Columbus Temple Road Trip

Saturday we drove to Columbus, Ohio from the Pittsburgh area for a temple trip. Quite a few folks from our congregation also traveled there, in their own private vehicles.

A three-and-a-half-hour drive with seven children is not for the faint of heart. Making that trip twice in one day? You’ve got to have nerves of steel.

Apparently we have.

Case in point:

Friday morning Liv asked, “Does Dad still have my temple recommend?” Josh always keeps the kids’ paperwork in his wallet for safekeeping. Except I find out he doesn’t have it.

Then, after school, Mer said, “My recommend expired last month.”


Getting into a Mormon temple without a paper recommend is like trying to break into Fort Knox. Without gold bullion as motive, of course.

Years ago, in Boulder Colorado, mom and I had to explain the philosophy behind our high security temples to the husband of our Ayurvedic doctor. He said he had gone to Hindu and Muslim temples all over the world as a welcome guest, and yet, when He tried to gain admittance to a Mormon temple, he was denied entrance. What gives?

Well, yeah, Latter-Day Saint temples are only accessible if you’re a card-wielding, baptized-and-confirmed adherent of the faith.

Mer and Liv knew their recommend problems threw a major monkey wrench in our plans. With twelve hours remaining to resolve the problem, Josh started texting our Bishop to try and get interviews set up.

Bishop G obliged.

All four age-eligible kids and their Dad got up Saturday morning before dawn and head over to Bishop G’s house to answer a series of questions (about their faith in Jesus Christ, etc) to get those recommends renewed. 7:00 a.m. appointments Saturday morning. He-Man and Soph went along to get them done at the same time, since Soph’s recommend was set to expire next week, and why not get everyone in at once?

Paper recommends in hand, they returned home. We ate and gathered Hunter, Ros and Jules, and loaded in the van.

He-Man did the driving on the way there. Liv was scheduled to drive back. Nothing like hours of highway driving to prep for a driver’s test. . .

My review of the riding in the back seat of a 2015 Ford Transit: it’s for the birds kids.

Josh helped out inside the temple with the big kids and I helped outside. The younger ones and their church friends were occupied in a nearby building with a few toys, Disney movies projected onto a wall, and plenty of snacks provided by H.K. A handful of we adults made sure the younger set took turns fairly on the highly prized indoor slide.

After a screening of Robin Hood and half of The Aristocats, the big kids were done! We were ready to hit the road again. H.K. invited invited to join the K. family for barbeque near a Tesla charging station they like to use. There was a delay because H.K. was still babysitting small children while their parents attended the temple. But I couldn’t remember the last time we were invited to join anyone as a family, so we took him up on his offer. Yay!

We headed to the supermarket to buy a few things while we waited. Soph turns 13 in less than a week and I wanted to get supplies for her birthday cake. We bought three cake mixes and headed over to City Barbeque in Grove City.

Juliette fell asleep in the van, and when I carried her in and set her down in a chair, her eyelids didn’t even flutter. She just rested her arms on the tabletop, dropped her head on her arms, and slept away.

Josh ordered the “Motherload” to feed our family of 9 and we had meat and sides leftover.

My review of City Barbecue: best bbq I’ve had since leaving Texas. Totally amazing food and ambience with attitude. Check it out.

The place was busy, but we were able to scooch two tables together when the K. family joined us.

Great friends, great food, what could be better?

Well, Juliette could have slept a little longer.

She woke up in a strange place and wasn’t happy about it. Everybody heard her wailing. No fries, nor mac n cheese, nor soda would soothe her, so I took her out to the van where her cries faded to whimpers. She was soon playing happily in the driver’s seat.

A few minutes later we all were back inside the restaurant and finished a great meal.

Leaving City Barbeque, Liv and I sat up front so she could get practice driving on highways. Highway driving is straight and flat, without stop lights or stop signs. “It’s a piece of cake,” I told her.

She pulled onto a highway under construction, with concrete barriers at the side and traffic merging from every direction.


She nailed the complications and we were soon on the kind of highway I had described. I loved the front seat, with a reclining back and shock absorbers under my ride. After a few hours, I got sleepy and couldn’t be a good co-pilot. Josh and I switched places at a rest stop after dark. I fell asleep in the back of the van.

About an hour later I was rousing in the back when red, white, and blue lights began flashing behind us. Josh advised Liv to pull over to the side of the road to allow the police car to pass.

The whirling police lights followed our van to the side of the road and parked behind us.


An officer approached Liv’s window. She said our tail-lights weren’t on. Josh told Liv to turn the left knob controlling the lights to automatic and the officer stepped to the rear of our van to check that they were working. As soon as the window rolled up, everyone started talking at once.

“I thought the lights were always on.”

“They’re supposed to be on automatic.”

“I didn’t even know you could turn off  just the tail-lights.”

“I didn’t know they were off.”

“You couldn’t know, the headlights and dashboard lights are on”

“Why would the knob be moved?”



“Mom, did you let Juliette play with the controls while we were in the restaurant?”


The officer returned with good news and asked to see IDs. Liv handed over her permit and Josh, his license. She returned the documents and instructed Liv again on the importance of turning on her headlights at night.

I’m proud of how Liv handled this first getting-pulled-over interaction with police. She didn’t blame her deficiency on her little sister, just assured the officer she’d be careful in the future.

For the record, this is going down in my book as the incident Juliette built. I really had nothing to do with it.

And I’ve got to hand it to her: for a three-year-old, she can create quite a story.


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