One unusually cool weekend in May, Kyle and I headed to the airport to go to what we termed “The Ohio”. We were going to Kirtland! That may not seem exciting for most people in the world, but for a LDS Church history buff like my husband, it was an opportunity to experience what he had spent so much time studying. We were also there to meet up with Kyle’s parents and to spend some with them while exploring the sites.
Unfortunately, this trip started off on the wrong foot. Just days before we left, my iPhone (which was to be our navigating system) decided to join countless others in the land of dead smartphones. We didn’t think much of this because Kyle’s dad, Dellas, also had an iPhone. All except, that phone was accidentally left home. We decided to go the old fashioned way and just printed out Google Maps, which worked until they were wrong and sent us back-tracking. More on that later.
For those unfamiliar with LDS Church history, after it’s founding in Fayette, New York in 1830, the members of the church were persecuted because of their beliefs and forced to move West. From New York the Saints came to Kirtland, Ohio and then on to other places like Independence, Missouri, Nauvoo, Illinois, and finally Utah. Despite the frequent moving, the Saints created beautiful but humble cities to bond as a community. Kirtland was no exception and we were excited to explore it.
We (Dellas, Nancy, Kyle, and myself) all met up at the Akron Canton Airport late Friday night and went straight to the hotel to go to bed. The next morning we got up as early as our tired selves would let us and went to the Kirtland Visitors Center. As customary in LDS Visitor Centers we were offered a tour of the surrounding area. The first stop was the restored N.K. Whitney store. It may have been just a store but it holds special significance because it was the home for the Prophet Joseph Smith and his wife, a place where many modern-day revelations were received, as well as a place that was visited by Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. There was a very special feeling there that started off our day perfectly.
From there we moved onto some other local buildings; houses, a sawmill, an ashery, as well as a restored building filled with art and artifacts. They were simple, but really nicely restored and refurbished. It gave a great glimpse into the past and served as a great segue to our next stop, the Kirtland Temple.
When the Saints were in Kirtland, they also built a temple. However, after leaving Kirtland, it stood abandoned until it was retrieved by another group, the Community of Christ. Since then it has been kept up and run by them, but rarely is used for it’s original purpose. It is sad to see that happen to such a special building, but that did mean we got to go on a tour. Pictures weren’t allowed inside, so I don’t have much to show from our time in the temple, but it is a must see. I highly suggest trying to go with a smaller group. If you are with a large group, you won’t be able to go to the top floor (due to the age and construction of the building the top floor is slightly unsound). We were lucky enough to convince our tour guide to take us up. It was well worth it to see the meeting rooms and other artifacts that were housed there.
After seeing a tourist pamphlet that said there was an Amish community nearby, we decided to go visit. After driving around the area and enjoying seeing the horse and buggies, we stopped in for some dessert. We all ordered pie of some sort and nearly died and went to heaven with each delicious mouthful. My raspberry cream was so rich I could hardly finish half, but enjoyed my leftovers the next day while making the rest of our party jealous.
On the way back to our hotel, we made one last stop at the Stannard Quarry, where the stone was collected for the Kirtland Temple. Just a short walk into a wooded area and we found ourselves looking down on an outcropping of stone. It has been years since it has been used, but it is still inlaid with gashes from the tools used to mine the stone. It was a reminder for me of how hard the people worked who were building the temple. They knew that it was a special place of worship and were willing to sacrifice their time and effort to create it.
The rest of the drive back was quiet. We’d had a long day of exploring and were ready for bed. We did take a few wrong turns which resulted in an hour long detour, due to our lack of GPS, but eventually we made it back and quickly drifted off to sleep.