Saturday, September 04, 2004

Nauvoo blog.

Some Labor Day weekends, I’ve traveled. Others, like this year, have been spent close to home. Seven years ago, while Yuriko was large with child, we drove westward to see a place I’d read about.

Labor Day Weekend, 1997.

We had a fine time out “west” over the Labor Day weekend. We made it as far west as Iowa, briefly, but the main focus was getting to Nauvoo, Illinois, perched way west on the banks of the Mississippi. But the first day we stopped at a place called Bishop Hill, which itself was the site of a religious commune in the 1840s and ’50s, home to a good many Swedish immigrants that followed a charismatic Swede. Alas, he died and there was no one to take his place, unlike certain other cults that flourished around that time and later went to Utah, so they parceled out the commonly held lands to cult members in the 1860s. About a hundred years later, their descendants became interested in restoring some of the town’s buildings, which have their charms. The church was nice in a sort of plain way, and the hotel was a fine example of 1850s Midwest architecture.

The next day, we made it to Nauvoo and ran right into the Grape Festival. It seems that one of modern Nauvoo’s industries is winemaking. The upshot was that a parade made it hard to drive through town, so we checked into our motel and swam in the indoor pool while everybody else sweated in the high-humidity heat. It was the last day of August, and almost the only 90°+ day in the whole month (the day before might have been as well). It was on the TV at the motel in the late afternoon we heard the news of former princess Diana’s unfortunate demise. It’s always a little unsettling when you hear about someone almost precisely your age who dies. (I was born about three weeks before her, which I didn’t realize before.)

By the time the parade was over and we’d had lunch, the historical sites of Nauvoo were closing up for the day, so we saw them the next morning before we left town. Such places as Joseph Smith’s house and the hotel he built just before the people of Illinois offed him and his brother. Smith’s grave is there too. It all overlooks a picturesque bend in the Mississippi.

All in all, Nauvoo was worth seeing, even worth crossing a couple of hours of corn and soybean fields to see. It’ll be the last trip of any length for a while, I figure.


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