June 12, 1997
Location: Glenrock, Wyoming - Location: 42:51:41N 105:52:18W
Summary: Natural Bridge to Glenrock - a hot walk - but not for me.
Journal entry: Since I stayed at Glenrock for the night I had to get a ride back to camp to start the day. Fortunately, there were plenty of rides. We left at 6 am and got there just in time for the meeting. I asked Larry Walker if I could ride with him in the bus today and visit and see how he likes his position with the wagon train. He was pretty gruff about it, but agreed.
Now, if you take a peek at Larry, he could sort of send shivers down your spine, cause he's kind of tough and scary lookin'. He's a big, tall man with a lot of hair and a long, greying beard. He wears sunglasses and a big hat all of the time, so you are really lucky if you see any of his face at all. Most of the time he just speaks his mind right out so you have to be prepared. Most of the time, though, he is just joshing and kidding around so you just try and josh and kid right back. I think under that rough exterior, we have your teddy bear cowboy. Larry, I really enjoyed my day with you, you old soft toughie.
Larry and Leon Wilkinson have been friends for a long time. I guess since High School, and that was ages ago. Right, Larry? I asked Larry how he ever got roped into doing this job for the wagon train. He said that Leon asked him, "but not before he fed me breakfast." I asked if it was a good breakfast and Larry said, "Yup. Pancakes and sausage. It was down at the fire hall. And I didn't even have to pay for it." He finished this conversation with, "Yup, I'm up for a bribe." I chuckled.
Larry and his wife, Wanda, live in Iowa. We sure have a lot of good people on this train from Iowa. Larry drove long distance truck for over 25 years and was asked to drive the school bus. He asked if it was a temporary or permanent job. They said it was permanent. He's been driving a school bus ever since. I heard several stories about the kids he gets on his bus. I could faintly tell that Larry wasn't just any school bus driver. He really cared about his kids.
Today, after the walkers' bags, tents etc. were piled on the bus, we took off for Glenrock. At the next campsite we unloaded what was a half-full bus of personal belongings. Then we turned around, filled the bus with gas, and headed on down the freeway to do end-of-the- train duty. The wagon train had left camp and come over the land for several miles. We met them at one of the freeway exits. They were having a potty break.
Today's travel is unique in that there were no other ways to get down country except take the freeway. This is a big headache and worry for the bosses, I'm sure. The highway patrol were out in force both at the front and end of the train and we had an emergency support truck, also. Larry positioned the bus at the end of the walking group.
The wagons took off first with their patrol vehicles. Then the walkers and handcart groups came. Today was hot and walking on pavement can really tire people out. We started getting stragglers early. The bus filled up quickly. Larry always encouraged people who got on the bus to go to the rear and get a drink first thing. Pretty soon he got a few people trained to automatically get new riders a drink. He was so kind to the little children. He always encouraged them and told them they did a good job and it was OK to ride. Lots of times they would get on, get cooled off with a drink, and go right on out again. Many of them stayed on the bus for the rest of the day.
I don't remember Justin getting on the bus, but when I turned around and looked at him, I knew he was in trouble. He sort of had a glassy-eyed stare and he wouldn't talk to me. I told him to come and sit by me. He was cold and clammy and sweating like crazy. I took off his drenched hat and shirt. Larry gave me a towel and we soaked it in water and rung it out. We put that around him. He said he was so hot and that he was sick to his stomach. His face was a pale, chalky white. I got him to drink some sips of his almost full canteen of water. He wasn't a drinker, I could tell that. That was probably when he got into trouble. He wouldn't drink. It was constant encouragement. None of this seemed to be helping. He still looked really bad and he wouldn't talk. I remembered a bottle of juice I had brought, so I tried that to see if he would drink it. It was one of his favorite juices. He drank it all On the next water break for the group, I got some Gatorade and put that in his canteen of water and he sipped on that. It was probably a good two hours before he really came around. In the afternoon, he wanted to go back out and walk again. I had to practically tie him down to keep him on the bus. It was really a good sight, however, to see him a little more lively. Mark got on in the afternoon and we had to do the same routine with him. It was a HOT day!
Larry kept his patience pretty much. He wouldn't allow any messing around or monkey business, but he was kind about the people who were getting hot and tired out on the trail. He observed everything and everybody. Not much got past him.
Larry has done a lot of work with the Boy Scouts...so he has got to be a good guy.
I asked Larry what the magic of this wagon train was for him. He told me that his great grandfather travelled the Oregon Trail. He had left his family behind in Iowa and wanted to see if there was opportunity for them in the West. He was a young man. I guess he fell into the Snake River and subsequently died of pneumonia. Larry said the only thing his family got back from his death was his horse, his watch and his gun. Larry would sure like that gun of his great grandfather's.
Well, one of the last things I asked Larry is what he was going to do about retirement. He said that you work and work all your life, you retire and then you quickly plop over dead. He said that just wasn't the answer. So, what is the answer? I queried. I, of course, thought his answer would be....Don't retire. Not Larry. No sir. His answer, "Don't work." I could see the corners of his mouth turn up a little (cause you sure can't see anything else on his face).
Another thing I learned about Larry. We're related somewhere back there through the Fouts line. All he could do is groan. I just laughed. Ha! We're cousins!!
It's been a great day, Larry. A heckuva lot of fun. I just want you to know, you old softie, that I can see under that tough hide of yours, and I sure do appreciate what you do for us. After the rest of the wagon gets in to camp, Larry still has to shuttle people back to the last camp for their cars. Sometimes it takes two or three trips. That can take hours. It is a thankless job and sometimes you have to sit there and listen to rude people. Larry's comment about that was, "My new boat is lookin better all the time." We hope you stay to the end, Larry.
We've had two other drivers. Buddy was with us til he broke his shifting arm. Then Mary took over for a couple of weeks till Larry got here. They are angels to us. I hope all three of you know we really appreciate you.
Tonight the Glenrock LDS Relief Society ladies came and gave a program for our women's group. They had lovely refreshments for us and had made individual souvenirs for each of us with scriptures or quotes on them. Thank you so much. Unfortunately the meeting was cut short by a huge wind storm followed by rain most of the night. I am getting sick. Everyone has had bronchitis and I think it is my turn.
Oh well HappyNetTrekking!