Monday, June 20, 2011

A day in Nauvoo (Friday, June 10th)

We went to the temple in shifts since someone always had to be available to watch the girls. Andrew got up in the morning to drive Grandma, Uncle Morgan, and Auntie Emily to the temple. Rachel woke up just minutes before they were ready to leave so she went with Daddy to drop them off so that Miriam and I could sleep in a little while longer.

On their way back to the hotel, they saw a turtle in the road, so Andrew pulled over the car and moved the turtle off the road so that it wouldn't get hit by a car. Hopefully he moved it to whatever side the turtle was trying to get to!

While everyone else was at the temple, we took the girls to go see some more of the sites of Nauvoo. We visited the Pendleton School, where the girls got to draw on slates—they were asked to draw their favourite animals. Rachel drew a bunny and Miriam drew scribbles.

We also have a lovely linguistic lesson about unconventional spellings; back in the 1800s things were spelled however anyone wanted to spell them. As you can imagine the spellings varied greatly depending on accents. So "gerrel" would be "girl" if a Scotsman were spelling. City of Joseph, as you can see, was rendered as "City uv Josef."

Our next stop was Lucy Mack Smith's house. We didn't spend much time inside since our girls were much more interested in running outside to explore the yard, but it was interesting to see how small the houses were on the inside.

Lucy Mack Smith lived on the lower floor, in a room that was the kitchen/living room/dining room. There was a little alcove for a bed, which would have been where she slept. One of her children lived in the upstairs with their family. Pretty squishy.

Not that we know anything about forcing your parents to live downstairs.

Granted, our house is much bigger than Lucy Mack Smith's house was. And her children were taking care of her in her old age. Sometimes we like to say that we are taking care of Andrew's parents and that's why they live with us, but that's simply not true. We live with them. And, yes, forced them into the basement (hey, the biggest bedroom's down there, alright?).

We later learned why all the houses in Nauvoo a) were relatively small and b) looked almost identical, when we went to the brickyard. If you were lucky enough (ie. rich enough) to build a house out of bricks, it likely took a full year's pay to do so (at a dollar a day). The missionary who gave the presentation made it sound like this was a hardship for those wanting to build a brick house.

I would just like to say, "Hello! How many years of pay does it take to build a house now? Ever hear of a thirty year loan?" Also, "We are never buying a house...not at this rate." That's all.

Anyway, bricks were made by mixing clay (containing iron oxide) and sand from the Mississippi. They'd mix them up and then pack them into molds and then dry them and turn them and dry them and turn them for days on end. And then when they were all nice and dry, they'd put them into a clamp, which is just a fancy word for "stack of bricks" and would light fires underneath/inside the clamp in order to fire the bricks.

A standard clamp was 40,000 bricks.

A standard home in Nauvoo was also, conveniently enough, 40,000 bricks.

There's not a whole lot of wiggle room in blue prints when you're working with 40,000 bricks, especially when they'd build the outer walls 3 bricks thick and the inside walls 2 bricks thick. They'd put the "perfect" bricks on the outside and the "salmon" bricks (which were slightly under-baked and thus wouldn't weather as well) on the inside. The over-baked bricks (that were a blackish colour) would be used around fireplaces. Most homes were built with the standard 40,000 brick blue print.

The missionary giving the presentation in the brickyard had Rachel help him teach us about the doneness of bricks by having her tell the story of The Three Bears. It was cute.

"This brick is like the papa bear's porridge, which was too..."


"And this brick is like the mama bear's porridge, because it was too..."


"And this brick was like baby bear's porridge..."


We got a brick to take home with us. It's just a little brick that fits in the palm of my hand, but there was a sign that said that TSA might confiscate it if you pack it in your carry-on luggage. I can't think of a good reason why. I mean, I suppose you could hit someone with it...but I could also hit someone with a book, a computer, my shoe, my suitcase, or even my hand. Whatever, TSA.

Our last stop before going to meet up with Grandma, Emily, and Morgan, was the print shop, which we found fascinating. Copy setting is hard enough to do on a computer; I can't imagine having to set something letter by letter.

By the time we were finished at the print shop we had to run to get to the temple on time.

We spent a few minutes taking pictures and walking around the temple grounds before headed back to the hotel for lunch and to put Miriam down for a nap so that Andrew and I could go to the temple. Grandma babysat for us. She's so nice.

Rachel took a billion pictures of the temple today.


Not a lot of them turned out, but it was interesting to see her perspective. She took a lot of pictures of flowers and a lot of pictures of people's torsos.

These were her best shots of people:

Andrew and I had a lovely session in the temple. The session Karen, Emily, and Morgan had gone to was packed. Our session was nearly empty—there were only 9 other people, besides us. So, if you're in Nauvoo and want to go to the temple, I highly recommend lunchtime instead of 9:00 AM. What was funny was that when we went to pick them up from the temple we got a really close parking spot (and the temple was full) but when we went to do our session we had to park in the overflow parking a billion miles away ( was just across the street) and yet the temple was empty.

It's a beautiful temple; I'm so glad we got to go!

On our way back to the van, we saw a poor baby bird flopping around on the sidewalk. He had clearly recently fallen from the nest (which we could see in the tree directly overhead) and was desperately trying to get...somewhere. We didn't quite know what to do to help it. Poor thing.

We also passed one of these signs, which I thought were absolutely hilarious. No stopping, standing, parking, anytime. I think they were talking to the cars but cars don't typically stand so it seemed to also be directed at pedestrians. They were all over the place.

 We went to the Old Pioneer Burial Ground in the early afternoon.

Thomas Hancock Jr., my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather died on October 1, 1844, and was buried in this graveyard. Joseph Murdock, Andrew's great-great-great-great-grandfather died on October 10, 1843, and was also buried here. Since I found Thomas Hancock's name on the list of people known to be buried there but without an existing headstone I didn't bother to look for him. All of Andrew's ancestors don't have headstones, either. Still, it was interesting to look around.

Some of the tombstones are new because if you happen to know exactly where your ancestor is buried, you're allowed to put up a tombstone. Otherwise they just get put on "the list."

Rachel was in an incredibly silly mood and was running around all over the place. Here we are posing by a headstone with my name on it. Don't I look thrilled? Rachel was probably saying something important, though I don't know what. 

Getting to the cemetery took a bit of a walk through a gorgeous forest. There were stairs leading to the gazebo with the wall of names, but beyond that it was a muddy hill. It probably isn't always muddy, but it rained the night before so it was rather muddy when we found it.

When we were walking back to the van, Rachel sat down on the muddy path and started scooting on her bum.

"Come on, Mom!" she sang out, "Let's SLIDE!"

"Ack! No! Stand up!" I said quickly, and pulled her onto her feet before she'd gotten too muddy. "I appreciate your... exuberance and that does sound like a lot of fun, but it's more the kind of thing you'd do in old clothes or sitting on a garbage bag or something. It's not really something you do when you're on a trip and have a limited number of outfits..."

She was pretty disappointed so we went on a "hiking adventure" to make up for it and when we were supposed to turn right to get to the parking lot we went straight instead. Our path lead to the road and we were cut off by a big gate so we turned around and went back the way we were supposed to. It was a small detour but it made up for not being allowed to slide down a muddy hill in her good clothes, apparently.

We had to rush back into Nauvoo so that we could see High Hopes and Riverboats. From what I saw of it, it was a good show. I had to leave in the middle because Miriam threw a hissy fit because Rachel touched her. They had a "cry room," which was nice, but the quality of the video feed left much to be desired. And I had to leave when they sang their whistling and whittling brigade song, which looked like it was probably a lot of fun, but I couldn't really see what they were doing because the glare was so bad.

While we were crying it out in the cry room, Miriam noticed a garden outside full of statues (thanks to a big bay window). What she was seeing was the Monument to Women and she would not forget about it. So we had to go see it after the play. Miriam loves statues, but oddly enough, it was Rachel who went all hog-wild about it. Miriam stayed up in someone's arms the entire time we were walking around, which wasn't long because by this time we were all famished.

So to dinner it was. And then we went swimming. And then we started to get the girls ready for bed.


  1. Someone told me once never to withhold a compliment, so please don't be freaked out by this..... That picture of you "standing" is positively beautiful. :D I love it!

  2. I love reading about your adventures at the church history sites! It looks like you had an amazing time. We were lucky enough to be in Nauvoo for the temple open house, so I got to see it even though I've never done a session there. It really is beautiful!

    And your hair is so cute, by the way. :)