May 29, 1997
Location: Bridgeport, Nebraska - Location: 41:39:55N 103:05:55W Elevation: 3653 feet
Summary: My return to the wagon train.
Journal entry: I left the wagon train last Saturday to attend to some of my motherly duties. I have five children. Four of them function quite well when only one parent is around for awhile, but the fifth one needs two parents -- all of the time. When he wears me down his dad takes over and when he gets frazzled, I have had time to recover and I take over and it goes on and on. My heart goes out to one parent families. There must be times when you are overwhelmed with life.
My little dilemma with leaving the train is I couldn't step back in where I left off. I had gone through the looking glass and just couldn't return. It has been a struggle to see my purpose in all of this. I thought I knew it, but it just wasn't there when I returned.
I returned after the drenching rains along the Platte River Valley. When I caught up with friends it was Monday night and the town of Oshkosh had opened the high school for the drenched wagon train members. It was the most incredible refugee camp I had ever seen. The gymnasium was full of people camped out. And all of their belongings were wet. I wasn't really surprised to see the results of these last few days storms. I had sat in my car on the freeway watching the rain come down. The Platte River was overflowing its banks. The townspeople again came to our aid and fed us, and cared for us. And they were happy to help. Most of the people I talked to who lived in this area were just thrilled for the rain. They said they had had no moisture for 9 months and were desperate for rain. Well, they got it. The rain seems to be following us up the Platte River Valley.
Spirits among the train members were incredibly high. There was laughter and fun and no one seemed any less able for the wear. The next day we packed up and moved on. It was a day of catch up for me as I always seemed to be at the end. We have lovely flowers now growing along the sides of the roads. One is a very delicate blue flower on a foot high stem, and some little yellow ones that form a sweet little bunch. The choke cherries are blossoming and smell "gorgeous" as our little English lady would say. We walked into Lisco, a cute little town that in the 1930s boasted two car dealerships. Today, there are quite a few less people. We had a lovely salmon feed. The town has their own salmon fishery for commercial uses. It was delicious. That evening while most of us attended the pageant at the school, a few hearty Jazz fans went to the local hang-out and cheered on the home team. We have been keeping up on the successes of the Utah Jazz and they have a well-formed cheering section here on the Wagon Train. The Texas folks have put out an admirable effort to represent Houston, but are just plain out-numbered.
I have spent a few hours wondering if the Pioneers ever regretted the fact that they left their homes. I have been placed at a few crossroads these last few days, and quite honestly would have loved to go home. This is probably one of the hardest things I have ever done. And the difference with me and the 1847 pioneers is, I can quit and go home. And who would even notice, or care. Life would be so much easier. My feet would heal. My feet.....I thought the magic number was three weeks. At five weeks I felt pretty good for a few days and then bam!! new blisters. Weird. And those of us who walk a lot have the same problems. Blisters, shin splints, bruised feet, and just pain. I thought it would end, but it doesn't. I know the pioneers had pain all of the way to the Valley. They had to have. We do. They had to have. This is a new thought to me. They had to have faith in every footstep, because the pain never goes away.
I have invited Pam to share my living quarters with me. She in turn gave her tent to Joe whose tent was like a sieve. He was always wet. I have packed food and belongings in my vehicle for many of the walkers who are totally afoot. We all feel we are just hanging in there barely. If it wasn't for each others support, many would have left long ago. We truly feel like family. Gordon got sick and was admitted to the hospital. When the admitting clerk asked Mike Dunn if he were family, Mike's reply was "Close enough."
Pam met a wonderful couple in Lisco. The couple had gone on a LDS mission to England and wanted to befriend the English lady on the train. The woman was raised in Lisco, but now lives elsewhere. They had a "grand time" together and discovered they even know Pam's daughter.
The next morning was the walk to Broadwater. It was a beautiful day of new bluffs (finally some hills!) new flowers, the same old trains and some incredible shots of gorgeous horses wild in the fields. On the top of a bluff stood two brown horses with the same white sock and a silver horse. They were silhouetted against the sky and it practically stopped the wagon train. It was beautiful. We lunched near the Ancient Ruins Bluff, a well-known geographic location for the pioneer trains. We are constantly looking for Chimney Rock in the distance but the day is kind of cloudy-misty, so we didn't see it today.
We camped in Broadwater in the entire town. We covered practically every block in the whole town and were spread from one end to the other. The park was superb and the grass--lovely. The wait at the only pay phone was at one point 2 to 3 hours long.
Alex is sort of our tough guy in camp. His life hasn't been real easy and he has a very tough exterior. I sort of have a little resentment toward him. He was the one who sort of tossed me out in the rain the first night of the trek. I have avoided him. Tonight while waiting for my turn at the phone, Alex gave me a discourse on quitting. He never aimed his comments at me, but gave a very impressive lecture about himself. I have a new respect for Alex. Our relationship will never be the same. He and I have a wonderful, new understanding. And I will not leave the train. I don't know what I must do that is different, but I will not leave.