Enroute(actually off route) we went to Niagra falls, which was a great experience. We went on the Maid of the mist boat ride which took us out to the falls so we could see both sides and get soaked drone the mist, well at least get our blue ponchos soaked. After the boat ride my car decided to stay behind and wait for the light show on the falls. I have provided pictures for those who have never seen this before.
After we were done at the falls we went to Keokua college on the shores of one of the finger lakes, where we were stating in the dorms for the weekend. It was late when we arrived so I checked in, called Meagan, and went to sleep.
We had to be up fairly early the next morning to head out to palmyra. We first went to the Smith family farm where the sacred grove. We drove past the hill Cumorah on our way to the farm and saw the set for the pageat, it looks like a Nephite temple and we started getting excited. At the farm we saw the Smiths cabin and frame house as well as their cooper shop and barn. In the attic of the cabin we were able to stand where Moroni had been when he appeared to Joseph. That was pretty amazing. We did not go to the sacred grove on Saturday, we saved that for the sabbath.
After visiting the farm we stopped by the temple and then we ate lunch at a park in town and then we went to the Grandin print shop where the Book of Mormon was printed. This was especially interesting to me because of the research I did for work this year on books at the time of the restoration.
From the print shop we went to the hill Cumorah, we wanted to go early because they would be closing the paths for the pageant. The hill was steeper than I thought it would be, and if we had been a few miles south in Pennsylvania they would call it a mountain. It was really cool to be on the hill where Joseph got the plates, the Moroni monument is really cool.
From the hill we headed out to Fayette and the Peter Whitmer farm where the church was organized. I had a really cool experience there. The visitor center at the farm is part of the Fayette church building. After we had started going through, but before we went out to the old house one of the senior elders came walking through the exhibit and asked if anyone knew American Sign Language. Of course I told him that I did, to which he gave a look of relief. A group of deaf members had arrived and the missionaries had no way to communicate with them. He took me to them and then we went through the tour with me doing my best to interpret. It definitely was not very smooth, but everyone seemed very grateful for it. One of the deaf men has been away from the church for 20 years and is working on coming back, his friends who lived in New York had him come up so they could take him to pageant. It was a really special experience for me to be able to help.
After the Whitmer farm we went back to Palmyra, had dinner and got our seats for the pageant. The pageant was amazing, the special effects astounded me and blew my mind. The Spirit was really strong and it was so cool to be there where Moroni and Joseph had actually been.
On Sunday we woke up early and packed up and headed for church in Palmyra. There were so many people at church it was crazy. They had around 20 people passing the sacrament. Afterward we went the sacred grove, the Spirit there was very strong, many people say like a temple, I believe that feeling is the result of evil having been vanquished in that place.
After that most people headed back to Washington directly, but Ben Haymond and I changed over to Katie's car and the three of us headed on a slight detour to Harmony PA on the banks of the Susquehanna river. This is of course one of my favorite spots because I used to come here as a missionary. The day was very peaceful and happy there by the river where the priesthood was restored. A lot of memories came back to me there but all to soon it was time to be on the road again.
We made one more short stop in Hershey, where they have a brief free factory tour and Ben could smell the chocolate air and see the kiss street lights.
Then we finally did arrive back at the Barlow, worn out but full of good memories and firmer testimonies.