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  • Writer's pictureBenjamin Schilaty

Coast to Coast: Iowa to Palmyra, NY

When I got to Chicago I learned that my friends Kyle and Mary were just about to leave Chicago by train and we overlapped by 40 minutes. The unexpected reunion was awesome. I stayed with LeAnne for a few days and spent the 4th of July with her and her friends. We watched the Chicago fireworks from a park that felt like a warzone. The park was packed with people setting off their own fireworks and the constant explosions, debris strew fields, and smoky haze made it feel like WWII.

We quickly examined Niagara Falls from the US side and then walked back into Canada to see the falls from the other side. After being there for a bit we walked back to the US so we entered and left Canada twice in one day. I’m sure this was super-sad for Canada as we taunted her with our presence, but refused to stay. We stopped on the bridge between the US and Canada to watch the fireworks and they were spectacular.

Laura and I drove to Palmyra, NY the next day to watch the Hill Cumorah Pageant. Laura isn’t LDS so she didn’t care about the pageant, but I’ve been wanting to see it for years and she was kind enough to spend a day with me in the birthplace of Mormonism. I gave her a brief overview of Palmyra history during the drive so she’d know a little about the Hill Cumorah, the Smith Farm, and the Grandin Printing Shop. On the tour of the Printing Shop the missionary giving the tour asked who Joseph’s first scribe for the Book of Mormon was and Laura answered, “His wife!” before any of the Mormons could answer. My little lesson in the car made it look like Laura really knew her stuff. I also ran into one of my former students who is serving a mission there. When she was in my class she wasn’t baptized yet so I had absolutely no idea that she was on a mission and it was so great to see her.

The Hill Cumorah Pageant was super cheesy and I loved it. Laura was a great sport and was kind enough to spend the day doing Mormony things with me. What I found really odd was that some of the missionaries giving tours talked to us like we knew absolutely nothing about Mormonism while others talked to us like we were all Mormons. I really appreciate that Laura was willing to take an entire day doing what I wanted to do and the only time she complained was when I made her climb the Hill Cumorah (it's quite steep).

More adventures to come!

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