Friday, July 30, 2010

SV Part 2: Omaha & Winter Quarters

We pressed on that afternoon and soon made it to Omaha, Nebraska. I thought this "map pin" was pretty clever!

We spent the night in Omaha. The next morning, we went to visit the Winter Quarters Temple.

Aren't the windows beautiful?

Would you like a history lesson?

Winter Quarters was a stopping place for the Mormon Pioneers headed West in 1846. Persecuted for their beliefs, they had left Nauvoo, IL, and crossed Iowa, camping on both sides of the Missouri river. In Winter Quarters they built hundreds of cabins. Living conditions were poor, and it was a very difficult experience.
In all, more than 3, 400 people lived here, establishing a temporary community until they were able to continue their journey West. More than 600 died; many were children. Winter Quarters was essentially abandoned in 1848.

"...hundreds of courageous pioneers resting in this cemetery exemplify the perseverance and dedication of those Latter-Day Saints who moved west."

It seems very appropriate that the Pioneer Cemetery is immediately adjacent to the temple.

I wasn't expecting to feel so emotional at this historic site, but the sacrifices of these early pioneers are heart-wrenching. If you ever have the chance to visit Winter Quarters, I highly recommend it!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Summer Vacation - part 1

We are back from Summer Road Trip Number One. While we had a fantastic time, right now all I really feel is tired. :) We both went back to work on Wednesday, and let me tell you it felt like a long week! I'm so glad it's Friday and we can relax and be lazy.

Dan's parents arrived Wednesday evening. They graciously offered to house- and dog-sit while we were off on vacation. And we are go grateful for them!

We left bright and early on Friday morning (pulled out of the driveway at 4:59 am), and headed North. It felt like we drove and drove and drove... and we hadn't escaped Texas yet! We had decided ahead of time that we would make some stops along the way.

The first stop was in Oklahoma City, 8 hours into our trip.

The Oklahoma City temple. Definitely a small temple. It was right across the parking lot from a stake center, and it wasn't much bigger! It's parked right in the middle of a modest sub division. I didn't take too many photos of this one.

After a short walk, we got back in the car and continued North. Our first venture into Kansas! Hmm... not much to say about Kansas, other than they charge you $8 to drive their parkway from one end of Kansas to the other. I didn't find this very inviting.

From Kansas we made our way to Nebraska, where we spent the night in Omaha.

{stay tuned}

Friday, July 2, 2010

{Re}discovery: the library

When I was growing up, the library was always a huge part of summer vacation. I would walk or ride my bike to the library at least once a week. I loved everything about the place: the quiet! the neatly stacked shelves! the old ladies behind the counter! the smell of books! Yes, especially the smell. I love the smell of books.

Somewhere between graduating from college and starting life in the "real world", I lost the magic of the library.

Then something beautiful happened.

I was reading an article about e-books, and someone mentioned the public library. The library? Do they still exist? I haven't set foot in one in years. I had sort of forgotten about them. With the digital-everything world we have grown accustomed to, I guess I assumed The Library had been filed away in the archives of Americana.

But not so!

Turns out, libraries are alive and well! I quickly looked up my local library, which is the Spring Branch Memorial Library, part of the Harris County Public Library system. I printed off a library card application form and headed to the library after work a couple of days ago. The process was pretty simple: fill out the application and show proof of address. Then: voila! They give you library card right on the spot. And it's free. And it looks like this:

One other thing: the library was packed! For some reason I was picturing an old dilapidated building empty except for books and a librarian. I was happy to find that the library was bustling with activity (especially for a Tuesday night)! It kind of warmed my heart.

Libraries these days offer lots more than just access to paper books. Here are some great things I learned:

1. There are 26 branches of the Harris County Public Library. Once you have a library card (check!), you can borrow material from any location, and return to any location!

2. Besides traditional books, the library has access to: free internet, genealogical information, DVDs, audiobooks on CD or for download to your iPod, e-books to read on your computer or with an e-reader, magazines, newspapers, books for sale, reading programs for children & adults, and probably lots more.

3. You can check the library catalog online to see if an item is checked out or in stock. You can also reserve items or get on the wait list for an item online. When the item is ready for pick up, the librarian will email you. It is that easy.

4. It is all free. That's right. Free.

5. I love America.

6. Go pay a visit to your local library. You'll be glad you did!