cloud) in the place (under the old football bleachers) where nuclear fusion was invented in 1942.

Gotta love gargoyles

We had fun finding used books at Powells. Then we all enjoyed stuffed pizza (spinach is my favorite) at Giordanos.

Our final stop was the wonderful Science and Industry Museum.


Loved this huge train set showing how trains move goods between Seattle and Chicago.

Learning about how tornadoes are formed.

We then drove via Lake Shore Drive to the Loop to get a view of downtown. Traffic was horrible (it was rush hour).

We bailed after making it to part of the magnificent mile and headed towards our hotel. We skirted China Town and Little Mexico via 31st and Archer hoping to find some good Mexican food. I wasn't quite sure where I was going or what we would find, but we found a winner. Everyone found something good to eat. We all loved the chips and salsa and fresh lemonade. I loved my civiche. A delightful day in my old stomping grounds. Happy memories.

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