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Thursday, August 25, 2011

143 Journeys: Church Historic Sites Road Trip - Palmyra and Kirtland !

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

This is my fifth installment in my 143 Journeys which covers our trip to Ohio and Upstate New York as part of our Fourth Anniversary Road Trip last July 26, 2011 - August 1, 2011. Click here for other 143 Journeys.

As a Latter-day Saint traveler, my bucket list includes a visit to the several dozens of Church historic sites and visitors’ centers. So when Mark announced we will be car-traveling for our fourth anniversary as sweethearts, I jumped for joy learning that Kirtland, Ohio and Palmyra, New York were part of the itinerary!

Homes to several Church historic sites, Palmyra and Kirtland hold special interest for me and Mark (and every Latter Day Saints). We believe that in the quiet grove (Sacred Grove) in Palmyra, God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to a 14-year-old boy named Joseph Smith in 1820 and that ushered the beginning of the restoration of the Church in 1830.

Kirtland, on the other hand, served as the organizational headquarters of the infant Church from 1831 until 1838 which is considered to be one of the most remarkable periods in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.


After more than 6 hours of continuous driving from Chicago and passing through toll roads in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, we arrived in Cleveland, Ohio.We stayed for the night at Courtyard by Marriot located in a beautiful suburb of Beachwood, Ohio which is only 12.6 miles away from Kirtland.There are no hotels in Kirtland.

Smith Road Detour

In the morning, we drove with the help of our car's GPS which displayed the route on monitor and gave auditory directions. When we reached the Smith Road, the GPS announced "Turn Right and your destination is on the right ". I was filled with excitement. I can't believe that I was about to see in a just a mile, a Church historic site which I had been longing to see for almost 24 years since I became an LDS! Wrong! haha. There was no visitors' center or temple on Smith Road! After turning around one more time, we knew our GPS wasn't giving us the right direction. Mark pulled over and called the Kirtland Visitors' Center. A few minutes later, we were on our way to our real destination. We couldn't help laughing when Mark pointed out the many photos I have taken during the detour around the beautiful, quiet farm lands on Smith Road.

Historic Kirtland
7800 Kirtland-Chardon Road
Kirtland, OH 44094. Intersection of Ohio routes 306 and 615, via exit 193 on Interstate 90.

Historic Kirtland consist of the restored and reconstructed 19th-century village settlement, of early members of LDS Church. Mark and I had an interesting visit which started with a 24-minute film depicting the Kirtland development. We also love the guided tour of the Newel K. Whitney Store which was the first school of the prophets, where Jesus Christ appeared twice to Joseph Smith. It was definitely enlightening to know from the sisters missionaries how the Elders who smoke tobacco immediately threw their cigars when prophet Joseph Smith presented to them the Word of Wisdom. The other places we went to were home of Newel and Elizabeth Ann Whitney, Ashery, Sawmill, and John Johnson Inn where we found a miniature replica of the Kirtland Temple and had our picture taken.

Kirtland Historic Temple Center
7809 Joseph Street
Kirtland, OH 44094

Atop the hill, we proceeded to see the real Kirtland Temple, the first temple built by the LDS Church in this dispensation. At present, the Kirtland Temple is owned and operated by the Community of Christ (formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) which charges a $3 preservation fee. We watched a film introductory, and had a tour inside the temple where no picture taking is allowed since the temple is still being used as a house of worship. We had a picture outside though.


Hill Cumorah Visitors' Center
603 State Route 21
Palmyra, NY 14522-9301.

From Niagara Falls, we got to Hill Cumorah Visitors Center after a two (2) hour-drive. We took a free guided tour and learned there are several Church historical sites in the area and nearby, more than we expected.(i.e.Hill Cumorah Monument, Sacred Grove, E.B. Grandin Press, Joseph Smith Sr. Farm/Joseph Smith Log House/Joseph Smith Frame House, Palmyra Temple, Alvin Smith's Grave, Martin Harris Farm, Peter Whitmer Sr. Farm). But with our limited time, Mark and I agreed to visit the major ones so we could head back to New Jersey and get home by midnight. So we drove up the Hill Cumorah where Joseph Smith was directed to receive golden plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated.

Not far away from the Hill Cumorah, we arrived at the Welcome Center at the Joseph Smith Farm which gave us a free guided tour inside the reconstructed Smith Family Log House and allowed us a self-guided tour of the Sacred Grove. I can't begin to describe how I was feeling at time. It was peaceful,serene, and an ultimate bonding experience with my prince in the same place where young boy Joseph, saw God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, in vision. No doubt, this is the highlight of our trip!

To wrap up our visit, we toured the beautiful grounds of the Palmyra New York Temple.

This road trip was not only romantic, but also enriching and meaningful! It's all about enjoying each other in the two towns filled with Church history. With this trip, my prince earned himself a big hug from his little princess!

(This is part of the 5-week US Summer Vacation series, which took place from June 30, 2011 to August 3,2011.For other US Summer 2011 post please click: US Travel

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

US Summer 2011: Retracing Rizal's Travel In New York and The East Coast!

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Date: June 30, 2011, July 12,2011 & July 28-30, 2011
Locations: Chicago,Illinois, Niagara Falls, & New York,USA

Back in the East Coast, I want to take advantage of retracing Dr.Jose Rizal's coast-to-coast visit,although it wasn't a continuing journey. Enough to say that I have stepped afoot on the same places as our national hero while in the United States.

Dr.Rizal's diary in America described that when he left San Francisco on Sunday, the 6th of May, 1888,he boarded a train that was loaded up on a train ferry at Port Costa and sailed to Oakland - Nevada -Utah-Colorado-Nebraska - Chicago - Niagara Falls - Albany with a final destination in New York City .

Dr. Jose Rizal stopped over in Chicago and noted that every tobacco shop has a statue of an Indian. I didn't notice that at all during my day tour in Chicago last July 28, 2011. All I know is that the buildings I have seen are so much different from what our national hero has seen as almost all of the buildings in Chicago were gutted by the fire in 1871 with the exception of the Chicago Water Tower.

Also, the train stopped for a few hours near Niagara Falls where Dr. Rizal went down to the foot of the falls and was amazed by its titanic size and majestic cascades.

Like Dr. Rizal,I too was able to see and feel the power of the Niagara Falls last July 30,2011.I considered it an experience of a lifetime to come face -to- face with the pounding waters during the half hour scenic Maid of the Mist boat tour with my prince and observed the majesty and beauty of both the American and Horseshoe Falls from the Observation Tower.

When Dr. Rizal arrived in New York, he got a room at the Fifth Avenue Hotel from May 13-16, 1888. Fifth Avenue Hotel was one of the best hotels in New York City at the time. Now, the hotel is the location of the International Pencil Factory located at the Madison Park which is incidentally the venue for the annual celebration of the Filipino Independence Day Festival.

New York impressed our national hero with its big city and new buildings which is very much different from the buildings in Europe. The Statue of Liberty was only 2 years old then and surely was seen by Dr. Rizal on May 16, 1888 onboard the luxurious liner City of Rome for his trip to London.

I look forward to retracing our national hero's steps in United Kingdom come January 2012!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

TRUCK STOP Feature: Take 4 Northern Indiana (USA)

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda
I Love Truck Stops! In the United States, the approximately 10,000 of these commercial facilities for motorists and truck drivers do not only provide fuel, parking, and food but in most cases are travel centers. Yay! to my delight as a traveler! With all the brochures,maps and tourist information available at no cost, it is easy to plan for my next trip while literally heading to a wonderful adventure. 
So while my prince was filling up the tank and our soda containers, I was filling up my  Northern Indiana "wish list" (I call that "fair" lol).  

As home to 101 Lakes, glacier -formed Indiana Dunes and the second - largest Amish population, Northern Indiana offers a year-round of activities for everyone. My personal TAKE 4, howeverinclude the world's best, the largest, the iconic and the sweetest!   
1   Take a  free tour of Albany Candy Factory, home of the "world's best gummi candies" in Route 30 in Merrillville, Indiana. OMG! I love Gummi bears and all gummies, and I am psyched that I can watch the manufacture of this sweet chewy candies in Indiana!. 
 Attend the Marshall County Blueberry Festival, Indiana's largest-four day festival happening on a US Labor Day Weekend (August 31-September 1-3). Along with chocolate and gummi bears, blueberries are my favorites! Do you remember this post on picking up blueberries in Sweden? The Marshall County Blueberry Festival in Plymouth, Indiana offers a wide assortment of blueberries including pies, cheese cake, donuts and great blueberry ice cream.
 Kick - start our tour of Northern Indiana by visiting the iconic Golden Dome and famed football stadium of the University of Notre Dame  in South Bend, IndianaAs a football buff, guess I've got my prince's attention with this one (and score a surprised ticks to watch the game!) ! Built in 1930, Notre Dame Stadium is oldest and maybe the most renowned college football facility in the United States. And Now, with 80,795 seating, it could also be the most up-to-date! 
 Enjoy another sweet experience involving my uber fave chocolates with a factory tour and museum experience at the South Bend Chocolate Company and Factory! Not only I can learn, sample (and take home!chocolates, but I can also have fun knowing the interesting things at the museum. Yay! another "LOVE" to add up to my list!

Monday, August 15, 2011

143 JOURNEYS: Atlantic City,New Jersey!

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Date: July 24, 2011
Location: Atlantic City,New Jersey (USA)

*For my fourth offering in the 143 Journeys, I write about Atlantic City, New Jersey, the venue for our fourth anniversary celebration!
(Please click here 143 Journeys - Hongkong!)

Aside from being just an hour away from Freehold, New Jersey where we were staying, you may be wondering why non-gamblers like us would choose Atlantic City, the so-called Las Vegas, the Sin City of the East Coast as venue for an anniversary date.

Surprisingly, Atlantic City is like a huge theme park, with lots of day and night attractions which are not casino or gambling related. And we didn't have to go too far as everything can be found along the World Famous Atlantic City Boardwalk. Considered to be the heart, soul and backbone of Atlantic City, fun attractions were just a stroll away, the wooden way!

Here's my Eight unforgettable picks which put a new twist on our dating, only proving that Atlantic City is Always Turned On and that is contagious!

1. Seaside Pampering!

Unlike Vegas, Atlantic City is a seaside paradise.So our first stop was the beach where we found lots of people enjoying fun-in-the-sand activities since it was summer. I hurriedly removed my shoes and socks and took the plunge. Oh boy! the water was cold, freezing cold for me haha..But what happened after that has turned me on: my prince asked me to step atop his feet so I didn't have to walk barefoot in the sand with my wet feet. And while he was carrying my weight, my prince was alternately drying off my tootsies with a hanky! Prince pampering!

2. Ocean of Love, This Ones For You

Since I am a music lover it was a huge turn on for me to see the Hollywood Walk of Fame - style plaques at the entryway of Resorts, the first casino hotel in Atlantic City. The entry way is adorned with the handprints and autographs of stars who performed at the Resorts over the years like Luciano Pavarotti,Wayne Newton, Tom Jones, Cher, Diana Ross and many others. The plaque signed by Engelbert Humperdinck which bears the inscription "An Ocean of Love" and Barry Manilow's "This One's For You" are my favorites echoing what I wanna tell my prince.

3. Walk Through The Crowd

I was amazed to see canopied chairs-on-wheels aboard many visitors doing a scenic tour along the Boardwalk of Atlantic City. Those wicker are called Rolling Chairs and have been the city's treasure since the 1800s. But I ditched Rolling Chairs ride (but take pics) despite its promise of relaxation, because walking through a crowd with my prince was much more romantic. With my prince acting as my photographer, it felt like the first time we dated in Cebu! Also I had lots of opportunities drawing my prince closer and tighter and mirroring each other movements!

4. Light Up My Life

Atlantic City's Absecon Lighthouse is New Jersey's tallest lighthouse with 228 steps. It is also one of the oldest lighthouses in the United States having been first lit in 1857. We were too late to go up top since we got there at 5pm closing time, but we were lucky to see the sky aglow with the sunset and able to watch the magic unfold before our eyes!

5. Spicing Up Trivia

Believe it or not,I was surprised to see Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum in Atlantic City! It cost $15.95 plus tax to see the almost 400 eye-opening exhibits inside the eclectic odditorium which is open on a Saturday from 10am to 9pm. We had very limited time though so we decided to check it some other time. Glad we did, coz we learned more about this historic city by just checking several amazing pier arcades!

7.Chic'est Hotel Illumination At Night

Since Atlantic City is "Always Turned On", the best time to be there is at night. I was completely turned on with the artistic revelry as place illuminates at night both inside and out!

8.Tummy Immersion

Simultaneous with the setting of sun were our grouching stomachs and Atlantic City has proven to be a foodie haven. There was even a so - called "Atlantic City Boardwalk Food" of pizza, pretzels and hot dogs. But we decided to try one of the famous-name themed restaurants for a change. We checked out the Rainforest ("A Wild Place To Shop and Eat")but were not so lucky to find a seat. A more sophisticated gourmet room to the rescue - La Piazza Buffet inside Ceazar's Palace! There's nothing that could turn me on more than a mouthwatering meal at a cozy place!

And just like Atlantic City, my prince will always turn me on!

(This is part of the 5-week US Summer Vacation series, which took place from June 30, 2011 to August 3,2011

For other US Summer 2011 post please click:
US Travel Posts

Saturday, August 13, 2011

US Summer 2011: Colorado Mountains High!

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Summer 2011 in Colorado Slideshow: Mhe-anne’s trip from New Jersey, United States to 2 cities Denver and Aspen was created by TripAdvisor. See another United States slideshow. Create a free slideshow with music from your travel photos.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

US Summer 2011: In Flight Denver, Colorado!

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Dates:July 14, 16 & July 20-21, 2011
Location: Denver International Airport

Reminiscent of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains in winter, the Denver International Airport in Teflon-coated fiberglass stands in the northeastern Denver, Colorado.

It was easy to get lost inside the 1.5 million square feet Jeppesen Terminal and being there four times in a week's time did not make much difference. Well, my four flights originated from all the three Gates and there's a lot of walking within the Gates alone. There is, however, an automated train that connects DIA’s Jeppesen Terminal to A Gates, B Gates, and C Gates so that helps navigate this fifth (5th) busiest airport in the United States which can accommodate 50 million passengers a year!

Despite the size, I wasn't bored in this world’s greenest airport. First, because free WiFi Internet access is provided throughout the Jeppesen Terminal and all the three Gates. Second, there is a series of 30 sculptures, murals, and installations that entertained me while I go around the terminal. Here's some of the ones I like:

America, Why I Love Her | Artist: Gary Sweeney
Location: Terminal East, by baggage claim 3

Children of the World Dream Peace | Artist: Leo Tanguma
Location: Hall to West Baggage Claim

La Memoria de Nuestra Tierra | Artist: Judith Baca
Location: Terminal South

In Peace and Harmony with Nature | Artist: Leo Tanguma
Location: Terminal South

Real Pirates

Sunday, August 7, 2011

New Testament Lesson 31:And So Were the Churches Established in the Faith

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Scripture Block: Acts 15:36-18:22; 1 and 2 Thessalonians

(Sister Missionaries in Kirtland (Ohio) Visitors Center last July 30, 2011)

The lesson today is about Paul's second missionary journey as described in the book of Acts and his letters to the saints in Thessalonica. In both books I learned of Paul's missionary work in places such as Antioch in Pisidia, Antioch in Syria, Athens, Berea, Caesarea, Corinth, Damascus, Derbe, Ephesus, Galatia, Iconium, Jerusalem, Lystra, Melita, Miletus, Mysia, Paphos, Philippi, Phrygia, Ptolemais (Acco), Rome, Salamis, Thessalonica, Troas, Trophimus, and Tyre and the formula in being a superb missionary like him. No missionary could ever go far wrong who possess the qualities that Paul taught in the books as a guide and seek like having the spirit, avoiding contention, and being patient in opposition but being bold in our beliefs.

(Sister Missionary in Joseph Smith House/Farm Visitors Center in Palmyra (New York) last July 31, 2011)

I was reminded of my recent trip to Church Historical Sites in Kirtland, Ohio and Palmyra, New York. In both places,we met non - members participating in the tour and the missionaries who taught the gospel with the right attitude just as what Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 2:2-3
"But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile"

Elder James E. Talmage added that we should boldly teach the truth without criticizing or attacking other people's beliefs.

"The missionary servants of the Church of Jesus Christ today are sent forth, not to assail nor ridicule the beliefs of men,but to set before the world a superior light, by which the smokey dimness of the flickering flames of man-made creeds shall be apparent. The work of Church is constructive, not destructive.(in Albert L. Zobell Jr. Story Gems (see also The Parables of James E. Talmage)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

US Summer 2011: Paradisiacal Maroon Bells!

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Location: Maroon Bells in Snowmass Wilderness (near Aspen)
Date: July 18,2011

Behind me are two of Colorado's fourteeners - the spectacular Maroon Bells! The north end peak is called North Maroon, while the south end peak is simply called Maroon. Both of the “Bells” are over 14,000 feet high so it is called "fourteeners".

The rugged and uneven Maroon Bells are among the most photographed mountains in the world and the subject of immortal Ansel Adams portraits based on a marker inside the Aspen Higlands Center where visitors pay the $10 fee and wait on the bus that goes up to the Bells for $6!

For local mountain rescue teams, the beautiful Maroon Bells are known as the "Deadly Bells",because the mountain has claimed many lives in the past few years. Although not extremely difficult to climb, the rock is downsloping and according to the marker is unbelievably deceptive for a novice climber .

Beautiful or Deadly, Maroon Bells to me are the most spectacular scenery I have ever seen! The craggy bells, lakes, wildflowers and meadows blended so well that even an amateur photographer like me have easily snapped tons of postcard perfect photos! Nature at its best!

But Maroon Bells are not only for lovers of nature's photography. There are plethora of hiking trails at this picture-perfect alpine terrain for every level of fitness. Here are the three trails I have spotted during my visit and snapped a pose. Come let's walk:

The Maroon Lake Trail is the mellowest and easy on the legs and lungs while affording a gorgeous lakeside strolling. We followed the trail to and around Maroon Lake and ahhh, what an unparalleled nature experience!

The Maroon Lake Scenic Loop Trail is easy to moderate, but requires more than two hours to finish the 1.5 mile round trip. Anyway, we just leisurely walked until we came to a bridge which gave us two finest options - cross the bridge, or turn right. Our gut feel led us to choose the narrow trail on the right which lead us into an aspen forest. At that point, we came across a cascade but only had a slight view of the Maroon Bells .As we moved back down though, I had a stunning view of the Maroon Bells that I caught in this photograph!

On the same signage as the Scenic Loop Trail, is Crater Lake Trail to the right. The trail brought us into a thick aspen forest which provided the shades. We also found a comfortable spot to eat our lunch wraps while enjoying easy the panoramic view around us.

The summer hike was a breather. A nature's pure delight. A true garden paradise!

(This is part of the 5-week US Summer Vacation series, which took place from June 30, 2011 to August 3,2011

For other US Summer 2011 post please click:
US Travel Posts

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