Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Hill is Alive

"To reach any significant goal, you must leave your comfort zone." - Hyrum W. Smith

On Saturday morning we left Motel Hell, a.k.a Red Roof Inn, for good. So what we learned about budget hotels is that they aren’t really that much of a bargain. The rooms aren’t great (and by great, we mean clean) and every extra is an additional charge. In the hotels we had stayed in during the drive to Buffalo, the rooms had Wi-Fi service as part of the room rate, irons/ironing boards and blow dryers were in each room along with microwaves and refrigerators, and breakfast was served the next morning. RRI charged $10 extra for 24 hours of Wi-Fi, which meant $30 extra for the week of stay – and that was with carefully juggling each 24-hour period. There was no blow dryer or iron in the room and certainly breakfast was not served in the morning; microwaves and refrigerators were no where in sight, let alone in our room. By the time we added up the costs for the budget hotel, it put us in the same dollar category as the Country Inn & Suites we stayed at. To sum it up, we do not recommend Red Roof Inn or any other budget hotel, unless you have no hair to dry, no computer, no clothes to iron, and you are not that picky about where you put your head at night to sleep.

After checking out of the RRI, we headed to Callie’s house to pick her up so she could join us on our trip to Palmyra, New York; approximately 1-1/2 hours east of Buffalo. Our Saturday night room reservations were for the Palmyra Inn, an inn we highly recommend. If you ever go to Palmyra to view LDS church history sites, then you should choose the Palmyra Inn for your nightly accommodations. But plan ahead and make reservations far in advance because they are the only hotel close to all the sites and they fill up fast. We made our reservations on February 1, the first day they will reserve rooms for the Hill Cumorah pageant, and the rooms went quickly; especially since the pageant cast also stays at the Palmyra Inn. The Palmyra temple and local church building sit right behind the inn, and the Joseph Smith, Sr., home and Sacred Grove are not far from those two buildings. The inn is 2.5 miles from the Hill Cumorah (most other accommodations are around ten miles away) and they provide a shuttle service to and from the pageant, free of charge.

The hotel was clean, spacious, and each room had a small kitchenette, complete with microwave and refrigerator. The lobby had a small store where a variety of items could be found, everything from frozen pizzas and mac ‘n cheese to Christus statues and Palmyra sweatshirts. It was a wonderful place to stay and breakfast was included the next morning.This picture is a behind-the-scenes look at the preparation for the Hill Cumorah Pageant. There are five rows of chairs in front of the stage area for a total of approximately 8,000 seats.

(We were having a difficult time getting good pictures during the pageant, but we thought we would include a couple of them anyway.) This picture is during the part of the pageant where Lehi and his family build a ship and sail from Jerusalem to the Americas.

We really enjoyed the pageant. It starts at sundown, about 9:15, and lasts until around 10:30. We arrived on the 6:00 p.m. shuttle, thinking that we should get there early for a good place to sit. As it turned out, we would have been safe arriving as late as 8:00 p.m. There really isn’t a bad seat and they don’t fill up very quickly. If we attend the pageant again, we will arrive early in the day to put blankets over the seats we want and then return about 7:30 or 8:00 that night; we discovered that several people did that very thing and had no problem keeping their seats.

The cast mingled with the audience for probably two hours prior to the beginning of the pageant. We were also fortunate that the rain stopped and sky cleared before the pageant began, not to mention how grateful we were for the cool breeze that gently blew to help cut the dreaded humidity. As we talked with cast members and other hotel patrons, the question is always “where are you from?” We met people from Arizona, Utah, and Idaho. Other people were from this side of the states. And not everyone was LDS. It was a well-rounded group of people.

The pageant is very special and quite spiritual. We wonder what people driving down the road right outside the Cumorah grounds think when they see Jesus descend from the sky. The picture on the left is of the Angel Moroni Monument at the Hill Cumorah. The picture to the right, although it's difficult to make out, depicts the scene during the pageant when Jesus, after His resurrection, visits Lehi's descendants in America.

Thus concludes the LDS Church History portion of our tour. Tomorrow begins the United States History portion.

Thank you for traveling with the SEA (Sandy-Edie Agency).

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