Summer in Illinois

We have been excited for this trip since christmas, which was the last time we were in Illinois. As our christmas gift, my parents gave us a “summer trip to IL”. So we began planning, watching for flights, etc.


July came quickly and the time arrived to leave on this adventure. Sheldon and I left early Saturday morning to drive to SLC and we parked at his cousin’s house. She was sweet enough to drive us to the airport for the flight. We got some cafe rio lunch and were on our way shortly after. We had a layover in PHX before our final leg to ORD. Time zones are weird; we arrived in Chicago in the dark, traveling felt long- but not that long. SLC- PHX- ORD

When we arrived that evening we were greeted at home with a good BBQ cook out and s’mores around the fire. It felt good to get there and see the family.


Sunday was fun because we were able to go to church in the ward I grew up in. Though many people have moved out and things have changed, it always feels good to go back to what you know. After our big post-church lunch we all took long naps and it felt great. Since this was more or less like our christmas in July we had a small gift exchange. My mom gave me the sweetest gift that I will cherish forever. I know she spend hours upon hours making this quilt, and I just love it! It matches the theme of our little farmhouse so well.


Monday was pretty relaxing, we played with the little kittens a little bit they are adorable and so playful. After a low key training run, we went shopping because we forgot to bring our swimsuits. AND I was able to finish my finals online- so another semester is D.O.N.E. only one year left now. Monday evening I was able to take my best friend since high school to birthday dinner. She chose pizza at Gia Mia, see why we are friends?! Haha. After dinner we walked 3rd street Geneva to get ice cream at Graham’s Chocolate. Always great to catch up with you V!

On Tuesday we packed the car and left for Nauvoo, Il in the morning. Nauvoo is historically significant in the Mormon Church because that is where many converts gathered before their trek to the west. The Mormon pioneers established this city along the Mississippi river and it was actually larger than Chicago at the time. The early pioneers and made many sacrifices to build up the city together and remain faithful in the church.

Nauvoo is about 4.5 hours away from where I’m from in Illinois. Once we arrived, we checked into our hotel. Shortly after we began our time with a tour of the Carthage Jail. This is where the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were martyred by an angry mob. This site is important because it is where their testimonies of the restored gospel were sealed with blood. It is a powerful place to visit, especially knowing that they were killed for what they believed, yet the true church remains strong today. While in Carthage we were able to listen to the Nauvoo brass band, they did a nice little concert for us.

After spending time in Carthage we went back to Nauvoo so that we could reserve seats for the pageant that evening. We roped off a little section so we had good seats. From there we went to watch “the Promise”, which is a performance in the visitor’s center by young performing missionaries. Then we grabbed some pizza for dinner as a family to escape the sun and humidity. The midwest really puts a new perspective on the word humidity, Idaho has no idea. Haha.

After relaxing a little bit we all returned to the pageant grounds that evening played games collected beads. That is one of my favorite parts of the pageant honestly; they have pioneer games and activities to keep you busy before the show. For every activity you complete you collect one bead, it’s fun. Sheldon won the potato sack race, he pulled me around in a handcart, we played ring toss games, and made some ties on a quilt, we walked on stilts, little things like that. It tires you out just in time to sit and watch the pageant. It was a great performance, with many participants.

Wednesday my parents got up early to wait in line so that we could get tickets to the different shows and carriage rides. We spent the day together as a family learning about the different pioneer families from Nauvoo. The morning was cool which allowed us to ride the carriages through the scenic parts around the town. After that we spent time in the Family Living Center where we learned about candle making, bread making, rope making, barrel making, etc. We got a few samples which was nice. Then we went through the Scovil Bakery and got a gingerbread cookie- they said they had made cookies all winter to prepare for the summer crowds. Then we went to see the “Just plain Ana Amanda” show. Its made for kids, but I always enjoy it. We had to save our seats for the pageant again. To escape the heat we all took an afternoon swim in the hotel, then a short nap.

My parents lined up a special buffet dinner in Historic Hotel Nauvoo and we did some light shopping in the town. Once it started getting dark we went to watch “Sunset on the Mississippi”, which is like a talent show by several preforming missionaries and the senior couples. It was pretty entertaining and Sheldon’s favorite part. From there we headed over to see the second pageant- one I’d never seen before. It was the British pageant, so the story of the Saints in England and their journey to Nauvoo. I loved this pageant, it has a great message for both members and non members alike to stand up for what you believe.

Thursday was our las day in Nauvoo, we woke up early to go through the temple together. It is so pretty inside and out; I remember watching it being build as a little girl so it was fun to bring Sheldon along this time. It was the first temple open house and dedication that I attended, so it brings back many fun memories.

After packing things up we spent a little time going through a few more historical houses. We did the Browning gun shop, Brick yard, and the blacksmith/ wheelwright. We took a few more pictures at the temple before driving back to St. Charles. Thursday night we unpacked, did laundry, and relaxed with the family.

Friday we slept in late then did another small training run. We had to pick up our race packets. While we were there we also drove the race route so we had a basic idea of where we’d have to go. Once back from that we spent some time shopping; Sheldon and I took my sister Rebecca to the outlet mall and spent time at Vera Bradley. We also both got new running shoes (don’t worry we didn’t use them on our race, we aren’t that dumb.) We had a good carb-up dinner with pasta and strawberry salad. Sheldon and I also played some game cube just for fun.

Saturday was our race day. We made a running goal back in January and because of that we were able to transition into half marathon training nicely. We have officially been in training for almost 3 months and have prepared pretty well for this day. I mean we have run in the extreme hot, the cold, the rainy gross, and the strong winds. We made training for this a part of our lives and kept consistent- especially on days we REALLY didn’t feel like running. Training has been a roller coaster ride though. Some days I feel so fit and strong and other days I would just cry because I felt so weak and slow. sometimes I even doubted that I’d be bale to finish the 13.1 mile race. It has been a goal of mine for awhile to run a half marathon- and this was the day!

The race started at 7:30. Which is exactly when it stopped raining. It was pretty humid and we had to run through several large puddles along the way but we actually faired just fine. My sister Rebecca ran a 5k and got 2nd in her age category! Woohoo! 🙂 Sheldon, Dad, and I did the Half marathon. We all made it! Sheldon and I ran together and stayed at a pretty consistent pace the whole time. Our strategy was to only walk for the water stations to keep properly hydrated, and we followed that pretty well. We played tag with a few people but fully sprinted the last 200 meters, so ended up passing many of them in the end. We set a goal to do the race in less than 2hrs and 30mins. Guess what?! We smashed that by 10 mins, which makes me so happy! Not only did we finish- which was goal #1, but we did it in less time than we expected. Mom was our awesome cheerleader and made us a cute sign. I’m so happy to have completed that, it felt SO good! We were very sore the rest of the day though. (Haha some of these pictures were from the race website, and my face in our action shots totally crack me up. #determination)

Sheldon has really been so sweet through it all. It’s been my goal for awhile to run a half, and though Sheldon doesn’t like running as much as I do, he ran every step of the race with me and a majority of our training runs. He has been so supportive and encouraging, so thanks Shel! Part way through the race Sheldon told me that he was really craving a juicy burger- so I made sure that after we ate some Portillo’s burgers. Then later that evening we shared a kitchen sink from Colonial, which is 6 scoops of ice cream. Because we totally earned it, and wanted to replace all those calories that we just burned off. Haha! We had no problem finishing that off.

Sunday we had to fly back to SLC. Sad. We had so much fun in Illinois with my family, I wish it could have been longer. Our poor weak bodies struggled a little in the airport haha. Once we got back to Utah we got to visit my grandma for dinner. We then drove to idaho. We returned tired, but with many new fun memories!

Thanks Mom and Dad for such a great trip! ❤


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