We are back in Utah.
Well, technically we’ve been back in Utah for a few weeks now, and I’m just a terrible blogger.
Tyson and I took 2 ½ weeks to drive from North Carolina to Utah; a week longer than originally planned. And we loved every minute of it.
We left NC and headed straight for Moneta, VA. My mom has been doing a lot of family history work and asked if we would try to find some graves of our ancestors. It turns out it was a lot more difficult to find the right graveyard, let alone the graves we were actually looking for. We felt as though we could have found some gravestones, however, it required us to drive along a dirt road for a bit, and, as our car had all of our belongings in it and was quite weighted down, we decided it wasn’t worth it to try to and find some gravestones if it resulted in needing to get our car fixed when we still had so far to go.
So, from our unsuccessful search, we went on to Manassas, VA to visit our good friends, Leah & Matthew. We were lucky enough that we were able to get together with them a few times while we were living in NC. They are so fun and we all get along so well. We were only able to stay with them one night, but we wish we could have stayed longer. (And we already miss them so!) We’re trying to convince them to come move back to Utah now.
The next morning we drove to DC to have lunch with my dear friend, Aaron and his boyfriend, Rigo. We got a tour of their apartment, and good grief, it is exactly like Entertainment 720 from Parks and Recreation. Hilarious. We spent the night with my sister, Liz. It’s always good to see her and although we never mean to, we always stay up way too late talking about the most random, but wonderful things.
Bright and early the next morning we left for Gettysburg. Tyson’s a pretty big history buff and has wanted to go there for quite a long time. Because we also needed to get to NH that night, we didn’t have a lot of time. We went on a driving tour and Tyson was my personal guide. I loved hearing all the stories and seeing how excited Tyson was in telling them.
On our way to NH to visit my other sister, Kristen, we quickly got annoyed at there only being (gross) Dunkin’ Donuts or (also gross) Subway to choose from. But we did get to Kristen’s house (after stopping at IHOP) and shortly went to bed; we were pooped from driving all day.
We originally planned on only spending a few days with Kristen, however, while we were there Tyson discovered that he had won tickets to the Global Festival Concert, which we had both entered in to win. The concert was in NYC, but we decided to stay with Kristen for an extra week and then drive down to NYC for the concert.
While we were in NH we painted pottery, played with Kristen’s crazy, silly dog, Beasley (a lot), watched Kristen in her flag-football game, I got invited to play with Kristen’s soccer team while Tyson watched (even though I hadn’t played for years, but somehow scored a goal!), went candlepin bowling, ate the best roast beef sandwiches ever, made cookies, and had a lot of fun. It was a blast and we’ll have to go back to see her soon.
Neither Tyson nor I had been to NYC, so we were excited that we won tickets to the concert. We got a hotel in East Orange, NJ, close to the train station, which took us into Penn Station. We walked all along 7th Ave. and walked our way through Central Park to the Great Lawn. This concert was the best concert I had ever been to. Five great artists, with one great cause. K’Naan, Band of Horses, The Black Keys, Foo Fighters, and Neil Young with Crazy Horse (and a special guest performance from John Legend) all performed, and they all did amazing. It was such a great show, and I felt honored that I could be a part of it.
Although we weren’t in NYC for long, we both know we want to go back and see more of the city and experience more there. We were walking back to the train station around midnight, and because there were so many lights, people, cars, etc., it felt as though it was 3:00 in the afternoon. I think the majority of the stores were still open as well, which made me feel grateful that I didn’t have to work there; it was way past my bedtime, ha ha.
Early the next morning we left for Belmont, NY to visit Tyson’s aunt, uncle, and cousin, whom I hadn’t yet met. We spent the afternoon and evening talking and getting to know each other. They are so fun and easy to talk to. They live with a lot of open land around them and all the trees were at their prime! There were rolling hills of the most vivid reds, yellows, and greens. We cut flowers from her lovely garden: 80 to represent 80 years for Grandpa’s life. While we were there we had the opportunity to go up to Ontario to see and experience Niagara Falls. We went all out and went on Maid of the Mist as well. My goodness! Niagara Falls is so remarkable! So beautiful! So awesome! I think our world is pretty amazing, don’t you?
We also drove up to Palmyra, NY to see the Joseph Smith home and the Sacred Grove. As we were walking through the homes that Joseph Smith lived in and heard some stories of his life, it felt more real and I felt I was able to understand and put the pieces together a bit better. It was a humbling experience and I feel so blessed to have been born in a time where the Gospel has been fully restored. The Sacred Grove truly is a special place. It is absolutely beautiful there, and so peaceful. I felt connected to God and was able to, once again, acknowledge the beauty of the world in which we live.
The next day we drove to Nauvoo. The drive was long, but we were able to see all the leaves that were changing. I know I have said this multiple times this post, but while driving across our country I have been in constant awe at how beautiful and remarkable our world is. I’m no Ansel Adams, but I’ve tried to take some pictures of various landscapes, however, many of the pictures of the landscapes were taken from inside the car… with the windows rolled up… so… I know I can do better, but this is what you get, for now.
Tyson and I were able to attend a session in the Nauvoo temple. It Is such a beautiful temple. I had an overwhelming feeling that can only best be described as a burning feeling in my chest. I was able to forget all troubles and difficulties I had been experiencing and was just able to be focused on how happy and peaceful I felt at that very moment. We spent a few hours more in Nauvoo going on tours and learning about some things about Nauvoo hx. It was pretty neat. I’ve never been too interested in hx, but it was neat to hear the stories of the early pioneers.
While growing up I had been told by church members that the feeling of the Spirit in the Sacred Grove and in Nauvoo was so special, so different. I always agreed, but never really knew exactly what they meant. Because I had the opportunity to go visit these places I now know what all my church leaders and friends were talking about. The Spirit is so strong and envelopes you, lifting you up, and creating a peaceful feeling around you. I love it. (If you want to know more of what I believe, go to http://www.mormon.org)
We drove to Kansas City, MO to spend a couple nights with my cousin and his cute family. He’s going to medical school there and it was great to see him, his cute wife, and his 4 darling, crazy, and definitely fun girls. We went to the Nelson Atkins Art Museum and looked at some art. They had a fabulous Picasso display as well as an African display, a display all about mummies, and probably about anything else you could think of. We were only there for part of the afternoon, and only saw a sliver of what was there, but it was great. It’s great to see the creativity that people have, even if I think it’s pretty nuts. There was a “sculpture” of just a large cube of some sort of rock. Tyson asked one of the girls we were with, who turns 7 soon, what she thought of it. She replied, “I guess it’s pretty, but it’s just a rock.” (She was right.)
For lunch, Tyson and I took off and went to Oklahoma Joe’s, a little BBQ place that shares a space with a gas station. If you are EVER in Kansas City, you MUST go to Oklahoma Joe’s. Order the Z-Man (or anything, really). I can tell you right now that your life is not complete until you experience the beauty of what this little restaurant has to offer. Each bite was an explosion of deliciousness on my taste buds. Tyson mentioned that it might be mandatory that we take a special trip to Kansas City just to go to Oklahoma Joe’s. It was the best restaurant decision we have ever made. Yum.
From Kansas City, we decided that it would be best to just book it back to Utah. We were on the road all day. We only stopped for gas and food, listened to audio books, and only the best music, talked about this, that, and the other, and I tried not to focus only on how many miles we had. We did stop at the huge Cabela’s in Sidney, NE, though. And, of coarse, you can’t drive to Wyoming without stopping at the Little America for 50¢ ice cream cones. (If you don’t know, there are billboards promoting every detail Little America has to offer about every 5 miles, one billboard promoting their 50¢ ice cream cones.)
It was great to get back to Utah. It felt weird, but good. It partly felt as though we hadn’t even left, but a bigger part felt as though we had returned after a lot of changes. It has since been great to be back, and it really made me realize how much I missed my wonderful friends, family, sunsets, and, of coarse, my mountains.
Life is wonderful.