Aug 30, 2012

The End

Our last day in New York City started out raining, but we were off to the Statue of Liberty rain or shine.  The rain luckily lifted as soon as we were on the ferry, but it brought with it a much appreciated drop in temperatures.  The walk in the downpour with my leaking umbrella was well worth the cooler weather.  It is quite the site to be on the ferry as you approach Lady Liberty.  I love this country, and even though the statue was made in France, it is still a symbol of our country.  It was fun to take the kids there and then to walk around Ellis Island.  I am grateful to live in this country, grateful for the opportunities it provides, and grateful that my ancestors came her many years ago even before Ellis Island days.

Breanna's Titanic Moment
After our somewhat rocky ride back, we took a little walk down Wall Street, took the obligatory picture with the bull, and walked through Trinity Church. (Hello, it was also under scaffolding! Don't  you think they could arrange to not have the two churches I was going to show my kids under scaffolding?) Next we went to the 9/11 Memorial. This is definitely a worthwhile stop.  I will never forget that day. I realize there has been some controversy about rebuilding in this area, but I think it's great.

We stopped for a quick lunch at The Shake Shack.  My verdict for the famed burger place-quite tasty!  I was not disappointed.  We liked the Black and White shake so much, that we have already tried to recreate it here at home. Then we were off to the Red Sox/Yankee's game.  I am not a real baseball fan, but going to a game is a lot of fun. They still sell cracker jacks, but we opted for cotton candy and popcorn instead. Tony was happy since the Red Sox won.

We took the subway back to Flushing where Tony's sister lives.  We spent the night with Laura and her family and then we left for the airport at 5:20am.  Thankfully our flights were on time on the way home, even a little ahead of schedule. Wow, what a trip.  After all the months of planning, I always wonder if it will live up to my expectations.  It did.  I think we all had a great time.  Although I loved all of the places we visited, the best part is sharing it with my family.  Being with my family is like having a little bit of heaven on earth.  This trip is a memory I hope to always cherish.

Aug 29, 2012

Start spreading the news...New York City

The last three days of the epic Benjamin Family Vacation took place in New York City.  I call it epic because we have never taken a family vacation like this before, and I am not sure we ever will again.  We left Palmyra early Thursday morning hoping to get to the city early afternoon.  That was not to be.  First of all we made a short stop in Pennsylvania to the the Aaronic Priesthood Restoration Site.  It was on the way so it didn't add too much to our time.  Then we hit road construction in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  We stopped for gas in New Jersey, managed to seriously offend the attendant there (that's a story for another time), and then spent 45 minutes going about 5 miles to get to the hotel in the city.  All in all we arrived at our hotel at about 5pm, and Tony still needed to return the rental car. We may have gotten a little stir crazy in the car, and I may have made the mistake of letting my children drink caffeinated soda since the KFC in Scranton didn't have other options, but we all arrived in one piece with only having to ask them to stop biting each other once or twice.

After Tony returned from dropping off the rental car, we explored Pier 17 and then we hopped on the subway for the ride to Brooklyn and Grimaldi's Pizza.  Best Pizza Ever!  Of course we had to stand in line for a little bit, but it wasn't awful and before long the nice man found a seat for the family of 7 who came all the way from Utah for their pizza.  The pizza really is good with it's homemade cheese and thin coal-oven browned crust.  We polished off three large pizzas, in part thanks to Jared.  Next we enjoyed the spectacular views across the water of the NY skyline and then we walked back across the Brooklyn Bridge.  Beautiful bridge.  I love the look of the city all lit up at night, nothing like it in Utah, I think the kids were mesmerized.  Last stop for the evening was the Empire State Building.  It was a beautiful, clear night so we braved the crowds and made the trek to the 86th floor.  It took awhile, and we didn't get back to the hotel until a little after 1am, but this is the city that never sleeps so we shouldn't either right?

Friday we started the day in Central Park, it was another beautiful day, but a bit on the warm side.  I love how you can walk through Central Park, and forget that you are even in a big city.  The noise and everything seem to just disappear.  After the park we went to the Met for a mad dash tour of favorites and some air conditioning.  We checked out Egyptian scarcophagus and the Temple of Dendur, some ancient sculptures from Greece and Rome, some armor, and threw in a few famous paintings.  We bought hot dogs from a street vendor, and really they were quite tasty, and then we rushed on to do some shopping.  The girls checked out a jewelry store and the boys went to the Converse store.  Then we did some haggling for deals on Canal Street.  Honestly we probably could have gotten better deals, but I was so hot I just wanted to be done. Have I ever mentioned that I hate humidity?

 After cooling off a little, we went to dinner at Carmine's for delicious lasagna, and then walked around Times Square a little before our show.  We got caught in a downpour, but luckily we had brought our umbrellas.  We went to see Newsies.  We loved it.  I have always liked the movie, but I liked the play so much more!  The music and dancing were sooo good! My girls were drooling over Jack Kelly, but who cares what he looked like, his voice was amazing.  It was fun and energetic, just what a bunch of weary travelers needed to stay awake.  I am still humming or singing Santa Fe. Last stop of the night was Carnegie Deli for cheesecake.  (You know you could make a post about New York City just about the food-good thing you walk so much when you are there!)  If you like cheesecake you must try this place someday.

Aug 28, 2012


As I have said before, I went to Palmyra the first time when I was a young girl, around 11 years old.  It had an impact on me, and I have always remembered that time walking through the Sacred Grove as the beginnings of my testimony.  Since that time I have always wanted to go back and share it with my kids.  It was better than I remembered.  First of all they have rebuilt or restored much more than there was when I went there, and secondly being there as an adult made it even more meaningful to me. 
Replica of the Smith Log Home
Upstairs of the Log Home

Frame Home

Grant with the brick from the fireplace hearth
Room where Joseph's sisters slept with the plated between them
 We started the day a little later than the previous two days, and it was nice to get a little extra sleep.  Our first stop was the Smith Farm and the Sacred Grove.  I wanted to make sure that we had plenty of time there.  First you go through the log home.  It is very small, and is is built where the original log home was.  Next you go into the frame home that is mostly the original home that the Smith's moved to.  Grant pulled up one of the bricks from the hearth where Joseph Smith buried the plates to protect them.  We saw the room where Joseph's sisters slept with the plates in between them when the men came searching for them.  They searched the room everywhere but under the covers. 

Because we went after pageant times we got to enjoy most of these things by ourselves.  We spent almost an hour walking through the Sacred Grove all alone.  It was a great experience to me.  As I hummed Oh How Lovely Was the Morning, I felt again the sweet reassurance of the spirit that truly we were walking through sacred ground.  It was sweet, peaceful, cool, and serene.  Words fail to accurately describe my feelings. 

You can see the Palmyra Temple from the Smith Farm, so we stopped there next.  Have I mentioned how beautiful it is in all these places?  Trees everywhere.  If you have never been outside of Utah you just can't even picture it.  The temple is beautiful and overlooks the Sacred Grove.  I love the stained glass Sacred Grove windows around the temple.
E.B. Grandin Building

Our next stop was the Grandin building where the Book of Mormon was printed.  The process to print the Book of Mormon is mind-boggling to me, and so cool to learn about.  Then we took the short drive to the Peter Whitmer farm where the church was organized.  Again we got to enjoy this with just our family.  I especially love the story of Mary Whitmer seeing the plates.  I think about the small home and the people gathered you ever wonder if they realized on that day what they were starting? 
Peter Whitmer Home
Hill Cumorah

After returning to Palmyra we visited the Hill Cumorah and the visitor's center.  I would love to see the pageant someday, but I loved kind of feeling like it was a Benjamin Family private tour of the area. It was a great day, one that I hope to always remember.

Aug 27, 2012

Beantown-Part 2

Interesting nickname, there are other nicknames that sound much more dignified,  like the Cradle of Liberty or the City on a Hill.  Whatever you want to call it though, I enjoyed every minute we spent in Boston.  Tuesday morning we started out on the Freedom Trail.  Who would have thought that you could cover so much history in a short 2.5 mile walk.  Tuesday started out clear and beautiful and hot and humid.  Hot enough in fact that we went in a couple of places I hadn't planned on just to enjoy the air conditioning.  Luckily though the heat was the most intense early on and some clouds brought us some reprieve.  Really though the weather was very doable and I am grateful it cooperated so well for us.  The Freedom Trail takes you down a path that leads past churches and buildings that played a significant role in our history.  You also go through cemeteries where notable people like John Hancock, Samuel Adams and Paul Revere are buried.  The traditional start is in Boston Common, the oldest city park in the country, and ends in Charlestown with the USS Constitution (Old Ironsides) and Bunker Hill.  I could just imagine being in the Old South Meeting House as they held the protest meeting that led to dumping the tea in the harbor, or being in the crowd that heard the Declaration of Independence read from the balcony of the Old State House.  As we walked through Paul Revere's house I thought of him and William Dawes who made the trip to warn everyone that the British were on their way to destroy the arms stored in Concord.  And who doesn't want to see the Old North Church of "One if by land, two if by sea" fame?                                             
Frog Pond in Boston Common
More Boston Common-Public hangings happened here until the early 1800's
So glad I did not have to wear those costumes!

State House

Creepy engravings like these were on most of the headstones
Paul Revere's  headstone at the Granary Burying Ground

The family by Samuel Adams marker
King's Chapel
Box pews in Kings Chapel
Inside the Old South Meeting House
Balcony of the Old State House
All these churches had the box pews.  Keep kids in, keep warmth in, you could even bring the family dog.  I am thinking it would have been nice when I had 2 preschoolers and a baby.

Faneuil Hall
Inside Faneuil Hall
Paul Revere's Home

Old North Church
Paul Revere's Statue
The Paul Revere statue was made by Cyrus Dallin who also did the Angel Moroni on the Salt Lake Temple.
Bunker Hill Monument

  Of course we had to stop for cannolis while in the North End at Mike's Pastry.  We tried several varieties and a lobster tail.  All delicious I thought. Probably not the most nutritious lunch, but it worked.

Before leaving Boston we walked quickly through the Boston Public Library and Copley Square.  What a cool library. WOW!  Trinity Church there is spectacular too.  Then we walked up Commonwealth Ave and into the Public Garden.  So beautiful!  Loved the George Washington statue as you walk into the Public Garden from Commonwealth Ave. Unfortunately after this we needed to be on our way.  We had a six hour drive to Palmyra ahead of us, but I will be going back some day I hope!  (We got to pay a lovely toll for driving in New York state again!  There were tolls everywhere, but they were the highest in New York.  When time would allow we took routes to avoid them, but that wasn't always a possibility.)

Boston Library
Trinity Church and Hancock Tower

Copley Square
Commonwealth Ave

                                      Beacon Hill