16.2 Miles today.
Saturday / Sunday Rest – For those of you who went to the bottom of the page looking for an update, I apologize and will be putting the latest updates at the top like I should have been all along.
I AM IN NEBRASKA… Yahoo! There were a number of times that I really didn’t know if I could make it or not but without adding up my zig zag miles, I have put around the first 300 behind me with around 1100 to go…Ouch! My 3 ½ weeks in IA have been painful but conditioning, wonderful but sometimes overwhelming. Some of my most unexpected surprises have come in the form of friendships in Iowa’s small towns and countryside. Take for instance, Macedonia, population 325. Upon first impression, it is a town that had its hay day 100 or more years ago with the small streets lined with once stately buildings that are now mostly vacated and in need of some paint, but just passing thru at 45 mph won’t let you get to know some of the most wonderful and trusting people that you have ever met. After stopping in the one room city hall and library to see if I could sleep in their neatly trimmed flower lined park, I got the royal treatment. The city clerk called Ruby Bentley, the town historian, to come and meet me. She drove in from her farm and she awarded me with a great hard covered history book about their town, which I loved. She then showed us one of Iowa’s most outstanding antique bird collections, the summer theatre building in the old implement store, and where one of the buildings on the main street used to be the Macy’s of the Midwest to shop at. They have a historical society and an arts council. She then gave us the keys to a number of buildings if we needed to use a rest room or if my escorts wanted to set up their air mattress in one of the buildings. I was then greeted by a number of curious residents and children and then the Mayor heard that I was in town and came over to visit me and we had a great conversation and he welcomed me and wished me well. Isn’t it interesting that this shell of a great town has all of the qualities that we all wished that we had in our own neighborhoods, where everyone leaves their door unlocked because there isn’t any crime. They give you the keys to anything that you need and you just leave them on the table when you’re finished and where everyone is friends. All of the things we wished that we had…. but that we move away from. This town is not unique to my travels. Towns like Newton, Colfax, Anita, Atlantic, Redfield, Adel, Brooklyn and the list goes on, are all varying degrees of what I just described. So if you want to make some new friends in just a short afternoon, travel the back roads of the heart of America…that’s where you will find some great people.
So to give you a bit of an update since last Sunday in Atlantic, the trail has taken me on a combination of paved and gravel roads and the gravel gives me difficulties like you don’t understand. I suppose that you can only mention and complain about the conditions so many times without beating a dead horse. My feet a doing much better but are just fatigued each night. My right knee gives me pain when I climb gravel hills all day long and my hernias seem to cripple me when I end of walking fast, other than that, I believe that my old body is slowly conditioning to this pace, even though I have been getting leg cramps at night recently and they are painful.
It is the most rewarding when I am on actual trail, be it paved or gravel. In my mind’s eye, I can see my grandmother with her six children walking these green hills with me. Whenever I find berries or a fruit tree, I can imagine them also being able to find the same food. You just feel closer to 150 years ago when you are out in the country and walking gravel, even though it extremely hard, that is what this is all about.
So after going through a few little towns and a lot of gravel roads, I needed to camp for the night but couldn’t find anything but a corn field, so I found a field that had just a small piece of grass tucked into the middle of this 7 foot high corn and that’s where I pitched my tent. Now my escorts left and went to a small town to sleep at the motel and left me to my wild imagination. I told you that had just slept in a cemetery a few nights before, but for some reason, I was more uncomfortable with the corn than the cemetery. This is the only night since I left that I took my gun to bed with me. I have a pistol that shoot small shot gun shells that I planned on using in WY if I could kill a rattlesnake for dinner, anyway, I pitch the tent, eat my meal, and crawl in with the “Children of the Corn”. Now if you have never seen “Children of the Corn”, you won’t appreciate my imagination, but for some reason, that is what stuck in my mind. Now corn, when the wind is blowing, makes a lot of noise. It’s pitch black outside, my head is stuck in this rattling corn, and….. and…..that’s right….4AM I can hear a noise that is not the corn and sounds like it is about 50 feet away. Now you have to understand that I have brought my Jack Russell Terrier with me and she hears the noise and starts to growl. The animal gets closer and is making this unique hissing growling sound that is unique only to a Badger of which I have seen and heard many times in Montana and a Badger is not an animal that you want to deal with under any circumstances. It sounds like he is searching/digging for food and getting closer to the tent so I pop the side of the canvas tent with my hand a couple of times to try and scare it away and the sound stopped. So I slowly untied the tent door and looked into the dark corn and saw nothing around any longer and uneasily laid back down and tried to get some additional sleep in the “corn field”.
On Wednesday the 1st, I walked two days in one so that I could get into Council Bluffs a day early so that I could take an additional day off and also to let my escorts go home to Utah for family business a day early. The hike was long and difficult. I even was given special permission to cross a bridge construction are that only had a culvert at the bottom of this ravine and the embankments were very steep, so steep in fact that I couldn’t pull the cart up the other side and had to have Shirley and Galin help push.
Upon arriving in Council Bluffs, I began the search for someone to escort me to Winter Quarters, since my escorts had just left for Utah. After calling everyone that had given me a contact number in the area, I had no one. I was resigned at that time to taking the cart apart and putting it in the truck and driving it the 16 miles to NE when all of a sudden there was a man standing at my truck window who was interested in the handcart and what was going on. Long story short, he volunteered to escort me the next 16 miles.
The journey on Friday to Winter Quarters was a good trek, long but fairly easy. I was interviewed by the channel 6 news out on the trail (go to: http://www.wowt.com/home/headlines/49887947.html) and it was a good piece. I then stopped at the Crescent gas station for some ice and there was three teenagers selling corn out of the back end of a truck and so I went over to try and find a way to get them to donate a piece of sweet corn to me. I started to tell my story and before I could finish, they wanted to know if I would accept 6 ears of corn and of course….yes. Then as I was continuing a discussion with these three enthusiastic entrepreneurs, they gave me 6 more! They have no idea how much that means to my stomach and taste buds. Thanks kids! You’re awesome…
Continuing West, I had to try and get away with walking 3 ½ miles on the 680 interstate and over the Mormon Bridge into Florence NE (Winter Quarters). No more than a ½ mile onto the interstate I was stopped by the Highway Patrol and said that I couldn’t walk across the bridge because it didn’t have a breakdown lane. After a few moments of pleading my case and what I was trying to do, he agreed to let me walk on the shoulder and then I needed to load the cart on the truck to cross the bridge, at least I would be able to continue. I then walked to the bridge and discovered that it had a breakdown lane and so I hustled across and got to walk the entire distance, including walking across the Missouri. I arrived in Florence around 5PM and was glad to be able to put a milestone of having IA behind me, but the awesome task of walking NE for the next 45 days!
The missionaries here at the Mormon Trail Center in Florence have been great. They have let me pitch my tent in the rear of the property and everyone has been so kind, especially Pres. Brewster who is in charge of the center. We shared some great conservations and he, in true pioneer fashion, offered me some charity and took me to the local store and let me buy some supplies for the coming days ahead. He purchased an onion, potatoes, carrots, 3 apples and some potato rolls. They will be consumed with gratitude. Everyone has been wonderful.
Rest… The rest for the last couple of days has been greatly needed for a body that was needing nourishment and repair. I spent my Sunday at church and had a couple of chances to speak about my experiences and it was very rewarding to share those moments. I also was invited by Mark Goodwin, a young man that I met the prior week out in Macedonia, to eat dinner at his home with this great family. He also invited his friends, the Williams, whom Katie Williams ancestor is one of the signers of the “Declaration of Independence”! What a great legacy. Go read about John Hart and the trials that he went through and eventual death for his participation in our freedom. What a wonderful meal and wonderful new life long friendships. Mark is a great musician by the way.
Also this evening, while getting things together for tomorrow at the Trail Center in Florence, I met a number of nice visitors to the area, but especially fun was meeting Alan and Debra Kimball from Woodinville WA, where I lived for almost 20 years. It was like a letter from home as we talked about all of our common friends. I told them to send my love back to everyone that I knew.
I’m walking tomorrow for the first time, unescorted because Shirley and Galin won’t arrive until Monday night. I should be alright, but we’ll see. I have to add additional weight to my cart tomorrow because the pioneers of 1856 had to re-supply themselves here in Winter Quarters (Florence) and so I will be adding another 100#.
Elk City NE 17.5 miles today.
I tried to walk two days into one so I could have next Sunday off, which I don’t have at the moment, because I don’t want to have to walk 14 days in a row with no rest. I came within a mile and a half, so it’s looking good. The temperature was close to 90 today and the humidity was close to 50%, so it was a struggle all day. My feet are not the problem anymore… it’s the hernia’s and my dead hand from pulling. Not sure what can be done. I was given deer meat yesterday as charity and so I cooked it all up tonight and had a deer burger. Believe me… it was awesome!
North Bend NE 14.8 miles today.
Just as a continuing note from Monday, Dave and Phyllis got up early with me and fixed me a wonderful breakfast before I left. Grapefruit, rhubarb sauce, scrambled eggs, bacon and english muffins. You have no idea how great that tasted. Dave said that this was the most excitement that he had at him home in years. He and his older cousins (in their 80s) get together once a week and don’t have much to talk about, but he said that now he will be the hit of the meeting. I loved their Golden Lab Macie. I think that she wanted to go to Utah with me.
Schuyler NE 15 miles today.
Flat pavement today with a wide breakdown shoulder to walk on to stay half way safe. Yesterday I had to re-route onto a gravel road just to keep from getting killed by all of the trucks. Even though it was easier pulling, the shift went from physical pain to mental boredom because there are no immediate goals that you are trying to accomplish, the mile after mile after mile of corn becomes a mental weight. You walk for hours and hours but you really don’t see a lot of progress in your forward movement because everything looks the same.
89 degrees today and about 50% humidity. Body is doing better because of the less stress in pulling. My right hand is starting to get some feeling back in it. The muscles in my lower back keep cramping and that is my only real problem at the moment.
I’m not exactly sure what is happening, but I have been writing information on here and save it and it doesn’t show up the next day. I need to figure out what’s up with that. With that in mind, I will re-tell how I got hit by my escort. I was walking into Fremont and all of a sudden I got bumped on the back of the cart and thought that Shirley was not paying attention, well the bump kept going and it pushed me into the ditch and I ended up rolling down the small embankment as I am watching Shirley (who had fallen asleep), continued to coast about another 50 feet down the shoulder until she woke up to find me behind her and in the ditch. She came running back and was very sorry but had just fallen asleep and the van just pushed me into the shoulder. No harm done. It was only a few miles per hour and so everything is ok, but I now will have to tease her about running over me when she is supposed to be the one protecting me.
I am getting eatin’ alive by mosquitos… I gotta go…
Columbus NE 16.2 miles today.
I got another blister on my foot today since the first couple of weeks and I’m not sure why but it will sure add to the discomfort of having to walk about 15 miles tomorrow. Today was flat pavement with a bit of a tail wind and so that helped. At least for the moment the terrain is flat and I appreciate that but at the same time there is little if nothing on the horizon to have a goal or destination to shoot for and so mentally it seems like I am going nowhere. All I see is mile after mile of corn with no real progress. So I have gone from tough, hard hills to mind numbing corn.
A friend of mine, Abby Parker, sent in an email to KSL and they have responded to me to do a piece for Pioneer Day, so tomorrow we are going to try and do a web cam interview. We’ll see how that goes.
Food is still a problem. I’m not eating very much because it is not what my body wants to eat. I haven’t eaten my full 12oz of bread/flour products since I left. I just can’t do it but I do drink a lot of water. I also make a blueberry drink with sugar and cold water that seems to taste pretty good.
Genoa NE 23.3 miles today.
I had Shannon Vavra from Columbus NE walk with me on Saturday for the entire distance. I was only scheduled to walk 16 miles but since the next leg was only 8 miles, we put the two days together and walked the full 23.3 miles and Shannon pulled the cart the entire distance except for the first 1/2 mile before he met me. It was great to be able to talk to someone for the entire day. It takes you focus off from the drudgery of the walk and just your own thoughts for mile after mile. Shannon is a young man that has been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for just a few years and so we had a lot in common to be able to share and discuss. I was really impressed with his attitude and his desire to always be learning. He pulled the entire distance because he wanted to have a one day experience of what it was like for those pioneers. He plays soccer and is in great shape but said that he was plenty sore the next day. It’s nice making new lifelong friends.
I gave a talk last night to a group of youth and adults from the Columbus Mormon church at my campsite. It was good to be able to share some of the history with the local kids. From this group, I might even get Kelly Haas and her mother to walk with me tomorrow. It would be good to have the company.
I have to get used to sleeping within earshot of the local train tracks until I get to WY because the train and trail follow each other fairly close and there are as many as 60 trains per night and they blow their whistle all through town. Genoa wasn’t too bad, but Columbus was all night long. I would love to have just one peaceful nights rest.
As for the food, I lost the remainder of the bacon that I was allotted to have. I had already lost about half of it from before because it had gotten wet sitting in the cooler and now the remaining amount also got wet. Since that was my only real treat and food that had any taste to it, I am disappointed at the loss, but as in pioneer fashion, I’m not able to replenish it now that it is destroyed. That stinks, but I still have a small amount of venison hamburger that I was given by the Williams family and I have appreciated every bite of it. I also had someone who had caught some catfish in the local river and brought me a few small pieces and I ate it with enjoyment. Just plain old friend catfish was awesome!
Everyone here in the Genoa and Columbus area has just been great to be around. Jerry and Nancy Carlson who are the local historians in Genoa, gave me personal tours of the Mormon Trails museum and the Indian School Museum. Genoa in the 1800s was the center of the Pawnee Nation and had as many as 10,000 Pawnee in this area where I am at; in fact, I am camped at one of the ancient tribal grounds. Brigham Young in 1857 brought in 100 families to help settle this area and use it as a replenish post for the pioneers going West but the government took it over and made it the Pawnee capitol. The Pawnee had as many as 1700 acres of corn growing in the area and Jerry, who is also a local farmer, brought me some of the same strains of original blue corn, red stripe flour corn and small ears of red popcorn that were all grown by the Pawnee. What a gift! They are all dried and each kernel can be planted for a new plant, but this is very rare and from the same strains as 150 years ago! That was great!
I am also sitting in the Genoa City Hall right now, as they have let me use their conference room and internet to try and update some of my web site info. Nice folks.
I did the KSL (Salt Lake City) television interview this morning via web cam. The piece is supposed to show on the morning of July 24th in Salt Lake just before or during their very large Pioneer Day Parade on television. It might be accessible to people via the internet also, but I’m not sure. You could probably request that they post it to the net.
As for the body… my hand has some feeling back but it is still very much dead and tingling. I still don’t have an answer for that. I have tried some different exercises but so far no luck. My hernias are what are the most painful and problems. My only answer there is to deal with it or get an operation, right now I am dealing with it. Feet are pretty good, my mind is always questionable, but it’s the craving for real food that is my biggest temptation. When I’m out in the country and walking gravel and there is nothing around then I do better, but like today when I am camping across from the local ice cream store….man it is tough! I love ice cream…
I don’t know if I have mentioned it before or not but as I have hour after hour to think, I torture myself with different meals that I would love to eat. At the moment, the top meal is the best fried chicken in the U.S. from Patty’s on Beale Street in Memphis. They marinate it overnight in a hot sauce and their breading is out of this world. I could eat an entire plate of just the breading if they sold it that way. Then I need to have my wife’s chilled macaroni salad. If you have never tasted it, then you just don’t understand. Next is my mother’s awesome potato salad and for dessert would be cold watermelon that had been chilling in Lower Seymour Creek, then my grandmothers German Chocolate cake (none in the world better) and finish it with my grandfather’s root beer float. You can see that I have too much time to think, but you don’t understand, I don’t just think of this meal, I am like the dog in Pavlov’s experiment. I think of this meal and I start to salivate…. seriously…. The problem is that three of chefs of the above desired items have passed on to the “other side”. The other thing that I am coveting is to sleep at the Marriott Hotel on the first couple of nights when I return. My daughter Autumn is a Supervisor for Marriott and so I stay there at a discount whenever I can and I L O V E their beds and after laying on the hard ground with just a couple of wool blankets for 4 months, I will be ready for a stay at the Marriott. There… now that’s not asking too much is it?
Also… if you live in the Salt Lake City area or have friends in the area, we are putting together a welcoming trek from “This is the Place” monument to a park downtown Salt Lake on the day that I return on Saturday, Sept. 26th. Because the handcarters were taken to this park in Salt Lake as their temporary resting spot, that is where we will end up at and everyone will join me (us) when I come out of Emigration Canyon into the valley. We hope to have people of every faith walk with us and we hope to have hundreds participate. It will be great! So come join us, come be part of history and help me to make this a great last couple of miles. I will keep you updated as we get closer. In case anyone has any connections to any officials or notables in the SLC area, or would like to help us put this all together, please let me know. We could sure use the help. Email me at email@example.com. If an old guy at 60 years old can pull 217# over 1400 miles, you need to put on your tennis shoes and come walk the last couple of miles with me. You’ll enjoy the walk… really….
Fullerton NE 16.3 miles today.
I had to walk today after having only a couple of hours of sleep last night. I got into another one of those NE storms with the lightning, rain and wind. It eventually tore down about half of the tent, so I laid there with a pool of water at the bottom of my feet and the walls collapsed and waiting for the rain and wind to let up so I could go out and fix the tent stakes. All I want is a good nights rest. I didn’t fall asleep until around 4AM and then to walk 16 miles today was a real effort. I had no energy at all.
The weather was overcast until around 11AM and then it got up to 92 degrees. I was thankful that I had the advantage of walking on pavement today. Tomorrow will be a killer. It will be my longest day yet at around 24 miles and half of it will be gravel roads. When I walk the gravel, that handcart just feels like an anchor. Feet are doing well and I am still losing weight. I get to eat a couple of ounces of rice tonight for only the second time since I have been walking. I will put some powdered milk and some sugar on it and imagine that it is rice pudding.
I thoroughly enjoyed my stay in Genoa and loved the wonderful people there. It is rich in history.
Also, I forgot to mention that when I was in North Bend, that Darrell Ritenour, who owns the Corner Cafe, treated me to my last breakfast on the trek. He served up a plate of biscuits and gravy that was huge! And I appreciated every bite. So if you ever get to North Bend NE… the Corner Cafe is the place to eat, especially the Sunday buffet.
Palmer NE 24.7 Miles
Where do I start? Last night after I updated the web site, I had a couple of very nice older ladies want to visit because they saw the article in the Columbus newspaper and they drove down from St. Edward (?), a total of 50 miles round trip to see the handcart and meet me. It was about 10:30 before they departed and I was tired. Then after that, I was sleeping in the city park in Fullerton and apparently that is where all of the local teenagers congregate until around 1AM and so I thought that now I would be able to go to sleep, but the park was about ¼ mile from a feeding yard for cows and all I heard all night was a lot of mooing noisy cows. Aren’t cows supposed to go to sleep at night?
So this morning came too early. I ended up walking my longest day today at nearly 25 miles! Everything that is on my body hurts and partially because I ended up pulling 8 miles in the deepest sand and gravel that I have been in to date. It was miserable… and there were small rolling hills for most of the day. I ended up pulling for 12 hours and as soon as I finish this, I am going to sleep, which by the way, my tent is still wet from the storm two nights ago and of course, wet canvas has its own flavor of stink. After that I was getting back.
The food situation was good today. I found Choke Cherries along the road and filled a cup with those and Mulberries. I ate my allotted 12oz of bread today for the first time in a long time. I also had an apple that I had been saving, 1oz of jerky a couple of cups of milk, so today was a decent day for food.
Also, today I got a farmers shower. I saw one of the many huge sprinkler pivots that have been watering the corn for the last month and one of them was shooting water out on the gravel road so I waited for this blast of water to drench me and…. Man…. was it C O L D… I’ve jumped in mountain lakes that weren’t that cold. So I enjoyed myself by standing in this enormous sprinkler. Oh.. and Bessie loves the water and had a blast chasing after the king of sprinkler heads…
I have to retire. I am so maxxed, it’s hard to even think….
Grand Island NE 24.5 Miles
Pulling this handcart almost 50 miles in the last 2 days has taken its toll on my joints and everything else that has a moving part. I put two days into one so I could have a day off on this coming Monday because I am scheduled to do so media, etc., at the Archway monument in Kearney, so I will need the extra time.
The day started off with some threatening clouds on the horizon and within an hour, I was getting dumped on. I thought that I would deal with it, as the pioneers did, and within moments, I was soaked to the bone. It was coming down so hard that I could hardly see, so I stood under a tree for a moment, but that didn’t help, and then I squatted under my handcart, but the wind was blowing the rain in sideways. So here I am kneeling on my arthritic knees in the pouring down rain, soaked and cold and now the lightning started. I saw no end in sight, so I took cover inside of my truck until it let up and then started walking again, only this time I was soaked and cold. I’ve lost some weight and my suspenders were the only thing holding up my pants that now weighed twice as much. Then within a couple of hours, it was sunny again and now I had 80% + humidity. My clothes dried out, but my shoes and socks never did and so I developed new blisters from walking in wet shoes all day.
I thought that I would never get here. I pulled for around 13 hours and by the time I got to a place that we could sleep, set up my tent and eat, it was dark. I am typing this on the following morning just because I couldn’t even move last night. So I am starting out late today, at around 10AM but my day is only around 16 miles, so hopefully I can make up the time. I had a glass of powdered milk this morning for breakfast and it tasted like a milkshake to me.
By the way… here is the next meal that I have been craving. A fried egg sandwich with real cheese melted on top and three pieces of extra crispy bacon on top of that. Put some butter on one side of the toasted whole wheat bread and mayo on the other and add a large glass of cold milk and hmmmmmm… and I can’t wait. And…. If I were out in the country a little bit, I would be having turkey tonight. There have been 3 toms and a couple of hens in our camp site all night and I would have shot one, but the good citizens of Grand Island might not appreciate me shooting up the local park. So… lets think about this, if I could have shot one but didn’t, doesn’t that mean that I can have some turkey from the store? I think so… maybe just a little bit. Hmmmmm….
Hi, your a brave soul Donna Wahl is in my ward….I had an ancestor in the handcart co. Best of luck..Comment by judy ploghoft — August 1, 2009 @ 12:12 am