August 5 (aka my birthday, aka the best dang day of the whole year): It had a rather inauspicious start. At 4:00am I was awakened to a big THUD coming directly above me. Apparently, the people in the room right above me wanted to get a very early start. And at least one of them was clumsy. And all of them had the singular gift of knowing which floor boards are the creakiest.
My half asleep post on Facebook stated, “4:00am and a herd of elephants are up and about in the room directly above me. One fell.”
I finally fell back to sleep and woke up to my phone buzzing with incoming texts. All messages wished me a happy birthday.
After I woke up and got ready for the day, I left armed with a couple of bags. One filled with birthday cards the other my computer. Remember, I’m the girl that sleeps with a chair in front of the door. I admit, I’m a little paranoid. In my opinion, my computer is safer spending the day with me than in my room.
I decided to go out a different way so that I could see more of the motel. Not much more to see. As I crossed the parking lot, I slipped in a fresh oil slick and went down. Luckily, no oil got on my shorts just on my socks and expensive Asics.
I returned to my room to tend to my scrapped knee. “I hope this isn’t a sign of how the day is going to be,” I mumbled. Good thing I don’t believe in signs.
Unsure of where to start, I plugged in the LDS Visitors’ Center address into my phone and followed the blip on the map. It was pretty easy to find. Across the street is the Community of Christ’s temple.
I went into the Visitors’ Center and a sister missionary greeted me. She took me on a tour. “Have you ever had a tour group this small?” I asked her.
“No, not usually,” she replied in a cheerful manner.
Okay, here’s a disadvantage to traveling alone: I had to answer all the questions she asked. This meant I had to pay attention and not let my mind wander. A difficult task to be sure. I realized it after our first stop. She gave me an assignment to pay attention to something in particular as I watched the video. Then she followed up afterward. Oh.
Let me just say, this set the pattern for the rest of the day. I had to force myself to pay attention. No wonder I’m tired tonight. I’ve never had to focus for so long before.
Anyway, there was a peaceful feeling in the Visitors’ Center. I walked across to the temple plot next. A family with what seemed a never ending supply of children were in the field. The kids played an impromptu game that involved each of them standing on a corner stone. At some random interval they would each run to another stone. Mid-run I started to take a picture of one of the stones. A little boy ran onto it.
“No,” he replied. Then mumbled something about his mother.
I looked around to find his mom and she was engaged in a deep conversation with someone and not paying attention to her brat.
He didn’t move.
I went inside the building for a tour.
There’s not much to see inside. An older gentleman, and I mean older, used a walker to get around. He explained about his church – The Church of Christ, an off-shoot of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints except they think we’re the off-shoot.
A couple of senior missionaries on P-day from the Visitors’ Center happened to join me at the same time for the tour. Words can’t describe how relieved I felt that they were there with me. Whereas I had just felt peace moments before across the street, inside this little church I felt discontent. He must have recognized us. Well, he recognized who they were because they wore their name tags. Or maybe he is ready to argue with everyone who stops by. He seemed pretty defensive about his church.
I walked across the street to a little historical house. It was closed. I had a walking brochure but didn’t feel safe walking by myself. Just a quick judgmental summation of the surroundings.
I walked in and was given a self-guided tour wand (hallelujah! I didn’t have to pay close attention). Very interesting. The Community of Christ was originally the RLDS Church – the Reorganized Church of Latter-day Saints. Another off-
shoot. They changed their name to reflect their focus. That makes sense. While they still profess to believe in the Book of Mormon and part of the Doctrine and Covenants, they have made a decision to be more mainstream. They want to fit in with all the other churches out there. By doing so, they have separated themselves more and more from their core beliefs.
Once I finished with this tour, I decided to head to historic Independence. I’ve heard a lot about the Truman museum. President Truman being from Independence there are a few sites bearing his name. After a little trial and error driving, I parked my car and decided to walk. I found the museum and it’s closed on Mondays.
So I kept walking.
Across the street from a different historic site was a little restaurant. It’s my birthday. I deserve a birthday meal. I went in. I think I enjoyed the best chicken salad sandwich in the history of sandwiches. Good call, Lee, for coming in here, I commended myself. I decided to order a piece of cake for later. Instead, I got this apple cinnamon thing. And that ended my run of good calls.
While I was at the restaurant, Lyn called me to wish me a happy birthday. I told her where I was and that I ordered dessert for later to serve as my birthday cake. A group of elderly sitting at the table next to me were just leaving. One leaned over and asked, “Did you say it’s your birthday?”
“Happy birthday!” she said and smiled before disappearing out the door.
Well, that was kinda awesome!
I left the restaurant and stepped outside. A pit formed in my stomach. A familiar sinking feeling. The feeling of being totally lost. I had no idea where I parked my car!
Oh, dang me!
I started walking. Liberty Street. I had to find Liberty Street. Where in Independence is Liberty Street? The next several moments were a bit anxious. I walked down one shady street – and I don’t mean it was blocked from the sun.
Let me trim a few moments from this narrative and say, I found it. A few tense moments of wandering aimlessly and a prayer later, but I found it. Yes, I’m tired of driving but no, I do not want to part from Trevor ever again.
I drove around a bit taking in Independence. By accident, I found the Bingham-Waggoner Estate. Another guided tour (this time it cost me $6 and I joined a family of three). It consisted of walking through a mansion of a prominent Independence family. I thought it sad that it is relegated to a museum and no longer a family estate.
After I finished with this tour I drove around some more. I forgot what it’s like to be in such a humid place. My hair fell flat. I felt sticky. The overcast sky had finally dispelled to reveal a punishing sun in a blue sky. I wanted to find a park with some picnic tables so that I could open my cards and eat my birthday dessert. There were picnic tables at the Visitors’ Center from this morning. I just needed to find some picnic tables like that.
I turned a corner and ended up right where I had started this morning. Huh. You drive around all day and by accident end up right where you started (video).
I ate my dessert. It had raisins in it. In hindsight, I should have gone with the cake.
I opened my cards and felt loved.
Then I headed back to my motel. Since I felt wet from the humidity anyway, I thought a dip in the pool sounded lovely. My plan was thwarted by a creepy guy hanging out at the pool. Two hours later, not only was he still there, but he had friends join him.
Or rest. Rest is good, too. I have my day planned out for tomorrow and it will be another big day of driving. Besides, my foot is hurting a bit from my fall this morning in the oil spill. I’ll just rest.