(See previous post for the start of the Mormon Trail saga.)
Leaving Nauvoo, we drove out Parley Street to Nauvoo Landing and saw where the Mormons lined up and down the city streets to be ferried across the Mississippi River during freezing weather in February, 1846. Nauvoo, the beautiful town and homes, was simply abandoned!
Out of Nauvoo we identified the sign posts of the National Park Service for The Mormon Pioneer Trail across Iowa which we planned to follow to the Missouri River; mostly back/county roads and even some stretches of gravel roads. From this point on the history of the Mormon trail detailed the passage of the over 12,000 Saints in the first exodus from Nauvoo. Migration continued for the next 20 years, but it was these original pioneers that cut the trail to Salt Lake City.
We crossed the Mississippi river at Keokuk, Iowa, and followed trail directions to River Front Park, where the first Mormons landed across the river, and Linger Longer Park where a pavilion commemorates the refugees and from where they had a distant view of the city and temple they had left.
In Corydon we stopped at the Prairie Trails Museum; it was full of wonderful displays of westward migration and articles of period living in the area.
Garden Grove, Iowa served as a Mormon way-station until 1851. Outlines of the cabin walls are visible in the grass and several wayside exhibits interpret the site.
Detouring only 5 miles off the Mormon Trail Auto Tour, we drove through the town of Van Wert, Iowa. We had been through a lot of small destitute-looking towns, but Van Wert was one of the most impoverished. I took a picture of the downtown area!
We passed through and past many sites on the tour that were not open or on private land. One of the most fascinating was the Pote Farm Ruts where wagon ruts were deeply cut, but now eroded and faintly visible in a pasture. From a narrow gravel road, they are hard to see, and I was unable to get a good picture of the ruts!
We arrived at the Grand Encampment in Council Bluffs which sits on the location of the Iowa School for the Deaf. In the first wave of migration, this is where the Missouri River was crossed, and where a way-station was set up to supply future immigrants on the way to Zion. Brigham Young came to the realization that most of the original contingent would not be able to continue on to Salt Lake City before Winter, and after crossing the Missouri the Mormons set up "Winter Quarters" in Omaha, Nebraska.
Although my tour was scheduled to end at Council Bluffs, we did cross the river and visit the Winter Quarters Visitors Center and Historic site. The center was staffed with several Mormons completing a personal mission, and we were the only visitors that early Sunday morning. We got special attention and a personal tour (and testimony!) from young Sister Coats -- a young girl on her first mission who was enthusiastic and very sincere. We spent much time answering the questions that she showered at us and listening to her sincere witness to the trials of the early Mormons! There was no time to gracefully turn and take pictures of the exhibits, although I did snap a few outside.
For years I have wanted to travel one of the National Historic Trails traveled by Western settlers in the 1800’s. More recently I have narrowed my choice down to the Mormon Pioneer Trail from Nauvoo, Illinois (where the Mormons were forced to leave following the death of founder Joseph Smith) to Salt Lake City. As a last excursion before Tom started back to school, we planned a one-week jaunt over the portion of the trail from Nauvoo on the Mississippi River to Council Bluffs, Iowa on the Missouri River – a 320 mile portion of the complete Mormon Trail.
Although we have visited Nauvoo previously, our trip started there for a review of the Mormon history as the Mormons settled Nauvoo (“The Beautiful Place”) in 1839 where they prospered until 1846. The Nauvoo State Park is high on a hill overlooking Old Nauvoo and is covered with tall pine trees through which shafts of sunlight filter through to the pine-needle strewn campsites. Welcoming us was a doe and three little spotted fawns.
A critical part of my this bucket-list aspiration revolved around my interest in the Mormon handcart pioneers. Brigham Young somehow convinced thousands of emigrants (especially European recruits) that traveling on foot, pulling a hand cart (rather than dealing with oxen and wagon) was a cheaper and easier passage to Zion. Most hand cart companies quickly and easily made the trip, but two companies (the Willie and Martin Companies of 1856) started too late and did not reach Salt Lake City before winter set in. Their tragic tales have created my interest in their unbelievable sufferings. Here are two books that sparked my interest and that I highly recommend on the subject:
Although the handcart companies did not actually cross the Iowa portion of the Mormon Trail (they began their trek in Council Bluffs, Iowa) Nauvoo offered a wonderful opportunity to experience travel by handcart for those wanting to more fully understand the undertaking. Thus Tom and I made arrangements for a scant 1-hour handcart excursion!
Our Mormon guide met us at the trail head and introduced us to a brief history of the Mormon handcarters, and familiarized us to a cart and a map for our 1-mile outing. Then we set off on the trail by ourselves!
The cart was was not bad at all with two of us pulling and with only Charlie Button as "baggage" while the trail was smooth and level.
The problem was that the reenactment engineers, when creating the little mock-up trail, decided to give us a good dose of the realities of travel by handcart. The path wound around the meadow and then into the woods, traversing under dead-falls and over ruts and up and down steep dried out creek-beds.
While at the F.R.O.G. rally (see previous posts) we toured the factory where sister Tink’s r-pod was created. Aside from seeing the process from start to finish, we also met the crew involved in the building process and the man who conceived of and designed the r-pod.! We also got to view the new graphics sported by the 2013 pods featuring a frog resting, belly up, on a lily pad.
Here is our first view of the r-pods on the assembly line.
We were greeted and divided into small groups to view the step by step process of making an r-pod .
We’ve visited the RV Hall of Fame previously, but it is always worth another outing to drool over the collection of beautiful vintage trailers and motor homes. Located in Elkhart, Indiana, the mission of this beautiful facility is to preserve and display the history of the RV industry, and they have done so in incredible style.
If you're ever in the area do not pass this one by! If you're not in the area, you can check it out on line here: http://www.rvmhhalloffame.org/.
Here are my pictures to help whet your appetite!
I'll leave you with some "famous last words" spoken by my friend Cindy. Our van was packed with a group on our way to visit the RV Hall of Fame when Cindy's daughter called on her cell phone; Cindy explained that she was going to a museum with a "bunch of old campers"! Instantly every head in the van turned and gave Cindy the ugly eye! Get it?
Be sure to first read my previous post that explains what a F.R.O.G. rally is!
Below, TInk poses with her work crew and Susan (the R-Pod Warranty Woman)
that provided a complete make-over and update for her 2009 Pod!
It's all the service truth . . . I Promise!
I made some buttons for us to wear . . . just because . . . . I like buttons!
And that pronouncement comes from
a committed Airstreamer!
Forest River makes an astounding variety of travel trailers, 5th wheelers, motor homes and other recreational vehicles. Beginning in 1996 under the leadership of Peter Liegl, the company is now one of the largest RV manufacturers in the nation. Having attended the International Forest River Owner’s Group (F.R.O.G.) rally this past week, I can tell you that the service commitment of the company is as exceptional as the size of the company.
Gee – I wonder if customer service and company success are correspondingly related?
I started out as a totally neutral rally observer (after all, I own an Airstream!), but I soon jumped on the Forest River bandwagon as I witnessed their enthusiasm to serve the 500 product owners present. In fact, Pete Liegl himself attended demanding that his company set a new standard for RV service.
Held at the Elkhart County Fairgrounds, in the middle of the RV industry and close to Forest River headquarters and manufacturing plants, the rally began with the standard goodie bag full of information and an agenda. The Fairgrounds was simultaneously hosting 4 large rallies, and every part of the grounds was groomed and polished and ready to be used for our convenience.
Here is a brief sample of the outings, tours, seminars and other activities planned for us.
Towing Fundamentals by Blue Ox
Traveling with your dog by U Dog U
Why Didn’t I Think of That? by Ken Murphy
Weight Distribution for Travel Trailers by Blue Ox
Fire Safety, Survival and Equipment by “Mac the Fire Guy”
Controlling Odor in your Holding Tanks by G&L RV Specialties
Shirt Decorating Hands-On Class by Barb’s Iron-On Designs
Basic Concepts of Windshield Chip Repair by S&L Enterprises
Improve Engine Performance and Save Fuel by M& B Enterprises
How to Care for Your Fan-Tastic Vent Products by Fan-Tastic Vent
How to Care for Your Atwood Mobile Products by Atwood Mobile
Illness, Accident, and Emergency Medical Transportation by SkyMed
How to Clean and Care for your RV With Waterless Products by S&L Enterprises
I've got to mention the food!
First Night's Dinner Menu
Farmer's Cheese and Crackers Presentation
Mesclun of Baby Greens Salad
USDA Choice Ribeye Steak
Savory Wild & Brown Rice
Green Beans Almandine
Baker's Choice Rolls
Lemon Cream Cake
Premium Beverage Cart
On other nights we enjoyed:
Roasted & shaved Beef, mashed potatoes with gravy, garden salad, glazed carrots, rolls and butter and cookies
Part-A-Pit Chicken, baked ham, broccoli/raisin salad, coleslaw, green bean casserole, "pit-tatoes" "decadent brownies"
Pork Chop, BBQ Beef Brisket, garden salad, applesauce, green beans, corn on the cob, baked potatoes, rolls/butter, cake
Every morning we were served a full- buffet breakfast -- enough to fuel the entire day until meeting back for supper!
Here are a few more pictures to round out today's post!
Pastime Park campground in Plain City, OH has to be one of the best-kept secrets for a weekend get-away near Columbus, OH.
It is a large 42-acre park with playgrounds, swimming pool, professional Disc Golf course, shelter house, hiking trails, and camp sites complete with water and electric hook-ups and restroom and shower facilities. The entire campground is liberally spotted with 100-year old Oak trees that provide generous shade on the grass-covered sites.
Our business was all pleasure! On Friday evening we went to the famous Irish festival in Dublin, OH.
On Saturday, the girls took off for luncheon in a log cabin followed by a quilting shop spree. the boys walked 3 blocks down from our camp to a cruise-in car show that was in Plain City.
Located in a historic log cabin, the Morgan House in Dublin, OH features three floors of country gifts, Americana furniture, antiques and gourmet goods. They also have a wonderful restaurant with homemade soups and sandwiches . . . a nice rest-break during our shopping!
In quilt shops The Red Rooster and The Glass Thimble I was busy buying fat quarters and yardage for a new project for the Silvermine -- a summer quilt. . . a light-weight quilt with a pieced top a coordinating back and no batting. Sometimes the fabric in those quilt shops are just overwhelming and the more variety there is, the harder it is to make a decision.
Back at the campground we compared notes with the boys who had their own tempting afternoon looking at restored cars. Lots of hard looking --- but no purchases.
We ended the evening with a trip to Der Dutchman Restaurant for a feast at the Barn-Raising Buffet. . . down-home cooking with a lot of Amish staples. When we opted to save room for a slice of homemade pie, we did not know that their legendary pie wedges overflow the rim of a large salad plate! Tom had fresh peach and I had red raspberry cream!
All good things must come to an end, but in this instance, it is with certainty that I say we will be coming back to Plain City and the Pastime Park. I'll leave you with a little bit of silliness that our group created while sitting around the campsite. . . that is Tom that barely made it off the picnic table!
Nineteen years ago, for the inaugural Brickyard 400, Tom hesitated before buying those tickets! The race would interfere with the important family diversion of showing rabbits at the Ohio State Fair . . a hard choice for a man to make! As a 25 year patron of the Indianapolis 500 Tom was offered priority choice for his 400 tickets, and the excitement of attending a foundational NASCAR event proved too tempting – he headed off for the Brickyard and Micah, Caleb, Grandma and I loaded up the rabbits and headed for the State Fair! Now, 19 years later, the four of us have been attending the Brickyard together for over 15 years.
My three boys were up at 7:00 am with plans to head to the track by 8:00. I got up with them to take the traditional "off to the racetrack" picture -- and then went back in the Silvermine to rest and relax and delay my departure to the track for several more hours. As an 18-year veteran of Brickyard tickets, Tom was awarded two passes to walk down the front track straight-away. Micah and Caleb enjoyed that little trip with other long-term fans.
On top and settled in our seats, I got the traditional picture of my three boys who were ready for an exciting race!
Following are some views from our new seats as the race got underway.
This was our first view of the cars as they came around turn one.
We don’t go camping any more . . . we go ‘streamin’ ! The “SIlvermine and His” is our 2016 23' Airstream, and ‘streamin’ is the name we use to describe our adventures. Stream along as we document everything from weekend trips to longer summer excursions and full-blown vacations. You know what they say: if you’re not in an Airstream – you’re just camping!
Tom & Ella Brown