Saturday, June 04, 2011

fields of dreams

thursday, may 26, 2011
7:46 p.m. somewhere along the plains of iowa

driving through iowa at sunset, i think this is the most beautiful part of our trip so far.

this morning we left our hotel in indiana, took I-80, crossed I-94, and passed by chicago. I-80 leads to utah, I-94 leads right to my parents' house in minnesota, and chicago is my old temple district. so this is kind of a junction of my life.

i'd never been to kirtland before, but i've been to nauvoo twice and, apart from going to the temple (which we wouldn't have time for), i wasn't really sure what i wanted to see on our stop there. we stopped by john taylor's house, where a somewhat nervous sister missionary gave us a tour. unlike a fair amount of buildings there, the john taylor home is the real deal, so that was cool. cooler still is the story the sister told us about the rocking horse in the upstairs bedroom: when they left nauvoo, their son was crying for the first few days. when they learned that it was because he was missing his beloved rocking horse, john taylor went back, and, in disguise, recovered his son's toy. most of the pictures i've seen of president taylor have him looking somewhat gruff, so it was fun to hear about the compassionate side of him.

next door was the printing shop, where john taylor was the editor of the town paper (i had no idea....) the senior sister missionary gave us a demostration of how printing was done back in the day. we learned that “mind your p's and q's” was a saying that came from making sure the apprentices put the correct letters back in the appropriate boxes, and that “upper case” and “lower case” designations are because capital letters were kept in the upper cases and the, um, lower cases were kept in the “lower cases.” i don't have as fervent of a fascination with old timey printing that some readers here do, but i still think it's pretty dang cool and took some pictures of it all.

we wandered around town aimlessly for a bit, not really sure what we wanted to see. i've always liked the red brick store but wasn't really sure where it was, since all of the streets and brick buildings look the same to me. jaime said she wanted to see where joseph and hyrum were buried, so we headed to the cumminity of Christ section of town.
we found the smith family cemetary, where not only are the prophet and his brother are buried, but also emma and several of their children and other relatives. located next to a small house and on the bank of the mississippi river, it's a beautiful spot. we took a moment to read the plaques posted around and appreciated what it all meant.

just down the block was the red brick store. why do i think the red brick store is so cool? well, first of all, it's where the temple endowment was first given. that's a pretty special pace. it was also where the relief society was organized. and i realized that the times i'd been here before, i'd never been inside (although i've filmed an interview with one of joseph smith's decendants in front of it). but the sign said “open for business”, so we went inside.

it's set up like an old general store, which joseph initially ran (but wasn't a very good businessman, due to extending credit to so many people). and today it sells old fashioned candy, harmonicas, dishes, sun stones, and replicas of the original copies of the book of mormon, book of commandments, and other such things. the man working the counter offered to answer any questions and, after a few minutes of browsing the wares, i asked him to tell me what he could about the history of the red brick store.

i learned that the store was also joseph smith's office, that he gave his final instructions to the quorum of the twelve upstairs, talked with his son, joseph smith III about succession in the church there, that bishop newell k. whitney also kept an office there (he took over management of the store, i think), and that upstairs was where the community nominated joseph for u.s. presidential candidacy.

jaime and i explored upstairs. she noted the beautiful view outside of the office window, something i hadn't bothered to notice. we took some pictures in the main room then she went back downstairs. i took a few moments to lean against the door frame and think about where i was.

we found a new mexico license plate (still holding out hope for vermont and rhode island), passed sidney rigdon's nauvoo home (saw his place in kirtland yesterday, where an old lady peered out from behind the curtains at me), and spent some time taking pictures of the temple.

we had lunch at dottie's cafe, where we each got the day's special: country fried steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, and corn, all for $5.50. it was arguably the most home-cooked meal i've ever had in a place of business; even the plates looked like they came from a grandmother's kitchen and not a diner. however, we were crestfallen when our waitress's confession that they were out of ice cream dashed our hopes for a root beer float (jaime) and a chocolate shake (me). still, i was enjoying the small town diner atmosphere and the gaggle of old farmers sitting at the counter, talking and watching a john wayne movie made everything better.

before we left town, jaime suggested we go check the sinclar station for ruby red squirt.
i guess i should explain that. i'm not sure when, but since sometime around high school, i've associated road trips with ruby red squirt and hostess snowballs. i don't know why, but when i'm on a road trip of any substantial size (more than a day, i guess), i feel a need to get myself a bottle of ruby red squirt and some hostess snowballs. i rarely drink pop, nor do i go for gas station junk food much, either, but it's a special food for a special occassion, not much different than cranberries at thanksgiving.

the hostess snowballs are pretty much ubiquitous across the country, but i can't remember the last time i bought ruby red squirt (probably when brady and i drove to fargo two and a half years ago) (jaime just spotted an idaho license plate!), so i didn't know if it was even made any more. so far, every gas station we've stopped in hasn't had it. and, unsurprisingly, this sinclair station wasn't any different.
next door was a local grocery store and, while i was heading for the car, jaime went to the neighboring store and so i followed her. inside, the small drink coolers held the elusive red drink. i was pretty dang excited. jaime decided to try something new and bought a drink called “big blue.” i've seen “big red” in texas and heard some texans talk about how great it is, but i've never neen interested to try it. she rightly described “big blue” as tasting like a melted slurpee and i was glad that she's picked it and not me. i'd forgotten how good the ruby red is.

we just put in disc 12 (of 17) from the deathly hallows, are scheduled to get to brady's parents in nebraska a little after midnight, and as the sun gets lower in the sky, the green rolling hills of iowa just get more and more enchanting.
dad, this is for you:

[well, i was hoping to have the "is this heaven?" "no, it's iowa" scene from field of dreams here.
youtube fail.]


Jaime said...

i'm glad you documented all of this. you do it so well. i can remember each moment with a smile :) it's like i was there! oh wait..

The Former 786 said...

I'd never heard that story of President Taylor. I love it when I see the "human" side of a prophet.

Also, like you and Ruby Red Squirt, I must have a Ginger Ale whenever I fly.