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

June 17, 1997

Location: Independence Rock - 314 miles left, Wyoming - [Sweetwater River]. (In low water the river is easily forded.) It has a peculiar shape and magnitude. There are many names of visitors painted in various places. on the southeast corner. 698 3/4 miles from Winter Quarters.

Summary: Independence Rock.

Journal entry: Today was another 28-30 mile day. I rode on the state wagon the first half. I've never ridden in the state wagon before. It is the 2nd wagon in the train. It was so weird to be at the beginning at the train. I saw a different perspective of comings and going of people. We would travel over some rough terrain and we would look back and only a couple had made it through. We don't realize how much the beginning of the train waits up for the end to catch up.

I snoozed a little in the most interesting position. It is amazing how out here you are so tired that we can sleep in the most odd positions that we would never be able to sleep in at home. The church film crew then jump on board and interviewed a lot of us on the state wagon. I tried to sleep after they were done and was unsuccessful. The seats provided were not wide enough for us to do anything but sit. With all the bouncing around it was too hard to stay on the seat.

After lunch I switched to Todd's wagon, another people mover, with Ben and Adam. We got tired the first half and tried to sleep. We tried using the side of the wagon but it was too hard to bounce our heads on the hard wood. Then I tried to sit on the floor of the wagon and put my head on the seat, and that didn't work so well. Then I finally was desperate enough for sleep I used my cloak for a pillow and laid on the floor of the people mover and slept. It didn't matter that there were 5 day riders in there that I didn't know until that day. I was tired, so I went to sleep.

Adam and Ben used the seats on either side of me. Ben and Adam did a really good job of staying on the seats. Only once did Adams feet dangle and rest on me. Libbie came to join us after our last break. We entertained the day wagoners from that point on. We sang all sorts of songs. We started with singing and clapping hands together like girls did in elementary school.....Libbie is in elementary school (like "Down by the banks"). Libbie is very talented. She thought up around 25 new songs for this game in a matter of seconds. We then moved on to camp songs. The most entertaining for the people was "Boom chicka Boom." We sang every style we could think of, ranging from whiny to opera. It was so fun.

When we got to camp I knew that my buddies the walkers were feeling every pain imaginable. Cyndi came into camp and sat down and tears were streaking down her face. She was in much pain and was emotionally drained. We instantly were in action getting a pail of cool water for her to put her feet in. We put epsom salts and lavender oil to help her feet. We kept cool water on her wrists and gave her a back massage. Slowly reality started to set in. Within a couple of hours she was back to her normal self again.

The next person I went after to see how they were feeling was Heber. He runs out of energy not just because he is walking, but because he helps to keep up everyone's spirits. He is a valuable person to the handcart company. These long days are emotionally and physically exhausting. Heber said he was fine and wouldn't let me help him.

Finally he let Libbie, Sarah and I escort him on top of Independence rock. We had a wonderful time exploring the huge slick rock mound. There were lots of caves and crevices that were fun to climb. We took many pictures It was quite a sight to see our camp when we climbed to the top. It was beautiful. It helped us to realize that this probably won't happen again. These rocks and monuments mean so much more to us because there is a wagon train below us and we travelled there just as the pioneers did before us. I had not seen any of these formations before in person or in pictures so they meant the same to me as they would have for them. It was incredible.

That night after dinner I gave Heber a foot massage. He finally let me serve him. It was a wonderful feeling being able to help someone else. After I did it I likened it to what Mary Magdalene did for Jesus' feet. I wish I could've washed Jesus' feet. I know it was nothing like that, but it was a service that I like to do for people I care about out here and want then to maintain their best and be able to make it all the way.

Later in the evening we had a small informal dance. The professional banjo players that were here in the beginning are back for a while and they kindly played for us. We had a dance much like the pioneers would've had. The parents danced with each other and the kids took care of themselves. Some of the older kids would pick up little kids and twirl them around. Laughter was ringing in our camp. It didn't last long, but was long enough to boost our spirits.