So this Friday was a trip that has been on my little old calendar for quite awhile. When I planned this trip and carefully filled in the calendar square with the words Palmyra/Hill Cumorah Pageant I really had no idea how changed my life would be by this innocent looking date. So strange how you plan something in one universe and then when it finally happens you happen to be in another universe. Lots of things made this trip unlike any I have ever taken before and I found myself wondering if my future adventures will look more like this one did. The face of my family and vacations seems to be morphing.
Last time we were in Palmyra was two years ago. At that time we loaded up our fifteen passenger van with our kids and some of our kids friends and headed up to see the Hill Cumorah Pageant, to see the Mormon church history sights, and meet my sister Rachel, hubby,and their 6 kids. This time I loaded my, oh so small, trusty Subaru with Tatiana, Natalie, and myself and took the trip on my own. I love to drive long distances. I have noticed lately that I have a tendency to want to doze off when driving and that makes me slightly nervous but I still love to drive.
The drive to Palmyra is 5 hours for us. In order to fit everything in to this, way too short, weekend we left at 5 in the morning on Friday. When we left our garage at 5 am the sky was showing us some very amazing lightning. We headed west on the Massachusetts Turnpike towards New York State. The first part of the trip is my favorite part because we get to drive through the Berkshires, Albany, and then alongside the Erie Canal. It is all so beautiful. The second half of the trip is not too shabby but just not as noteable, in my mind, as the first half is.
We had been to the library to get books on tape for the trip and we chose way too many....like I always do. We decided to listen to On The Banks of Plum Creek first. I do love the Little House on the Prairie books. Driving along looking at amazing scenery, listening to the simplicity of Laura Ingalls life, her descriptions of places and events while snacking on almonds and apricots made me feel awfully content. Natalie had the whole back seat to herself and Tatiana was in the front with me. Nobody was fighting. Nobody was grumpy. Tatiana and I kept trying to stop grinning at each other over the delight of our situation :)
We arrived in Palmyra at about 10:15. Why Palmyra? Good question, especially if you are not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Some very significant events in the history of the Mormon church happened here and every July there is a huge pageant held here. And that is definitely the short version of the story :)
This year our trip to Palmyra was happening so that I could meet my sister Rachel and pass off Tatiana to her since Tatiana and Rachel's daughter Emily are going to be flying from Pittsburgh to Oregon together to see Grandma and Grandpa Ord. Palmyra happens to be the middle spot between Pittsburgh, PA (where Aunt Rachel lives) and Westfield, MA...just in case that ever comes up in casual conversation and you need to know :)
We met at the Palmyra temple and walked around with the kids. What struck me about this temples grounds was that there are no other buildings or busy roads around. I searched my mind for any other Mormon temple that I had been to that had a huge open field of grass behind it and groves of trees all around the field. You could only hear the sounds of birds...no cars...no hustle and bustle of city life, just nature, and the temple. Not another building in sight. I marveled at that for a long time and wish I could have sat and enjoyed it forever....well, at least until I got hungry or needed to buy some new clothes :)
After pictures and our walk around the outside of the temple we made a short drive over to the Sacred Grove and the home Joseph Smith lived in. I always want to take a ton of time here. The stillness calls to me. The split rail fences. The coolness of the walk through the grove of trees contemplating events that happened here. When you come during the pageant week crowds are aplenty and I made a mental note to come back in September by myself when I could wander and ponder :) Yes, I made a rhyme :) I wonder what state my mind will be in in September? Life is funny that way :)The crowds do not bother me. It is fun to watch all the people and muse about their lives. But I occasionally even "social Jennifer" does long for no distractions :)
The pageant, that oh so many people come for, does not start until 9:15 at night so we spent the rest of the day walking up Hill Cumorah, sitting in the beautiful sunshine, people watching, and going back and forth to the bathroom with kids. I love the pageant but I confess that by the time it started I kept falling asleep. That, "four o'clock in the morning going to bed at midnight" thing finally caught up with me.
The sky that night was beautiful...clear, full of stars, with a very bright, perfectly half of a moon. When I was awake I spent way too much time staring at the sky. Thankfully I have seen the pageant before since my mind seemed to be elsewhere this year.
After the pageant I left Tatiana with Aunt Rachel and Natalie and I headed west on I-90 towards out hotel...which was an hour and 22 minutes back down the road. We arrived at the hotel at 12:10 in the morning. We both fell into one of the beds and were asleep within minutes. Four o'clock in the morning came way too soon and we staggered back to the car. We needed to be back home so I could play the piano for an event at 10:30 am. Natalie slept the whole way home and I used that time to think, and think, oh and think. No music. No books on tape. Just me, the sunrise, the rising spots of fog, the bursts of morning sunshine. It truly was a beautiful morning drive. I fought the urge to shut my eyes by eating cherries, almonds, and peppermint lifesavers which I try to keep whole in my mouth as long as I can.
So different from any trip I have ever taken. No big white 15 passenger van. No surly teenagers :) I felt so free I contemplated ditching my obligations at home and heading on to Niagra Falls but I decided to behave :)