Heritage Gateways

Official Sesquicentennial K-12 Education Project
sponsored by the Utah State Board of Education, the BYU-Public School Partnership and the Utah Education Network

Wendy Westergard Journals

July 24, 1997

Location: Salt Lake Valley (the right place), Utah - The end destination for the trek across the plains.

Summary: Pioneer Day in Salt Lake City and the evening program in Provo.

Journal entry: Today we walked in the Days of '47 parade. I woke up at the Utah State Fairgrounds where I had parked my car. I slept in that. It was a different experience to not have to set up a tent or prepare a bed. This time I only had to throw my sleeping bag out and I was set. I woke up with my alarm for the first time since I left home. It was different than being woken up by the rooster or another person. I looked out my window expecting people to be moving about getting ready to be in the parade. I didn't, so I got up and asked when we were supposed to be ready. I found out I could sleep for another hour. It felt wonderful. The most wonderful thing was I just had to get up and get dressed. I didn't have to worry about stuffing my sleeping bag or anything. Everyone was gathered around my car in the morning. This doesn't usually happen, so it must have been the party car. We got ready and soon were walking to where the parade started. This was around 8:30 am.

My blister that I had gotten from Big Mountain was still paining me. I would call myself gimpy right now. My walk has a little bit of a hobble to it. I'm amazed I walked yesterday as well as I did, not even including today. I amaze myself sometimes.

I wanted to be with my now family friends as we walked that day. I knew that this was our last day together as a company. It was a wonderful day. We sang our trail songs for the last time. At the time we were singing them we did not think of them as the last time. We tried to avoid thinking about ending.

When we got to temple square we had to wait for our turn. We all put the handles of the handcarts down and waited in the shade of a nearby leafy maple tree. We chatted, sang and rested together. We didn't notice people walking by. It was as if we weren't in a city. We were still on the trail. It felt as though we were. We waited probably around 45 minutes for our turn. We were the finale of the parade. Befitting I thought. We were behind the wagons. We heard names of our friends being called as they announced who was driving the wagons along with handcart captains. We cheered each of them on.

From what I understand from talking to people after the parade, the people who came to see the parade were sitting around lounging as the parade went by, but when we came by everyone stood and moved as close as they could to the streets. That is so amazing to me. I'm amazed with how many people were there. We had 5 miles of streets to cover and the streets were packed from start to finish. The people went back 20-30 feet off the side of the road. This was for the entire 5 mile strip. They were all standing and clapping and cheering for us. Truly a humbling and awe inspiring day.

I am so glad that we could make a difference in people's lives. I know that we have sparked the imagination of many. In my opinion the wagons fulfill the fantasy of the "the old west" and the image portrayed in the media, but if you are looking for the spirit and courage and dedication you will find most of it back with the walkers and handcarts. They know the real meaning of this train. We have to after walking so many miles. If we missed it we would be blind. I know that we didn't look like a bunch but our hearts were full with the truthfulness of the gospel. We have a burning knowledge and testimony that the pioneers put forth everything they had for what they believed in. We did the same thing trying to gain a little appreciation for what they went through for what they believed in. I truly believe that if you believe in something so much, you should be willing to die for it. The pioneers were. I know that I am too. Many of us, if we did not know it before we do now, would die for the gospel. We felt something so strong, it would be wrong to deny any of it. As I walked down the street at a really easy pace I thought of all the people I care about. I saw many in the crowd and would run and give them a hug. But there were many of them who I was just walking with that I care very deeply about as well.

We got to Liberty park where the parade ended. WEe stood next to our handcarts hugging each other, not realizing it was over. The public was there asking lots of curious questions. It was great to see the interest. We must have stood there for around an hour and half talking to people. I knew after a while I had better catch a ride to the fairgrounds to get my car otherwise I might have to walk back to get it. I got a ride with Jon Dew. As I was walking away from the park I soon realized that I was leaving the train. I started to have tears streak down my face. I walked a couple of blocks to get the car. By then I had stopped crying and just felt a lull. We soon were at the fairgrounds and there were a lot of people from the company there. They were loading their wagons and taking them apart. It felt like they were just going to move camp this way instead of the old fashioned way. It didn't quite feel like the end. I went around talking to people for a while.

I had a copy of my journals that my dad had made for me in my car. I started to read them. I didn't get very far before John Taylor came to tell me he was leaving and going home to Washington. I was very solemn and slowly got out of my car. I gave him a long hug. It then hit me that this dream was really coming to a close. I wouldn't be seeing John again for a long time, especially not on a everyday basis. I started to cry. I just hugged him for a long time not wanting to let go, fearing that I will never see him again. I wondered how it would be for the rest of the train.

Troy teased John about making me cry. I feel like my heart is breaking in two. I'm even having a hard time writing this down. I didn't think that it would be so hard. I knew it would be hard to go back to the real world, but I had no idea it would be this tough. We had an opportunity that most people never get, not only doing the wagon train, but a chance to leave the world for 4 months. We had our own little bubble and that was our world. Nothing else mattered. I will treasure this time I have had for all time. I knew soon that I had to go to my parent's house to get settled and take a shower or I wouldn't be able to do things with the people who would still be in town for a while that night.

I then had to say goodbye to everyone else. Some people were leaving that day to go back to their homes far away. It was the hardest thing to do to say goodbye to someone you love and not know when the next time you will see them. I think that is the hardest part. The worst is when you do next see them it won't be in the same context. You will be in different clothes, modern ones, and in a different world. The wagons and horses will not be in the background and you won't have everyone else around you like a little traveling village. I will miss our gypsy vagabond village more than I can ever express in words.

When I finally made it out of camp. I could barely see straight. I had tears pouring out of my eyes and I was now bawling, not crying. I bawled all the way home. I felt as though my chest was being ripped apart. I didn't want to return to the "real world," I wanted to stay and build Zion like the pioneers did with their companies. We had already built our own traveling Zion. I was ready to go anywhere in the world and make another Zion just like the pioneers of 1847 did. No wonder they would build towns with their companies that had crossed the plains. They already knew that they could trust and depend on each other. Our pioneering will be to go home and tell everyone what we have experienced and make sure that everyone does not forget their legacy of faith that brought forth the gospel of Jesus Christ.

After I made it home. I was solemn as I put my things away. I took a shower after the shuffling of my things. I called the Proud's around 6 pm. and asked them if they were going to the BYU spectacular. (A program about pioneers) They said they were. They waited until I drove to their house and I hitched a ride with them.

After we had passed the point of the mountain heading to Provo, Rex Proud noticed that President Hinkley was riding in a car we had just passed. He slowed down so we could all wave hello. We were all very excited. After that we followed them for a bit. It was neat to be able to say that we were following the Prophet. He waved hello to us. What a thrill. I have never seen him driving anywhere before. Before this trek I had only seen him on TV, general conference and other programs. He is truly a wonderful man with a great sense of humor. I know he is the true and living prophet for our day. He does the Lord's work.

Soon we had to exit, they kept driving. We went to the stadium. My seats were different than the Proud's so I sat with Carrie whom I ran into there. We ended up sitting with many people from the train. It was fun. We knew the wagons in the program along with the outriders. We yelled at them, but I'm sure they didn't hear us, especially considering that fact that I'm losing my voice.

I didn't like being with so many people around and no open space. It was kind of a claustrophobic feeling. I felt like I should be on the field rather than in the stands. I felt weird wearing levi's and T-shirt. I missed the feel of the skirts wagging around my legs. I can't believe I even thought that. I hated skirts before the trek started. When we saw a quick movie on the screen at the stadium with people dressed in period clothing, to me it looked like normal clothing. That is how used to clothing and time period I am.

I like the simple life. I know that I have to return to the modern world I just hope that I can take most of that kind of simple life, enjoying the simple pleasures of life with me. I even miss the porta- potties. Being in a house feels really cramped. The air doesn't move around and is extremely quiet. I miss the sun always on my face and the wind gently blowing my hair. I haven't even been gone from the train for a full day and I'm extremely homesick. I'll just continue to thank the Lord everyday for the privilege and honor being able toe reenact something that means the world to me. It has been a life long dream come true.

I want to thank all of you that have been reading my journals. Knowing that you could see what I was seeing and feel all of what I was feeling helped me to be more descriptive in what I was writing about. Many of the things I wrote about I wouldn't have written about had I not been thinking of you. I would have just written about what I had done that day. Many times I was so tired that I didn't want to write, but then I thought of you and knew that I had to write for both your sake and mine. I now have a wonderful journal that has better description of things and events to pass on to my legacy that I will have someday when I have a family.

Thank you for the opportunity to open up a share my experiences and feelings with you. I don't always express my feelings to anyone. I wanted you to know it has been a very humbling experience to try and tell you what has happened in this trek for you since you could not be here yourselves. Thank you for your time and patience in dealing with our difficulties in getting our journals on the Internet on time and a regular basis. It was really hard at times to be able to do this. Thank you for everything and all the support. It has been an honor to tell you about this history in progress. I hope that you enjoyed them. As you can probably tell I never did edit my entries. Time was short and precious. I will treasure this experience for the rest of my life. God bless and keep you.