Saturday, August 16, 2008

Pioneer Children Sang . . .

as they walked and walked and walked . . .

Last week Phil and I finally went on the trek that we have been planning for a year with the youth from church. Forty-one of us drove to the Middle-of-Nowhere Wyoming (which is a title that could be claimed by most of the state) where we picked up and loaded our handcarts before dragging them around on dusty trails and through streams for three days. We were following a portion of the route that was travelled by the ill-fated Willie and Martin Handcart companies in the summer and fall of 1856. I read a lot of history before we left and was pretty familiar with many of the stories. I had already cried several times as I read about what those people endured, but being up there, and seeing the places where they walked was a bit surreal. I was reminded of a few things while I was out there:

  1. Going without a bath or washing my hair for four days is about three days too long. Ick

  2. If you find yourself at a gas station with a group of 40+ other people wearing somewhat traditional pioneer garb, you will get stared at, even in Wyoming. I think some of those old farmers thought they were being invaded by polygamists. (I say "somewhat" traditional because the girls did the long skirts and bonnets but I opted for t-shirts and tennies instead of what the real pioneers wore. Phil did suspenders which was an experience for him. Apparently they work great, until he sat in a car for a five hour drive and then they kind of work too well, if you know what I mean. Tee-hee.)

  3. My body is getting older by the minute. Every day I am reminded in some small way that I can't do what I used to do. That stinks, by they way.

  4. Teenagers aren't so bad after all. I have kind of a love-hate relationship with the boys at church. I love my girls, but the boys drive me out of my mind sometimes. Every one of them impressed me on this trip and gave me reason to be optimistic about the future of this world.

  5. Heavenly Father loves all of us. Next time you find yourself with a moment alone to reflect, think about that. Really think about it. I have a feeling that He will let you know that He is aware of you and that He loves you a lot. Who doesn't need that reminder?
I'm not sure what Phil is doing here, but it appears that they managed to convince him that he was an ox. He clearly didn't understand the whole "handcart" concept.

This was our first river crossing. Our boys actually carried the girls who didn't want to go on their own. Way to go guys. When the Martin Company did this, the water was waist deep and full of ice.

The women's pull. All the men climbed to the top of this hill and left the handcarts for us to pull up so that we could get a glimpse of what so many of the pioneer women had to go through after their husbands were called by President Buchanan to join the Mormon Batallion during the U.S. war with Mexico. That's me in the middle pulling the last handcart up the hill.

Martin's Cove. Many people died and were buried here after being caught in an early storm in October, 1856.

After our group left Martin's Cove, I stayed behind, sat on this bench and just thought about some things for awhile. Wasn't it Winnie-the-Pooh who taught us that we all need a good "thinking place"? That silly ol' bear is pretty smart.