May 24, 1997
Location: Ash Hollow (Lewellen) - 633 miles left, Nebraska - Location: 41:19:53N 102:08:36W (south side of the river. So named from a grove of timber growing on it. It occupies a space of about fifteen to twenty acres, and is surrounded by high bluffs.)
Summary: Lemoyne to Lewellen-Lake McCaunaghy, Deep Sand, Buggy Ride
Journal entry: I slept under the "stars" last night, but it really was clouding up. When I woke up, my sleeping bag and everything else was covered with a fine mist.
Our first three miles were the toughest, because we were travelling on sandy roads near the lake. The view was spectacular, with the lake on the left and the steep bank on the right. In front of us, the wagons stretched on into the distance. A couple of the wagons got bogged down, and a few of us men from the handcart company were mustered up to help push them out, since the mules and horses weren't making any progress.
The hardest part for us wasn't the sand, but our sheer numbers. We have had a lot of families join us for the Memorial Day weekend, and there were so many people walking on the narrow trail that it was hard to maintain a good speed with the carts and not run over people.
We stopped for a break at a lakeside grocery store, and the owners were soon mobbed by hungry pioneers buying up candy and soda pop. I took advantage of the break to find a pay phone and call my folks. Amy was there too, so they got to talk to her.
We eventually got onto asphalt and made good time for a few more miles until our lunch break. We had lunch near the lake. Amy and I sat down near Bob Lowe, a seasoned and rugged man who will be our wagon master when we go through Utah. He told us that he can't remember the first time he sat on a horse--he has been involved with horses for almost his entire life. He now runs a wagon and horse operation at the "This is the Place" park in Salt Lake. That park is our final destination.
I have been helping a man harness up his horse in the mornings. His name is Merv Bennion. He came here by himself and enjoys the company. In return, I have been learning a lot about horses. His horse is named April. She is a Tennessee Walker, and she pulls a side-spring buggy. It is a one- horse buggy with a convertible top -- one of the few buggies in the wagon train. I also help comb, feed, and give her water.
Merv doesn't like to sit in the wagon all day -- he likes to walk some for exercise, so he lets me and Amy ride while he walked the last part after lunch. Most people in the wagon train know we are engaged to be married, and we have had lots of volunteers to be chaperones. Some people even feigned shock when they saw us riding together in the buggy "unchaperoned."
Our campsite is at the county fair grounds in Lewellen. We went about 14 miles today. It will be nice to have the day of rest tomorrow to regain our strength.