May 21, 1997
Location: Paxton, Nebraska - Location: 41:07:27N 101:21:21W Elevation: 3054 feet
Summary: Through open prairie and into Paxton.
Journal entry: We traveled through real open prairie today - 5 miles of non-existent or barely existent roads. It was up and down the hills and across the fields. This week the trek is host to all sorts of media. As we traveled through the prairie in our wagons and pushing carts, 4-wheel drive vehicles zoomed over the terrain. They were everywhere. They would get a shot and then go ahead a few miles and set up again. I'll bet from the sky we were a funny sight. The train probably looked like a single file ant colony changing living quarters with all these weird colored little bugs zooming from place to place watching the move. I talked with Les Hill, one of the drivers for the CBS crew. He is sixteen years old and he said he was having a ball. One reporter commented that she wondered what the car rental agency would think if they could see them now. Media was certainly not a concern of the early pioneers. That would have been nice.
Today I learned the value of our outriders. The outriders are hardy souls who ride horses. They are there, I'm sure, for their own pleasure, but they perform an invaluable service to the train. When a teamster has a problem with his wagon or his team of horses or mules; or if he drops a rein and loses control; actually any number of things could go wrong, the outriders are the first ones there to help. They can ride up in a hurry, jump off their horse, and settle down a frightened horse. They pick up stuff from the trail that may have fallen off a wagon or any number of services.
Unfortunately, today, one of our outriders had a pretty scary accident. The prairie is full of big holes. They are prairie dog holes or snake holes. We were doing the five mile open prairie stretch and there were lots of holes. Walter, from Lincoln, was just walking his horse beside a wagon when his horse stepped in a big hole, did a somersault, and Walter ended up beneath his horse. He laid there in a great deal of pain to his right hip and leg. Everything said it was a fracture. There were many trained medical people around. Walter was put on a board, his leg secured and one of the TV crews took him back to the hospital. As of tonight the word is that he is OK and will be back on the trail tomorrow. Probably with a very sore leg, but nothing permanently wrong. His horse is fine.
We had another incident. One of our buggies with a single horse got into a little trouble today. Through some of the really sandy places, the horse spooked, reared up, and fell over on his side. The horse landed in such a way that the buggy pinned him. The outriders came to the rescue. The horse was unstrapped, rolled over and stood up. Fortunately, neither rider nor horse were hurt. From then on, this horse was tethered from both sides and outriders were there to guide the horse through the terrain.
Outriders are assigned to the people wagons and the handcarts, too. They are there to help and go get help in a hurry, if needed. I have not met all of the outriders, but I can name some of them. There is James and Sank Flake, Esther and her niece LaToya, Russ Leger is outriding. Chuckles was a great outrider. He watched out for us. And Bruce, too. Walter is an outrider and Canada rides beside Shauna's wagon. (She has some very nice daughters). There are a lot of outriders. I just haven't gotten to know them all. But I hope to. And we have people coming and going all the time. They say it is just fun to have ridden along the Mormon Trail if only for just a day or two or more. We sure appreciate you comin' along and being with us for whatever time you can spare. Today was a very windy day. I'm sure the folks in the wagons were cold. The dust really flies and I was constantly wiping my eyes to clear them. They say the weather will probably be this way for 3 or 4 days. I guess if you know what to expect, you can prepare.
We are always grateful for the hospitality of each town we come to. These little towns all along the way have welcomed us. They invariably have opened up their high school shower rooms for us to clean up. They cook our meals, and entertain us with some of the local talent. Our genuine thanks to all of you. When I see how wonderful the heartland of America is, I know that the rest of the country is probably just as good. We are truly a blessed country. HappyNetTrekking!