During Eric's fall break this last week, we decided to be brave and take the kids on a trip up north. We hit Philadelphia first, experiencing Independence Hall, the Liberty bell, and the most amazing Philly cheese steaks ever.
Next we saw Valley Forge--absolutely beautiful with the fall colors. We had such a fun and relaxing afternoon there. Ethan ran around like a wild man, Libby enjoyed her stroller and Eric and I loved the temperate weather, scenery and history.
Our next stop was Lancaster Co. Pennsylvania. We went on an "Amish Driving Tour" that Eric found online which took us across and past several old school covered bridges, Amish farms and little Amish school houses. They were beautiful. We also stopped at a Farmer's Market and ate at an incredible buffet cooked in the "Pennsylvania Dutch" style. We saw several Amish/Mennonite families which was very neat. We tried to imagine their lifestyles and we tried even harder not to gawk.
We took the back roads up through Pennsylvania to New York and finally arrived in Palmyra where we stayed at a very luxurious hotel: The Econolodge. Palmyra was so neat. We spent time at the Hill Cumorah, the Smith Family Farm, the Sacred Grove, the Grandin Press (where the first 5000 BoMs were printed) and we got to drive up around the Palmyra Temple. The Sister missionaries at all the sites were absolutely awesome. The gave amazing tours and we really appreciated the wealth of information they had. The spirit was very strong in this special part of the country. Eric and I decided to read the Joseph Smith story out of the scriptures one of the nights we were there and it really hit home. One of my favorite parts was sitting on top of the Hill Cumorah marvelling not only that Joseph Smith had been there, but that this was the place that Moroni of old buried the plates. Astounding to be there.
It seemed appropriate that we had first visited Philly where the Declaration of Independence had been signed and Valley Forge, which was a hotspot of the Revolutionary War and then Palmyra where the First Vision had taken place. It really got me thinking about the big picture; the events that had to take place (the forming of the US) before the church could be restored. It puts things into perspective a lot, and I felt assured like I have many times before that the Lord's hand is in all things.
Our final stop was in Gettysburg on the way home. As we drove around the battlefield we passed hundreds on monuments to the men who died in this huge battle of the Civil War. Eric enjoyed the rich military history of the battlefields we visited.
It was too bad to come home after such a marvelous trip, but we made many good memories and we are glad we had the opportunity to go.