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Archive for June, 2009

 

 

 

Keg tapping

Keg tapping

 

 

June 12,2009

Oh, Frankenmuth, we sing your praise.  

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Frankenmuth

Frankenmuth

We stayed at our very first “Jellystone” campground here, something we never anticipated doing, not having children or grand-children yet in tow.  But, this location is within walking distance of the Bavarian Festival, in full swing this weekend. So we went with that flow…3625413522_4ce36daec1_m

 

 

Cold weather buddies

Cold weather buddies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The campground was also within walking distance of Bronner’s  CHRISTmas Wonderland.  Almost indescribable.  We started our tour there in the Silent Night Memorial Chapel, a replica of the  chapel in Oberndorf, Austria, where Stille Nacht, was first composed/performed.

 

Stille Nacht Chapel

Stille Nacht Chapel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We could have gotten lost in the huge store complex, but our dancing feet needed to get to the Bavarian Festival a few miles down the road.

 

 

 

 

The Olympics were underway – the Fire Dept, local athletic clubs, Dental Practice/Bank emloyees, etc. were competing in the watermelon-eating contest when we came on the scene. 

We got some beer and barbecued pork sandwiches  for energy to dance the night away. Older people put us to shame.  We’ve got a lot of dancing to learn!

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Wonderful park, lovely sunset. We meet next-door neighbors from Argentina.  They have a European rig. Also a nice couple who are living out of a Sprinter van.

 Lake Erie Sunset

Lake Erie Sunset

 

Lake Erie sunset

Lake Erie sunset

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June 10. 2009

Instead of them knocking on our door.  And they’re really interested in why we’re on their (Hill CumorahVisitor Center) doorstep. We find out later, only Mormons usually visit these sites. But here we non-Mormans are at place where it all began.  We want to tour the house where Joseph Smith had his visions and received the tablets, but first we will be received (by about 5 0r 6 well-dressed brothers and sisters who jump up and welcome us and introduce themselves) and then guided through the building by two young female missionaries who are assigned to us. I make it clear at the onset, in answer to their questions, that we are Roman Catholic and love our faith tradition, but are interested in other religions and their history.

We make our way through a very hi-tech introduction with our young guides, then into a very calm and acoustically amazing room where a statue of  Jesus
“speaks” to us, and both young women give testimonials.  We then are ushered into a theatre, with a beautifully done film about Joseph Smith, and then into an interactive museum area.   Where, because we have been to Mormon sites in Salt Lake City and Nauvoo, IL, we start to remember the Angel Moroni, and parts of the rest of the story. How they believe that Jesus Christ came to the Americas.  I ask questions about these specifics and the missionary young women aren’t comfortable with all of that history/geography etc.  But they are so earnest in their faith, and so steadfast in their beliefs.  They testify, they are trying to convert us.  I admire them for their commitment.

 

We drive on to the nearby  Joseph Smith homestead.

Joseph Smith Historic Site

Joseph Smith Historic Site

  Our guide here is a delightful young woman, another missionary , who asks me if I’ll be her “companion” which meant that she thought I was Morman and since they are supposed to travel in “twos”  I could have been the one  to watch over her.  She said she didn’t have any experience talking to non-Mormans, but she welcomes and answers our questions.  While, all the while, fitting in her testimony and taking every opportunity to evangelize/convert. And I have nothing but admiration for people who try to spread the truth, as they know it.  My church has been doing it for years.  

 

 This is the place where Joseph Smith was first visited by the Angel Moroni.   He ultimately got the golden tablets, and then translated them into the Book of Mormon. And lost them again (or gave them back to the angel Moroni – two different versions).

 

We walk into the grove where Smith had his visions.  It’s not as peaceful as it would have been then, Joseph wouldn’t have encountered  families with strollers.  But it still seems like a nice place to say a prayer for what you should do with the rest of your life.  Always a good question to ask.

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Seneca Falls, NY

June 9, 2009,

Thank you women who paved the way for the rest of us!!!

We saw where the first Women’s Rights Convention was held in 1848 and toured Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s house.

 

 

Elizabeth Cady Stanton's House

Elizabeth Cady Stanton's House

 

 

I wanted to be overwhelmed by this site, but sorry to say, the museum and film didn’t inspire me as much as previous national sites.  I would have liked to have seen more about the women who built on the movement that began here- and ultimately got me my vote.  Instead, the museum did a very confusing time-line of all kinds of historical dates/civil rights movements.  Give me the women!  Their history and stories and how long it took us from that convention to get the vote in 1920.

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June 8:

Because food is important in battle, I’ll report that we ate two nights in the same wonderful restaurant at the Turning Stone Casino – Rodizio – one of those fun Brazilian steak house restaurants, where the food keeps coming, and coming.  The other restaurants there were supposed to be amazing, but the sushi salad bar was too incredible for us to not visit twice.  (And we don’t like sushi!).  Also, it was so much fun to be picked up at the campsite and returned home. And my Mom led me to the “Yetti Betti” slot machine and gave me $50, just so I’d know she was still around in places other than churches.

Another big first.  We swam in a swimming pool for the first time in our RV travels. I have such a fun, good-sport husband, he actually wanted me to run us through a water aerobics drill.  I didn’t drive us that hard – it’s so much easier to have someone else tell you what to do. 

Once dry, we set off for Fort Stanwix, and then, by accident, the little-known, but more powerful and poignant site of Oriskany Battlefield, where so many men gave their lives, and changed the course of the American Revolution. The British were stopped here on their march from Lake Ontario.DSCN0666

Then on to Seneca Falls and the site of the first Womens Convention.

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I think I must have have fallen behind here for a reason. June 7 is the 3rd year anniversary of my  Mom’s death.  I wrote about what happened that day and sent it by email to my family.  It seemed too personal to post here.  But now I get that I should post something and move on. So, that original email follows:

We decided to spend yesterday visiting a site we thought Mom might have enjoyed – The National Shrine of North American Martyrs.  We didn’t know much about it, other than it was some kind of shrine and museum on a beautiful hillside, overlooking the Mohawk River. Some statues, monuments, some natural beauty, with a good dose of Catholicism – we thought she’d approve.

After walking around for awhile, trying to figure out who exactly the North American martyrs were, we came up on a log cabin museum.  We started looking at some of the exhibits, when a really nice staff person came up to us and started going through this fascinating history of some Jesuit priests who had been tortured and killed here (so we discover the identity and significance of the North American Martyrs).  She was a really good historian/story-teller and had that kind of magical mix of intelligence and humor and profound faith, where they seem to go naturally together, and I was admiring that.  And thinking about how I pray a lot to have a deeper faith, and here, on the anniversary of Mom’s death, I’m listening to someone who is really inspiring. Telling us about amazing men of faith and courage.  I’ve pretty much given up on asking for signs, but I WAS thinking, how cool is this – thanks Mom!!!

And then I catch a glimpse of her name tag. It says “Beth Lynch”.  It kind of took my breath away, so I had to interrupt her to tell her that she had almost the same name of my mother, who was the reason we were there that day.  And she says, “My real name is Elizabeth.”  She had the kindest eyes and the most wonderful smile.

So, yesterday, Elizabeth Lynch gave me some lessons in church history and faith.  And held me in a big hug.  And reminded me, when I needed it,  that all of our loved ones are with us in the communion of saints.

Just so you don’t think we’re getting too pious here, we spent the NIGHT of Mom’s anniversary at a casino.  We’re staying in their RV campground and they have (big surprise) 24 hour shuttle service to the restaurants and huge casino complex. So we went and had a great dinner and then tried our hand at the slots.   And I must say that Mom was of absolutely no help there.

BUT – on the short trip home, with only us on the shuttle, I’m thinking about what an amazing day it’s been, when I realize the song that ‘s just come on the radio is,  “How Great Thou Art”. ( I’ve never heard that song on the radio before.)

So her day ended with her favorite song.

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I’m so far behind in blogging but don’t want to forget these two.  Such different experiences, but both memorable in their own way.

The first was the Minuteman Campgrounds, close to Lexington and Concord.  It’s been in the same family for a long time and their love and care is evident.

 

Office at Minuteman Campground

Office at Minuteman Campground

 We’re used to staying in state parks when they’re almost empty, so we enter this private campground with trepidation.  Not to worry –  our site is amazing.

 

Minuteman Campground campsite - Concord MA

Minuteman Campground campsite - Concord MA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My favorite fire pits ever.  I wanted to set up a nativity scene!

 

Stone fire pit Minuteman Campground

Stone fire pit Minuteman Campground

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We stay a second night and get to talk to one of our “neighbors” – he’s there for a some kind of  period gun-shooting contest.  He tells us they’ll all be in costumes in the morning and I get up in time to catch a few of them.

 

Nice gun-toting neighbors

Nice gun-toting neighbors

 

 

The second campground is hard to get to, and when we get there, we almost want to turn around and head the other way.  It’s packed with seasonal trailers. Row after row. And more recreational vehicles, golf carts, motorcycles, etc. than we’ve ever seen in one place.  We reject the first site they suggest for us, it’s so crowded we’re not sure how we would back into it (and we’re SMALL!) so we find a site in a less crowded area and settle in.  

And then we take a walk at dusk. We are dumbstruck by the lights, strings of all kinds and colors, flags, banners, decorations, tiki bars, full screen porches, patios, rock gardens – and everywhere campfires with loungers, chairs, so many people sitting outside together, kids playing, music blaring.  We aren’t used to this. 

We go off to see some history the next day and come back to the same site.  We take another long walk. Once it’s completely dark, I’m seriously concerned we might get lost – there’s a whole city here, block after block of huge rigs, lit by firelight.  Where do we turn to get back to our campsite…was there a flamingo on the corner?  A bear statue? An American flag? 

But we do find our way back, and climb back into the Navion. Sometime while we were gone, or later in the night, we have a visitor.  We don’t know about until we pull back out of the site in the morning.

 

Snapping turtle who lived under our Navion overnight

Snapping turtle who lived under our Navion overnight

 

 

Thank God we still have our toes, after walking around in the dark, and then in the morning, oblivious.  It’s the largest snapping turtle I’ve ever seen and ornery as all get out.

And, this is where I have a mind-set change on this campground.  The nicest young man comes out of his trailer when he sees Dick trying to move this prehistoric beast with a stick.  He tells us that this turtle does this all the time and is not a happy camper.

Snapping turtle snapping at stick

Snapping turtle snapping at stick

 

 

 He goes to borrow a shovel, for transport to the pond, while his wife and some kids join us for the event.  It’s not an easy process, but the man perseveres and gets the turtle back into the water.  We talk for awhile about what this time spent together as a family means to them (they’re seasonal, so the rig stays, they come on long weekends). He was so cheerful, helpful and friendly.  I thought who wouldn’t want to have neighbors like this?

 

Snapping turtle going for a ride

Snapping turtle going for a ride

 

 

 

 

I would skip the reptilian variety however…

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