We survived! And we loved it. It was a great experience - and, as one of our "children," Kyle, said today, we're homesick for it. :)
Now not all of it was fun of course - I mean, pushing a handcart on a sandy trail in the hot, hot sun is not fun exactly. But worth it. And overall the trek was definitely fun. Just being around those kids was fun. Just listening to them talk, tease each other, etc. It was great. Seeing their friendships develop was awesome. Hearing their testimonies of the trek was neat. Being with Ben was fantastic. Trekking the same ground where the pioneers had been was special. And so forth.
I'm going to write about each day for my "journal" and memory.
We met at the church at 5am. Which didn't seem so bad since it was originally to be 4am. I felt lucky! We left by 5:30 and then picked up more kids in Delta. From there we began the long journey to Wyoming. On a school bus. No, I'm not kidding. It was . . . miserable. I got pretty sick and about twice thought I was going to throw up. But I didn't. At our lunch break the "families" were announced. We found out who our children were - one came from our ward, the rest from the stake. We knew a good handful of them. We finally got to our destination by around 3:30 or so. We had some orientation, gathered our supplies, got a handcart, and began our trekking. It was about 3 miles to our camp - on a sandy, windy trail. We got to camp, set up our tents (go girls in always being the first to set up their tent - yeah, it was totally easier than the boys'!), and had dinner. We then had a contra-dancing activity and that ended up being totally fun. I could have done it all night. :) It was especially cool when I was paired up with the tallest boy (and probably male) there - maybe 6'6 or more? He was practically on his knees. Awesome. We then had a fireside by one of the senior missionaries serving there. Then we went back to our campsite and had a little fireside for our own family. Then bed. Ben and I slept great that night!
We got up and took down our camp and ate breakfast (our meals were all provided and made for us - we were totally spoiled, I know). We trekked over to Martin's Cove and had to listen to another missionary share a pioneer story. I was miserably bored. But that's how I get when I'm bored: miserable. :) But, seriously, it was just sooooooo long. And most of us had done some research of the pioneers and had known most of these stories anyways. And it was hot just sitting there (walking created a breeze). As you might can tell, Tuesday was rough for me. We'd trek, then have to listen to a story, trek, sit and story, trek, sit and story. I think we all just wanted to go and DO. Not sit. We did the sweetwater river crossing - but had quite the opposite emotions of the Willie and Martin Pioneer company. We were looking forward to getting wet and cooled off! I joked that I might just "accidentally" trip and fall in to the water. The water was also only inches deep. We finally trekked back to our starting point on Monday, cleaned up the carts, loaded the buses, and were off to another part of the trail. Again, I felt sick on the bus and when getting out in the hot, hot sun. I got no relief from the heat. We had an orientation to the "Rocky Ridge Trail" and then rode the bus to our campsite for the night. We set up camp, had dinner, the kids hung out for a bit, then we went to bed. Ben and I slept so-so that night.
This was our big trek day along the Rocky Ridge Trail. It was about 15 miles or so. Prayers were answered as we had a cloudy day - we even got a big rainstorm on the trail! It was a fantastic day. I loved it and I think the kids did, too. Our family just stuck together and had some really great times. We did the women's pull - where the men all leave and go up the trail and thus leave the women to pull/push the handcarts on our own. It was a neat experience, yet, for me, I couldn't get over the fact that we had 6 women pulling/pushing and we only did it for like 1/4 of a mile. Next time I would suggest doing it for longer to make us suffer. :) But it was pretty sweet to see all the men as we got to the top of the hill. It was a really special experience for the kids, as most of them mentioned it in their thoughts and testimonies that night. The rain storm was pretty big - the rain pelted us. We got a better glimpse of how cold it could be up there. A glimpse, a very small glimpse. After 10 hours on the trail, we made it to camp. It was a beautiful spot and we had a beautiful sunset there.
We were so impressed with our "kids." They were just great. We didn't need to direct them or anything - they took care of it themselves. They really banded together and usually they were all either pushing or pulling. We had Kyle, a young man with cerebral palsy, in our group and so we had one handcart and one rickshaw where Kyle sat. So all of our family was needed pretty much at all times. These kids, and not only just ours, are just neat. I am impressed with their goodness - they had good, clean fun. They were goofy, made up the silliest nicknames for each other, teased each other - but it was all good, clean fun. I loved it and they seemed to, too. Most of them didn't really know each other - but they became really good friends. They were super helpful with Kyle, too. Two girls in particular, Kellie and Alyssa, really befriended him and took him everywhere in his rickshaw. They were awesome like that.
Anyways, after our trek we went to camp and set up our tents. We had dinner, another fireside by some missionary couples, then we went back to camp and the kids got letters from home delivered to them. After they read them we went with another family and had a testimony meeting with them. It was great hearing the kids share their thoughts. They all really spoke about the many "spiritual" experiences they had had and how they loved it and all that good stuff. Quite a few of the kids mentioned Kyle and the impact he had on them. It was great. Then we had s'mores and the kids just hung around and chatted. By 11 we rounded up our kids and had them get to bed. The girls' and boys' tents were pretty close to each other and it caused for some funny stuff. Alyssa started saying, "Brian," wait maybe 10 seconds, "Brian," wait 10 seconds, . . . until Brian finally replied, "What?!" "Tickle Quinn." "No, he's asleep!" "Brian," wait 10 seconds, "Brian," wait 10 seconds, . . . "What?!" "Have Hayden tickle Quinn." "No, he's asleep!" This went on for a bit. It's probably one of those "you had to be there" things, but it was so funny. Ben and I were just laughing in our tent. But finally I had to say, "Alyssa, keep your talking inside your tent, please." To which the boys yelled, "Thank you!" Fun stuff. But Alyssa is super cool and mature and so when I told her sorry in the morning, she was cool with it. :) Ben slept really great that night; I slept pretty good.
We got up early. Starting packing up, eating breakfast, etc. We then had another missionary thing (I'll try and hold my comments) and then another stake testimony meeting. Truthfully, I didn't think we needed another testimony less than 12 hours after the one from the night before. . . but kids got up and so, of course, it was a good thing. But I must be a little anal and take after my dad somewhat because I was all anxious that we were late. And we did end up leaving over an hour late. Which was fine, but I had also had hopes of getting home a little early and maybe seeing some of our kids. But the trip home was a long 11-hours. Though I had fun, played some games with the kids, and didn't get sick. Wahoo. We got back to the church around 10:30 or so.
Then we came home and visited with Jim for a bit. Then showered. Then bed. Luckily Ben didn't have to leave for work until 9:30 so he got to see the kids - which was good because he had a late day at work and didn't come home until close to 7pm.
As for things here at home, all was well. Or at least that is what Jim and Diana said. :)
I definitely missed my kids and being around them and just talking to them. But it was also definitely okay and was even nice to get away. I think it was a nice break for Ben and me, as well as for our kids. I'm not so sure it was a nice break for Jim and Diana - but we sure appreciated it!
Here are a few pictures I took of the trek:
Yes, I think it's something I would do again in 4 years. We'll see!