May 20, 1997
Location: Maxwell, Nebraska - Location: 41:04:44N 100:31:28W Elevation: 2711 feet
Summary: Jeff Payne - the computer ace - gives his report of the trail.
Journal entry: [Jeff Payne joined the trek for a couple days while helping work out some of the troubles with poor cell phone service. Margaret asked him write about his experience.]
First the old style entry:
Boy I'm not sure I remember how I was talked into givin' up my horse to pull a flat lander's handcart. But here I am walkin' pretty much at the end of the line eatin' the "trains dust" and watching out fer road apples. This wagon train sure has some special people on it, and its great to get out of the mountians and meet them.
Walkin' along here I listen to the jangle of the tack, and the crunch of the carts smashing rocks, then suddenly over that the girls begin another song. This child's in no shape to be singing (not to mention that everyone would high tail it if I did), but their singing sure makes the trail easier, and a better place. There is nothing like pullin' a cart that can make you appreciate your horse and mule.
Now Jeff's more modern one: [grin]
When I arrived at Gothenburg my first task was to locate Margaret Clark, not an easy one since she's quite a busy person. I searched much of Tuesday night with out success, and finally decided to begin again on Wednesday morning.
I arrived about 8:30 am and began my search (she doesn't leave many tracks to follow), and about 9 am I found Danny Whitaker. He'd not seen Margaret, but had an idea where Wendy Westergard was, so we went searching for her. Finally finding Wendy in the primitive camp, I introduced my self, and the three of us (Danny too) got aquainted. It was decided that I'd hang aroung a bit and let Wendy get some things (like laundry) done, though I believe she never got the chance that day.
About 20 minutes later I met Margaret, I'd talked to lots of people to get help finding her, and all of a sudden there were people hollering Jeff, or Margaret, and indicating the other of the two. It was really kind of funny. It turned out that Margaret was in a hurry to answer an emergency phone call (her nephew was in a serious accident), but that we'd meet up in a few minutes. Finally after learning that while her nephew's injuries were bad, but that he'd be ok, we got to work.
Margaret is quite a person, she's balancing home concerns, reporting duties to the news paper in Cedar City, Utah and sharing her feelings with us on the web. She'll probably never tell you but she's doing the re-enactment as primitively as she can, even avoiding asprins, inspite of some pretty sore blisters. You should also know that Danny's, Margaret's and Wendy's personalities all match the impressions I had from reading their journal entries. I quite enjoyed meeting them, and would jump at the chance to spend more time with them.
Thursday was Wendy's 20th birthday, and I began suggesting that she be dunked in the watering trough on Wednedsay. Well they didn't use the trough, but I understand she was dunked 15 times in the lake. After leaving my car in Brady, Margaret and I travelled back to Gothenburg so that I could walk the 15 miles back with the train. On the way we saw Danny about three miles out of Gothenburg, working on making a walking stick. The thing is he'd picked one up the forked about a foot above the ground, and would have made quite a large sling shot, rather than a good walking stick, we had quite a laugh thinking about it.
I pulled one of the hand carts for about 12 miles of the 15, to Brady. Wendy and her parents were right in front of us, along with a family who has six kids, ranging from about 11 down to 2 years old. Man now that's dedication! I quite admire the parents who have their children on the wagon train, especially the ones with the hand carts.
Though the largest impression came from the determination, and largly good attitude of the children. To travel that far, and still be smiling, playing, and teasing was really neat! Every so often Wendy would get the kids to sing a song, along with actions, or she'd grab a cart and hurry in along the trail. Several times I saw her pick up a small child, or help one find new determination to walk after becoming tired.
Over all I'd say that while there are many diffrences in the wagon train of today, and the one our ancestors were in; the love, determination, desire for success, and spirit are the same.
If you get the chance to join, even for a day, do it! If not, then believe not only the words your read, but the feeling behind them. Because these are great people, and I'm happy to call them friends.