April 21, 1997
Location: Washington, Nebraska - Location: 41:23:51N 96:12:28W Elevation: 1124 feet
Summary: The trek begins.
"Good morning! Good morning!" Clang! Clang! I'm already awake. It's an exciting day and I'm already awake. It's dark still, but the activities have started. People talk, and call to each other. Horses neigh, wagon wheels creak. It begins.
Foggy, cloudy, cool. It will be a pleasant day.
My neighbor, who is driving a wagon, suggests we share the responsibilities of saddling his horses."Sure!" I reply. "You do it in the morning and I'll do it at night."
We round up our food and gear for the day and head off towards the staging area. Speeches, congratulations, well wishes, and we're off! Wagons and horses lead the way. Walkers and handcart families bring up the rear. Since the walkers follow the wagons, we have the pleasure of carefully walking around the little "gifts" that the horses deposit on the streets. I wonder if this will be our lot for the next thousand miles--horse gifts.
We wave farewell to smiling crowds as the half-mile-long train slowly wends its way down 30th Street. At State Street we turn left and climb the hill to the Pioneer Cemetery. Watchers wish us well with shouts of "Good Luck" and "Have a good trip!" We pass the "Blessed Sacrament Elementary School." All the children line the way and wave us greetings. They appear to be first, second, and third grades. The people here have been wonderful to us. We leave with feelings of love and gratitude for their hospitality.
Walking now becomes my life. The pace is easy. We stop now and again to rest. Conversations are comfortable. The rain is gentle, but constant.
My bonnet drips rain on my shoe.
Three miles and my feet are OK. Five miles we stop for lunch. The potty van arrives and the lines are LONG. Or is it called another name? John's room? Behind-the-bush? Do you have a clever name?
The monument we pass tells us this place is the first campsite of the 1847 Pioneers.
It still drizzles. I've found a friend... Linda Taylor from Blair, Neb., just a few miles from here. She loves history and wanted to live it. We've found many common interests and become "laughing" friends. Our pace slows. Feet and legs begin to ache. I share my water with a ten year old friend. He is tired. A few folks hitch rides in cars to the end. More muscles ache and finally our eleven mile first day is over.
We are in a beautiful field of two foot tall dry grass. It will be a soft bed. I am so tired. I am grateful for the cloudy, cool, rainy day. It keeps me from just falling asleep.