May 19, 1997
Location: Hershey, Nebraska - Location: 41:09:31N 101:00:08W Elevation: 2901 feet
Summary: Said goodbye to North Platte and hello to a beautiful day.
Journal entry: It is a bit awkward to start a journal in the middle of a journey such as this, but I will try my best to fill you in on how my trek has been so far. I am sitting in Margaret's car figuring out how to best do that.
I joined the wagon train at Winter Quarters in Omaha and have been part of the handcart company under the leadership of Mike Dunn, the handcart captain. We have walked about 350 miles so far in our first month on the trail, and have about 800 more to go. It took about two weeks for the sore muscles and blisters to go away and now I can go 16 miles in one day without any problems.
We were camped in a field in North Platte all weekend. That was a place I will never forget. We were joined on Saturday by some of the twelve apostles of the LDS church. Elder Ballard and Elder Holland, along with Elders Pinnock, Christensen, and John Huntsman came and visited us for a few hours. They were inspiring and encouraging, and they let us know that we are in their prayers. Elder Ballard organized a presidency in our group, and then left an apostolic blessing. He blessed us that we would arrive safely in Utah and that those who are walking would have very powerful experiences.
I woke up this morning to find that some of last night's rain had gotten in my tent and got my sleeping bag wet. The rain had cooled the air, and it was cold enough that it was a challenge to get up and moving. When we finally pulled out onto the trail, the wind was blowing strong and chilled us to the bone. But by about 9:30, the cool breeze made for a pleasant walk. I only felt sorry for the folks in the wagons. We can walk to stay warm, but they don't have that option -- they must sit on the wagons and drive their teams.
We arrived just after 1 PM at our campsite outside of Hershey, Nebraska. We are in a large green pasture, perfect for riding and grazing horses. It is amazing how fast we can get our tents set up now when we reach camp. I guess that's what happens when you set it up and take it down every day for a month!
I went into town with Mike, Nancy, and Amy (I'll have to tell you about Amy -- it's quite a story in itself) to get a few supplies. I got graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate to make smores tonight. After supper, there was a short musical program. When it ended, there was still some time and people still wanted to do something, so Brian asked me to get a fiddle and play some music. I played some lively fiddle tunes and a bunch of people lined up and danced the virginia reel. Kids, parents, even old folks were dancing and clapping as we raised a bit of Nebraska dust.
As a captain of fifty, I got our group together tonight after the dancing to meet each other and eat smores. We gathered quite a crowd and had a fun time eating the tasty treats.