Saturday, August 18, 2012

Summer Vacation--Las Vegas to Michigan

Oh where to begin? The start I guess. We left Las Vegas on Saturday July 28 at 3am. We thought we were smart thinking the kids would sleep for hours in the van before the sun came up, but everyone ended up being wide awake. I knew it would be a long trip when after only a half hour of driving Niamh asked if we were there yet. The first day we drove all the way to Denver, Colorado (that was a 12 hour day.) The Rocky Mountains were majestic and beautiful. It was good to check that off our list of landmarks to see. It was also good to stay at the hotel that night and recuperate from our long drive. Lucas and the kids went swimming in the pool and Lucas came back with a big gash on his head because he swam into the side of the pool :( The next morning we were up early and headed out for the next leg of our trip. It was a long drive through Kansas but we eventually made it to Liberty Missouri, where we stayed with our friends; Soren and Kilee. It was so nice to have a home cooked meal and spend some time with old friend. That evening we went and toured the Liberty Jail where Joseph Smith and other church members were falsely imprisioned for almost a year back in the late 1830's. It was a somber tour to say the least. The next morning we headed out after a pancake breakfast. We stopped in Carthage, Missouri and took a tour of Carthage Jail, where Joseph Smith and his brother were murdered by a mob in 1844. It felt very surreal standing in the same room where the prophet spent his last days. After Carthage we went to Nauvoo, Illinois to see some church history sites. It was a memorable experience. We were already pretty tired from the humidity and the heat. That evening we stopped at a hotel in Burlington, Iowa. The next day, Tuesday, we drove to South Bend, Indiana to see the great college Notre Dame. Lucas is a fan of their football team, The Fighting Irish, and he wanted to see where one of his favorite movies; Rudy was made. What a beautiful, idylic town! We spent some time in the campus bookstore and picked up a few souveniers. Then we headed to East Lansing, Michigan and got to Okemos where Lucas' sister Amanda and her family live. It was so nice to reach our final destination. What a pretty place it is! The kids were so happy to see their cousin's Kate, Henry, Rose and their new baby cousin Victoria.  Lucas' mom was also there and his brother and his family flew out a few days later. The next few days were spent seeing the local town, going to the mall and going to the biggest Christmas store in the world. This store is called Bronners Christmas Wonderland and is in a cool little German town called Frankenmuth. You could get lost in this store. It truly is a Christmas Wonderland, but with so many kids in our group it was hard to see it all. We did pick up some pretty wooden Irish ornaments. One day we went to the lake at Grand Haven, which was more like the beach. The water was 70 something degrees and all sand below, the sand on the beach was soft and golden. The beach was pretty busy, but we found a spot, set out our towels and swam for a few hours. It was perfect for the kids because it was shallow at the edge. Another night we went to dinner with Lucas' mom, Amanda and Dave and Jason and Susana. We went to an Irish pub called Dublin Square. It was a fun place with a great atmosphere, yummy food and and Irish music playing the whole time. I was impressed. On Sunday we went to church with Amanda and Dave and the whole gang and saw Victoria being blessed by her father. After church we had a delicious meal, including brisket, pulled pork, baked beans, corn on the cob and watermelon. What a wonderful day it was. We headed for home the next day, driving through Nebraska. What a long drive that was. That night we stopped in Omaha, Nebraska. It wasn't planned, but I'm glad we did because we were able to stop by the Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple. This is the location where the early Mormon Pioneers stopped on their journey to the west. I didn't realize that 6,000 people died on that journey. There was a beautiful cemetery beside the temple with tall green trees and flowers. There is great statue of pioneers pulling a handcart and another of a husband and wife standing beside the shallow grave of a baby :( There was such a sweet, peaceful feeling there. The next day we drove over 15 hours, through Nebraska, Iowa, Wyoming and finally got to Salt Lake City, Utah. What a relief it was to see a familiar part of the country we recognized. We crashed that night at a hotel. The next morning we were able to spend time with Lucas' Grandpa and we had lunch with my brother Scott. It was fun. We attempted an Ikea trip, but gave up trying to browse with the kids having meltdowns one after another. We got home on Wednesday in the afternoon. What a great feeling it is to see the familiar sights of home and to feel like you are at the end of a long journey. Lucas didn't have to go back to work for another week. We needed that, because it took us a few days to adjust back to our 3 hour time difference and just catch up on laundry etc. We are so glad we finally took this trip to Michigan, we've been talking about it for years. I'm so happy I got to see other parts of the country, there are truly beautiful places in the midwest, but I would not be able to survive the humidity there, I like my dry Vegas heat. The kids had an awesome time with all their cousins and I have to say for being as young as my kids are and being couped up in a car 15 hour days, they made me proud. We survived and have some great memories.

P.S The Buddha is in a lot of the first few pics because we were taking him out to Amanda in Michigan. Lucas had coveted this Buddha belonging to Grandpa Wood, but Amanda had called dibs long ago.

(Liberty Jail)

In Missouri (melting in humidity)
The Mississippi River in the background
A statue of Joseph & Hyrum Smith at Carthage Jail

Carthage Jail
Where Joseph, Emma & Hyrum Smith are buried in Nauvoo, IL
Nauvoo, IL Temple


Bronners Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth

Grand Haven Beach (this is the best pic we could get with all the kids)


Tori's Blessing

The Knox Family
3 Generations

The Whole Group

Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple

Lucas & his Grandpa

With Uncle Scott

1 comment:

jamie t. said...

What great pictures and what a great trip to be able to spent so much time with family and friends!