May 21, 1997
Location: Paxton, Nebraska - Location: 41:07:27N 101:21:21W Elevation: 3054 feet
Summary: Open prairie, deep sand, and sore legs.
Journal entry: Today was incredible. We set out on a small double track road, but soon the path turned into deep sand and we pulled off the road and onto open prairie. Pulling our handcarts across the prairie grass was much easier than on the sandy road, and for the first time during our trek, we were "off-roading". The feeling was almost indescribable. It was out of some movie scene -- nothing else visible except the rolling prairie and the long string of wagons stretching off into the distance.
I overhear so many references to "they". "This is nothing compared to what "they had to put up with." "I'm sure "they would have done it this way." Our thoughts are daily turned back in time to the original pioneers as we make efforts to do things as "they" would have done. Each member of the train holds them in a kind of reverence.
There was a casualty today. Walt was riding his horse as an outrider to one of the wagons and his horse stepped in a gopher hole and fell over on top of him. Most people thought he had a broken leg, but after he got x-rays it turned out that it was only bruised.
Before we got back onto a real road, Pam hurt her ankle and couldn't walk. Pam is a grandmother from Shropshire, England. She has been walking the whole distance, much of it on blisters. We offered to let her ride in our handcart, and she reluctantly got in. The extra weight was worth it, because she got out her songbook and taught us some Mormon folk songs, including, "The Handcart Song", "There's No Use Repining", and "The Railway's Begun". Pam has a beautiful voice and has a remarkable knack for remembering the tunes for all those songs. The only difficulty was that our handcart weighed a lot more, and with the deep sand it seemed at times that I was the only one pulling. Even when I was pulling and tugging with all my strength, the handcart would barely move. I hope that Pam didn't feel guilty for sitting in the cart while we struggled. Because with her in the cart, we got a real feel for what "they" went through.
A side note: I hitched a ride into North Platte and made a few phone calls from the pay phone outside the gas station. One was to my folks, to let them know that I'm OK and to update them on what's going on with me and Amy. The second was to Amy's father. I knew that Wednesdays are his days off and I knew their phone number. Amy didn't know that I was going to call. She stayed in camp. My biggest fear was that I was going to interrupt him in the middle of the Jazz game, but I couldn't wait until it was over to call. He said he approved of our plans to get married. That was a big relief.
I realize that you have no idea about what's been going on with Amy and myself. I will try to give a more detailed explanation in the next few days.