Now that we live in good ole Erie, PA, we're about three hours from Palmyra, NY. The Palmyra Temple is actually "our temple," which is pretty neat as there is so much Church History to explore in the area. This year happened to be the penultimate year of the Palmyra Pageant, but we decided that we wouldn't try to get out there because Anj is so busy, we're in the midst of potty training, and it just seemed like the wrong time. I had a little bit of FOMO, but it seemed like the right call.
On Friday night, Anj decided to spring it on me that he thought we should go. Why not? Last minute is our style. We always joke that while Andrew's parents tried to instill in him, "When you fail to plan, you plan to fail," our life seems to pan out more along the lines of, "When you make plans, your plans fail." So, we decided on a last minute adventure to Palmyra. Hotels were booked, Bnbs were full, but a little campground had one tent spot left--so camping it was! But, we don't camp. The one time we tried last year, we got smoked out and couldn't go. We own literally no camping gear. We were about to go out and buy a tent, but luckily, some friends we've made here were kind enough to lend us their camping supplies (Thanks, Bells!)
The next morning, we packed up and headed off for New York. After a good, long drive with several bathroom breaks (hooray for potty training) we made it to the Hill Cumorah and saved some seats then went to the temple grounds for a picnic lunch. Ray has always been a road trip champion, and for that I am grateful. He entertained himself with Star Wars books and his Boogie Board.
(These are snakes)
This kid is literally my favorite human.
After our picnic and a meltdown when ants attacked Ray's pb&honey while he was in the bathroom, we took off for Cheerful Valley Campground. It was about 95° but felt like 107° with humidity (this stat brought to you by the weather app), which is a perfect temperature for camping. Especially for newbies. Luckily Ray's excitement for roasting marshmallows and sleeping on the ground kept us motivated to actually set up camp and get a fire rolling despite the heat. S'mores and ramen at 5 PM in 95 degree weather was surprisingly delightful.
This camp set up brought to you by the Bells.
He didn't actually eat this-just licked it.
Ramen-camping dinner of champions.
Seriously so pumped about his "cave."
After dinner we got back into our beautifully air conditioned car to go explore the Smith Family Farm and Sacred Grove and then head to our seats for the pageant. The Sacred Grove was so beautiful and I loved being there with my little family and sharing my testimony with Ray. Even though he just wanted to find the biggest stick he could and run all the paths, he kept saying how "beautiful" it was and he could tell it was special.
The Frame House - 85% original from the 1800s.
Loved this real, live farmhouse sink.
Andrew dropped us off at the Hill Cumorah Visitor's center while he parked the car and we hit the bathrooms (theme of this trip) and then went to find our seats. On our way we happened upon King Noah, who is literally Ray's favorite Book of Mormon character. Don't ask me why. He looks scared but he truly was ecstatic to "meet" King Noah and give him bones. We got to our seats around 7:30 and still had to wait until 9:15 for the Pageant to start, but we killed time eating popcorn and snow cones and talking to some of the pageanteers. Ray was so tired by the time it got rolling, but he couldn't stop watching and asking, "What's gonna happen next?!" It was quite the spectacle, and fun to be there with my family.
The best part of the night was actually the show the fireflies put on back at our campsite when we finally pulled in around 11:30. There were thousands of them lighting up the trees all around us--it seriously reminded me of the Eiffel Tower sparkling on the hour at night--and was simply magical. Ray zonked in the (very warm) tent, but Anj and I sat outside admiring the fireflies. I tried to capture it to no avail, oh well.
I had LOW expectations, but we all got some sleep. Ray was up at 5 AM with the sun, but managed to fall back asleep to the music of mosquitos and flies trapped in our tent fly until 7:30, which was a miracle. We got up, had some oatmeal for breakfast, and packed up for church along with all the other 7000 people there for the pageant that weekend. We had decided on our way out the door to snag our passports in case we wanted to detour to Niagara, and figured why not. To Canada we go!
Niagara Falls is pretty amazing. The falls are breathtakingly huge and powerful. It was quite the view. All Ray wanted to see though was the dinosaur statues in the mini golf park near where we parked. Living his best life! We also snagged some poutine because A) we were in Canada and B) poutine is delicious. Please enjoy many pictures of Ray and water:
Being a dinosaur, duh.
I love waterfall rainbows!
French fries, cheese curds, and gravy. YES.
Highlight of the trip for Ray Ashby Barrett.
(Second place was getting to use his passport.)
Until next time, Canada.