a few (okay, slightly more than a few) weeks back i had the exciting opportunity to go visit my #1 favorite place (you can click here to revisit my first brief encounter from last summer, just driving through)! with three of my favorite people! it was a hot, hot weekend in nauvoo, illinois, but wellllll worth the visit.
as soon as we got to nauvoo (fairly late in the evening), we stopped by to visit the smith family home + burial site and look over the beautiful + breathtaking mississippi river.
(with a stop to look at mama's dream
we headed back across the river to keokuk, iowa to rest up for the night...for the next morning the nauvoo festivities officially began! starting off with a few rousing numbers from the nauvoo brass band, followed by a showing of "anna amanda". adorable.
anna amanda herself! this girl had such a rockstar voice + personality that they bent the rules a little to let her come be a ypm (young performing missionary) - she's only 17 and you usually have to be 18. but she's that crazy awesome. and my height. so fab.
we also happened to run into the sister of someone in our home ward! you guys, this was a big deal. there are only 20 young performing missionaries each year...and she was one of them! huge huge deal. she was incredible also.
aaaaaand (SUCH a small world!) i ran into carter thompson, one of my fellow theatre majors from good ol' byu! so happy to see his smiling face, as i had somehow (?!) totally forgotten that he was a ypm this year, too, until i saw him! so crazy. how much do you love our awkward photo where we can't hug? shoulda done a handshake...oh well. (:
after soaking up the spirit of the city of nauvoo, we headed in the direction of the gorgeous temple to get some lunch at this cute little cafe right up the street. so delish. and the artwork around/inside was gorgeous, as well.
we headed back to little nauvoo to be entertained by the ever-talented ypms. and oh, boy - they did not disappoint! they made up their own versions of these two songs, and you'll kick yourself if you don't check them out. they're that legit. even just listening to them makes me want to go back to watch them perform all over again! SO much talent there in that little group, seriously.
additionally (did i mention that it's such a small little world that we live in?), i ran into my friend mckenzie merchant from my byu ward last year! she was there with her fam just soaking in the nauvoo-icity all week long. living the dream.
ah. oh. my. goodness. you guys. this was probably my favorite part of the entire week! seeing two (incredibly talented + wonderful) recent byu theatre graduates that i've heard so, SO much about - performing the roles of emma + joseph smith in this little vignette in which they read their love letters from way back when. so beautiful. wish i had gotten that all on video, but there was a crazy kinda storm abrewin' (which made it just that much more dramatic + perfect), but alas, woulda made it pretty difficult to hear anything they were saying. you'll just have to trust me on this one. amazing.
as the storm really started to liven up, we headed inside to the little theatre in the visitor's center to watch another little play. seriously, so incredible what those early saints went through in nauvoo (and just in general). all this incredible theatre + rich church history = can you understand why i love this little town so, so much? and the day was still young!
after the show, we went to see another little vignette of the prophet joseph speaking (king follett discourse, amazing), while it was still just ever-so-lightly raining outside. just. perfect.
and, of course, no trip to old nauvoo would be complete without family photos taken in front of the lovely nauvoo temple!
for dinner on friday (and dinner thursday, i believe, it was that great!) we hit up this amazing eatery to fill up our tums in preparation for the nauvoo pageant (!!) later that night. all you can eat food...and so. much. of it!
i'm usually really skeptical about buffets buffets really just gross me out. plain + simple. but this one was rumored to be amazing...and it was. highly recommend it!
papa with his keynote phrase in a plaque right inside hotel nauvoo! clearly we know why he loved eating there with all the little knick-knacks like that we found inside. (:
right before the pageant began, we were able to watch the ypms perform once more - and guess who came out randomly in the audience to sit by me before he had to jump back on stage for another skit!? brother thompson (aka carter) himself! so great. so hilarious. love me those ypms!
aaaaand shortly after this little show ended, everyone started gathering to find their seats for the pièce de résistance of the entire week - the nauvoo pageant!!
i laughed. i cried. it was amazing. i love live theatre. i love church history. this was everything i was expecting + then some. i love nauvoo!
sadly, as night crept upon us, so the pageant ended and we shuffled back off to our car and drove back to our hotel, saying our final goodbyes to this amazing little city that we had the pleasure of being a part of for the past two days.
when we arose in the morning, a funny thing happened. meaning...okay. long story short:
1. if you've ever been to our house, you know that our mama collects magnets from different states/places she's visited (or that other people in our family have visited).
2. none of us had ever been to missouri. ever. so, naturally, being only like 10 minutes from the state border to missouri, we had to drive in, just to say we had visited it. right?
3. once you cross the border into missouri...there's kind of a whole lot of...nothingness. not in like, a terrible bad way, but moreso just the fact that there was a lot of (beautiful! wonderful! lovely!) greenery...but no real sign of any human civilization.
4. ...but. you guys. we HAD to get the magnet! how else were we going to prove to the rest of the world (our fridge) that we had actually been there?!
...wellllll fast forward a coupla hours (and hopeless stops at grungy cigarrette shops/gas stations in desperate hope of finding a mere missouri magnet) (you think i'm kidding...but you can't make stuff like this up) (seriously) later...we just decided to keep on driving, and driving, and driving, until....
we ended up in st. louis! at the very (one + only!) arch itself!
we had a coupla hours to spare, so mama + papa decided we'd just take little detour...through st. louis! so exciting! and it didn't end up being all that terrible of a detour, at all.
and...you guys. the arch. it is huge. like, seriously, HUGE! like, did you know they have little tram cars (seats 7 people each, nice + snug) that take you UP the st. louis arch? i mean seriously, how cool is that? i so wanted to (obviously), but we didn't have the three extra (extra extra) hours to spare to wait in line...it's kind of a big deal. like, they've even got an underground MUSEUM under there! the st. louis arch. may not look like much to the naked eye...but there are all kinds of excitement going on underground. definitely adding that little tram ride to my bucket list for when i visit anna in champaign...summer 2013. (:
oh, and did i mention we met the ghostbusters at the arch? dream come true, right? what more reason do you need to go visit st. louis now?
so that was it! our little nauvoo-esque weekend getaway. we got home late saturday night...
and yes, we did get our precious little missouri magnet. it's hanging on our fridge, right next to the pretty little magnetized photo that we also bought of the st. louis arch itself. (: