June 2, 1997
Location: Mitchell, Nebraska - Location: 41:56:25N 103:48:29W Elevation: 3945 feet
Summary: I finish the day with Gretchen/A lot of rain
Journal entry: Gretchen finished all of her necessary items for the day, we shared a banana and we headed back to Mitchell for the night.
Gretchen feels like it has been a very successful day. She has located accommodations for the group, talked with local people and become acquainted with them as a contact person, and has accomplished her goals.
She has a wonderful spirit of the wagon train. She saw a need and filled it. She carries with her the gift of knowing a need, finding the right resources, graciously showing our sincere appreciation and moving on. She is a wonderful emissary of good. From all of us who are part of this train, from one who has enjoyed a nice shower at the end of the day, and slept in a dry place when the rains came, we truly thank you. You're a great one!
This afternoon the rains came. That is an understatement. The floods came. We had a lightening and thunder display and then the deluge hit. I have seen rainstorms like that very seldom in my life. We have been told we got an inch and a half of rain in half an hour, and with the continuous rain for the next six hours, it came to a total of between 3 and 6 inches in the North Platte River Valley.
People around these parts say they have never seen rain quite like it. The wagons sat in a lake at the Mitchell Fairgrounds and in the RV park we were in a swamp. The Union Pacific Railroad had a mile of track washed out and spent the next day repairing the ruins. (No trains ran all day!!!!!)
Fortunately, we had a dry place to go. We have seen so much rain through Nebraska and have always had a place to get in out of the rain. The people in each area were incredibly obliging and anyone could sleep out in the fairground pavilion building. Many people had a lot of drying out to do.
Tonight was a lovely program inside the pavilion. Many people from the wagon train gave us a taste of their talents. James Fairbourn gave an incredibly outstanding rendition of "Rawhide." That cowboy needs to sing some cowboy show's theme song. He says he gets his practice singing for all the folks on Alan's sag wagon as the train moves along.
Esther hada cute story about a pedigreed ham and Sank Flake sang a lonesome cowboy song with coyote calls in the background. We got a real chuckle out of the two Josephs and their coyote calls.
Then we also had a guest appearance from Ruby Washington. She and her husband came representing the Nebraska Mothers of the Year. Ruby was Mother of the Year in 1993 for Nebraska and the United States and the following year was Outstanding American of Nebraska. She has had over 250 teenagers living in her home over the years and now does donation drives for UNICEF. Ruby sang a few songs for us. What a powerful woman! We are going to have the honor of her entering the valley with us on the 22nd of July.
Those of us on the train for the distance, look forward with great anticipation to our arrival on the 22nd of July. I imagine we are not unlike the early pioneers who were in the midst of monotonous endurance, the day-to-day drudgery of walking, or riding, of putting up the tent one more time and taking it down, one more time. We frequently eat the same food day after day. Their food also was more monotonous, what little food some of them had to eat.
We have the pleasure of meeting new people on the train everyday and adding to our experiences with folks from all over the country. They...the same people. I'm sure life was not easy and the hope of their destination was such a driving force. Just as we talk about the arrival in the Valley.
And as we talk about the "trail" with so many visitors who come for a day or two, the more we realize that the spirit of the Mormon Pioneers and this Mormon Trek is being felt by thousands and thousands of people.
Most of you can only participate vicariously, for not everyone with the desire can actually be here. Only a lucky few can come and even fewer of us are the very fortunate to be able to go the entire distance to the Valley. That is why we feel entering the valley will be an honorary remembrance to the 70,000 Mormon pioneers who came before the railroads.
And as an even greater remembrance, we want to feel 70,000 people walk in their hearts, minds and spirit down the canyon with us. This is only a small note of gratitude to all of those courageous men, women, and children who braved the unknown to follow their convictions and their Lord and God. We invite you, if you feel the desire and the spirit to join us in your thoughts. You will know who you are. The spirit is undeniable and it will tell you to come.....and we will welcome you with love and open arms and we will cheer together as brothers and sisters as we enter the valley together. Feel you at the top of the Canyon!!!!
[Note from the editor: The invitation to enter the valley has to be to share the experience vicariously, since the wagon train would be denied entrance to the valley if more than just the train members attempted to trek down the canyon.
However, on July 23rd, everyone can walk from the This is the Place State Park along the Historic Trail with the wagon train as it heads towards the City/County Building. We'll get a map to post as soon as we know more details.]