Saturday, July 23, 2011
So picking up from the last post on New York, Ben and I rented a car on Tuesday (October 19) to drive up to Palmyra. We left Eastchester in the afternoon and I remember it taking about 6 hours or so to get to Palmyra where we stayed at the Inn at Palmyra. My favorite part of the drive? It was right at the peak of autumn and the drive was gorgeous! It's amazing how thick and green it is back East, so beautiful and vibrant in the fall. My least favorite part of the drive? All the toll roads - they're everywhere! The Inn at Palmyra was a really nice hotel to stay at and it was nice to be close to everything we wanted to see the next day.
The next morning we woke up bright and early and make The Sacred Grove and Joseph Smith Farm our first stop.
This is where Joseph Smith lived with his parents and siblings in his youth and where he lived in 1820 when the First Vision occurred. My two favorite parts about this cabin were (1) thinking about how many people lived and functioned inside that small cabin. It makes me grateful for all that I have and at the same time makes me realize that we really don't need all that we think we do and that there is beauty in simplicity. And (2) being able to look out the back door of the cabin and see the sacred grove and realize that is probably where Joseph Smith walked out that morning of and that view is what he saw as he left that morning to approach the grove.
Inside the kitchen and dining area of the frame home. The sister missionary talked about Jospeh Smith living here when he found out the 116 pages had gone missing and this is right where he would have been pacing back and forth, worried. It was also in this home that the gold plates were hidden under the hearth of the fire place to keep them protected.
Obviously it hasn't been revealed where exactly inside the grove the first vision occurred, but there are 6 trees in this section of the grove that are the biggest and oldest that existed in the grove when Joseph Smith was living here.
What I loved about the grove was the overwhelming Spirit that I felt there and complete reverence for Joseph Smith and the restoration of the gospel. I loved that I could sit and envisions the events that unfolded there.
I loved that Ben and I were pretty much by ourselves almost the whole time. We walked around for about an hour only seeing people as we were on our way out. The Sacred Grove was Ben's favorite part of the whole trip.
I loved how cozy it was in there. There were still green leaves above and a carpet of red, orange , yellow and brown leaves underneath us. And it smelled so good in there, like that sweet smell of leaves on the ground... maybe that's the smell of them rotting? I don't know, but it smells wonderful either way.
This was along the back of the grove. This is part of the original rock wall that ran along the back of the Smith's property.
Our next stop that day was the Grandin Printing Shop where the first copies of the Book of Mormon were printed. This was right in downtown Palmyra. I had never thought much about this process, but it was amazing to me to hear all of the miracles that took place in this process and to see the hand of the Lord in the coming forth of the Book of Mormon.
After seeing the Grandin Press we had lunch just a block away at a little pizza shop. And we also went to see the cemetary just around the corner from here where Alvin's grave.
Then from there we drove out to the Peter Whitmer farm. Actually, Ben drove while Lincoln and I slept. :) It's a little ways out there but the country is gorgeous to look at.
Here's the picture of a replica of the Peter Whitmer cabin where the church was officially organized in 1830. Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery also completed translation of the gold plates here.
From there our next stop was Cummorah's hill, but we decided to stop at a Mennonite Store before heading that way. I think I would be shopping at Sauders if I lived anywhere in the area. I loved how fresh it was!
And pumpkin Whoopees (in memory of Katie and Mel), which we DID buy. Yum!
Then it was time to head to Cummorah's Hill. The sun was setting just as we got up there and it was gorgeous! See?
The Hill Cummorah is a drumlin (type of hill, yes I learned that in Geography my freshman year at BYU-I :) so it is very sudden and steep. The front side of the hill where we walked up (on paved pathways) is grassy and groomed and so pretty.
It was getting dark quickly so we walked down the wooded side and it was so neat to imagine what it might have looked like when Moroni was burrying the plate there, or possibly when Joseph Smith was there recovering the plates.
After visiting the Hill Cummorah, we ate dinner before driving on to Buffalo.
We had to drink it all that night because we knew we couldn't take it with us on our flight home. It wasn't as good as we expected, but were stuck with a whole jug of it, so we made our best attempt to drink most of it, and we kept the jar which now houses Ben's coins.
Once in Buffalo we checked into a hotel LATE at night, put Linc to sleep, and repacked our bags to be flight-ready. Then we slept maybe 4 hours, until 4 am when we woke up to get ready and catch a shuttle to the airport for our early-morning flight.
We are so thankful for the opportunity we had to see all the the church history sites that we did. Being there in person helped make those events that much more real to me and I loved all of the sister and senior missionaries that we met along the way. I had been there with Katie just a couple years ago, but it was really neat to be there with Ben and experience it all together.