May 8, 1997
Location: Elm Creek, Nebraska - Location: 40:43:10N 99:22:18W Elevation: 2262 feet
Summary: Kearney to some field out in the country between the freeway and the trainrails.
Journal entry: I went to bed quite late last night (after midnight). It was a cold night and would surely be a cold morning. As I snuggled down into my sleeping bag, I pulled my hat down over my eyes and pulled the covers over my nose. As I looked up through the little open space, a shooting star flew past (I made a wish). Beyond that was the big dipper-the only constellation I know. The sounds of the freeway combined with the low, melancholy wails of the train whistles was a reminder that the 20th century is alive and well. Those pioneers were hardy. They slept through similar cold nights. Maybe they too only knew the big dipper. They did not know the trains or freeways that I know, but I guess they didn't need to.
This is the area of the first buffalo sighting. In our devotional tonight, Mike read of this date 150 years ago. The Saints were a little further down the road and recorded seeing endless buffalo, so thick it looked as if the prairie was moving. I can't even imagine. I drove a ways up the little hills tonight and tried to imagine what it must have been like. Surely it was a sight to behold. In the distance was an old cabin, worn and falling apart. Surely if it could talk, what stories it could tell. I asked a women who lived close by if she knew about the cabin and she didn't. Too bad.
Pam Wilkinson, my friend from England, has a bad foot. Her toe is quite swollen and painful and red. The doctor suggested she ride for a day or two until it heals. So she has been enduring the cold on the wagons. She commented she has never seen the Platte River. Although we parallel the freeways, the train tracks and the river, we never get to see the river. So, we drove a short distance to the beautiful Platte River and took some pictures. It is a wide river. Everyone says it is low right now. I would hate to see it when it isn't low. And worse of all I would hate to cross it in a wagon. I can't imagine how frightening it must have been to cross, hoping your wagon doesn't tip over in the current, or that you don't have you or your loved ones washed under with the current. You would be wet and cold. How miserable. We keep track of miles. They kept track of rivers crossed.
We sang Come Come Ye Saints at our evening devotional. As we sang I remembered hearing the story in Kearney about the Mormon missionaries who were in a small town in Oklahoma. They were singing this song when an old Indian approached them and invited them back to his home. When they arrived he got out an old violin and started playing Come Come Ye Saints. This song, he said, is my song. When he was a young brave, his people were on the warpath with the palefaces. They hated the white men and held many raids on passing wagon trains. One evening the braves were hiding, and at the given sign would shoot their arrows at the little group of travelers. The white men under the direction of Brigham Young were sitting around the fire and began singing "Come Come Ye Saints." The sign was given for the braves to shoot their arrows, but nothing happened. The arrows did not fly. The braves all left knowing that the Great Spirit was protecting this group of travelers. The old Indian had made this song his song.
Before I close tonight I must mention a gentleman who has made our journey a little easier. His name is Chuckles and he rides a horse. He began with us in Omaha and rode for about two weeks. In these two weeks we walkers were having a lot of foot problems and weather problems. He did all he could to help and get us through. He bought a lot of meals, offered his home for showers and rest, and was just a wonderful friend. I still look for him at our evening meal, but I'm afraid we are getting too far away from his home to see him again. If you are reading this, Chuckles, remember we all love and appreciate you and your kindnesses. I hope we didn't set your pocketbook back too far. But knowing you, I'm sure you don't care. It's been a pleasure, Sir. HappyNetTrekking!