Sunday, July 27, 2008

One Last Hurrah

Well, NYC did not end up being my last excursion for the summer. My friend JD suggested we visit Palmyra and Niagara Falls before we leave and since he has a car that made the decision quite easy. So we road-tripped to upstate New York on Friday, saw the sites on Saturday and drove back all night arriving in time for church but fun trip. Heidi and Diana also came along, and we had our ipod, so that made the 10 hour drive (including stops) actually quite enjoyable. Friday night we camped at some random county fairgrounds and were the only campers, so we were initially confused as to whether it was the right spot or not. It was 10:30 at night when we finally got there, so we proceeded to set up camp in the dark after finding numbered spots that we figured must have been campsites (we were all cracking up at the thought of locals waking up the next morning to find a random tent pitched on the infield of the horse-racing track until we finally found the designated areas). Everything turned out fine the next morning. We breakfasted at a local diner and it was refreshing to hear that the talk of the day was about air wrenches and engines rather than the political discussion I have been used to these last 3 months.

The Smith family farm and the Sacred Grove were certainly my favorite historical sites. It was awe-inspiring to be standing on holy ground while my mind flashed back to the first vision, Moroni's first visit to Joseph and the instances when Joseph was busy translating. To think of all that has come about in the world because of the events at those little sites is amazing. The Hill Cumorah visitor's center was fun, but Hill Cumorah did not really do it for me. Mostly because the hill is covered by modern towers used for the pageant, it just had a less historic feel to it. We also visited the Grandin Print Shop where the first Book of Mormon was published and had a nice tour there.

Then it was off to Niagara Falls which was amazing in its own right. As you approach it looks like a building nearby is on fire, but then you realize that it is not smoke you see, rather it is the mist that rises so high above the falls. Since we were so close we took the opportunity to grace Canada with our presence and Heidi even took up my offer that I would give anyone a dollar if they would use "ay?" in conversation with a local. She said it felt completely unnatural but I commend her for her usage of local dialect, hehe. And if it was January 2009, JD and I would still be in Canada right now because we did not have our passports on us, but the new regulations for re-entering the US do not have effect until then so we lucked out. Might I add, the guard at the checkpoint into Canada was extremely stern and unpleasant, so I thanked our US guard for her pleasant and helpful attitude toward us as we re-entered the states. After that, we all-nighted it back home and basically ran into a hurricane of a storm that was with us from New York all the way though Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The worst stretches were near the NY-PA boarder where the intensity of rainfall caused us to go 40 mph on the freeway. But we made it home safe and sound, made it to church and I proceeded to take a 7 hour nap this afternoon which actually counted as my previous night's sleep--I love weekends like this.

For all fans of the Office out there.

Palmyra Temple, I like how it is secluded in the woods not far from the Smith family farm.

Palmyra Temple-view from Smith family farm road.

Smith family farm...I felt in my element here.

As close as I could come to recreating the First Vision.

It is nice how the canopy offers shelter, notice that I am a little rained-on, would have been soaked if I had been out in the open.

Smith family residence.

Our small understanding among all 107 translations.

The sign tells it all.

Original floorboards that Joseph walked on when he ordered the publication of the first 5,000 copies.

Even from here the mist was getting me.

All the gang: me, Heidi, Diana, JD

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Start Spreadin' the News...

So I feel like my summer adventures culminated with my recent excursion to New York City. Heidi and I basically decided 24 hours beforehand that we were going to make the trip because her dad had a hotel room that would have otherwise gone unused. Then we recruited Andrew and Lucy about 6 hours before departure and we all hopped a bus at 2 am expecting to sleep on the way there so that we would have all of Saturday to spend in the city. Well, none of us slept more than an hour on the bus, so we rolled into NYC at 5:30 am somewhat wired, but really hoping we would make it through the day. We lucked out though when we decided to try the hotel just in case, and it turned out that they were able to check us in at 6:00 am and we all took a little nap before we hit the town. Saturday was a full day with lots of walking, but it was good because the best way to get to know a city is by foot. We mostly just wanted to experience the city and I think that plan worked out perfectly. We visited the usual places: Ground Zero, Soho, Greenwich, Canal St., Times Square, Central Park, Harlem, etc. Things like Ellis Island would have been fun but would have cut too much into our day. It was the little things we experienced that I enjoyed most about the trip-watching break dancers in Central Park, listening to Jazz musicians in the squares throughout the city, seeing a rat in the Subway, eating at little bagel shops and a pizzeria at 2 am, haggling the street vendors at Canal St. until they realized we weren't gonna buy anything and would kick us out. All the joys of a big city. And of course, Hairspray was amazing plus we had front row tickets so it was that much better. Despite being the filthiest American city I have ever visited, I would have to say that The Big Apple lived up to the hype, it was an awesome trip.

Dawn in NYC

Just off the Bus in Chinatown, for a city that never sleeps the streets were awfully empty at 5:30 in the morning.

Cool picture, though a bear would have been a more accurate reflection of the current market.

Wall St. and Broadway, doesn't get more famous than that.

Bagels in the park for breakfast.

Lady Liberty

Our hotel overlooked Ground Zero.

Times Square, this place seriously felt like being at the center of the world.

Hairspray, after meeting some of the cast.

Couldn't go to NYC without stopping here, though I wanted to eat at Rupert Gee's Hello Deli but it was closed for some reason.

Seinfeld was actually not filmed inside here, they just used the outside shot.