June 23, 1997
Location: Sweetwater Station, Wyoming
Summary: Move out of Jeffrey City and into Sweetwater Station
Journal entry: Today I felt the need to not walk with the train and stay behind. Earl, a fellow who has been with us for several weeks, did not have a reservation to walk with the group today. Last night he tried to find anyone who would not be walking today, so he could take their place.
Earl came to us with a need to be here, yet with no understanding of why. He lives in Denver, knew there was a wagon train up here somewhere, felt like he should come, and thumbed his way up. He has been here ever since. He walks when he can find a vacancy and helps around camp when he can't. He is a cook and baker by profession and has been helping with the meals. I really had wanted to walk today, but when I woke up I knew I would not. I found Earl cooking hash browns and told him he could take my place. We arranged it with the check-in folks and at 7 AM the wagon train took off-- out of Jeffrey City, the mosquito town of the West. I stayed behind.
It is always strange to see the wagon train pull out and not be with them. I really wasn't sure why I didn't go, but I just follow my feelings and accept the consequences. When I went into the high school to use the latrine, I realized that our large group this weekend had left quite a mess.
Art (my honey) and I got what cleaning supplies we had and started in on the shower rooms. First we cleaned the mens showers and then the ladies. They are pretty good size shower rooms and it took us the better part of two hours. Fortunately, the fellow who has the keys to the building came by and gave us more brooms and rags and cleaning supplies. Ours were just not adequate. Next we tackled the gymnasium and basketball court. A good sister took a broom and swept all up along the bleachers while we got the floors.
The next area were the bathrooms in the front area of the school. They really needed a good cleaning. It did not take very long to do those, and we had a few other good folks helping. The floors were mopped in the front area where all the tables were up. So, I hope we left the school in good enough shape.
We cannot express our deep appreciation to the good folks of Jeffrey City for their hospitality. The school was surely a welcome place to all of us. It was a refuge from the clouds of mosquitoes that surely would have pestered us if we had had to be outside for meals and church. And Rick, we truly thank you for serving us the meals you did. You have a kindly heart "neath that tough exterior of yours. And your cafe serves a great hamburger and shake. If ever we come back this way, we'll be sure to stop. I was sorry I didn't get down to that other cafe for their ice cream. I heard it was really good.
As Art and I drove out of camp, he in the van and me in the RV, I marveled at the goodness of these people. They really are struggling with the economy of their town. I watched a booming uranium town wither and die in Southern Utah, just about the same time Jeffrey City experienced their decline. These folks are really trying to keep things going. I really admire their efforts. Their efforts are just to buy a fogger to spray for the mosquitoes so their children can play outside in the summer. I hope you accomplish your goals to purchase this machine. God bless.
We drove down the highway. About 5 miles out, I glanced out to the left of the highway, and there was the wagon train. It looked miniature. It was so small-looking and I wondered how such a small group of people----this tiny little train could have such power in what they were doing. The wide Wyoming expansiveness totally engulfed this tiny little train. I wondered how it could be so overwhelming to my life. What is the draw? What is the incredible staying power? I do not know. But it is there.
Down the road another mile were the handcarts and walkers. They are maybe 60 people strong today. It was like watching a tiny little parade in miniature. It is just amazing to me. In the front of the group was the usual American flag furling in the breeze. It is quite a sight. Dear Lexington, NE, scouts: Your flag is flying high, and on its way to Utah. Thanks, again.
Our camp tonight is in a field of sagebrush at the Sweetwater Station on the Sweetwater River. There is a cute little gas station and shop, an RV Park and a state rest area. And there are tons of mosquitoes. Our kids went for a swim in the river after such a dusty, windy day. There were a few other kids who went in, too. It really is a pretty place with the river flowing through. This is truly an oasis in the high mountain desert after going through miles and miles of sagebrush and dirt. I am amazed there just aren't any trees out in the sagebrush. So, you can imagine what a respite it is to see some trees and willows and a river.
Tomorrow we start several days over the land. I understand it is quite a desolate area with little water and cars may have a tough time getting in and out on those roads. It we have any rain at all, we are doomed til the roads dry out. We did have a few sprinkles today, so we are hoping for the best of weather. HappyNetTrekking!