We went on a trip with Tenille’s family to St. George last weekend. I was told that it was hot desert. I was wondering what we’re going to do in a desert for 4 days. It ended up that it actually wasn’t too hot – 70 degrees. And although the scenery was very reminiscent to the Road Runner cartoons, I didn’t get bored of it after 5 minutes like I suspected. The red rock was actually quite magnificent. We saw climbers climbing sheer cliffs for days to get to the top. We went on numerous hikes revealing the rivers and streams that cut the canyons. I may have enjoyed it more if I didn’t have to carry Caleb in a back pack. He’s probably only about 25 lbs, but he seemed to get heavier throughout the trip. I fulfilled my whining duty anytime we had to go hiking, but all in all, it wasn’t too bad.
Caleb had a pretty good spill while running around at Zion’s and got a good gash in the nose. It seems to be healed ok now, but it may have gotten infected. We’re going to keep antiseptic on hand in our travels from now on.
I saw my first polygamous family at Zion’s national park. I’ve heard about them, and knew there were supposed to be quite a few in Utah, but this was the first time i’ve actually seen them in real life. There was a senior citizen bus that all these people were streaming out of dressed in what looked like 19th century clothes. All the women, including the little girls looked like they spent hours getting their hair done in fancy braids. I thought, "Hey Great! There’s going to be a play about the pioneers!" Then I noticed each one of them were carrying a big dish of food. I also noticed that although they were wearing 19th century clothes, they had on very modern sneakers. Whoever was in charge of wardrobe sure doesn’t have an eye for detail! This was about the time that everything started falling in place. I noticed they were securing a spot for a picnic, and one of my in-laws leaned over to me and explained that it was a polygamous family. I was fascinated. I couldn’t take my eyes off of them. I wanted to take a picture, but thought it would be disrespectful. Just for non-mormons reading this blog, Mormons practiced polygamy widely in the latter half of the 19th century, but the practice of polygamy was banned in the LDS church in the early 1900’s. There were many groups that broke away from the church at this time, and continued to practice polygamy. They are often called Mormon splinter groups, or fundamentalists, although this is a misnomer. It was certainly a novelty to me, and perhaps like most mainstream Americans, I was intrigued. I never mustered the courage to walk over and talked to them. What would I even ask? Perhaps one day, I’ll have an opportunity to befriend someone who has experienced this type of life.
My favorite part of the trip was to visit the church history sites. We went to Brigham Young’s Winter home, and the St. George temple. I found out that Brigham Young was quite a flamboyant man. He used bold colors including pastels inside and outside of his house. It was interesting that he was an admirer of George Washington, and a portrait hung in his home. The St. George Temple was also very interesting. It’s the oldest operating temple in the church, and the third that was built. We also found that back in those days, a group of families were called to colonize this area which was a desert and start a cotton industries. All members of the LDS church are called (or asked) to perform some function in the church today. For instance, my calling is to teach the 11 year old boys in Sunday school and be a boy scout leader. This is pretty easy if you compare it to what these families were asked to do back then. They were led to a desert and asked to create a cotton industry on the desert land. To their credit, in their first year, they shipped over 100,000 lbs of cotton. That’s the type of calling that sifts the faithful from the chaff.
We also visited a Fort about midway between St. George and Salt Lake. This was a calling given to an ancestor of the current President of our church, Gordon B. Hinckley. It was used as a resting station while travelling between Salt Lake and St. George. This must also have required great faith to take your family and operate a rest stop in the middle of the desert for years, feeding and taking care of all who stop by (including a lot of native Americans.)
Overall a great trip. Wasn’t too hot. Got to see all the family (which is a feat in itself now with 22 people). Had a chance to look at a lot of good church/Utah history.