Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Of falls, hills, and rivers

This past weekend I had the amazing opportunity to go to upstate New York with a group from my singles ward. We headed out at 7:30 Friday morning, our objective was Palmyra, and the hill cumorah pageant.
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.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Bronx is up and the Battery's down

This weekend I learned something extremely useful, I finally learned why in On the Town, Gene Kelly sings the Battery's down, I've know what the Bronx being up is for some time. I learned this piece of trivia on my first trip ever to the Big Apple. On Friday morning and afternoon we had briefings for class and immediately after that Michael-Sean, Stephen, Alex, Jeff, and I caught a bus from Dupont circle, excited to be in the bit city. Unfortunately we would not be there quickly, traffic around Baltimore was heavy and delayed us by about an hour, so much for the charm city. We did finally arrive at Penn Station (the one in NYC) and got on a New York subway headed for Columbia University, where we would be staying with a friend of Michael-Sean's When we exited the underground transit what should we be greeted by but the Pulitzer Building, at which point we promptly broke into a rendition of "And the World Will Know" The finished we unloaded our bags and walked around the Columbia campus before going to sleep.

Everyone needs a picture of a Subway Payphone
The next morning we headed down to, you guessed it, the Battery. I caught my first glimpse of Lady Liberty here. Michael-Sean, Jeff, and I got tickets to ride out to Liberty and Elis Islands on the ferry. It was fun, a little rushed though so we could get back for our reserved time for ground zero. It was great to see the statue of Liberty even though you cannot currently go inside, and at Ellis Island it was very interesting to walk where my great grandfather had walked when he came from Denmark. We almost missed our ferry back to the city because Michael-Sean and Jeff started talking with some sister missionaries in the genealogy library while I was wandering the examination rooms upstairs. Luckily we did make it though and got back to Manhattan in time and met up with Steve, the friend we stayed with. We picked up tickets right by Trinity Church which you may know is feature on National Treasure and then we were able to go down through a twisty way of security to finally arrive at the ground zero 9/11 memorial. It was a really great place be, one of my favorite memorials i've been to this summer. We went and stood inline after that to get broadway tickets and then went to 5th Avenue and Canal Street. At night Michael-Sean, Steve, and I went to the Phantom of the Opera which was quite a good experience for my first broadway play. 

First Glimpse

I've got a ticket to ride

Mariner Merchant Memeorial

Jeff, Me, and Michael-Sean, on the ferry with the skyline

Trinity Church
The Freedom Tower

For everyone who wanted to know what the top
of the Chrysler building shines like

This is not our kitchen, it actually is Grand Central Station

Today we went to church in the chapel that is adjoined to the Manhattan temple and then we took a walk through central park and found the statue of Balto and the bridge from enchanted. Then we rushed back to Penn station and I am now on a bus headed back to the District of Columbia. 

We got on the bus at the New Yorker Hotel, which happens
to be where Tesla died