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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Senior Hiking #403 Schweitzer


May 23, 2011…Schweitzer on slider snowshoes…
hike # 403
by Betsy

The second pair of snowshoes skis arrived…I was excited to try them out. We loaded both the old and the new skis, and Jim tied my snowshoes to his pack ‘just in case’. Started out up the cattrack and I knew I was going to be in trouble. It was a combination of the very wet soggy snow and the groomer had just been up and down. I was sliding sideways and every which way…so out of control, that I was barely able to stay on my feet. I wanted Jim to see why I was whining and so we switched…he experienced the same issues. We both noticed the same differences…I felt so much better on the older ones.
When we got on a slight ascent, we switched back again…it was slippery but now we were in regular snow so there was more control. Once we stepped over to the side to look at a dirt patch and I went sliding right into the dirt. I couldn’t stop. Then when we got to the nice picture spot, again, one slight move with my ski and Jim screamed STOP! Luckily I stopped because this was a serious steep side of the mountain.

When we got up further, we switched skis again and once again I was feeling the sliding...but kept them on, since we were going uphill. I was anxious to have a little hill to check out the sliding. Finally saw a hill up ahead and got excited…’Oh, good...a hill’…I said out loud…and that is the last thing I remember before I lost control, went flying off the trail and down a hill on my butt. I had no idea when I would stop or if I would stop. Jim said my skies were flying up in the air as I was sliding fast on my butt. When I stopped I just burst out laughing so hard, a good signal to Jim that I was okay. And of course I could not get up without taking the skis off. Jim wasn’t crazy about coming down the hill to help but he did and I decided that we should switch back after climbing back up. It felt good to get the old ones on again…they are much slower. The new ones are plastic and have a fish scale embossed pattern which allows for easy up and easy down…or I should say, a ‘fast out of control’ down. The old ones have skins.

When we got to Wolf Ridge and the steep ski hill, I thought it would be a good idea to walk up it and practice coming down. We walked up quite a bit, and walked over to the side…all of a sudden, my feet went out from under me and down I went. That was a surprise. Then we started practicing skiing down…very slowly and very carefully. It was fun but each time we picked up speed we would practice stopping. It is not that easy, believe me. We went up and down about 3-4 times and decided rather than continue down Wolf Ridge, to just turn around and head back.

Although we were a bit concerned about skiing down the cattrack, we decided to give it a try. It went well until Jim got out of control and crashed down to the ground, just missing a ditch which was full of rushing falling melted snow! I had to help him get the skis off and then he was able to get up.
Then we had a nice surprise…bear tracks crossing the trail after we had been there a few hours earlier. Took pics. We were pretty wiped out by now, being out for four hours and only covered 6 miles.

Left home 10:20

Started up 11:00

Got to truck 3:00

Total miles hiked 6 miles

Total hiking time 4 hours

Friday, May 20, 2011


We are home from our wonderful trip, the sun is shining, and there is much to do.  It seems that I have been gone since before Christmas....oh yeah, I have been gone most of that time...YIKES!!!!  It is amazing how things build up around a house if you are not there to take care of them.  It certainly feels good to be home.

Our trip was so much fun.  Looking back at what all we did, the thing I loved doing the most was searching the cemeteries.  I loved the sight seeing and the church history tours and am so grateful that we finally got to do those things, but the cemetery experience touched my heart in a way that is difficult to explain.

We are anxious to go cemetery searching again.  We realized that we were very unprepared for actually doing a good search and will definitely get ourselves prepared the next time we go (which I hope will be next year).  I had taken my computer with my genealogy program and that was a huge help but we needed to plan better.  Here is what I would suggest that we we (or anyone wishing to search cemeteries) should do before we go.

1.  Get your facts -  Try to know as much about your ancestor as you can.  It helps to know the cemetery where he/she is buried (or at least the town).  Check all of your lines to see if there are others that might be in the same cemetery (try to do as much as you can at one cemetery as possible). 

2.  Do ground work ahead of time - Write the county or town hall to see if they have any information about the cemetery that would be of help to you - like a plot map showing where graves are located (this will save huge amounts of time walking and searching).

3.  Gather supplies - Do research on how to extract information from decaying gravestones (brushes, cleaners, rubbing materials, etc).  There are right and wrong ways to clean gravestones - be sure to research this! 

4.  Plan enough time - It is amazing how fast time flies when you are searching gravestones.  If you have to factor in cleaning time, your time will go even faster.  Don't rush!  Don't over plan your day (don't try to do several cemeteries in a day) - be flexible.

5.  Document what you find and where you found it - Take pictures but also map out those around your ancestor - they may be related in some way.  It is amazing how quickly you will forget what picture goes where.  Take notes of your pictures so when you are looking at them, you will know who it is you are viewing and who they a re related to....(many times you will find a stone that says the family name with no information but in front of the stone you see mother, father, child, etc. This can be very confusing if you are only looking at pictures.). 

6.  Week day working hours may be best - If you need to talk with someone at the cemetery or in a court house, funeral home, etc., they may only be available during work hours.  If you plan your cemetery visit during the weekend, you may be out of luck if you need to speak to someone (believe me, you very well may need to do this).

7.  Take the family - What a fantastic experience for your whole family.  Get the kids involved.  Everyone can search in a cemetery.  How exciting it is to see your ancestor's grave.  This would be a great time for you to tell your family about some memories or research experience you may have had with this ancestor.  These were real people with real life struggles.  Believe me, there will be some touching moments when you see your ancestor's grave.

I have seen most of the gravestones on the Internet of the ancestors in the cemeteries we visited but there is such an emotional feeling when you are standing right there where you know other of your ancestors stood many years before.  Take the time to visit the dead.  Lear about their lives, their stories, the history they have left you.  Take the time - it can be life changing!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Day 13 - The end is near!

This is our last night in a motel - YEAH!!!  Tomorrow we are headed to visit our son then home.  This will be my last post of our trip as this is the official end of we will be visiting.  We are so thankful for this opportunity that we have had to travel and do some site seeing, genealogy, and visiting church historical sites.

We knew when we left that it was spring and a wet one at that so we were prepared for some bad weather.  We feel fortunate in that way also.  Other than our day at Mt. Rushmore when it poured, the rest of our trip was quite pleasant.  It seems that every time we wanted to be outside, the rain stopped long enough for us to do whatever it was we wanted to do, then would start back up again.  The only hot weather we ran into was today in Wyoming.

We were in the car a lot and on the road a lot and I thought that I would go crazy with the riding as I am not the greatest for long drives but we stopped every night early enough to rest and a couple of times we held over a day to get a little extra rest.  That was the trick...that and the fact that we were not in any great hurry to get to any one place.  We had an agenda but it was extremely flexible.  I would travel like this again in a heartbeat.

You may wonder if it was wise bringing our dog.  Honestly, we really considered this question.  We just didn't feel comfortable about leaving her that long.  We had a lot working for us.  For one thing it was spring and not hot in the car...not cold either.  The other thing is that Lucky loves the car and actually prefers sleeping in the car over going in with us into the motel.  We always told the motel people that we had a dog and requested a room close and within view of the car from our window.  They were all very obliging.  Lucky is a very quiet dog - so quiet we hardly even knew that she was with us.  She also is extremely obedient.  That is very helpful.  I have had a couple of Beagles and there is no way we could have had such an enjoyable trip with them.  So traveling with a dog really depends on the personality of your dog.  The worst days for Lucky were probably the two days we spent touring church sites. We made it up to her with our fun days at the cemeteries....she loved grave searching.  Enough about dogs.

My husband actually thought we could do this trip in under $200 a day for gas, food, and lodging.  Well, most days ran around $250.  We did almost no activities that required admission.  We usually ate only one meal out (I brought healthy snacks that took us through most of the trip for lunches).  We always got a motel that served breakfast.  Most of the motels we stayed at cost between $75-130 with tax.  We did stay in a nicer hotel twice and a real dive once.  Gas was most outrageous in Indiana...ugh!  I can't believe we almost cheered when we found gas for $3.55 a gallon after the $4.45 we had to spend some places.

We used a GPS and a Map...together.  I was the navigator and had control of plotting out our destinations.  It was fun following the map and checking out the different locations.  We did depend on the GPS a lot in some, some places do not do very well with directions!  Our biggest downfall was not following Jack (our GPS) and doing our own thing.  I also used coordinates to locations where I could not find a physical address.  That was very helpful.  Some of the cemeteries would never have been found otherwise.  (I brought the laptop with us so at night I would look up coordinates of some places we wanted to see.)

We listened to a book on disk on our way back east.   That was very entertaining and helped us through some of those boring areas of driving.  Unfortunately, we do not have any more books with us so I will put on a movie and pipe it through the speakers so my husband can hear it (and I can watch it).

If I were to do this again, the thing that I would change would be that we would be more prepared for the cemeteries.  Cemetery looking takes a lot of time and I think I could have been better prepared.  We want to go back to some of these cemeteries and check them out again but we will bring some supplies next time...a scrub brush, some bleach, and some rubbing supplies.  This was a fun thing to do but you need to have patience.  I think sometimes we crowded too much into a day and we felt hurried when searching the cemeteries.

My husband is limited to some activities due to a leg problem but I have bad knees so we were well suited to travel together.  I think you need to be on the same level when traveling or else one could get frustrated with the other.  Our pace was quite slow and that was fine with me but I know some of my kids would have been a lot more impatient.

Well, that kind of sums up the specifics of our trip.  Today our plans were to go to two cemeteries in Nebraska for my family and two in Kansas for my husband's family.  We did go to the ones in Nebraska and I found my family... my 3rd great grandfather and family...such a find!  When we finished with the Nebraska cemeteries, we found ourselves right near Interstate 80.  It began calling us - come home...come home!  Well, we have been gone 2 weeks and we still have a couple of long days to travel before we get home so the call from the Interstate was too overpowering.  So tonight we are in Cheyenne, Wyoming headed to our son's home in Utah instead of Kansas and Colorado as originally planned.  We will stay with our son a couple of days then head home to Idaho...I am ready!

Pictures today were of family headstones.  My greatest delight was finding my 3rd great grandfather.  I did not know where he was buried so it was exciting to see him beside my 2nd great grandparents.

These cemeteries were out in the middle of nowhere.  Flat farmland all around and in a green spot with some trees finds a quaint little cemetery.  You have to check every single headstone to find your family....oh, but it is so worth it.

I end this trip with the most touching moment for me.  Today, as I found my family, I found this sweet little headstone of an unnamed baby.  It touched my heart.  These parents wanted a headstone for their baby so they carved it themselves.  I think this picture says it all.

Thank you for reading the story of our trip.  We had a great time and now have some wonderful memories.  These pictures are a reminder for me but I hope they have been of interest to you.  I encourage you to take the plunge and do some traveling.  Take the kids too!


I want to wish my mother and all of you mothers out there, a very wonderful and happy Mother's Day!  I know that sometimes you wonder if it is all worth it...the answer is YES!  I am so grateful for my mother and the many things she has taught me.  I am most grateful that she loves me.  I know that even if I disappoint her at times (and I am sure I have many times in my life), she still loves me.  She is always there for me...even if she can't be there in person, I know that her spirit is with me.  I am fortunate that I can talk with my mother every day...and I do - sometimes more than once.  Unfortunately, I don't get to see her as often as I would like but hearing her voice is the next best thing.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Day 12 - To Jail then heading home!

We left Fort Madison (Nauvoo) Iowa and headed to the Carthage Jail to the place where Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were killed.  It was a very moving tour.  After the jail, we went to Adam-Ondi-Ahman and tried to find Far West.  Finally, we are heading home through the long drives (Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, and HOME!).

This first picture is from the Iowa side looking across the Mississippi River to see the Nauvoo Temple.

First stop for the day was Carthage Jail.  This was interesting yet emotionally moving.  We crossed the river again to Carthage, Illinois.  By the way, all of the Church sites are very well marked with blue signs.  The jail was easy to find right off the main road.

We began our tour in the Visitor's Center where we watched a movie.  I think of all of the movies, I enjoyed this one the most.  It started when Joseph was a young boy clear through to Carthage Jail.  There were lots of comments about Joseph from people who knew him.  Many were not even members of the church some were even those that guarded him.  These were accounts written in personal journals.  Everyone had pretty much the same comment...Joseph was a kind and gentle man that would do anything for anyone.  He was not a violent man.

Our tour guides, two missionaries, then took us through the cooking room (which actually was added to the building after the death of Joseph Smith).  The following picture was from that cooking kitchen.

Now we entered the actual jail.  The bottom floor housed the caretaker and his family (husband, wife, and 7 children).  There was only one sleeping room but there was an attic to the jail.  It is believed that it could have possibly been more sleeping for the children.

This is the original jail (the walls are 3' thick at the base).  After it was a jail (used to house the not so dangerous prisoners), a family owned it and remodeled it to become a house.  They added the cooking room.  Then they sold it to a man who owned it until he died.  After his death, it was sold to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  A missionary couple spent many years restoring the home back to the original jail.  The walls on the outside are original and much of the inside is the same (floors and some doors) but some had to be upgraded for use in tours and some just had to be replaced as they were no longer there.  The design is as it was originally.
The wife cooked all of the meals for the family and for those being held prisoner.  The prisoners had to pay for their own food and as in the case of Joseph, any others visiting him had to pay for their own food also.

On the day that Joseph was killed, the wife and two of her young children were in the house (not sure where everyone else was) when they heard a shot outside.  It startled her and she went to the bed where her children were.  The mob burst into the jail and to this room and shot into the room where she was.  She grabbed her two children and fled out of the jail through the side door.

This next room was a holding cell.  At times the rooms upstairs would get to 120 degrees so the jailer would bring the prisoners down to this holding cell where they would be cooler.  The problem was that it was on the main floor and very dangerous if someone from the outside wanted to shoot into the jail.  They could only leave them in there for a couple of hours at a time.

We then went upstairs to the 2nd floor.  There were two rooms on the 2nd floor.  One was called the dungeon.  It had this name because it was extremely dark with the only windows for light and air were slits within the rocks.  There was an inside cage which housed the prisoners.  Joseph and Hyrum and six other men were with them as supporters to include John Taylor and Willard Richards.  This cell was not much bigger than a small bedroom.

After the mob broke into the room where Joseph, Hyrum, John Taylor, and Willard Richards were being held, Hyrum and Joseph had been killed and John Taylor had been shot in the hip.  He called to Willard to take him with him as Willard was trying to get away (the mob had fled thinking the Mormons were coming) and so Willard took John Taylor into the dungeon and hid him under the straw thinking that the mob might return.  The mob did not return.

The four men were kept in this front room on the 2nd floor.  Just before the mob arrived, Joseph had asked John to sing a song.  The missionaries put on an audio tape for us to hear the accounts of these last minutes.  It was hard to keep the eyes dry as the events unfolded.  The two survivors recounted the events of the deaths.

The pictures:  There was a bed in the room and the men encouraged Joseph and Hyrum to lay down on it as they took the floor but Joseph was fearing shooting through the window so he slept on the floor also.  The floors in this room are original.  The hole in the door was from the bullet that shot Hyrum.  The cane in the corner was used by John to ward off the guns being shoved through the door.  Joseph died falling out of the window.  The mob left abruptly when they knew Joseph was dead.  They thought the Momon's were coming to retaliate but they never did.

Well, our church tour has come full circle...from where Joseph was raised to where he was murdered.  I am so glad that we had this opportunity to see these sites and to experience these feelings along the way.  I encourage everyone whether a member or not to go to Palmyra, Nauvoo, and Carthage and hear and feel the history of the Church.

Our next stop was Adam-Ondi-Ahman in Missouri.  We have only heard little bits and pieces from people who have been there but never really heard what was there or the feelings they had when visiting there.  First, it was not the easiest place to find but I used the GPS coordinates to get us there.  I will not say too much except that we were surprised.  I am not sure what we thought we were going to see but all that we saw was beautiful land.  Now we did not walk on the trail to the lookouts.  Here are some of our pictures.

That's It!  We tried to find Far West but got the wrong coordinates.  We did see some very real back country of Missouri!

So we are staying somewhere just barely into Nebraska.  Tomorrow is Mother's Day and we will be checking out more cemeteries of both my ancestors and those of my husband.  We also have some really long traveling to do in the next few days.  For now - time for bed!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Day 11 - Oh what a difference a day makes!

Boy, a good night sleep can really change a person's outlook on things.  Today we really visited Nauvoo and how very different it was.  It was everything everyone says about it.  We had a great day today.  Yesterday it was raining when we went into Nauvoo, today the sun was shining and it was in the 60's.  We started our day with a quick tour of the town, took in a session at the temple, rode on a horse drawn carriage, watched a musical production put on by the missionaries, and enjoyed a beautiful sunset on the Mississippi River.  What more could a person ask for?

Last night when we drove into Nauvoo, we were hunting for a place to stay.  We were so tired that we saw nothing.  We ended up staying across the river in Iowa in the town of Fort Madison.  As we drove around town today we were so surprised to see several places to stay...oh well!

As we left Fort Madison this morning we saw a fort that I really wanted to check out but we had an appointment for a temple session and didn't want to be late.  As it was, we got back too late tonight to see it so I guess it is for another day.

The Nauvoo temple was a replica of the original.  The original was finished just prior to the Mormon's leaving Nauvoo in exodus.  In October of 1849, the temple was set on fire and destroyed.  In 1850 a tornado struck the temple toppling one wall.  Other walls were then torn down for public safety.  Between 1937 and 1962, the LDS church reacquired the land.  In 1999, President Gordon B. Hinckley announced the rebuilding of the temple in it's original footprint.  On June 2002, the Church dedicated the new temple.  The exterior is an exact replica of the original but the inside is designed more like the modern temples.

After our temple session, we hurried and changed, ate a snack then went on a horse drawn carriage ride.  They offered three kinds of tours...a wagon pulled by oxen, a horse wagon, and a carriage pulled by horses.  We chose the carriage ride.  The guides, missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saint,s gave us a brief history of the area as well as told us interesting facts about the time (from journal writings of those that lived in Nauvoo in the 1840's).  It was a peaceful ride around the area.  The ride we took didn't actually show us much in the way of buildings as all of those buildings no longer exist but we saw the land where many of the Church members lived.
Our horses were Rod and Rick...Belgian horses.

  This was the view from Inspiration Point on the Mississippi River.  The white building across the river is a manufacturing company that makes the de-icer for airplanes.  The river was much lower when the Mormon's lived here.  The dam on the river has raised the level of water covering several islands that once were a part of the view.  40% of all merchandise for the north goes down this river because it is much cheaper than shipping by trucks.

 The trees in this area are not that good for building.  Because of the moisture content, they tend to rot out in the middle thus making them useless for boards.  There are some really weird trees here that have spikes.  The Indians used these for fishing hooks.  The spikes were good for punching leather to make holes for sewing.
The men were so busy trying to build the temple and other buildings that the women and children were the ones that cleared the brush on the land.  Much of the land was covered with brush.  These women had to work hard.

The Mormons had to convert this swampy ground into usable land and they did so by digging drains for the water from the hillside to flow through which did the trick.  The ground was covered with a slab stone rock so they had to dig under it to make the water flow.  This culvert is a modern time assistance to the problem.

We really enjoyed our ride.  The horses were just glad when the ride was over because we were their last work for the day.  They got to go back to their pasture to rest.

We then rode around and checked out the area.  There are a lot of brick buildings still standing or that have been refurbished.  Very few log homes made it.

Joseph Smith's house shows the original log house and then the larger house he built.  Beside the house is the cemetery which now has Joseph's body along with that of Emma, his parents, and his brothers.  No markers were showing so we didn't actually go in the yard.  This part of Nauvoo is owned by the Community of Christ Church.  The brick building in the background is the Endowment House.

We also visited the Brick Making building where we saw a demonstration on making bricks.  We got a souvenir brick at the end of the tour.

In the evening, we went to a production in the Cultural Hall called "Rendezvous".  It was a fun musical presented by many of the missionaries serving in Nauvoo.  They told the story of the Church and it's members through music and drama.  The setting was this little room with wooden pew-like seats and a small stage.  The cast interacted with the audience from the very beginning.  There was no way you could sit there without a smile on your face.  I forgot to take in my camera so this is a picture from the website.

As we left the production and headed to our car, we saw the most fitting ending to a perfect day....a gorgeous sunset.  Unfortunately, my camera is on  it's last legs (I had tons of problems with it suggestion, never go on a trip without a decent camera).

So yesterday I would have driven home instead of checking out this bit of history but today, I am so glad we gave it a look with fresh eyes.  I strongly suggest that you should definitely spend a few days in Nauvoo. There is a lot to see and do - something for the whole family!

Tomorrow we are going to Carthage Jail and then on to Missouri for Church history.