Saturday, July 17, 2010

on church history

There are a few shocking realizations that begin to sink in during the final weeks before a big move.

"Ricky!" I wailed two weeks ago. "I have to leave the antique mall behind!"

"Ricky!" Last week. "What about autumn?  What about the mountains?"

"Ricky!" This week. "We're going to be so far away from everything!"

And by "everything" I meant "all the cool sites in Virginia and the northeast," of course.  Including the LDS historic sites in upper New York, which Ricky and I have both wanted to see for ages, but it's not exactly like Idaho and South Carolina are right next door.  So before we shoved ourselves all the way in the bottom corner of the United States, we decided to take a road trip!

Luckily, before I married Ricky, I considered the length of time I could spend in a car with him before going crazy.  Even luckier, that time extends well past nine hours, which is the length of time it takes to drive from Buena Vista to Palmyra. (In case anyone is concerned, no amount of time with Ricky would ever drive me crazy.  Duh!)  So on Wednesday, we loaded up the car (mine--Ricky's doesn't have cruise control, and that wasn't about to happen), started up The Three Musketeers on the iPod, and drove to the very edge of the country to a bed and breakfast on the shores of Lake Ontario.  


It looks like the edge of the world, doesn't it?  They don't call them the Great Lakes for nothing.

We got to the area just in time for the Hill Cumorah Pageant, and I was practically jumping up and down with excitement, so we grabbed some seats and spent some wonderful time talking to the actors roaming the audience.  

It was a long wait.

 (You don't have to tell me that he's the cutest thing you've ever seen.  I already know.)

Once the pageant started, it was awesome!  It was exactly what I was expecting, which is good, because I was expecting a lot.  The pageant covers a condensed version of the story of the Book of Mormon, and it attracts hundreds of people each day of the performance.  We met people from Ohio, Utah, Idaho, was great times.

The funny thing about large gatherings of Mormons, however, is that they often attract people who are upset about large gatherings of Mormons.  I don't get it.  These people didn't just disagree with my beliefs--they were yelling hateful things over a megaphone at families walking by with no provocation at all.  It wasn't an attack on the religion, but on the people.

I am blessed with the knowledge of my Savior, Jesus Christ.  I believe He is the Son of God.  I grew up singing a song in church that's become one of my favorites: 

Love one another as Jesus loves you,
Try to show kindness in all that you do,
Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought,
For these are the things Jesus taught.

The man with the megaphone didn't think I knew these things.

"Jesus died for you!" He screamed it like it was a curse. "He died for you, and you don't care!  You're nothing, Mormon!  Nothing!"

What that man failed to realize is no one is nothing to our Savior.

While Ricky and I waited for the crowd to clear before we left, we could hear the man's megaphoned voice become louder and more enraged over time behind us.  It was an interesting contrast to the pageant set in front of us, where somewhere offstage a track of "My Shepherd Will Supply My Need" was playing just loudly enough for us to hear it under the screaming. 

Where does someone learn so much hatred?  Learn to lash out at strangers he's never met and doesn't know, not out of welfare for their souls but only to ridicule them?  I don't know, and I'm glad I don't.

I didn't mean to spend so much time on unpleasantries, but it was a thought-provoking incidicent--overall, the pageant was wonderful.  I don't regret a second of it. 

Since it was late by that point, we drove back to our adorable bed and breakfast, admired the antique sheep decorations (I was thrilled) and slept until a home-cooked New England breakfast the next morning...complete with a welcome from the resident cat!  We drove back down to Palmyra to visit the Sacred Grove, the Smith Family Farm, and the Palmyra temple:

 It's a beautiful place.

 The farm!
(The doors of the temple have a depiction of the Sacred Grove in stained glass.)

After our fill of Palmyra sites, we looked at the clock--2:30.  It was a nine-hour drive back to VA. 

"Well," I said to Ricky. "It's a two-hour drive to Niagara Falls from here, and who knows when we'll ever be this close again."

You can guess what we chose to do.

I'll be honest--I was expecting Niagara Falls to be an over-hyped tourist trap.  And it was, indeed, very touristy, but TOTALLY WORTH IT.  Seriously, people, I could not take my eyes off this spectacle.

Canada (as seen behind our heads two pictures ago) has the better view, of course, but since we didn't have our passports we weren't complaining.  I wish I had taken a video of it, because the picture really doesn't do it justice, but whoa.  So cool.

Deciding we had probably get back to VA in time for work the next morning, we 5:30 in the evening.  Oops!  The GPS didn't know how to handle all the back roads in PA, so we were left with atlas navigating.  A couple wrong turns and gas station slurpees later, we were home at 3:00 a.m.  20 hours of traveling in two days.  Again, I repeat: so worth it.

I'm sorry this is the longest blog post ever, but it had to be done.  At least there are pictures this time, right?  Right?

Friday, July 16, 2010

on being torn to shreds

Ode to Long Pants

Long pants, long pants
Keep me safe from crawling ants
And attaching vicious plants
Oh, long pants.

Long pants, long pants
Wish I'd given you a chance
Even just a passing glance
Oh, long pants.

Long pants, long pants
If I had to take a stance
On climbing trees and rocks at slants
Wear long pants.

Beautiful, huh?
On the fourth of July, Ricky and I went on a hike with our awesome friends, Kathryn and Steve, up Little House Mountain.  (This mountain, for the record, is not that little.)

The trail is basically straight up the mountain.

I wasn't joking with my ode, either--a good portion of the trail is indistinguishable except for marks on the trees, so we spent a lot of time wading through sharp bushes and climbing over sharp rocks.  I lamented the lack of leg covering...two weeks later, I still have marks on my shins that haven't healed.  I'd like to think I'm not a complete weenie, but I was seriously glad to reach the overview.  We set up camp on the rock outcropping, roasted hot dogs and marshmallows, and watched no less than 10 fireworks shows from our cozy spot on the mountain!  All in all, it was a pretty epic way to spend the fourth of July.

 (All picture credits go to the lovely Kathryn, due to my neglect to charge batteries for my camera.)

The next morning's descent had all of our ankles shaking, but it was definitely preferable to climbing!  Also, I escaped tick-free, which is always great news.  On the way down, we passed a teenage couple who had taken up residence scarcely five feet from the trail...and hadn't bothered to put on clothes that morning.  Or, at least, that was my assumption, seeing as their arms and shoulders were bare and they had a tarp clutched up to their necks as we approached.  Yeah, it was a little awkward.  It got even more awkward when we temporarily lost the trail and had to double back from the other direction, pausing briefly to say hello and comment on the nice weather.  

For the record, Steve and Ricky decided to prove themselves true mountain men and forge their own trail.  While Kathryn and I were exchanging pleasantries with the now-clothed couple, those two were attempting to rejoin the trail without backtracking.  After a short game of "Marco Polo" and some ax-swinging by Ricky, we were reunited.  Oh, the wilderness.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

on goal-setting

my 99 in 999 list

Updates to follow!

Feel free to make your own.  It takes forever to come up with 99 things, but even making the list is rewarding!