Archive for August, 2008

Saturday, August 16 – Burlingame KS

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

Burlingame is our goal and though it’s still cool (low 80’s), the 17 miles takes me until 4 PM.

As we come into town, we find the bricked city streets are over 100 feet wide – a remainder from the Santa Fe trail days when they could turn the wagons around in the main street. Today though, it’s a beautiful Saturday and the motorcycle groups from KC and Lawrence are out in force. We see about ten groups totaling sixty or seventy bikes parked in the city center enjoying the day.

We camp at the city park which has been arranged for us by Dave Prescott, the local grain elevator manager.

Friday, August 15 – Overbrook, KS

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

Paul drives me back up to Willow Springs to begin the day. This was the area where the 1845 Military Trail cut by Col. Kearny’s South Pass Expedition ties into the Santa Fe Trail. The Battalion followed that route south in 1846 and camped southwest of the springs. This morning was foggy (in August???) and it lent a neat atmosphere to the photographs.

As I’m hiking along, Mr. Schwartz and I strike up a conversation roadside. He offers to have the pastor of his congregation include me in their prayer service at his church. Hey, if it keeps the weather like this, I’m all for it. Actually, the cooler weather seems to be helping the farmers. Not getting into a drought this summer may make up for the poor spring they had out here, so let’s pray for them, shall we? After all, it all starts with our farmers and ranchers. Let’s not forget that.

We hike as far as Overbrook, then drive back for a second night camping at the Jardon’s place. They’ve been very kind to us.

Thursday, August 14 – Willow Springs KS

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

Did I mention that the weather is STILL cool, cloudy and unseasonably pleasant? This is strange. In fact, as we hike out of Eudora and pass Blue Mound, it starts a light rain that continues until late afternoon. Refreshingly cool but it makes for hiking in the grass along the roadway a little tricky. There’s a LONG hill to climb alongside a narrow shouldered highway. I’m glad there isn’t anyone hiking with me today. This is actually dangerous but there isn’t an alternate route available.

In the evening, we camp at the Jardon’s property just south of Willow Springs. This allows me to fulfill a second “secret wish” for Trek – to hike through REAL prairie grass. The Jardon’s have put this site into a conservation program to help preserve native grasslands. The grass is over six feet tall. I wade into the field a little ways and am quickly lost to sight for the others. It’s a shame there aren’t more places like this for people to experience “the REAL west” of the early 1800’s.

The Jardon’s are a retired couple. Marvin and Norma are quite the gardeners and share their fresh veggies with us – squash, tomatoes and zucchini. Yum. We need fresh stuff now that we’re cutting down on … the national brand of chocolate sandwich cookies with white filling.

Wednesday, August 13 – Eudora KS

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

Today we get to hike into one of my favorite towns along the route – Eudora Kansas. You may ask, “Why is Eudora one of your favorite towns?” I’ll tell you.

When the Battalion passes through in 1846, they note the Delaware and Shawnee tribes are people they interact with. Albert Smith says he rode in a wagon with a missionary to the Delaware Indians. At the Kaw (Kansas) River, they cross on a ferry owned and operated by Pascal Fish, a Shawnee tribal leader who also operated a farm in the area. Pascal is an educated man, a businessman, a farmer and a missionary to his people. The Battalion’s cows get loose into Pascal’s corn fields and they have to move further out of the area. By the way, the town of Eudora is named for Pascal’s daughter who was born a few years after the Battalion passes through, but that’s another story.

Last year the town dedicated a monument to Pascal and Eudora. It’s a very nice work and catches the “father/daughter” relationship that must have existed. The town of Eudora is set to boom being between KC and Lawrence. They’ve invested heavily in their schools, recreation facilities and infrastructure. They have plans for Eudora. If I were in a mood to move, I’d consider Eudora.

We get interviewed by the local newspaper reporters, then break for dinner at Daniel’s Ribs which was highly recommended to us by the locals. Perhaps I should mention that I’d been having a “Freedom Fries” fit the past couple days. Daniel’s has “A Pound of Fries” and THEY ARE GOOD! So are the ribs, but I wasn’t having a fit for those. Very good meal at a very good price.

Tuesday, August 12 – Tonganoxie KS

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

It’s not a long day – just 15 miles. Bill Bohne of Leavenworth hikes with me. Paul Sandor (see yesterday) catches up with us for lunch at the county fair and we review our plans for traveling.

In the afternoon, we get the RV moved to Tonganoxie (pronounced just the way it looks, but the locals call it “Tongie”) where we camp at the Mitchell’s property. He’s the Seminary & Institute director in Lawrence Kansas. It’s late by the time they get home from all their activities, so we don’t get to visit much in the evening.

Monday, August 11 – Lansing KS

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

At daybreak Jeff Wingo takes me onto post and I meet Val John Halford and Kinley Mauerman at the Main Parade ground. We suit up into our 1846 garb, put on our packs, pick up our muskets, have a prayer and start down the Military Road leading to the Santa Fe trail.

I’m not at all sure it’s an accident, but the LDS church building is within a block or two of the Battalion’s route out of the area. It would be interesting to know how the site was selected.

A Navy liaison officer stops to ask what we’re doing, so we give the short version. A few blocks later, out comes a family to wish us well. Within another mile, a couple young mothers with their kids ask if we’re the “Mormon group” she’s read about. Notoriety is good and keeps us happy.

The guys have an appointment later in the day, so they leave about noon and I hike out the rest of the day. We truck on over to the Hall’s property east of our route and set up camp. We hold an evening campfire program for some folks who stop by to chat. I dress up one of the young boys in the belts and gear for pictures. He’s impressed by the musket most of all.

Best of all - The Cavalry arrives!!! My buddy, Paul Sandor pulls into the area and will help with the driving and reorganization because Jerry had to leave. Paul is one of our Board and a pretty neat guy. His wife Judy (another one of our favorite people) has loaned him to us for awhile (Thanks, Judy!)

Sunday, August 10 – Ft. Leavenworth, KS

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

Oooohhh.

We stayed up WAY too late last night! We grab a nice shower at the museum, have breakfast with Dave, Steve and Al, pack our stuff and head back to the RV to get ready for church.

Being a military town, even church things are done here with a military flavor. For example, there was an announcement that, “Choir practice will begin at thirteen hundred and end at thirteen-forty-five.” Ya gotta love it. Brought a big grin to our faces.

Afterwards, we pretty much rest because Saturday was so long. Sorry about the blog. It will have to wait for another day.

Saturday, August 9 – Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

Today’s objective for the Scouts is to hike into Fort Leavenworth. We prepositioned some equipment and returned to camp, starting the hike about 0830. Our route brought us to the creek “about one mile south of Weston” where the 1846 Battalion camped and washed clothes. Here the original Battalion completed their month-end muster for the paymaster prior to reaching Fort Leavenworth.

The Olathe Scouts made decent time and at the end of the bluffs we stopped to share some history. Then we offered to let the Scouts march with Bob Tingey’s 26-star flag as we hiked the levee paralleling the Missouri River. The flag changed hands a number of times as we made five miles along the levee.

To reach the river, we had to wade through some underbrush and trees, then we broke out onto the river banks across from the military post. The modern Missouri River is far different from the wide river of 1846. It’s fairly narrow, deep and fast.
Scoutmaster Kent Hansen fulfilled one of my “secret desires” for the Trek. Unbeknownst to him, I REALLY wanted to ferry across the Missouri River onto Fort Leavenworth. The prior Wednesday evening, he mentioned that it “was too bad we couldn’t get permission to ferry the boys across the river.” Well, I jumped at the offer and made arrangements with Jeff Wingo and the levee board.

Once we were safely on the Kansas side of the river, we hiked up to the Main Parade square on post. There we outfitted the Scouts with our 1846 packs, belts and replica muskets. Reenactor Val John Halford of Utah gave some instruction, then he hiked us to the Frontier Army Museum where we were saluted by cannon fire. The Leavenworth reenactors had made us dinner and the Scouts departed the field for home.

In the evening, the Museum hosted a seminar. The topics were 1846 Battalion related and were: “Women in the 1840’s”, “Medical Qualifications & Practice pre-Civil War”, “Military Cooking” and Sherman Fleek presented his take on “Why Study the Mormon Battalion?”

I’d like to say the seminar was well attended. It wasn’t. It was an embarrassment to not have people show up for a high quality, free seminar about the Battalion.

We have quite a few of these events planned along the route and I sure do hope attendance improves.

Friday, August 8 – Weston State Park, Missouri

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

In preparation for tomorrow’s hike into Fort Leavenworth, we’ve crossed back to Weston State Park, set up at the Bee Creek shelter and look like a right proper military camp. We put up both of the 1846 five-man tents, a large tent and the dining fly.

Denny and Allyson cooked a fine meal of cornbread and chicken soup, which really hit the spot this evening. For dessert, we had Dutch oven apple crisp.

The Olathe Scouts arrived about 7 PM and set camp quickly. They helped devour the dessert.

Sandy Miller from the Weston Historical Society came to camp with her husband, Bob. Sandy gave an overview of Weston’s past up through the Civil War period. She’s one of the local experts on the area, was entertaining and helped us fill in some of the details about the area we were interested to know more about.

Weston in 1846 had a population of over 5,000 persons. That was a shock to me. You don’t get that sense from the Battalion journals, do you? Anyway, Weston has a lot of history and is working hard to keep the town growing - which it is primed to do being on the north end of Kansas City metro area and across from Leavenworth. Nice town.

Thursday, August 7 – Leavenworth, KS

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

In the words of some of our 1846 predecessors, “Nothing of importance happened today.”

Which, of course, isn’t correct. We just fail to realize the importance of what happens at the time.

Today is our last “dead day” for quite awhile. It was spent calling to confirm next week’s campsites and working through some last minute details for Saturday’s hike with the Scouts from Olathe. For you non-Kansans’, it’s pronounced, Oh-LAY-THahh. Took me a couple tries to get it right myself.