July 10, 1997
Location: Fort Bridger - 96 miles left, Wyoming - (You cross four gushing creeks, within half a mile, before you reach the Fort, and by traveling half a mile beyond the Fort, you will cross three others, and then find a good place to camp.) - 917 miles from Winter Quarters.
Summary: A leisurely day at Ft. Bridger
Journal entry: The wagon train folks spent a day enjoying the sights at Ft.Bridger, Wyoming. The people in these parts have come out in large numbers to see the wagon train. There are also several concessionaires who have set up booths to sell their wares. The train has totally taken over the fort and the people here at the fort have been wonderfully accommodating. Leon joked that it's been hard to sleep here without sagebrush clumps in our beds. Instead we have grass that has been mowed!! It is truly a beautiful place.
We, the train members in the choir, had a practice this morning. We are planning to sing at a program in Hennefer when we get there. We hope that people will take the opportunity to come and visit us when we get there because after that I understand the wagon train may become in- accessible to the public. We really have not been overwhelmed with people anywhere we have been. There have been a few visitors now and again when we have layover days, but there have not been many folks at all. I think what has been anticipated has not been reality.
We have 3 or 4 people working on this laptop computer and with the last few months of grime and grit, it is getting really hard to push down the keys anymore. Sometimes you have to push three of four times before the key punches. I think it needs a good cleaning.
Tonight there was a special dedication at the fort for part of the stone wall that remains here that was built by the Mormons when they occupied the fort. The Mormons owned this fort in the 1850s and when Johnstons Army was heading toward Utah in 1857, the Mormons burned Ft. Bridger and Ft. Supply, a fort built 12 miles south of here to deter the advancement of the army. It was after that time that the fort became the property of the government.
This afternoon we took off for Lyman and bought groceries and did our laundry. Many people had the same idea. It was funny cause Art lost a sock when we were washing/drying our clothes. He announced to the laundry group he had lost a sock. The wagon train group had filled the laundry room...all the washers and dryers which was quite a few. The next day someone came up to him with his found sock.
Amy's family came to the fort this weekend to spend time with BC and Amy. We gratefully accepted a dinner invitation to eat with the Freestones and had a most delicious dutch oven dinner. Thank you so much.
We had a first today. A baby was born in one of the tents here at the train. Shauna Dicken, who is a descendant of the pioneer midwife, Patty Sessions, offered her tent for the event and even helped out. Henry Freestone Bentley was born about 3:30 pm in the Dickens tent. He was the 8th child of Cliff and Dana Bentley from West Jordan, Utah. He weighed in at 8 lbs. 4 oz. I guess mom came out specifically to give birth on the wagon train and went right back home again. So, something rather unique happened today.
Amy is working rather hard on her button collection. She is getting a few buttons here and a few buttons there. We will be arriving in Evanston soon and see what's there. I think she is getting close to her thousand buttons.
We have a couple who live and travel with the train who were asked by the LDS Church to coordinate the media people who come to photograph and write about the train. They have been with us the entire distance and have done a truly outstanding job. They are Tom and Sandy VanLeeuwen from Taylorsville, Utah.
Tom and Sandy brought their own RV and have set up a media center with all the telephones and what not to communicate with the outside world. Many times when the rest of us could not "get out" with our phones, Tom and Sandy usually had that ability. Tom and Sandy have been on two other public affairs missions for the church. One to Nova Scotia, the Maritime area, for one year, and one to the Southeast United States for 15 months. They had been home for three years when they were asked to coordinate public affairs and media on the wagon train. They work closely with Mike Otterson (His wife Kathy is on the train) who is Public Affairs in Salt Lake. There are also many other personnel who come and go to help with press, TV stations, networks, local press etc. They are always busy and today was no exception.
When the concept of doing the Mormon Trail Wagon Train was a reality, Mike sent out 1000 press releases to various areas of media for their attention. Since then, the media have been very interested in the wagon train and many have followed closely the train as it has advanced across Nebraska and Wyoming. It seems to be as we get closer to Utah, the more people we see walking around camp with the yellow scarves around their necks, or tied to their hats. This is our indication that these people are involved with some kind of media, newspaper, magazine, TV, radio etc.
Tom and Sandy coordinate their stay with the events of the wagon train. If these media people want to interview a specific person on the train, Tom and Sandy find them. If they need 8 or 10 people on the train to ran- domly interview, Tom and Sandy find them. Today we also had Dave Porter from Public Affairs here to work with the train. It seems the closer we get to Salt Lake, the busier these people are.
Tom has other duties here on the train. Probably his favorite is a personal one: he likes to try out the fishing streams we have been crossing. He has had some really good luck through Wyoming. He has caught some nice fish. He also was called to be one of the four official LDS missionaries on the train. So, he has been busy giving missionary dis- cussions to interested people. Tom is such a great guy. He is just so personable and everybody likes him. I asked Tom how he felt about the wagon train. His answer is one I have heard before. He said that it was an honor to be part of this wagon train. He described it as an awesome blessing. I have to agree with him.
Sandy is kept busy with her responsibilities. Along with her media things, she was also called to be the head of the wagon train womens group. We were divided up in groups back in Nebraska. Probably our biggest project, besides just taking care of each other, was doing the quilt. It is really coming along nicely, thanks to Sue and Kimberly. Sandy is also the choir director. So, we are working hard with her on that. I asked Sandy how she felt about the wagon train. She said it was one of the greatest opportunities she has ever had in the church. She feels as a missionary "it is a wonderful way to tell the world about the Mormon Church."
We have really been fortunate to have Tom and Sandy with us on the Wagon Train. They have certainly been a great asset to all aspects of the train. But their job with the media has been really great. It has been a privilege associating with them. HappyNetTrekking!!!