May 16, 1997
Location: Maxwell, Nebraska - Location: 41:04:44N 100:31:28W Elevation: 2711 feet
Summary: A sunny, warm day. (Late in the evening.)
I slept better last night than I have slept in weeks. It was quite warm this morning and no one needed jackets. It felt good. But we knew the day would probably get hot. The anticipation of 19 miles ahead of us today was a little gloomy. I almost wish we didn't know the distance ahead of time. The pioneers didn't know. Why do we have to know?
We kept a good 3 mile an hour pace down the road. It was pavement all day. No dirt roads. Pavement gets hot. I was glad for the little breeze. With warmer days we take frequent water breaks. It is common to go through 2 or 3 liters of fluid during the day.
We passed through Maxwell, a cute little town. We took a break near the school and all the kids were allowed to come out and visit. They were neat kids. Those 7th grade boys were the cutest. They are great friends
I just am so impressed with the hills we are seeing. I just miss mountains. There is something safe and secure about looking up at a mountain. Maybe it is the thought that no matter which way you wake up in the morning, you can know which way is which because the mountain is in the same place. Does that make sense? Or maybe it is a gentle reminder that there is a greater power than all of us who is above and keeps a caring eye on us all...sort of like a mountain.
We passed a bit of interesting early pioneer history today. As we were getting closer to our destination in North Platte, a sister walked up beside me. Her name is Lori Marshall and she lives in North Platte although she is originally from Utah.
She has a brother who lives in Parowan and will be moving to Cedar City (my town), Utah. We are immediately good friends How could we help but be with so much in common. It seems that no matter where we go or who we visit, the world shrinks some. Even if I don't know someone, the pioneer spirit has brought them to us and we immediately have a common bond. We feel the Spirits of our ancestors burning within us, reminding us that they were here. Those whose lives were hard and dangerous walked this ground and dreamed of a better life for those who would come after.
Where did all that come from?
I wanted to tell you about the Pawnee Springs area. It is just north of the highway we have been following. The history behind it is that this springs area was a common camping site for passing wagon trains. Sometimes there are 4 springs; sometimes six. Then looking a little West of the Springs area sort of up by the hills is a place that looks real sandy. Right behind it is a sort of a notch through the hills. Common knowledge in these parts is that the wagon trains traveled through the notched area and actually wore down the hills there, leaving a trace of sand. It is a very unnatural looking area when compared to the surrounding hills. Just a bit of a tale. Thanks for the history, Lori.
We pulled into the North Platte airport and built a town. We can build and tear down a community incredibly fast. The Reserve is with us this weekend. They are serving us in an efficient manner. They are GOOD! Food is hot and on time. They wash our clothes. We can take showers. It's great.
Brother Ballard is with us tonight from Salt Lake City. He is such a pleasant man and gives us love and encouragement. We understand there are several more authorities coming in from Salt Lake tomorrow. It is good to have them come and visit us and give us their support.
A few days ago my nephew was hurt in an automobile accident on his way to work for the summer. He goes to school at BYU. His hometown is in Missouri, and he and two boys were headed to Orlando to work at Disney World. Paul is an interpreter. He speaks Portuguese. From what I have gathered, he was thrown from the car as it rolled. He has a broken back and a badly fractured leg. Getting word to the wagon train is really quite amazing. It was only a matter of a few hours when it happened, and I heard about it. Everyone was concerned and very kind.
I can't help but think of days long ago. Especially about how slow news traveled. Stories are told of coming upon new graves along the trail, only to find that a loved one who was on a previous train had died. Fathers, sometimes assigned to a different wagon train than the one their families were in, were known to run to new graves, only to discover that a sick child had died. I can't imagine the sorrow along the trail when a child or husband, father, or friend had died. It was a quick burial, placing whatever they could find as a marker, and moving on. The Mormon Trail has been called the longest cemetery in the world. Certainly a trail of tears.
My nephew is expected to recover. We are grateful for modern medicine.
On the shuttle ride tonight a sister from Denver sat down next to me. I knew immediately who she was. She gave me her name and I mine. We talked for awhile about the website that she has been reading. I told her she was from Salt Lake and asked her where she had lived as a child. She gave me an address and I said, but you also lived on Emerson Avenue. She looked at me rather strangely and said "Who are you?" I am one of the Mugleston girls. She looked surprised, but I could tell she didn't remember me. I told her a lot about her family when she was very little and that I visit with her mother occasionally in Cedar City. Such a small world. It was fun visiting with you, Becky Pratt.
One of the most fun things with this wagon train (which is very different from the original trains) is that we get new people walking and riding with us everyday. I am sure before we are done, we will have had thousands of people with us. I frequently ask people why they come and the answer is almost universal. They feel the spirits of their ancestors. It is not the walking or the riding on a wagon, although people want to physically feel the walking to know what it was like. But it is to know, even for one day, the spirit of the Mormon trail. It is a memorial to their ancestors: a day long "Thank you for what you did." We welcome you to come and be part of this...even for a day.