Monday, November 5, 2012

Mississippi: Nauvoo

Nauvoo Temple
Ever since my bike trip across Southwest USA and my long stay in the Mormon capitol of Salt Lake City I have been very interested in the Mormon history. Therefore I got quite excited when I read in the Mississippi River Road guidebook that Nauvoo, the first big Mormon settlement in the US is right on the Mississippi River. So this would be a town stop that both Brian and I enjoy - although maybe for different reasons. Things got even better when Brian found us really nice warmshowers hosts in town. I was very excited about the upcoming town stay but the rather choppy approach with high waves put a bit of a damper on me. The waves were so high that we did not dare to make it directly to our hosts but beached our boats 4 miles before at a public boat ramp. Luckily this place was a bit out of town and we could easily hide our kayaks in the bushes there. It was only a bit more than a mile into town but the first car that passed us immediately offered us a lift into town.

Broken Lendal shaft
After this friendly introduction things continued in a positive way: The only lunch place in town had a great lunch buffet where we tried to solve my broken paddle problem. I had bought my paddle at Lendal in the UK, but they had an affiliate in the US. Although they were not handling warranty issues for their UK mother, they had a replacement shaft for me. Now I only had to figure out where to ship it to. Post offices were the most obvious solution but that would require a walk into town and maybe restricted office hours. Therefore I was hoping that I could use one of the marinas along the river as an shipping address and started to call around. All of them were really friendly and I soon found one that was open every day. I then placed my order at Lendal and I am now hoping to soon receive my new paddle shaft. Nauvoo is a cute little town and directly opposite of the lunch buffet was the public library where we could update our blogs and I even scored some crime thrillers in the used book sale. The little grocery store was just one block away and we quickly did our grocery shopping. Unfortunately all this did not leave much time for sightseeing in Nauvoo before our hosts picked us up in the evening.

Women's Memorial
Our hosts David and Ruth Ann turned out to be Mormon themselves though and that gave me the opportunity to ask five million questions to them. They have 8 children and currently have 23 grandchildren - so cooking for a bunch of hungry paddlers was easy for them. I enjoyed their company tremendously and could have asked questions the whole night! We had planned to leave early next morning but I could not bring myself to leave without any decent sightseeing. Our hosts were more than happy to accommodate us another night and so I dived into some serious Mormon sightseeing! Nauvoo was settled by the Mormons in the 1840's, but they were soon forced to relocate to Salt Lake City. The beautiful Mormon Temple and most of the buildings were destroyed back then, but 10 years ago the Mormon community had started to rebuild the Temple and restore the old building. Now Old Nauvoo is a bit of a museum town with a huge visitor centre and dozens of buildings staffed with volunteer guides. As usual in Mormon place all the sights are free!

I started my day with a movie about old Nauvoo followed by a waggon ride across town before I started visiting the different historic houses and indulging in hourlong discussions with the Mormon missionaries. The day passed too quickly and I could have stayed much longer and still not get bored. But I had promised to cook dinner which I thoroughly enjoyed doing in a huge kitchen instead of using my tiny petrol stove. Ruth Ann had even gone to Aldi's to get me the right ingredients. But our hosts did not only enlighten us about the Mormons they also taught me a lot about service dogs. As one of their sons is handicapped that had one of his retired service dogs living with them which showed us how a dog on open doors and pick up pencils and credit cards!

After two very comfortable nights in a nice bed we eventually left Nauvoo - and the river was like glass again!

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