July 11, 1997
Location: Piedmont, Wyoming - Between Fort Bridger and Bear River Crossing.
Summary: Ft. Bridger to another sagebrush field called the Piedmont camp
Journal entry: How we hated leaving this beautiful place. We had nestled our motorhome back in a little grove of trees with beautiful grass all around. We had a nice soft place on the grass to put up our tent and there were no sagebrush lumps. I think everybody loved being at Ft. Bridger. Especially after our last month in sagebrush fields. We have truly been through the land of desolation. And I am getting tired of sagebrush camps.
Tonight was a sagebrush camp, only this one had a little variety--we were on hills. So, we all slanted. I drove our motorhome today and visited Ft. Supply. It is a cute little community called Robertson, nestled at the base of the Uintah Mountains. It was good to see pine and evergreen trees again. But I imagine that this place can get very cold in the winter.
Our wagon train stayed on mostly dirt roads today. It was a hard day, 24 miles. There were a few incidents along the way. A woman jumped out of a moving wagon (not a good idea), fell and probably broke her hip. They called in a lifeflight helicopter to take her away. It was only 25 minutes from the time it happened to when the helicopter arrived from Salt Lake. Talk about fast! A lot of credit has to go to Nancy, our resident EMT, who evaluated the situation quickly and got the right help here.
We also had a hard day for the walkers, who seemed to suffer more today from dehydration. There were, I understand, three people who required IV treatment from dehydration. It was just a long, tiring day. I watched them come in to camp and they looked exhausted. We try to remind people to keep drinking, but it happens so quickly you don't even know you are in trouble before it hits you. The walkers had to fight the wind today, too, and that can really dry you out.
Today I spent with the Check-in folks, Jerry and Jan Pierce. This job has got to be the most stressful job in camp! Check-in is supposed to be where people first come when they arrive at the wagon train. They then are directed to where they are supposed to be, or they are just checked-in to participate on the train. You would think that it would be easy to just simply check people in, but this job has become the catch-all for any and everything that happens in camp. It is really the center of the hub, and now almost everything goes through Check-in before going anywhere and Jerry and Jan are the lucky people to direct the traffic. They are helped by wonderful Judy Wilkinson who has assumed many titles and hats on the wagon train.
Jerry and Jan Pierce live in Taylorsville, Utah, and are close neighbors to the VanLeeuwens. Jan said when they heard the Van Leeuwens were coming to participate they really wanted to participate. About ten days before the departure date, they were asked if they would be the check-in van and be responsible for the wagon train registration. Their background of owning their own business and having to keep the records and do the accounting part of the business...you know that Jan has a great head for organization and records....and this was a must in order to assume the responsibility of the wagon train. Having only ten days notice, as soon as they agreed to do this, Jan said all of their personal responsibilities just fell into place. It was as if they were supposed to be here. I feel that they definitely had a place here on the wagon train.
I have been aware lately of where and when I see the Pierces out and about. I never see them! Jerry gets out a little among the train, but I never see Jan. When I visited with them today, I became aware!! In side the Check-In trailer, which is their trailer, and doubles as their home on the trail, is an office. It has some comfortable chairs, a nice couch, a table that has been transformed into an office, complete with a full-size computer and a lap-top. There are boxes around with all the registration information from the beginning of registration. There is a small area at the kitchen where I assume they sometimes get to fix meals and towards the back of the RV I could see the bedroom. Jan says that the oven makes a great filing cabinet. So, I guess this is really an office on wheels, that has a small space for them to live. To watch the daily in and out of people through their motorhome is really a sight. I think there isn't another RV in camp that sees so much traffic in a 24 hour period.
Jerry and Jan have five children and 18 grandchildren and I think they haven't seen too much of the family since the tenth of April. Their business deals with electronic temperature control. Jerry was originally asked to help with the handcarts, greasing and maintenance, but really has spent very little time since the first week doing that job. He is really busy with the registration area now.
In Nebraska, along with registration, Jerry and Jan were also in charge of daily reports that dealt with the train, including numbers counts and food vendors. Jan did most of the interactions with the food people through Nebraska. They now are in charge of all the financial interactions, including the bookkeeping and payment of bills. The food situation has since been turned over to Sister Walker since we entered Wyoming. She has done a great job Crystal helped a great deal in Nebraska with the distribution of the food and making sure the right people got fed.
Jan says that they also are the Information Booth. Sometimes it is at any and all hours of the day or night.....even when a sign is placed on the door requesting peace and quiet for a few hours. She says that there is no peace and quiet in her RV. The Lost and Found is located outside their door and that in itself is a giant task. The stuff they collect on a weekly basis is incredible and they frequently have to dispose of all the stuff when we get to big towns. Because check-in is usually during the afternoon and evening hours, Jerry and Jan almost never get to participate in any of the programs or activities. They have never been on the trail, as they drive from one campsite to another. In Jan's words, there is no life except what is here at her door.
When they first arrived in April to begin the incredible task of filing and organizing the schedule, Jan said she would frequently stay up all night long, trying to get the next days schedule ready. It was not unusual for her to get 2 hours of sleep a night. She says now she gets 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night, which is much better. While Jan spends most of her hours inside the motorhome, Jerry does most of the actual visiting and registration with the people outside of the RV. I have watched him with the people and he is a master with kindness and consideration. They are both efficient and organized in what they do. They have had very little help along the way.
Occasionally when things get really harried, volunteers come along to help. One of the most generous with her time is Judy Wilkinson. She has been with them right from the start and really is a help. I helped for a little while today, assembling wristbands and registering, but they are there all day, everyday. What a great team they make. Like I said, this is probably the most stressful job on the entire wagon train, and they are just doing their jobs quietly and efficiently. And they are still SANE. I think if this is the first view that the public has with the wagon train, we are in great shape. They are wonderful people!
I asked Jan how she feels about the wagon train. She really sees the people part of it, before they even get a chance to be on the train. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she told me, "This is an opportunity of a lifetime." Jan has a soft heart. She cried at the thoughts of having this over with and having to go home. She said she watches the handcarts and wagons come and go everyday and she can feel the Spirit of the whole venture. I commented that she really doesn't get much of a chance to get out and mingle, and probably not too many people even know her. That really wasn't a concern for her. She feels that no matter what her job is, if she can just be here and do her job, no matter what her job is, and do it well, she will be pleased with her accomplishments. What a lovely lady.
Jerry was outside and so busy today, I didn't get much of a chance to ask him how he felt about the wagon train. But if actions speak louder than words, he communicated his feelings well. He is happy to be here and shows it in his example of work. Thanks Jerry and Jan for a very inspiring afternoon of commitment. You are great people.