Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Day Six -- The Final Destination, St. Louis

To end our church history portion of this trip we began the day visiting Carthage Jail, where the prophet Joseph Smith was martyred.  We had a really great experience there, even though we unknowingly arrived 45 minutes before it opened (9:30, not 9:00am on Wednesdays).  We bought the kids patience with a trip to a gas station for treats while we waited.
Here's the throwback picture for the day.  Now (with the addition of Grandpa)...
...and then.
We arrived in St. Louis after a very uneventful 2 1/2 hour drive, and on the advice of our hotel concierge/bag person (I don't know what he was, but he was very nice) we found a tasty pizzeria for lunch quite near the hotel.  Bethany had been asking for a pizza meal for a few days, so she was particularly happy at the meal choice.
Raven even made a fancy napkin bow tie for Grandpa!
Abe dropped the kids and I off at the hotel and he and Clark and Grandpa immediately headed down to the Edwards Dome to drop off equipment and Clark for when the team was allowed to get to work tuning up the robot at 3:00pm.  I understand the robot made the trip safely here, without incident thanks to FedEx.  They hadn't been able to work on it at all since they packed it up just a couple days after the regional competition in mid-March.
Schramms, Flynns, and Foxes then paid a very brief, but enjoyable visit to the free and fabulous Science Center.  We just scratched the surface of the fun hands-on activities for the kids to do, so we'll definitely be returning this week.
Here we have built our own St. Louis Arch.
Cannon, George, and Hayden Schramm posing by the Star Wars exhibit.  Hayden is one of their favorite people.
George pushing the stroller of his betrothed.
You've heard of Dance Moms and Soccer Moms.  Meet the Robot Moms.
Not that our sons are robots, but you know what I mean.
Bethany, Corrine, and Raven.  Beautiful young women, inside and out.
Faith, George, Cannon, and Hayden.  Happy, yet somewhat disturbed young children.  Car rides across the country will do that to a kid.
We went out for Mexican afterwards.  It was a very small restaurant and we were at least half the customers in there.  The service was fantastic and the waiter was surprised that with that many children no adults were needing to order any drinks!
I don't know why Abe is holding up his golden parking ticket, except that we're at a really nice hotel-- might I just say we are "Puttin' on the Ritz".  And yet, they really nickel and dime you for lots of little things-- parking, wi-fi, bottled water in your room.  Not that I'm complaining.  I'm super happy to be here and those high quality sheets and the comforter on my bed are calling my name loudly right now.  It's just kind of funny.  I mean seriously, shouldn't wi-fi just be free at any decent hotel nowadays.  What do I know?  If it's free at McDonalds I really think it should be free at the Ritz-Carlton!
Oh,  but back to the golden ticket, somehow Abe convinced them to give him a free parking pass for the week.  He said he was the team's official chauffeur (which is pretty much true) and he smiled.  He is a sales guy after all.
We're up on the 15th floor and Abe doesn't really appreciate heights in the same way that I don't appreciate spiders.  How brave of him to stand out on the balcony!
The little kiddies went swimming and watched a little show and then quickly zonked out.  Tomorrow competition begins.  We're so excited to cheer and see the robot ("Mr. X", Abe's nickname for the robot) in action.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Day 5-- Nauvoo Day

We had a beautiful clear day to enjoy the sites of Nauvoo today.  Everyone held up fairly well for another day of church history.  George was a bit of a handful at times and my pregnant body is feeling pretty worn out at the moment, but it was lovely.  Please take note that Clark is in the photo.
Earlier in the day we attempted a family picture at the temple, but Clark was not very happy with a decision Abe and I made and he opted not to be in the family photo. We ended up stopping there one more time on our way to dinner and we were glad he joined us this time.  I couldn't be too upset with him earlier because it reminded me of the time I was about 13 years old, traveling across the country with my family and we stopped in Kirtland, Ohio, to see the temple.  I was mad about something and I refused to get out of the car and go in.  In all my travels, I've never had the chance to go back to Kirtland and never gotten to go inside because I was being a serious stinker. 
Abe and his dad outside Heber C. Kimball's home-- a fellow missionary to the British Isles.
We all enjoyed the wagon ride through Old Nauvoo.
Raven's family headed to St. Louis earlier in the day, but she's hanging with the Fox Family until we meet up in St. Louis tomorrow.

Here are the throwback pictures of the day:
Clark preaching the good word in the upstairs of the Red Brick Store.  Now...
And then.  Yikes.  That's a pretty big change in 3 years!

Here's another one.
PiPod friends by the statue of Joseph and Hyrum.
Prototype X friends (minus one) in the same spot three years later.
In the school house, now...
And then.  Oh my, I think I'm going to cry.  Enough throwback pictures.
Here are George and Cannon by the George Q. Cannon reader-board on the Trail of Hope down to the Mississippi.
Nearby the George Q. Cannon quote was one by Brigham Young.  We stopped there to see what words of wisdom our Great Grandfather had to share.  We expected something in the vein of faith in affliction and hope for the future.  Not so much.
I translate this to, "Quite complaining or it's going to kill me!"
The family working together to make rope in the Family Living Center.
Joy of joys!-- throwing rocks and debris into the great Mississippi River.
Okay, well I guess the crying fits today weren't that bad when I see his little face.
One of our sweetest experiences each time we've come to Nauvoo is to visit the Old Nauvoo Burial Grounds.  There is a very calm, tender spirit there.
The family at the grave markers for Joseph, Emma, and Hyrum Smith.
Abe's sister Samatha has two little boys named Hyrum and Joseph.  We can't quite pull this picture off as well as they could, but Cannon and George are two really great brothers as well.
Grandpa treated us to a very tasty and filling buffet for dinner this evening.  
The kids are currently swimming off any leftover energy and then hopefully we'll all sleep well tonight in preparation for St. Louis tomorrow!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Church History by the Clock -- Day Four

Oh, my!  That was a lot of church history in one day!  The exact times we did everything really doesn't matter, except that if you travel with Abe, bless his heart -we love him- there is a schedule and we're sticking to it!
5:48am  Pull out of Russell and Melissa's driveway in Wichita.
8:40  Drive through Independence, MO.  Look at the Community of Christ Temple, wave to the LDS visitors' center, see the prophesied future temple site.  Drive on.
9:08  Arrive at Liberty Jail visitors' center.  Have a truly moving experience and enjoy testimonies shared by Grandpa and Abe.  The highlight of the day.
10:32  Stop at McDonalds (I know it's kind of gross) to get a very early lunch.  We'll be driving out in the boonies with no food options and a lot of little kids.  Besides, we had a very early start.  There is no picture to share, because no one wants to see us stuffing our faces with McDonalds.
11:00 (ish)  George and grandpa having a dance party to an Elvis Presley greatest hits CD.  Grandpa shares that he has been to an actual Elvis concert in his youth in Spokane, WA.  Kids aren't really that impressed, although they were polite nonetheless.
 11:15am   Arrive at the corner stone-laid temple site of Far West, MO.  Really, really beautiful country.  Children are happy to run around and Elinor was delighted to find lichen on the trees (she studied botany this year).  Not a lot of lichen back home in the desert.  Clark resists another family picture.  If our camera goes missing or suffers any sort of violent demise, we know who will be responsible.  Credible threats have already been issued.

11:20    Grandpa and Abe -- the two British missionaries, standing exactly where 175 years ago (5 days from the very date, April 26), according to Joseph's prophecy, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles left from the Far West Temple site to begin their missionary efforts to the British Isles......even though the Saints had already been expelled from the state of Missouri and were being hunted by mobs.
(Picture and comments added by Abe)
12:30pm   Drive around Adam-Ondi-Ahman in the rain.  Decide to all get out of the van anyway and take a little walk to a beautiful valley overlook. 
1:15pm   Drive through the town of Bethany, MO.  Bethany takes the obligatory picture to humor her father.
4:30pm   Pull into Nauvoo and immediately meet up with robotics friends for dinner before the pregnant mother bites anyone's head off.  Abe embarrasses his eldest by taking yet more pictures.  Clark threatens violence to the camera yet again.
Perhaps Bethany feels that picture taking is getting to be a bit much as well.
We are happy to be with friends from home.  And although Grandpa doesn't look it, he is happy too.
6:45pm   Meet up with Schramm family and Flynn family at "Rendezvous in Old Nauvoo"-- a charming little musical about Nauvoo performed by the senior missionaries here.
 7:00   It's showtime!  They really are the most adorable people on the planet.  And as Elinor said, meaning absolutely no disrespect to her grandparents, whom she loves very much, "I'd be happy if any of them were my grandparents!"
8:35   Swimming time for Abe and the kids... laundry time and visiting with Andrea for me.
And now, for a lesson in belly flop diving form, we look to the master.  This master is so good at pool-dives, he has the most popular of them all named after him... the Cannon-ball.
Notice the eye focus, how he is looking directly toward his landing place.  Notice the freedom with which he throws himself toward the water.  Notice the lack of fear he demonstrates as he hurls his small and skinny body toward the relatively flat and hard surface water.  Notice the spread of his hands and point of his toes as he creates the absolute most body area to make contact with the water.  It's a beautiful thing.  And mind you, he knew what he was doing.  He knew it would hurt.  But for the art of the flop, self-sacrifice was a necessary thing.  How truly brave he is.
Now, just for comparison, you can see not everyone has the gift.  We love her to pieces and put her on gymnastics mats and she shames the rest of us with her skills.  But look at the form!  There is too much concern for self-preservation.  There is true fear in her eyes.  She fears the pain.  She is weak.  One cannot Fear the Flop.
And now, for the throwback picture of Day 4.
Faith is now the age that Elinor was in this picture.  Good times.  Good times to come tomorrow.