We didn't exactly go all the way to Israel but instead to the Mecca of Mormons--Salt Lake City. It started as a whim a few months ago when I decided I wanted to try to go to General Conference this April. When I noticed in the Sunday bulletin that there was someone to contact to get tickets I quickly emailed. I had anticipated that there wouldn't be any tickets left for us so I didn't get my hopes up. But then one day a couple weeks ago as I was walking in to the Chapel, I heard my name called. Out came a hand with a folder for General Conference tickets. Whoa! I was so excited.
Then we had to plan our trip. Luckily last week was Spencer's spring break so we had more flexibility than normal. We thought about renting a car, but Enterprise doesn't let you take their cars outside of California, Arizona or Nevada. We almost paid $150 for a rental, but then Spencer's parents let us borrow their car.
I was totally stressed out all week before we left. I had a lot to do and Rachel wasn't sleeping very well. I was trying to get as much work done as I could before we left so I wouldn't have to worry about it on the trip.
Finally after all the preparations were complete, we packed up the car and headed out on Thursday morning. We left about 11:45 because Spencer had to work till 11:00. We were lucky enough not to hit any traffic at all heading up there. We stopped in Baker, CA for gas and food and found a restaurant that conjures up very happy memories from my childhood. Bob's Big Boy. They built on in Baker, CA of all places. Since it had been years since I'd seen one, we of course had to stop and eat and take a picture. I fondly remember standing on the Bob's Big Boy statue in the restaurant in Rancho Bernardo. For some reason that memory has stayed with me for years. Good times, good times.
Another thing we saw on our trip was a lot of snow. About 8pm we made it into Cedar City and since the sun was going down, I couldn't tell if what I saw was just a reflection of the sunset, or the snow. Well soon enough I could definitely tell. In some places the snow was at least a foot thick! I was so happy to see it, but bummed at the same time because it was at night. I have never seen that much freshly fallen snow. The ground was covered all the way to about Provo.
We kept on driving and pulled in to Spencer's brother's house about 12:30. Pretty dang good time if you ask me. 12 hours driving time from San Diego to north of Salt Lake City. After trying to calm Rachel down and get her to sleep we crawled in to bed.
The next day we lounged around the house in the morning then after lunch took Rachel and her cousin to Temple Square in Salt Lake. I had anticipated bringing Rachel to the Visitor's Center with the Cristus so she could see Jesus. I envisioned her calmly walking up the ramp soaking in the sights of the stars and the moon eager for what was around the corner. When she reached the top, I would see the excitement in her eyes as she saw Jesus with his hands outstretched and exclaim, "Jesus, Mama!" She would stare reverently at the statue and listen quietly as they played the little clip.
Well that's not what happened. Rachel loves to push the stroller, so she was adamant about pushing her stroller up the ramp. So far so good. We made it to the top and she ran for the benches ahead completely oblivious to who was standing behind her. Now Rachel is a loud kid. She loves to sing and talk and rarely has a quiet moment. When they started the short presentation and I tried to get Rachel to calm down but usually that only makes her louder. I finally got her to sit on a bench next to a young guy. Unfortunately he had his scriptures next to him. Lately Rachel has been fascinated with scriptures, but due to the fact that I don't want my pages ripped out, I don't let her play with mine. Well this nice guy let her hold his scriptures and she was elated! But shortly after the presentation ended, he had to leave. Only Rachel would not let go of the scriptures. Finally after much coercing, we finally got them out of her hands, only to have her topple off the benches backwards.
Normally she is a pretty tough girl, but for some reason this time she just let all the crying out. She did that open mouth-silent scream, followed by loud crying scream cry. I quickly scooped her up and carried her out of the room while others tried to enjoy the quiet reverence that was there.
I wasn't feeling the quiet reverence though. I discovered it's a lot different going to reverent places with a two year old in tow. Her three year old cousin was very well-behaved though. Here she is shushing Rachel.
After the Visitor's Center debacle we decided the girls needed to do some running around. We took them to the reflection pool so they had some space to run and play. Rachel spent most of her time doing circles around the pool, while her cousin stuck her fingers in the frigid water.
Giving Rachel space to run around in made me much calmer than when we were inside of the Visitor's Center. She needs her space. After the girls played for a while, we met one of my old college roommates at a little coffee shop for hot chocolate. Yum! Rachel was being naughty inside again, so we headed out to the front of the shop and let the girls run wild again. We tired them out pretty good after a while and decided to head home.
On Saturday Spencer and I went to the afternoon session of General Conference. I was a little bummed because they had the dedication of the Tabernacle during that session which meant that the Conference Center was the overflow. It was still great to be there and be able to focus on the talks instead of trying to keep Rachel quiet somewhere else. I came out of that session really feeling the Spirit.
Feeling the Spirit is something I've been lacking lately. I just have been having a down time in my life. However, a couple of the talks really touched me and reminded me of how the Spirit feels. I came out of there feeling regenerated and ready to take on whatever comes my way. It has been hard for me because I'm occupying 6 3 year olds for two hours and trying to occupy a 2 year old for the other hour to feel like I'm getting much out of going to church on Sunday. I haven't really felt spiritually fed like I do when I'm able to go to Relief Society on a regular basis. I just have to tell myself that this is where the Lord wants me to serve. After Saturday afternoon, I had a confirmation of that. I realized I need to focus my own efforts at increasing my spirituality. I need to pray more and more meaningful and I need to study my scriptures--not just read them. I realized no one is responsible for my spiritual well-being except myself. It was a good experience.
On Sunday we packed up early and drove about 45 minutes south to visit with my aunt and uncle. That was a quick, but fun visit. They fed us some yummy breakfast and for that we were extremely grateful.
I was hoping we would see some of the remnants of the Thursday snow storm on the way home so Rachel could at least get out and see it. She has never seen snow so I wanted her to experience it. About 3 hours into our drive we pulled over on the side of the road where there was a little patch of snow. We got out and Rachel took one step in it and said, "I scared the snow, Mama!" She had no idea what this cold stuff was and wanted nothing to do with it! It was kinda funny actually.
After about 5 minutes in the snow we packed up and got back in the car. The drive home was pretty dull except for the traffic we hit just past Baker. It went all the way through San Bernardino. At one point Spencer pulled off the road to take a frontage road because we were at a dead stop. Unfortunately the road ended before the traffic on the freeway did. On the radio it said there was a car fire nearby, but we didn't see any. We were lucky to get home about 10:30 last night--an hour and half later than we planned.
All in all it was an enjoyable trip. I got to satisfy a whim I didn't think I would get to. Rachel got to see snow for the first time and I got to experience Temple Square with a 2 year old. We probably won't be doing this again any time soon...