We roused ourselves long enough to go enjoy the continental breakfast, then I read and Colby slept until 11. Mmmmm.
Checkout was a COMPLETE success, we told the guy at the desk how grossed out we were, and he gave us a coupon for a free night at any La Quinta. SCORE. We are now satisfied customers.
We went to Winter Quarters this morning. It was drizzling and gloomy, which we figured was appropriate for learning about pioneers. We had a tour of the visitors' center, then walked around outside. We saw the temple and the statue that Colby's grandma and her twin sister had unveiled as little girls. There were some nice French tourists there who had Colby take their picture. It was so fun to chat with them, because they didn't speak English. Like, at all. They had their son there, who's an American now and translated for them, but they really JUST spoke French. Can I tell you how much I love it when you're speaking to someone who doesn't speak your language, so they just chatter to you in THEIRS, because hey, might as well talk, on the off chance we can make ourselves understood to each other? It's SO FUN. It was especially fun because I DID understand a lot of what they were saying - 3 semesters of French may not allow me to actually formulate anything to say to them, but I could piece together their chatter. Also, they shared some European mints with us which should really catch on in the United States. It was fun to feel connected to Latter-day Saints from halfway across the world. The Church is just as true there as it is here. They were going to finish up their trip with General Conference in Salt Lake City, and they were so excited.
It was appropriate that we were near the Winter Quarters statue (the one that Colby's Grandma Erickson had unveiled) when Sonja called and told us that Grandma Erickson had passed away that morning. We are so sorry for the loss of such a sweet lady. We are going to abbreviate our trip significantly in order to allow Colby to fly to Utah and attend her funeral.
After Winter Quarters, we went to the Kanesville Tabernacle on the other side of the river, in Council Bluffs. I'll admit that until I found it on a list of "Places to Visit" on the Church website, I had never even heard of it! It's a replica of the tabernacle the saints built while living in the area, in which (significantly) the prophet Brigham Young and his counselors were sustained. A pretty important spot! There were nice senior missionaries there, and we enjoyed learning about the history. This tabernacle was also the enlistment place for the Mormon Battalion, so we got to learn about my ancestor, Jonathan Harriman Holmes, who was a member of that battalion. Among other things, we learned that he lived with the Prophet Joseph Smith for a while!
It was rainy and overcast all day on the road, and Colby heroically drove us through a big rainstorm. We read and listened to books and ate junk food - all the important parts of a good roadtrip. In Kansas City we found another La Quinta to redeem our newly-acquired coupon. Luckily, this one looks cleaner than the last one.
Colby was kind enough to stay in the hotel room and let me finish the last 30 or so pages of my book (A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Grisham) before dinner. I hate to leave a book so close to the end, you know? Anyway, it was wonderful. The end was so heartbreaking and beautiful, and it tied up the whole thing so richly that I pretty much sobbed for like a half hour and then my eyes were dry afterward because I used up this week's (and next week's) lacrimal glad quota. I pulled myself together and then we went to find some dinner.
Finding dinner turned out to be harder than we expected, because our GPS unit, Lee (it's not Kareema anymore, we got tired of Arabic and changed it to a really throaty Australian guy) kept leading us to restaurants that turned out to not exist. For example, Al's Barbeque is apparently located at some shady, broken-down old railroad bridge in back of a casino. Mmm, nope.
When we came back to the hotel room, I was freezing. This is typical for me. Anyway, I turned on the heater and immediately this awful burning stench came out, choking us both and setting off the fire alarm in under 10 seconds. The cleaning lady was looking at us funny when fled out into the hallway, and I said, "my bad." I think it was just our room though, because we didn't have to evacuate the whole building. Which is good. It stopped after a few minutes and I decided to just put on a sweater instead.