We did a lot of things this summer, I spent a week at girl's camp, the kids all had summer jobs, Blake worked on the house, replacing a few more windows, James went to Helaman's camp, we went to see quite a few movies, (Erik is working at a local theater and can get his family in for free), and lots of other fun and not so fun activities. Here are some of the things we did, or at least the ones that I got pictures of..........We started the summer with a WONDERFUL event.....James completed his Boy Scout Eagle Project and boy was it a success. He organized a blood drive for the local blood bank. The Boy Scout requirements were 50 donors with 15% of those donors being first time donors. James worked his cell phone, and good old Facebook and had 57 donors, 50 pints of blood and 45 of the donors were first time donors. The blood bank was very impressed with his work and it was fun to see a lot of his friends come and donate blood. There were a few people who had some issues with donating, one girl threw up, another man nearly passed out, but all in all it was a HUGE success. We were so proud of James and so happy that he finally got it finished. And then he was finally able to get his drivers license....makes me a happy mom too, not so much driving for me anymore. We took some good pictures...here are a few.
Dad donating.....they wouldn't take my blood though, not enough iron.
The set up in the gym
Jacki was very nervous about donating, as she had never done it before, but she did it for her brother.....awwwww.
James even recruited the missionaries...Elder Doxey and Elder Daniels.
One of our good friends, Paul Nelson (sitting on the far left of the picture) recruited some of the sailors on his ship and brought them along.
Next great event of the year was the 3rd Annual Olsen Family Reunion. This year my sister, Beth, hosted the event and we went to the FABULOUS Camp Perkins near Stanley, Idaho. Beth's son, Max, works there every summer as a camp counselor and cook, so it was the perfect place to hold a family reunion. It is in the area around Alturas Lake, were we used to camp with our family as kids. There were so many fun things to do....bike, canoeing, kayaking, rock climbing, hiking, archery, and just sitting around visiting and watching the little kids play. Blake, Andrew and I met Nathan and Maureen there, unfortunately Jacki, James and Erik couldn't take the time off from summer jobs (especially since they had to have time off for the wedding!) Anyway here are some pictures....
Sitting in the lodge, visiting....Becky, Jeff, Mom and Kathy above.
Janet, Kate, Jay, Josh, Andrew and Alan Sr. below.
Kathy, Dad and Janet
Kathy, Charlie and Mom enjoying the camp fire.
Mr. Tommy....what a handsome kid!
Becky climbing the wall.....I think she was the only one of us girls to try.
Max helping Andrew get ready to climb
Charlie, Mike, Alan Jr., Andrew and Alan Sr. waiting their turn.
Blake on the lake.....I also tried Kayaking and am glad no one got pictures of me wobbling in it.
(This picture should be up with the others, but I can't figure out how to move it)
Brian, Kathy and Mom
The Kayak crew....Beth, Kathy, Becky and Jeff.
Henry and Tommy getting water for the fire....that bucket is heavy.
Charlie enjoying his smore.
Archery......Henry, Brian, Andrew and Jack.
Max helping Grandma.
Unfortunately, I didn't get pictures of everyone and I never got a copy of the group pictures we took. All in all it was a fun reunion...all of my brothers and sisters came, and all of our spouses, we all got along, we ate good food, we spent time visiting and just having a great time!
Next adventure......Blake took Jacki and James on a great day hike to Glacier Lake in the Cascade Mountain....they got some absolutely beautiful pictures......here they are.
Next was our EPIC trip across the United States. With the coming of Nathan and Maureen's wedding, we debated how to get to Boston. We've talked for years about going to visit all of the church history sights and decided that this was the time to do it...so we bought a new car (or new to us anyway) packed it up and headed out. Now there is a slight explanation to start with though....we drove across the country with only one of our children and drove back home with only one again, but a different one. Over a year ago, we got the opportunity for Andrew to go to the National Boy Scout Jamboree in Virginia, (which will have to be another post....I'm exhausted by this one! :) ) then Erik was also asked to go along as an assistant Scout master. So, they were already on the east coast with the Boy Scouts. Then Jacki just couldn't take too much time off from work, so she just flew out for the weekend of the wedding....so we started out our trip with James only. (Nathan was driving back with Maureen) Then for the trip home, James, Jacki and Erik all flew home to get back for their summer jobs, so we drove home with Andrew...it took quite a bit of coordinating, but it was all worth it.
So heres the beginning of a three week, 9000 mile trip through 23 states.....the trip of a life time.
Our first momentous stop was Mount Rushmore.....so fun to see that phenomenal monument. We hiked up close to the mountain, and took some great pictures.
Next stop....the Winter Quarter's visitors center. We visited the visitor center there and learned about the saints who stopped there. Then we decided to take a walk thru the pioneer cemetery across the street. As we stood in front of the statue (below) I began to read the names of those pioneers who were buried there (above)....and discovered the first wife and children of Blake's Great, great Grandfather, Stilman Pond. We have heard stories of him and his life. He lost his wife and all four of his children before he reached the Salt Lake Valley. We love him for his faith and dedication to the gospel. And are grateful that he remarried and have another family....thus Blake's ancestors.
Winter Quarter's Temple
Next stop....Liberty Jail. Here the prophet Joseph Smith was unlawfully held for four months. They have built the visitor's center around the original building.
Across the street from the visitors center in Independence, Missouri is the Re-organized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Temple. (they have actually changed the name of their church to The Community of Christ). Anyway, they allow you to tour the building for a small fee, so we took the tour. It was interesting.
Also, in Independence, we visited the Harry Truman Presidential library. What a tribute to a great man. Here is Blake beside his statue.
Next stop.......St. Louis, Missouri and the Great Arch. Now, I learned something new here.....I've always seen pictures of the arch, but did not know that you can go up into it. So....we decided that we couldn't pass it up. You sit inside these little pods that travel up the arch, they hold five people, you sit knee to knee with everyone....nice, close quarter. Then at the top, I expected something like the Seattle Space Needle, lots of space to walk around, but no......It was a a very small room, long and thin and not a lot of room to move around, but fun to look out the windows and see everything. WOW!!!
Here's James......630 feet in the air.
After St. Louis, we had to speed the rest of the way to pick up Erik and Andrew. We spent one night in Louisville, KY. Such green, gorgeous country. We had to pick the boys up in Richmond, Virginia...from there we traveled up to the DC area and spent a few days with some family friends from Erik's mission.
Blake and I took a day trip (without kids) to Mt. Vernon, home of George and Martha Washington. Most of the property are still the original buildings, so wonderful to walk and see these things. Here I am on George's back porch looking out on the Potomac River.
We spent one day visiting down town DC. Erik knows the subway system, so we just hopped on a subway, rode it into the city and walked around in the heat and crowds. Here are the boys holding up the Washington Monument.
Andrew is always delightful to have around!
Blake in front of a section of the Vietnam Memorial Wall. So awe inspiring.
Eating lunch at Erik's favorite DC hamburger place....Five Guys. They make fresh french fries with potatoes from Idaho. They day we ate there, they were using potatoes from Rexburg, Idaho where Blake was born. Fun!
We stopped by the DC Temple and the Visitor's Center....and ran into an old family friend.
Leah Anderson is serving in the same mission that Erik did....she was born in Bremerton and Erik and her used to play together as little kids....they even went to Joy School together. Fun to see here there, loving her mission.
We left Erik in DC, so he could spend time visiting people from his mission. ( He took the Amtrak train up to Boston and met us for the wedding later in the week!) From DC, Blake, James, Andrew and I went to Niagara Falls, New York. WOW! WOW! WOW! I learned another thing here.....there are more than one falls. Niagara Falls, American Falls and Horseshoe Falls. What a beautiful place that was...we couldn't get enough of the sights. We opted out of going down to get wet....but it was still amazing.
Here's Blake with the statue of Nikola Tesla, Inventor and Electrical Engineer.
We spent the night near Niagara and then the next day was Sunday. We went to church in Palmyra, New York in the building right across the street from the Palmyra Temple. We walked around the temple site, here we all are.
We also visited the Hill Cummorah Visitors Center and then walked to the top of the Hill. What sacred ground, knowing that the Prophet Moroni appeared here to the Prophet Joseph Smith.
We next visited the Printing Press Visitor's Center...where the first Book of Mormon was printed. Again, it was still the original building.
Then we stopped by the grave of Alvin Smith, brother of the Joseph. Sorry the picture is sort of blurry...but this picture is really for a good friend who says Alvin is going to be her eternal companion. I just had to post this for her!
From there we went to the Joseph Smith Sr. Farm....here's James hamming for the camera.
And Andrew hamming too!
here's a pictures of myself....to prove I was there!
We also visited The Sacred Grove. I would have to say that this was one of the most spiritual experiences of the whole trip, beside attending the temple for the wedding. To know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared here to the Prophet is such a blessing. We spent time just walking through the grove and sitting to contemplate our own testimonies. I am so grateful that we got to visit here.
I had to take this picture.....Andrew was actually snoring!
Next stop was the Peter Whitmer Farm...where the church was officially organized.
Blake, outside the chapel there.
From there, we finally got on the road to Vermont to meet Maureen's wonderful family. They opened their home to us and we had a great time hanging out with everyone there. Here's James playing chess with Sean, Maureen's youngest brother, with Patrick sitting beside him on the couch.
We went with Nathan and Maureen to Boston a few days before the wedding to fill out the paper work for their wedding license. Here they are going into the court house. so sweet!!!
We spent a few hours in Boston, as we had to wait until 8PM that night to pickup one of Maureen's bridesmaid (and former missionary companion and BYU roomate), Brianna. So we tried to visit some famous sights....Here is a statue of Paul Revere.
Inside the Old North Church...."One if my land, two if my sea...."
Being sassy.....I was getting a little tired of Blake always taking pictures of me from behind...!!
Another great place to visit and just a day trip from Maureen's house....the birth place of Joseph Smith. They have a small visitor center there and then this monument to the Prophet. We took Maureen's three brother's with us....they were so fun!
On the way back from the Joseph Smith Monument...we stopped at the Ben & Jerry's Factory. We ate a Vermonster together.....(Maureen needs to send me the pictures) It was 25 scoops of ice cream, 3 scoops of chocolate and carmel sauce, marshmellow cream, 3 cookies, 3 brownies, tons of whipped cream. They bring it to you in a gallon sized bucket and we all ate out of it together. Fun times! Here are Maureen's brothers, Liam, Sean and Patrick.
Andrew and I tie-dyed t-shirts. "I tyed it. I dyed it. I buyed it"
Maureen's Dad planned a great 'Bachelor Party' for Nathan. Burlington Vermont is across Lake Champlain from New York State. So they took a boat across the water and had dinner in New York for Nathan's party. Here they all are.
Patrick, Liam and Andrew.
Andrew and Sean.
After all of the wedding celebrations (which I've posted some about) Blake, Andrew and I struck out for home. Our first stop on the way home was Kirtland, Ohio and the visitors centers there.
Inside the store, in the room where the 'School of the Prophets' was held.
Again, original buildings.
Newell K. Whitney Store....they still have the lists of items people purchased, he was a great record keeper.
In front of Kirtland Temple. This is owned by the Community of Christ, but they open it for tours. We enjoyed seeing the inside and feeling the spirit there.
Another stop...the John Johnson Farm. The Prophet Joseph, Emma and there children stayed here with the Johnson family for several months. It was here that he received the 76 section of the Doctrine & Covenants. And also it was here that an angry mob broke in and drug him from the home out into the fields, then proceeded to tar and feather him. It was on this same porch, where we took our picture, that he stood the next morning and preached about love and forgiveness. What a powerful man Joseph was, I love him.
From Kirtland we traveled to Nauvoo, Illinois. We spent two nights here and it was still not enough time. We loved Nauvoo and the sites...what a powerful experience to travel the streets that the prophet Joseph walked and to see so much of the beauty.
Andrew in the blacksmith shop.
In Brigham Young's home.
We took a quick trip to Carthage, Illinois to visit the Carthage Jail, where Joseph Smith was martyred. We were the first ones there that day, so were able to take the tour just by ourselves and sit in the room where Joseph and Hyrum spent their last hours. What an awesome experience, one that I will never forget.
Night shots are hard to get, but the temple sure glowed at night.
This statue is of Joseph & Hyrum Smith....there last ride out of Nauvoo.
Blake and Andrew making rope in the Family Living Center
One last shot of the temple......it is truly a House of the Lord.
We were so blessed to be able to take this trip. We put a lot of miles on the car, listened to several books on tape and conference talks and I actually read four books also, what a delightful time we had. I am so grateful for my pioneer heritage and for their hard work and dedication. And I am grateful that the church has made these places available to us, to teach us of our heritage. Thus ended the summer.....now on to fall: James' senior year and homecoming court, Andrew beginning high school, tennis, new callings and life in general. Bring it on!!!