A couple of months ago, Adam and I were asked to participate as a Ma and Pa couple in our stake's upcoming Faith Quest handcart trek activity in August. We will be traveling to Martin's Cove in Wyoming and pulling handcarts along the original Mormon Trail. We will be walking and pulling handcarts for three days--about five miles the first day, eight miles the second, and fifteen miles on the third day. I am so excited and thrilled and honored that they would ask us to participate. I know there are many, many people in the stake who were hoping they would be asked to go with the youth. We have been assigned to lead about ten youth in our little 'family.' They are young but seem excited about this great adventure. I can hardly contain my own excitement at the prospect of being out on the trail again. In 1997, I, along with two friends, joined the Mormon Trail Wagon Train Reenactment at Green River, Wyoming. We walked the last 200 miles of the trail which ended in the Salt Lake Valley. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. It was also one of the hardest and most painful experiences. We walked 5 to 27 miles a day through dirt, sand, 100 degree heat, rain, wind, mountains, streams and sagebrush. My face always had a thin layer of trail dust and the scent from the sagebrush was so intense at times that it made me choke and cough. It was absolutely amazing and I loved (almost) every minute. Even now, looking back and remembering how hard it was, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. My one regret is that I didn't start with the wagon train at the beginning in Omaha, Nebraska. I would love to have the opportunity to take Adam and my kids on another reenactment. Maybe someday. There really aren't words that capture the feeling and spirit of the trail. That probably sounds cheesy but it's true nonetheless. It was the adventure of a lifetime. There were many non-LDS people who had joined the trek simply to participate in an incomparable journey. There's nothing quite like being taken to your physical limits on almost a daily basis. I learned to rely on Heavenly Father and the strength and optimism of my friends to get me to the next hill, the next few feet, the next rest stop, the next camp site. We leaned on each other for support because who else do you turn to when you're out in the middle of nowhere, miles from civilization? We were like a traveling Zion-- a Zion on wagon wheels, so to speak, sharing and helping where we were needed, although I was usually always on the receiving end. Perhaps I am romanticizing my experience a bit because at the time it was HARD. Really hard. The hardest thing I've ever done. Our first day on the trek we walked about 24 miles and the handcart basically dragged me into camp. My friends and I sank to the ground and cried. I assume we were all crying for the same reasons-- pain and exhaustion and relief that we had survived our first day. There are many reasons why I loved being on the trek. I loved being constantly surrounded by nature and feeling a connection to the earth. I loved the quiet, peaceful surroundings, the sweeping vistas and views, and the seemingly endless sky. I loved the people I was with, particularly our "family" assigned to our handcart. Above all, I loved walking in the footsteps of my heroes, the pioneers. My love for them grew with each step and I gained a greater appreciation for them and the incredible sacrifices they made to journey to Zion. Their endurance, courage, strength, and faith astounds me. I hope that one day I will be worthy enough to thank them for all that they sacrificed so that I can enjoy the blessings of the gospel today. To my little Faith Quest family, I promise that if you are spiritually prepared for our hand cart trek, you will have the greatest spiritual experience of your lives thus far. And when you find yourself struggling, as we all do, you will be able to look back on your Faith Quest experience and you will remember the spirit you felt and it will help you through those tough times in your life. You will treasure it as a great moment in your life. I am looking forward to sharing the spirit of the trail with you. Your lives will never be the same and you will return a better person. Even now, years later, the memories of my journey are bright and I feel very blessed to have been able to participate in such a unique opportunity. I still think about the trek almost daily and the profound influence it continues to be in my life.
Thrive outdoors. So glad spring is FINALLY here! The past few days we:
Flew a kite Visited our favorite park by the foothills Walked to our neighborhood park Walked to grandma's neighborhood park and dug in the sand Jumped on the trampoline at grandma's for a long time Walked along the river and threw rocks in the water Fed the ducks Messed around in the front yard for hours (mostly James--he loves to dig in the dirt, rocks, anything he can find) James has been busy chasing the ever-ellusive squirrel that lives in our tree
By the way, this photo is from our trip. James had to stop at every fire hydrant we passed. He was so thrilled with every single one and insisted on taking a picture of each one. It was pretty funny.
I can't believe I haven't posted anything in almost a month. This past month has been absolutely crazy. Here's a run-down (this is a short list and is not comprehensive):
Adam: finished our kitchen remodel
started and (almost) finished my parents' kitchen remodel
refinished someone's hardwood floors
worked on homework when he had spare moments
helped with the kids and did other projects around the house
worked at the cannery on Tuesday
put the house on the market
went to the temple
took a lovely trip to the dump
Angie: counseled with several exchange students about various problems, one of which involved the student posting bad comments about his host family on Facebook-- idiot!
moved an exchange student to a new home because her original host mom is on bedrest and is set to have a C-section next week
taught piano lessons twice a week (one of which is across town)
took Ruby to the doctor twice
went to the doctor once for me
carpooled James to and from preschool
interviewed several new host families for next fall, including a family that lives in Mountain Home
worked at the cannery on Wednesday with my SIL so we could get a free ticket to Disneyland
took care of sick kids that had the stomach flu and strep
cleaned up puddle after puddle after puddle of puke (Adam also did this)
did 7 loads of laundry in one day including several changes of bedding and lots of barf-soaked towels
came down with strep myself
pretty much single-handedly planned and executed our ward's Relief Society birthday dinner (the food part anyway)
attended stake mutual night to meet our new trek "family" (we were asked to participate as a ma and pa when the stake goes to Martin's Cove in August)
started getting into couponing (finally)
helped plan a ski activity for the exchange students
trips to the library
started planning our trip to LA (all-expenses paid, Woot!)
carpooled Adam to all of the places he needed to go since we only have one car
I'm exhausted just thinking about the last several weeks. I've realized that I don't handle stress very well. Last night was the first night in weeks that I can remember feeling completely relaxed and had nothing to do once the kids were asleep. It was so awesome to sit and watch the sweet NBC Thursday night line-up with Adam and actually be able to enjoy it.
As a side note-- I have had enough exposure to ground beef this week that will last me a year. I cooked 15 lbs of ground beef for the RS dinner and then the very next morning went to the cannery and what were we canning? That's right-- ground beef! 6000lbs of it! The floor was absolutely disgusting. Puddles of water mixed with greasy, slimy ground beef that was slippery to walk on and the smell was pret-ty tasty. I couldn't help but think of my friend Jessica, a vegetarian and former vegan. I pictured her in my mind with a look of utter revulsion on her face. It was truly gross.