June 6, 1997
Location: Fort John/Laramie - 508 m. left, Wyoming - Location: 42:12:46N 104:31:00W Elevation: 4250 feet (Fort lays about 1-1/2 miles west from the river. Ford is good in low water. River 108 yards wide. Wall and houses are adobe, or Spanish brick. Altitude, 4,090 feet) -522 miles from Winter Quarters
Summary: Rest day at Ft. Laramie -- day of rest, old friends and future family.
Journal entry: My legs were still sore this morning from yesterday's long walk, but somehow I managed to get up for the morning meeting. I looked out at the beautiful sky. It seems so big out here. The wagons are circled up in a very big field near the old fort. All the support vehicles are a good distance away, so that all you can see on the horizon are the canvas tops of the wagons. In our morning meeting, one of the park rangers spoke to us about the history of the fort and what there is to see here. For the pioneers, Fort Laramie marked the end of easy travel and the beginning of the rugged road.
There are about three buildings up on the hill that are falling apart. From down here at our campsite, the remaining pillars against the horizon look strikingly like stonehenge. Just south of the hill are 7 or 8 buildings that have been preserved in their original state. All of the rooms look as if the soldiers or officers just walked out a few minutes ago.
The prairie grass that we are camping on is green, and there are small cactus plants scattered all over. This evening, the camping area evolved into a mix between a large parking lot and a tent city at a boy scout jamboree as hundreds of new people have been arriving to join us this weekend. Almost all are wearing pioneer attire. There is a whole stake of youth from Colorado, and lots of families from all over, especially Utah. You can tell where the people from Utah are, because they were cheering as they listened to the Jazz beat the Bulls.
One family just arrived from Colorado. They are the Hess family: Dave, Dena, Sara, Terrence, Laura, and Emily. I met them about three weeks ago back in Nebraska. When they left, they said they'd probably be back in June around the time of Laura's birthday. Well, as I was walking up a row of cars and tents tonight, we almost bumped into each other as they were setting up their tents. In the few weeks that they have been at home, they have busily researched their ancestors who were pioneers. Each of the children was assigned one branch of the family tree, and they began to rattle off the stories that they have discovered. They will be here for about a week, so I'll have lots of time to hear their stories.
Amy and I had just gotten back from doing laundry when she spotted her mom. I was soon introduced to Amy's brother Kenny, her sister Nancy, her mom Liz, and her friends JaNae and Stephanie. The idea of meeting my future in-laws got me a little nervous, but the pit in my stomach didn't last long. They are wonderful people. Kenny recently returned from a mission to Italy, and he has a great sense of humor. He made his own pioneer clothes before he came out here, including buttons made of deer antlers. Nancy and Stephanie are in high school and are best friends. Liz reminds me of Amy in her looks and enthusiasm. We will have all weekend to get to know each other more. (gulp) Actually, it will be great fun.