Thursday, July 26, 2007

Palmyra Pilgrimage

I declare the Palmyra Pilgrimage a success. I’m not sure what would have constituted a failure, but I had fun so I’ll assume we didn’t fail.

Originally I had about a dozen friends from Columbus scheduled to attend. In the week beforehand that number plummeted to 6. This would rather discouraging, especially considering that some of the pioneer members of the trip decided against going. I considered calling the whole thing off, but learned that Stephanie was in fact bringing her contingent of friends from DC, so I needed to be in NY to greet them. So we took our 6, and pulled in a last-minute 7th ringer and got ready to go. Normally I leave people pretty confidential in my blogging, but today it’s full disclosure. The cast of our trip consisted of:

In Yoshi (my car)
Myself: I’m going to save you any description of myself.

Kate: Our resident redhead. She nearly missed the trip due to the release of Harry Potter. She also nearly missed it because of a test she had on Monday. She also considered missing it because she wouldn’t have a chance to meet my mother. It’s really quite amazing she came at all. She really wanted a Garbage Plate.

Lolly: Our DJ extraordinaire. Whereas most of my friends are students, he actually has a job (in business, DJing is a hobby.) Because of this I considered making him pay for all our trip expenses, but his magnanimity only goes so far.

Tiffany: Lolly’s girl, and the youngest member of our expedition. Her youthful zeal gave the rest of us fogies some added energy.

In the Pete-mobile
Pete: Owner of the mobile. He had to work so his car left several hours after ours. He was so excited to see Pageant that he left his girlfriend behind to join us in our quest.

Jaclyn: Accountant by day, conspiracy theorist by night. Apart from her gun advocacy, a very nice girl whose deadpan delivery rivals my own.

Matt: Not a close friend of mine, but a last-minute addition that greatly added to the trip. His waxes philosophic a bit too often, but is otherwise an upright human being.

Up from DC
Stephanie: My bishop’s daughter. She seceded from the ward during the year to start working in DC. But we’ll forgive her because she did bring her friends Kristi, Erika and Charlie to bring our group to the round number of 11.

Day 1:

The trip from Columbus was blessedly uneventful. I’ve been involved in a few too many accidents to be completely nonchalant about roadtrips, but this one was incident free. I’d put together a special playlist that we only made it partially through. Instead we opted for watching a couple Office episodes (we later discovered that the Pete-mobile used Arrested Development instead) and listening to several comedy albums. This meant that we spent the rest of the trip quoting Mike Birbiglia (who I met on Thursday, which was fun), Jim Gaffigan, Dimitri Martin and Celebrity Jeopardy. We also burst into a spontaneous sing-along of Blister in the Sun, which for better or worse was caught on tape.

We arrived in NY at 10:30. Kate made her participation in the trip conditional upon a trip to Borders to get the final Harry Potter, so we headed there to join in the wizardly festivities. Now I’ve been to anime conventions, Star Trek conventions and med school parties, but this was the biggest group of nerds I have ever seen. I suppose the fact that I loathe Harry contributes to my judgment of these people. But being stuck in a bookstore isn’t such a bad thing and it was soon midnight. Kate had insisted on coming to see “the fun” but due to our late reservation had a very poor spot in line to actually receive the book. So Lolly and I drove over to Wegmans and confirmed that there was in fact a pile of books there with no line. However she wouldn’t let us buy one, we had to go back and get her and bring her to Wegmans to buy it herself. To punish her for this delay we read the last couple pages of the book and threatened to reveal the ending to her throughout the weekend.

So we made it to my house around 1. The Pete-mobile showed up around 2 and we then cut the cake to celebrate Lolly’s birthday. By this point my dad had gone to bed (he did stay up to great us, which was commendable) so we whispered the birthday song and enjoyed our late night snack. Some people went to bed, but Kate was up reading for several hours and I stayed up to greet the DC crew, who showed up around 3:30. It was actually quite remarkable that we made it out of the house before noon the next morning. The 11 of us used up 8 beds and 1 couch, which due to our timing were all vacant from family members.

Day 2

This was a long day. We had a lot to do, but very few actual commitments, which is the way I like to vacation. We started off easy by going to PowderMills Park and looking at the Fish Hatchery. A couple people questioned this visit, but I wanted to progressively get better throughout the day. We then explored the Mushroom House, which I’d never actually visited. It’s a fun little bit of real estate, and we didn’t get shot at for snooping around so I was happy.

We made one of our many stops by the Erie Canal next. Since it was still morning we didn’t partake of any Abbot’s Frozen Custard, but we did take some pictures and scare some ducks. We then traveled down to the village of Pittsford to get a Garbage Plate at Village Hots. Unfortunately it has closed down since last I visited (these Hot shops seem to have a hard time staying in business.) So we explored the more scenic Pittsford Erie Canal before heading over to Fairport to their local Hots.

Reviews of the Garbage Plates were understandably mixed. The plate is far from high cuisine ( but I make a point of having one or two a year. It’s really the only Rochester food I could think of. Although most people split their plates, we did a pretty admirable job of making it through the colossal dishes. Although few people would qualify the meal as “good” they all agreed that it was a worthwhile experience.

After recovering a bit from our main meal of the day we headed to Palmyra. We started off with the Grandin Building, which was pushing visitors through at an amazing rate. But since we didn’t really follow our tour guide, I think everyone got to look at the printing equipment for as long as they wanted. We also enjoy some time in the antique bookstore next door, as well as talking with the Antimormons, which were out in force this year. Jaclyn even talked one into giving her a free t-shirt, which she put on later in the day, much to the dismay of some of our group. It understandably made her the center of attention as we continued to visit church sites and the missionaries would invariably descend upon her to make sure she wasn’t causing any problems. We didn’t get any actual grief until we reached the Hill Cumorah Pageant, where she was asked to cover the shirt (it read “We used to”) or leave. Oh that crazy Jaclyn.

We had to make it over to the Hill Cumorah in the afternoon to get our backstage tour. I’d seen most everything before, having been in Pageant a number of years ago, but I think it was pretty neat for everyone else. We went under the stage, to the prop shop, through the wigs and costumes and then finally to the top of the Hill. I came across a number of old ward members, half of whom didn’t remember me. I guess 7 years has that effect.

After our tour we backtracked to the Sacred Grove/Joseph Smith House/Temple area. Half of us did the actual tour, but having gone through it a number of times I just skipped the houses and went into the grove. I don’t know why, but neither house (Cabin and house) really does anything for me. But as always I had a good experience in the grove, with the added pleasure of seeing a vole and an offroad wheelchair.

I had been taping things throughout the day with my video camera, which didn’t get odd until the Pageant itself. I had no need or desire to tape the whole thing, but did capture a few choice scenes. My video was really less distracting than all the flash bulbs going off, but I still felt like Pageant security was going to come down on me. But that was probably because Jaclyn had so recently brought us to their attention. In addition to our full group we added a couple other friends from DC, as well as some friends of mine from Rochester. So we had quite the congregation to see the show. Getting away from the pageant seemed much harder than in years past. But we played some party music and rocked out in our borrowed mini-van and all was well.

Day 3

This was primarily a travel day, which was again uneventful. We did attend church in the morning, which was only noteworthy because a couple of the group hadn’t brought any dress clothes. There are worse things than going to church in jeans.

We said our goodbyes and took a couple group pictures. Lolly had seen our old canoe under the deck and decided we needed to take a picture in it. You can’t really see the cobwebs and heaps of dead leaves in the picture, but it wasn’t entirely pleasant.

On the way back to OH we stopped at Niagra Falls. It ended up being a bit farther out of the way than I remembered, but it was still worth the brief departure. It was a great day at the falls, which did mean that there were tons of other people there also. We did the American side because we were in a hurry, but I like alternating between them anyway. This stop was really the only event on the way home. Kate did finish Harry Potter about an hour from Columbus, which put her time at about 42 hours. Not amazing, but considering the amount of other things we’d done in those days it was surprising she managed it. We stopped in Kirtland to get gas, but didn’t actually do anything else there.

So as I finish writing this it occurs to me that blogging about interesting things doesn’t necessarily make for interesting blogging. Deep I know. But it was a fun trip and we’ve already started planning our next destination.

No comments: