Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Our Nauvoo Memorial Day

Memorial Day camping lives on!  Following the westward trek of our pioneer ancestors, we spent Memorial Day in Nauvoo, Illinois and regrouped at Winter Quarters (Omaha) for a couple of weeks before completing our journey to Utah on Saturday.  Whew!  You know summertime must be here when the odometer starts racking on the miles.

After riding in a horse-drawn wagon for an hour, I don't think I'll complain about our fifteen hour trip to Zion in a minivan.  Our horses, Nip and Tuck, were certainly strong, but none too speedy.

 Here's Talia, waiting for the wagon ride to begin.  What a goofball!

Think I know where she gets it from...

Brooklyn tries to join in the eye-crossing fun.  I personally think that Talia's piggies, one up and one down, are a perfect reflection of her personality.

Sure do love our gals!

Camping in Nauvoo was great.  We set up in the dark after arriving late Friday night and awoke Saturday morning to find ourselves in a pretty wooded area only minutes away from historic Nauvoo.  Here's Annika in front of our trusty old Coleman.  Even though it's beginning to show its age, I love our tent.  Despite some heavy rains, we stayed completely dry.  If only Annika could do the same...

Brooklyn and Talia say "Good Morning!"  (Still a goofball...)

Ever a hard worker, here's Papa Kay putting up the sun tent that he welded back together after it tried to quit on us last Memorial Day.

Brooklyn was in charge of the breakfast menu our first day.  She shared a couple of camp recipes from her last Girl Scout adventure.  So what's cooking?

Bacon and eggs!  Line a brown paper bag with bacon, crack a couple of eggs on top, place over hot coals, and voila!  Breakfast is served.

Talia and Papa Kay agree--delicious!

Our next breakfast treat was even more fun.  We scooped out the inside of an orange, filled the hollow with muffin batter, wrapped the whole thing in tin foil, and stuck the orange in the coals to bake.  Tastier than it looks, this cranberry orange muffin was citrus-y perfection. 

NomiAnn joins the fun.  I think breakfast is probably my favorite part of camping. 

Happy Memorial Day weekend!

Back to our wagon ride, I really enjoyed getting to see some of the back countryside.  Bet the early pioneers would have appreciated a John Deere tractor like this one.

Make a wish!

The kids' wish came true when we went to hang out at the Pioneer Games.  Here's Eli doing some tabletop bowling.

Playing with pins.

Annika tries to work her bear to the top of the ropes.

Eli likewise gives it a go.

Studies show that there is a direct correlation between serious brain function and the amount of tongue hanging from one's mouth.

Here's Brooklyn trying out the stilts.

Annie preferred her little lamb.

Eli and this Senior missionary became quick friends playing this game.

Love this photo.

Wish I could say that I won the stick pull, but Jason walloped me.

Eli tries out a new architectural style.

Brooklyn our milk-maid.

Annika Mae was feeding her baby dolls so intently that we decided it was time for lunch.

She wanted pickles.

Starting a new trend--the green tongue.

Gosh, I love this cutie...

...especially her hugs!

As adorable as our Annie Mae may be, another baby came and stole the show.  Baby Ruby!!!  Here's Brooklyn meeting her cousin for the first time.  We were so glad that Ruby and her family made the trip all the way from Cincinnati to see us.

Too bad we don't live closer.  I think Brooklyn would be all about babysitting.
Here are Justin and Brianna with a performing missionary from "Sunset on the Mississippi." This Elder will soon have to switch his tune to "Sunset in New Hampshire" since he's been called to serve in Brianna's parents' mission.

Sunday morning found us at church, followed by a trip to the Monument to Women Memorial Garden.  Annika was eager to share her hugs with all, living and bronze.

The Jason Wheeler munchkins appreciating "A Stitch in Time"...

...while the Justin Wheeler munchkin enjoys a snooze.

Oh, how I love being an aunt!

While Annie Mae would have LOVED to adopt Ruby Sue as her own real-live baby, due to a runny nose she had to settle for these baby dolls at the Family Living Center instead.

Eli and Talia help make some rope.

Here's Eli showing off his prairie diamond ring from the blacksmith.  We feel a strong affinity with the blacksmith shop since Grandpa Charles worked there as a young missionary many years ago.

And here's our pretty Talia Lily getting ready for our delicious dutch-oven dinner, courtesy of Justin and Brianna.

Justin and Brianna's cooking was so delicious that it brought even more wonderful surprises--Ben and Christy, come to visit in the midst of their Chicago condo remodel.  Hooray!

The dutch ovens also must have enticed the rain.  Our water-lovin' Annie thought it was great fun.

Only thing better than rain is Reddi-Wip!

Nature not wet enough for you, Talia Lily?

The purple umbrella made us think of you, Grandma Susie.  Here we are on our walk along the "Trail of Hope."  Even though the lantern-lit trail performance was cancelled to due to inclement weather, we trust that Hope itself is not gone.

By morning the rain had passed and it was a bright, sunshiney Memorial Day.  Here's Uncle Ben with sweet Ruby Sue.

Jason and Justin in the yellow Sunburst.

Christy and Justin, flipping flapjacks for breakfast.

Oh, what a beautiful morning!

Even a half glimpse of Ruby Sue's owl hat will make your heart melt.

Everything's better with blueberries, right Brooklyn?

Eli's all smiles.

Memorial Day morning, we all enjoyed a carriage ride through town.  Here are Christy and Eli.

Papa K's full of the chuckles.

And here's NomiAnn with Annie Mae.

Doc Justin, along for the ride.

Brianna and Ben join the Kodak moment.

Nauvoo the Beautiful, a fitting epithet.

The pinnacle, of course, being the temple. 

All too soon, it was time for lunch and goodbyes.  Ruby Sue, we'll miss you!  Don't grow too quickly.

Ruby's all smiles for NomiAnn.

Justin, Brianna, and Ruby, taking a keepsake photo on their very first campout as a family of three.

Uncle Ben gives Ruby one last bottle for the road...

...while Talia roasts one last s'more.

Ben, Christy, Justin, Brianna, Ruby--thank you all for making this Memorial day extra memorable by linking up.  Our impromptu family reunion was so much fun (even if we missed those who weren't there.)

And NomiAnn and Papa Kay, thank you for making every Memorial Day so wonderful.  Your graciousness in hosting our ever-expanding crew was so appreciated.

I know it can be a lot of work planning and prepping for these adventures--work that is made even more tedious by my whining.   Please know that even if I fuss, these memories are priceless and worth every ounce of inconvenience. Let's do it again next year--and next!

Farewell, Nauvoo.  Thank you, not just for the lovely Memorial Day, but for reminding us why family matters so much.

Eternally Grateful, The Wheelers