May 22, 1997
Location: Keystone, Nebraska - Location: 41:12:58N 101:34:59W
Summary: More sandy roads, common ancestors, rain.
Journal entry: I'm sitting in the basement of the Episcopalian church here in Keystone, Nebraska. The church opened their doors for those who didn't want to stay camped in the pouring rain. I'm still waiting for REI to UPS a replacement tent, so rather than struggle with a broken tent, I wimped out and accepted the kind Episcopalians' offer.
The roads today were sandy and hilly, and I am sore and tired, especially after yesterday's journey. Yet I was thoroughly impressed by two kids who offered to help us push our cart today. They are from Salt Lake City and are on their way to Omaha to visit an Aunt. Brad is 13 and Amanda is 15. They pulled the cart all day long -- 14 miles long -- and never uttered one word of complaint, which is very rare. Their mother, Lisa, began telling me about some of her ancestors who were among the original pioneers. As she described the travails of one in particular (ie: carrying newborn twins, broken hip, coming from Sweden), I knew she was describing MY great-great-great grandmother, Helena Roseberry. We have exchanged adresses and will send each other copies of written histories and journals that we have about her.
Today I did something that will change my life. I asked Amy to marry me. We have been talking about it for a couple of weeks now, but I made it official tonight. Earlier this week, a blacksmith in our group, Melvin Anderson, offered his services converting a horseshoe nail into a "prairie diamond" -- a makeshift engagement ring. Many pioneers who lacked access to jewelry and money used similar rings. I have been carrying it in my pocket for almost a week now, waiting for the right moment.
Well, it finally arrived tonight after dinner. We were walking together back to the church from the wagon circle when we had to cross a few fields. In the middle of one of the fields, I knew it was the right place. There was tall grass, the meadowlarks were singing, the sky was still on the light end of twilight, and we were holding hands. Nobody was around to disturb the moment. I put down my bag, took off my hat, and got down on one knee. She looked a little surprised, but nevertheless happy. After I asked her to marry me and she said yes, we sat there in the middle of this large field and just talked. Talking is something we have had a lot of time to do on this trek. Every day as we pull our handcart we have hours to do nothing but talk and laugh and dream. It is incredible that we have had so much time to talk and get to know each other in such a setting, away from the distractions of city and student life. We both feel that we are making the right decision, and are excited about what lies ahead for us. We will probably be married sometime in September or October.