First, a little back story: Every summer, there is a huge outdoor musical play that takes place in Palmyra, New York. It's called The Hill Cumorah Pageant and it shares stories from the Book of Mormon. I went several times with my family when I was a kid and Ken's family went every year. When he was 18, he was on the work crew (the team that helps set up the huge stage and works with special effects, etc. He was on the light crew). We try to go as a family every year to continue the tradition that we remember from when we were kids. It's also a special place for us because we got engaged in Palmyra!
Palmyra Trip 2014
We started the morning by heading over to "Gummy and Poppy"'s house (Ken's parents) because we would be driving to the U.S. in their van with them. Here we are in the driveway, seatbelts buckled and ready to go! (The girls are choosing a movie to watch and Gummy is on the phone to let Uncle Steve & Aunt Betsy know that we're ready to leave. Their family would be driving in their own car, but we planned to meet up when we got there.)
We stopped once along the way for a quick break from driving, then drove straight through to our hotel where we checked in and then headed for Palmyra. 6.5 hours after we left, we found ourselves in Palmyra, eating at Athenia's (it's tradition!) We love the huge portions at this place and we always try to get this large corner booth :) I love having this photo to document it!
Another tradition is to head across the parking lot from Athenia's to the dollar store. We usually grab a few snacks for the Pageant and sometimes buy other things that excite us because we can't find them at dollar stores in Canada. This year we decided to give each of the girls some spending money. It was fun to watch them shop through the store and decide how to spend it.
And really cute to watch them making their purchases, too :) Because I had my new camera with me and wanted to document the details of this trip and our traditions, I got a few extra photos in the store and I'm so glad I did! I love the girls' serious faces as they make their transactions!
Just outside the store, we stopped to document their choices. Talia went for sparkly, tinted lip balm, Mentos, and bubble gum. Katrina grabbed her own sparkly, tinted lip balm, some TicTacs and Bubble Tape :)
A trip to Palmyra would not be complete without a trip to the Chill 'N Grill! This place is AWESOME. They have a bunch of unique ice cream flavours and their size small is 4 scoops! This time around, I went for the "half kiddie" (two scoops). So much fun! We also went to the "church bookstore" where Talia spent the rest of her money on the pioneer bonnet you see her wearing in many of the photos from here on ;) She has been wanting a bonnet ever since last year when she saw them on our trip to Palmyra!
My cute nephew, Xander, enjoying an ice cream cone ;)
Here we are at the site of the pageant. It was raining, so people everywhere were in rain coats with umbrellas and we were really hoping it would clear up in time for the show! I got the top shot to show the fabulous stage that gets set up on the hill for the pageant. Below that I took a detail shot of the stage and a shot of one of the light towers because that's where Ken worked when he was on the work crew years ago :)
Like many things in our church, participation in the show is voluntary and unpaid. Families and young adults come and spend a few weeks both preparing for and putting on the show. They are always walking through the audience in their costumes before the show starts, meeting people, handing out programs, and telling them about the show. I walked around with Ken (who held an umbrella over me) before the show and grabbed a few shots of people in their fabulous costumes.
Meanwhile, back at our seats, there were some really cute little minions playing around ;) Gummy bought minion shirts for the cousins to wear so that we could spot them in the crowds ;) Gummy was also clever enough to bring along garbage bags to save our seats and to use as makeshift rain coats! The glow sticks and necklaces were also her doing, and Uncle Steve and Aunt Betsy brought bubbles! :)
I had fun playing with my camera settings as it got darker (love the shot of my nephew, Donovan, with his glow sticks!) Without a DSLR, there is no way I could've gotten that shot or the one of Katrina with her binoculars (I would've put a point & shoot camera or a cell phone camera away long before it got that dark!)
But I was most excited to be able to get this shot after the show started! It was completely dark out, and I was pretty far back from the stage and without a tripod, so I'm impressed that I was able to grab these shots! The first one is just at the beginning of the show, with the whole cast on stage. Once I got these shots near the beginning of the show, I put my camera away so I could focus on the show. I'll share the settings I used below.
ISO 1600, f/1.8, 1/500 sec (35mm lens)
After the show, we stopped at a gas station on our way to our hotel and Ken was excited about this "perfect" spider web. He wanted to see if he could get a good photo of it, so I passed him my camera and he got this shot. I heard him telling someone about my new Nikon camera recently and saying "even I can use it and get good photos!" (I guess he didn't feel that way about my other DSLR. I'm glad he does about this one, because I am always hoping to get more photos with me in them.. I want my kids to remember that I was there for things! ;)
After some excitement in our hotel room, the girls finally settled down and were off to sleep for the night. :)
The next morning they were up and ready to go quickly! I can remember the excitement of a hotel room when I was a kid. The fun of exploring and checking out every little part of the room. (Okay, let's be honest, I still get excited about it ;) Here the girls are up on the window seat, proud of themselves for being able to reach the ceiling ;)
We headed back into Palmyra for the day, to check out the sites that we hadn't been to the day before. There are some pioneer homes to see, so we headed to those first. Below Katrina is helping to push her cousins in their stroller.
My brother in law grabbed this shot of our family by one of the pioneer homes (look, I made an appearance!) Again, I have to say how much I love that I can just quickly flip a switch into "auto" mode and pass my camera off to someone who isn't used to it and they can take a nice photo without me having to explain anything to them about camera settings.
I like these shots of my mother in law teaching the girls about some of the things in the home. And there's just something about that shot of Katrina with the light from the window streaming in on her face and hair that I love :)
Talia is a butterfly catcher. I don't know what it is about her but she seems to attract them! She is really good at chasing them and catching them, but she also has them just come to her and land on her often! In the photo below she has got her eye on one.
In these photos she is chasing a grasshopper. Poppy was telling her about them and how he used to catch them a lot when he was a boy. He caught this one for her and helped her re-catch it after it hopped out of her hands the first time ;)
Our next stop was the "Sacred Grove". This is a grove of trees with trails through it. (It is special to us and referred to as sacred because it is where we believe Joseph Smith received a vision of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.)
On our walk toward the grove, I caught this photo that I really like! (I'll share settings below it as well).
ISO 100, f 1.8, 1/3200 sec (35mm lens)
Here are a couple of shots inside the grove. It's nice to have a photo of Ken & I in there because we walked through the grove together and had a long, deep conversation on the day we got engaged. His original plan was to propose there, but the time wasn't quite right yet (because of the conversation we were having), so he waited just a little longer...
Next we visited the Palmyra temple. Katrina found this flower while we were walking through the grounds and would not put it down. :)
This is where Ken proposed to me 11 years ago :) (Again, so happy that my brother in law could grab that photo of Ken & I there!) I also grabbed a couple of photos of the girls and their cousin.
After the temple, we had a picnic lunch at the bottom of the hill and then hiked up to the top of the hill and back down again. I love the picture on the right of Ken & Talia walking hand in hand! :)
The last stop of the trip was to the Hill Cumorah Visitor's Center. Inside of it, there is a statue of Jesus in a beautiful room. A lady there offered to take a photo of our group and I love the way it turned out!
We had a long drive home and grabbed a bite to eat at Gummy & Poppy's house before getting into our own car and heading home. I had purchased a few sparklers at a dollar store just after Canada Day because I wanted to try taking some sparkler photos with my new camera and since the girls were already up late and it was dark enough, we did sparklers before putting them to bed! I love these shots that I got :)
ISO 800, f/11, 1.6 sec (35mm lens)
Phew! That was a long post with a ton of photos! Did you make it through? I am so happy to have had my new Nikon camera with me to get this trip documented so nicely. Not only are memories from this one weekend captured, but memories from all of our traditions from past years come to mind when I look at these. :)
Disclosure: I am part of the Mom Central Canada Nikon MOMents team and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.