**(May 30th, 2007): On day one we started for the SLC airport with some time to spare. Two major accident scenes later and we were running very late into the airport, just like a scene from the movies. We made it to the plane with only minutes to spare and were grateful to be on our way. We landed in St Louis, MO at around 8:30 PM, picked up our rental car, and made the 3 hour trip to Keokuk, IA where we would be staying for the next three nights. Keokuk is only 20 minutes from Nauvoo, just across the Mississippi river. Rain came down in bushels for much of our drive. We made it to the hotel sometime around 1 AM.
***(May 31st): On day two we headed out early for Carthage, IL. This is the jail where Joseph and Hyrum Smith spent their last days before being martyred there. The spirit of that place is very strong and reverent. As you sit in the bedroom where the prophet was shot, you stare at the original door still showing two bullet holes and wonder how it must have been for them. Carthage was the most spiritual part of our journey, if you make it to Nauvoo it is a must do.
We then spent the rest of the day in Old Nauvoo. We had a wonderful time seeing the old homes and workshops that the early Mormons lived in. There is a great pioneer spirit throughout the entire town and it is a very peaceful place. We recommend that you give yourself at least a week so that you can visit and tour all the places that are there. We also made sure to stop by the Smith Family Cemetary while there. This is the final resting place for Joseph, Hyrum, Emma, Joseph Sr., and Lucy Smith.
Our second day ended with the "Sunset on the Mississippi" show put on by all the Nauvoo missionaries. We really enjoyed their performance and had a wonderful time.
***(June 1st): On day three we went to the Nauvoo Temple. We did a session in the morning and then went to the sealing just after. The temple is built in the same manner as it was of old, with wood floors and a plain interior by todays standards. Again, the pioneer spirit is strong there and is was a wonderful experience. The people of Nauvoo are very kind and every person in the temple was a joy to be around. It is truly a special place.
We spent the remainder of the day in Nauvoo visiting more of the sites. The sites that we feel are a "must visit" are: the Brickyard, Blacksmith, Print Shop, Cultural Hall, Seventies Hall, Gunsmith, Family Living Center, and the Brigham Young home. But, do visit them all if you get a chance.
That evening we ate at the famous "Drakes by the Riverfront" in Burlington, IA. The food was good and the building was very neat - but the two hour wait for our food was not so cool. Thank goodness for appetizers ;)
***(June 2nd): Day four was our last there. We decided to see Hannibal, MO - the hometown of Mark Twain. We took a riverboat ride and had a great time hearing the stories of the town and the river in general. BTW: The Mississippi River is VERY dirty, not very deep, and has a unique aroma...... I imagine Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer must have smelled mighty ripe after a day in the ole water hole.
With only 30 minutes to spare, we made a run to see the Gateway Arch in St Louis. We did not have time to ride the tram to the top of the arch, but did have time to walk around and marvel at the 632 foot tall stainless steel structure. I would have loved a few more hours to really tour the place, maybe next time.
We caught our plane (with no drama this time) that afternoon and headed home, excited to see our kids again. It sounds like they had just as fun a time with Grandma Innes as we did on our trip!! Nauvoo is a place we are sure to visit again in the future and we think a family reunion there would be a great experience.