Saturday, June 25, 2011

City Beautiful

Nauvoo, Illinois holds a special place in my heart. Yes, my parents were born in Iowa, I was born in Iowa, my parents and three sisters all currently live in Iowa, and we (Brandon and I) lived in Iowa for nine years while he went through med school and residency, but I primarily grew up on the eastern side of the Mississippi in Rock Island, Illinois. So growing up as a Mormon in Illinois, Nauvoo was a place we visited every summer. 

Nauvoo means "beautiful" in Hebrew, and it really is a pretty place, sitting on a bend in the Mississippi River, surrounded by grassy hills and lush trees. Nauvoo is the town from which the Mormon pioneers left on their exodus west, out of the United States and into the uncharted territory that is now modern day Salt Lake City. Before they left, it was the second biggest town in Illinois next to Chicago. Now it's a very small, sleepy little place that is probably kept alive by Mormon tourism.  

As a child, we would usually visit during the week of the pageant that is held there every summer, and as a teenager I spent several weeks of two summers practicing for and participating in that same musical pageant. When we lived in Iowa while Brandon was a urology resident, it was announced that an anonymous donor had made it possible to rebuild the Nauvoo Temple, and we felt very lucky to be able to participate in everything from the groundbreaking, to the cornerstone laying, construction (Brandon volunteered for a week, helping in the only area he was proficient--clean up!), open house, and dedication ceremony. Typically, temples are only built when local membership is large enough to support a temple, so no one ever dreamed a temple would be built in a town the size of Nauvoo. But the history of the original temple made it's reconstruction especially meaningful to members of our church. Early members built the original temple through great sacrifice, only to be expelled from the state shortly after it's completion, after which it was set on fire, received damage from a tornado, and was subsequently torn down for safety reasons.

In any case, since Nauvoo has been such a big part of my life growing up (and even adulthood), I like to take my own kids there every chance I get, and this trip to Iowa was no exception.  

On the road:
Downtown Nauvoo:
"Pioneer Pastimes" is always our first stop. Elizabeth went straight for the pioneer dress up clothes:
Rachael followed:

There's a cute little wooden school and house for the little kids to play pretend:

Waving to my fans:

The boys go immediately for the outdoor games:

Eventually, everyone got into the stick pull:

The kids insisted their parents get into the competition:

Kate surprised me with her strength!
Okay, get in here and help me beat your sister, Elizabeth! (No such luck.)
The children called for their moms to face off:

Finally, a victory!
Now I had a little more confidence to take Kate down:
Take that!
Did I mention my sister Elizabeth is nicer than me?  See her letting her son win?
Andrew really wanted to go up against Kate:
We couldn't let Brandon off the hook. Much to our dismay, he beat us pretty easily:
Her too:
Nice faces, huh?

Tour of the tiny, Scovil bakery:
Why everyone likes to visit the bakery:
Just outside. So pretty!

Scenic spots:

Rachael munching on Brandon's ear:

We did a tour of the Browning gunsmith shop for the first time.  Of course, I managed to only take pictures of the cute home, and none of the old guns:

My favorite picture of the day:
Outside the gunsmith shop, my second favorite shot of the day:

The Family Living Center has demonstrations in candle making, bread making, rope making, and other "pioneery" things:

Dining options are a bit limited in Nauvoo, but we tried a new place this time--Dottie's:
I got these shots outside the restaurant while letting the kids run around before the food came:

It's kind of easy to tell the locals from the Mormon tourists:
Being the rabid tourist that I am, I wanted to max out our visit by going to the evening show before heading home:
Elizabeth (my sister) was NOT excited about going, having seen some of the shows put on by the senior missionaries before. My problem is, the cheesier and the hokier the better--bring it on! But here's how she felt about it:

It was everything she expected and more. I loved it. (But not as much as my daughter Elizabeth, who appears to be an indiscriminate theater junkie.)

One last treat before we hit the road:
I love the "Life is hard . . ." quote from John Wayne:

Of course, we couldn't go home without stopping by that beautiful temple:
With it's irresistible grassy hill:
My sister, Elizabeth, and her husband, Jason, were married here shortly after completion:
Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum:

A great day! (This concludes your photographic tour of Nauvoo, Illinois. Thank you.)

1 comment:

  1. We LOVE Nauvoo!! Could your kids be any cuter? I think not! Great post with some beautiful pictures. We are going this Fall when the leaves are turning!


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