Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A Nauvoo butcher, baker, and candlestick maker.

Eating breakfast around a large table with a bunch of strangers might seem awkward, but considering we were all in Nauvoo for the same reason, it was kind of fun. There were couples from California, South Carolina, and Canada. Ours were the only kids, and I tried not to notice the looks they were getting from the perfectly mannered southern gentleman across the table. Apparently Coco Puffs wasn’t his idea of breakfast considering there were so many wonderful fresh and homemade options available. He was mostly miffed that Chase wouldn’t try the “date nut bread that was fashioned just the way mother liked it.” Nobody else at the table seemed to mind though. ;)

We had so much to see in Nauvoo today, so we started out with a buggy ride around town to get an idea of what we wanted to spend more time on later. While we waited for our turn, the kids and I toured the Family Living Center. In that building we learned about the day-to-day life of the original settlers. We visited the rope making station first, but probably should have saved it for last. Because after making rope the kids wanted to make something everywhere else we went. Turns out all the other stations were more along the lines of ‘watching and learning’ than ‘doing.’ We still enjoyed all the demonstrations on making barrels, candles, wagon wheels, rugs, bread, yarn, tin goods, bricks and more.

Despite the ridiculous heat, Clara really wanted to visit the ‘Pioneer Past times’ field, so we did. They had several games for people of all ages to try out. Brian and I mastered a ‘two-sticks-and-a-hoop’ lawn game that I don’t know the name of. It was fun but painful on the knuckles! They had stilts for the kids to walk around on, wooden bear/rope races, and some kind of board game that looked like Chinese checkers but different. They also had Kandama-type toys, Jacob’s Ladders (Clara’s fave) and all sorts of other fun things to play with. Obviously I have no idea what any of them were called, but we were just there to play, and that’s exactly what we did. The misting system that had been jimmy rigged to the soffit was no match for the stifling weather, so after a bit we went searching for ice cream. Plus we needed something cold on Clara’s throat. She wasn’t feeling any better than yesterday and with it being so painful for her to swallow, she hadn’t eaten much. We’d heard great things about Annie’s Custard. It turned out to be exactly what we all needed.

Next we took a different kind of wagon ride through the surrounding forest of Nauvoo. We ran into our Stake President while getting tickets (we also saw some members of our ward this morning. I guess a small world gets even smaller in Nauvoo). This wagon ride was a little longer than the ‘around town’ buggy ride. We listened to some incredible pioneer stories on the way. The more I hear some of the same names repeated in different contexts, time periods, and stories, the more I feel like I’ve gotten to know them on a personal level. Later we took a reprieve from the heat and watched a cute indoor musical called ‘The Promise.’ We also visited more historical homes (Wilford Woodroff, Heber C. Kimball, John Taylor), and the original homestead and burial sites of the Joseph Smith family. I loved all the home sites we visited, but my two favorites were John Taylor and the tinsmith homes.

Finally we made our way up Mulholland Street. Even though it was only 6:00 it seemed like everything was closed! We barely made it into a market to buy throat spray and OraGel for Clara. The cafĂ©’s and souvenir shops we passed were all locked up as well. Thank goodness for Hotel Nauvoo, which had a dinner buffet open. I have issues with buffets in general, but this time I was grateful for any option other than the concession stand nachos from last night. None of us had eaten lunch. I think the intense heat curbed our appetite for anything besides ice cream. But for dinner we needed real food. Poor Clara was suffering from the sores in her mouth so much that finding something for her to eat comfortably was impossible. She cried in pain trying to swallow a piece of corn.

After dinner we let Chase and Clara browse Zion’s Mercantile for souvenirs. They were the last shop on the street that was still open, and we only had twenty minutes before they too would be closed. Clara was going to buy a pioneer bonnet that she looked downright cute in, but after realizing she’d never really have any opportunities to wear it she opted for a Jacob’s ladder. Chase quickly settled on a John Taylor pocket watch replica and a quill pen. He loved the story of John Taylor's pocket watch saving his life by stopping a potentially fatal bullet.

There was just enough time to enjoy the country fair before the British Pageant started. We followed the sound of live music first for my favorite Nauvoo activity - dancing! The mood was so lighthearted and happy that no one held back. We all danced together, Chase and Clara jumping right in learning the steps of the waltz and the polka beside Brian and I. We were short on floor space and after being stepped on by fellow dancers a few times we moved on to the handcart race and the saw-pull. I’ve never had so much fun at a country fair. Then again, I don’t think I’ve ever been to a country fair…

Our experience at dinner and the relentless pain of Clara’s mouth prompted us to seek out some Elders to help give her a blessing. Luckily there were missionaries all over the place at the fair. We walked into a grove of trees away from the noise and commotion, and wrapped up the blessing just in time to find our seats for the show. The British pageant was as moving as last night's Nauvoo pageant. I’m so glad we stayed long enough to see both of them! We spotted our Stake President and his wife again in their costumes when it was over and visited with them for a few minutes before leaving.

As we got to our car we noticed a minivan close by that needed a battery jump. Brian pulled up to help out, but for some reason we couldn’t get the van to start. Each time we tried sparks flew, and a small fire even broke out! At that point our car sputtered and died too. All the adults stood around stunned, while the kids giggled in the back seat. I was in the middle of calling AAA when along came a third car to help out. They gave us a jump so that we could again give the van a jump. Luckily this time it all worked out and we each drove our separate ways. Situation avoided. Another full day behind us.

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