May 19, 1997
Location: Hershey, Nebraska - Location: 41:09:31N 101:00:08W Elevation: 2901 feet
Summary: Into Hershey territory.
Journal entry: Last night we had a pretty good rainstorm. It lasted about a half and hour--just long enough to freshen us, wash away the dust and cool things down. This morning was brisk and we all wore our coats and gloves and were grateful as walkers. Walkers get warm. I truly felt sorry for the people in the wagons. It was bitter cold for them and some of them didn't warm up all day.
Today is the day I have been looking forward to. My feet did not hurt the whole day long. We went 14 miles and it was easy. I felt light and healthy and it actually felt good to be walking. Linda, I made it.
I asked Sarah Robinson who has been hobbling on a very sore foot. She had shin splints. She said they did not hurt at all today. She was so happy. I have asked a lot of the walkers how they did today and the comments were the same. It is a wonderful day for most of us. Our spirits are really up and we feel so positive about being able to do this trek.
There has always been an underlying fear that maybe we couldn't do this and we would have to drop out. Everybody has felt it. We try to encourage each other when we each have our down times and so far, we are still together. People who join us for a day or two usually have sore feet by the end of the day. They can then go home and nurse them well again, but the long- term group is now into our fifth week. To have problems at five weeks is very discouraging. But we are doing well.
I must tell you that the people in the wagons, the teamsters that drive and those who have watched us suffer as walkers...have been so wonderful to us. They encourage us and have offered us rides over and over again when our feet were so painful we couldn't stand to walk a single step. They ask us about our blisters and offer their support. They are wonderful people. We also have two or three outriders who always stay with us when we get behind so that we have the support of the horsemen. We have a support bus behind the walkers who is there to pick up the stragglers, but we refuse to get in. Walk or wagon...that is our motto.
There are actually several people who have walked all the way from Omaha, sore feet or no. They are examples for us all. I will try to name them: Ted, Gordon, Joe, the Petramalo boys, Grant, Bob, Virginia, Doug, John, Roger, Lisa, Mike, BC, Heber. If there are more I will find out.
What a very pleasant afternoon and evening. It was warm, blue skies, a gentle breeze and the dancing commenced. What a grand time--everybody was dancing or standing around watching and clapping hands. It didn't matter who you danced with or how old you were, it was just this fun group of happy campers having a great time. We then met in our groups of ten for encouragement and a little entertainment or for goodies. Our group can easily take over a 15 acre field and fill it up. We make quite an impression when we set up.
Tonight the Army Reserve was with us again offering water and power. We sure appreciate them and wish they could be with us through the rest of Nebraska.
Now that we have left North Platte, we need to thank the [LDS] Relief Society sisters of that area for a job well done. I think it was Lori Marshall who coordinated the meals and some of the entertainment. The meals in North Platte were excellent. They were well-planned and gave us a MOST WELCOME variety. I think they did a total of 9 meals. Although we have had great meals, it was nice to have a variety of different foods.
Because we are on a wagon trek, we have had a lot of biscuits and gravy and barbecue and stew with baked beans and potato salad. We truly are grateful for each meal because we are so hungry, but variety is good. I guess we have had a taste of real pioneer life. The old pioneers didn't have much of a variety. They just wanted to stay alive and ate what they had. I guess we are really lucky to be alive in 1997 and have a choice of foods.