Sunday, May 12, 2013

Omaha, Somewhere in middle America

Saturday, May 4

The highlight of this stop would be in the morning as were able to stop into Winter Quarters to see the visitor center there. I thought there would be more to the area. The visitor’s center was nice, and there is the cemetery adjacent that also includes the temple right there. It’s a nice little area, but we got saddled with a cold, windy, rainy day. I think I would have liked the visitor’s center more if we would have been able to look around by ourselves.

A sister missionary accompanied us, and while she was great, she was also just such an awkward person. Amy wanted me to take a picture of her pulling a handcart, and so I asked the sister (who had also just mentioned that of all things about home she misses, who she misses most are her nieces and nephews) to hold Jane while I took the picture. So I go to hand her Jane, the sister holds her hands outstretched and holds Jane away from her, just holding her up by her armpits, but then settles Jane on her knee while standing. I don’t know if that paints enough of a picture, but it was clear she had never held a baby before. The best part, though, was that she stayed in view of the picture and I just didn’t have the heart to tell her to get out. It was funny.

The best part of this stop for me was that there just happened to be a display of Liz Lemon Swindle’s artwork on display in the basement(No joke, it is actually Liz Lemon. Funny, huh?). I am one to appreciate art, but I’ve never really been touched emotionally the way I was when I saw her work. On display were about two dozen pieces of paintings from the bible about the Savior. The artist has an amazing ability to capture emotion and just seeing those pictures really made me reflect on the Lord and his mission. It was very impressive. What a talent to be able to be able to visualize so clearly the Savior and then translate that to a canvas. That kind of perfect communication of thoughts and feelings is very rare. (I'll sprinkle my favorite pieces throughout this post.)

Afterward, we dropped by a restaurant featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. It was pretty amazing.
We spent the rest of the day driving through Iowa to our next stop in Nauvoo. We have one friend who lived in Iowa for a time, and she just loved it, but outside of her, I had never really known much about Iowa. Iowa is a beautiful state. It has been pretty wet for us today, but we went and found a covered bridge, drove the countryside a bit, and stopped for dinner in Ottumwa. We had the funniest experience there.
We stopped at a place called the Canteen Lunch and we parked in a parking garage and walked around the back of the building to the front. As we walked in, the 6 or 7 people in the diner turned and looked at us. The lady who would eventually serve us just eyeballed us the whole time and asked us what we wanted. Another lady was scooping up what had to be the grossest ground beef I had ever seen. Amy asked for a burger. The lady asked what she would have on it, and as Amy started to say lettuce, tomato...she interrupts with, "Ketchup, Mustard, or Pickle." Amy paused before trying to politely decline their service and we just ended up walking away. I had never been in an establishment that was so unwelcoming. I couldn't stop laughing about it later. Our entrance reminds me of the scene in Pee Wee's Big Adventure when Pee Wee gets to the diner and says, "Large Marge sent me." So weird.

Otherwise Iowa has these beautiful stretches of green rolling hills with scattered barns that have been neglected for years, occasional car lots selling cars from all decades, and lonely solitary churches with a dozen or so headstones immediately adjacent to them. At one point Amy and I were both reminded of Sankt Steven's in Switzerland. This country really is so diverse thinking of the drive between California-Las Vegas-Arizona-Utah and now this. It's really captivating. If it weren't so wet and we weren't pressed to get our baby out of the car, there would have been many more photography stops.

We are staying at the cozy Knight's Inn just outside of Nauvoo tonight. It's exactly what you'd expect of a $55 a night kind of hotel. Jane is sleeping peacefully, but actually had a 102 temperature tonight. We gave her some Tylenol and it has done its job and she got back to her cute little excited-to-be-out-of-her-seat-self. Tomorrow is Nauvoo.

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