Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Seasons Changing and Chapters Closing

Fall is coming and with that comes all the preparation for winter. The last couple weeks I have spent most of my time in the mechanics shop. We have a lot of equipment that we use to maintain the Homestead. I have had to change the oil to a winter grade in almost everything. Some of these projects have been very eye opening. I had no idea that an oil filter to our diesel dump truck cost $68 and took 7 gallons of oil. But it has been fun. I only brought 3 work shirts which are called “blues” and they are getting a little stained and wore out. I have four more days on work crew this week so hopefully they will last. Also with the cooler temperatures the mice are trying to move in. When I changed the oil on the President’s car there was a mouse nest on top of the transmission and one of the other missionaries said their car had a smell in it. We found a mouse nest on top of their cabin air filter which is like on top of the heater.

One highlight this past week was the facilities management group that the mission is under provided a “thank you” dinner for us for all our hard work. It was a prime rib dinner and it was absolutely delicious. The old saying “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” is definitely true.
We are getting closer to coming home and this of course brings many mixed feelings. I have grown in many ways by serving here and it has been a blessing in my life. If I tried to tell you all of them, it wouldn’t be the short version so I’ll just save that for another day. I see the Lord’s hand in my life. I know that he lives and loves us.
Elder Sigmon

Read on for the longer version:
Fall definitely is here. I have seen the geese flying and we all know what that means when it is this time of the year—cold weather and snow is coming!
We have gotten in a little bit of sightseeing. As a district we decided to take a drive to Whiskey Gap. Whiskey Gap was where the trails had to pass through as they traveled west. It isn’t as heard of as Muddy Gap which is just a hair east of Whiskey Gap. But because Muddy Gap lives up to its name—Muddy, apparently too muddy to go through, they travelled a little further to Whiskey Gap. What was interesting is you almost do not even see the opening between the rocks of Whiskey Gap.

Elder Ward is our wanderlust missionary and always has a map and is always out exploring and discovering. So this little adventure was with a topical map and knowing some places like Muddy Gap (which by the way only has a gas station there). So we all piled into one vehicle and headed off from the paved highway to a dirt road and through some cows on some guys ranch on to Bureau of Land Management land to Whiskey Gap. We actually found it the first time and didn’t have to do any turning around. When we got through the gap we looked for a place away from the big longhorn cows or whatever breed they were so we could have our little picnic. It was actually quite nice but funny at the same time because we could see where our home was just off in the distance a little ways to our right. We felt bad for everyone back there in their homes having the same usual evening and not a fun one like us.
The cow kind of has really long horns. Hence why we didn’t want to be right near them.

For our picnic we had hot dogs, chili, chips and French onion dip, cookies, soda and condiments to put on our hot dogs like chopped onions, mustard, and ketchup. Elder Swingholm had a nice little cooking oven that uses propane to cook the hot dogs and even heated up the chili in a small sauce pan too. It worked out quite well.
On a Sunday we had Jolene Alphin the author of “Tell My Story Too” come and talk to us. If you are unfamiliar with her she had written a book. It is a compilation of journal entries which have been gathered for several of those who travelled with the Willie or Martin Handcart companies or the Hunt and Hodgett Wagon companies. 

It was interesting and I enjoyed listening to her. She is good friends with Julie Rogers who is an artist. Some of Julie’s paintings are depicting some of these scenarios from journal entries she has read or stories she has heard. Julie doesn’t do only pioneer paintings she does others as well. They make a great team in sharing their information and paintings with each other. 

Here is a picture of her while she was talking to us and showing us different pictures from different things. The picture on the TV below is actually of youth in Micronesia having a trek for the very first time. Their handcarts were interesting and how they had to adapt things was interesting too.
One night for Family Home Evening we played Jenga or at least a version of Jenga. I have never played the game but it reminds me of a very big version of that game. They were cut 2x4’s and you had to pull out a piece of wood and try to build the tower higher. We had to lay them in the same pattern as we built it higher. The goal was not to have it fall over when you pulled out your piece of wood. We had 30 seconds to decide which piece to pull out, get it out and place it on the top of the tower. We were split into teams. You got a point for every one you were able to pull out and put on top and if it fell over you lost 20 points. Our team never knocked it over. Go team! Oh and we won!
With the weather starting to change and the end of the season here we have begun the process of preparing things for winter. One of the things we do at Martin’s Cove is restain and fix the handcarts every other year. This is the year for handcarts. It is something we have been working on here and there all the time we have been here.  Different people have worked on them as they have gotten work assignments which are handed out every day. But now it is a little more intensified. The handcarts have been all lined out and they are set up by the different stages they are in—Sanding, Pressure Washing sanding dust off, Staining, or Lacquering. 
Also with this time of year comes Trek Leader Training. This is where those people who will be heading up the next year treks come and get trained on how things work at these 3 historic sites. What we provide, what they need to plan for and what it might all entail. It is a day and a half of training. It starts on Friday morning and ends Saturday at noon. They come to Martin’s Cove and all those schedules I have been helping with for the month to two weeks before are handed out. Sister Bowden and I have been frantically working on creating their schedules from what they have chosen and told us they want for their trek while they are here. There are many variations depending on the time they come, the day they arrive or where they plan to camp, etc. Do they want to just come to Martin’s Cove? Go to Sixth Crossing? Do Rocky Ridge and go into Rock Creek Hollow or just drive over to Rock Creek Hollow? So many decisions and so many schedules to choose from! 

So they arrive and get their Trek Leader packet filled with tons of helpful information for food medical, driving directions, stories they can tell, music they might want to have if they square dance, dress attire, etc. On top of that packet is their schedule we have put together. After they check in they get assigned to a handcart in families just as if they are trekking so they can see how it all works. While this is going on there is square dancing demonstration done by some of our missionaries. 
Then they all head over to the Trek Center and have a little instruction and then they are sent out on a trek with Trek Hosts and Trek Leaders. Some of them have been chosen to tell stories at various locations while on the trek. They do the whole kit and caboodle just like they would when they come next summer.  They catch the feeling and vision of what can be felt and experienced while they are here. To wrap things up we have a dinner for them that evening and they have missionaries who have spread themselves out so that as we eat if they have any questions they can ask those who are sitting at their table for more explanation. It is fun to seen the excitement and the feeling they get that they can do this as they are getting ready to head back to figure out who those people should be that will be helping pull this big venture all together for their youth or families. But it also takes some work and preparation to have it all come together. Here is some of those who helped prepare the dinner.
Saturday morning they head over to Sixth Crossing for breakfast, more instruction and to see some of the things over there before leaving for home.

On another note the end of the season also brings with it many emotions. We have people who are preparing to go home, others who will be staying the winter, those who will be coming back next summer and some who aren’t sure if they will be back next summer--time will tell-- but will if things work out they will. There are also those who will not be back at all. Those that will stay the winter need to move from their locations to the Homestead. They also have 2 weeks to go home and get things arranged and situated for them to stay the winter and next summer here in Wyoming. RV’s will be going home and things moved into their new place of residence. But those who have been here this last winter are packing and getting ready to leave for home.

So there have been goodbyes and RV’s disappearing. Things just are not the same and there is something definitely wrong with this picture. The Turpins have left for home and the Taylors have taken their RV home and have left an empty space with just some stairs that go nowhere. It is sad. The next big wave is when our group goes. There were about 14 couples who came together to the Mission Training Center together and so in about 10 days we will all be heading out to our various destinations. A few have decided to stay the winter so they will not be going but the rest will.

As I watch people teach a lesson or give a talk there are so many thoughts running through your head. This person has touched my life by their example. I have to see them again they are a part of my family now. What a joy they have been to me. I am going to miss seeing them every day. I am going to miss laughing every day (Karl isn’t that funny lol). I am going to miss walking to here or there. This place has really gotten under my skin and is a part of me. There aren’t words to describe it all or even convey all the emotions and experiences I have had here. It is like a picture sometimes it just doesn’t do it justice compared to seeing it in person. This I do know. I am not the same person who came here almost 6 months ago and hopefully I have touched someone’s life for the better by crossing paths with them. It hasn’t been a cake walk but at the same time I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I am amazed at what I have been able to physically do while being here and I know that the Lord has blessed me in so many ways. I probably will not do another post before I leave but I also know a new chapter will be beginning. In some ways I have enjoyed being in this little safe protected, beautiful spot of the world (I am not saying I haven’t missed internet or my phone working) but I am also anxious to see family, friends and my home again. I also know there are many ways to serve and I know I will I just do not know what that looks like right now.

Thanks for being a part of our journey and we love you and hope all is safe and well with you.
Elder and Sister Sigmon

Monday, August 28, 2017

Lots of Visitors and Adventures!

It has been a while since I have written. We have had a few exciting things take place. My mother and my two sisters, Gwen and Lona and my brother Morris and his sweet wife Robin were able to come visit us. My mom and sisters were only able to spend an afternoon and evening with us. But it was wonderful to take them up into the Cove and visit all the sites around the Homestead. The spirit was strong and we had a wonderful time. My brother and his wife were able to stay a couple more days. We also had a great time visiting different sites and visiting with each other. It was a wonderful, wonderful weekend!

We then had the eclipse weekend. We were extremely busy at the Visitor’s Center with around 350 people every day. With around 100 non-member visitors every day. Since Monday the day of the eclipse was our Preparation Day we traveled about 20 miles towards Casper to Horse Creek. This is where the rescue wagons met the Martin Handcart Company. This is also where we saw the eclipse. All I can say was it was amazing! We were in the totality for 2 minutes. We were able to see some stars. The sunset was around us in 360 degrees. It got so much cooler and the wind was calm. It was just amazing! I love seeing God’s creations and it is just a testimony to me that He lives.
An interesting statement I heard this week was “Nobody cares what you know. Unless they know you care about them.” I think that is very good advice as we interact with people and try to teach people about the gospel. My goal this week is to show people that I care.

People are starting to get a little bit of short timers. But they all have mixed feelings. Because we all love this place and know we will be leaving it next month. The 6 couples that will be staying the winter have all been identified and has accepted their assignments. I envy them just a little but will be perfectly happy back at home.

I was able to go on a trek yesterday as part of Trek Leader Training. It was good to get back out there and hike 7 miles. Of course since it was training our Mission President and his wife also were trekking with us. I have grown to love this man more every day. He is such a strength and example to all of us. There are also many of you at home that have been great examples to me. I love you and your support. Elder Sigmon

Read on for the Longer Version:
Well I must say Elder Sigmon did manage to touch on a lot of what I was going to say but he didn’t add any pictures . He is right in there is so much we love about this place. I live right next to the Sweetwater River, Devil’s Gate and Spilt Rock and can see them every day. We are rural that is true but the blessing of that is the world can be imploding around me and I have no clue. I get to see beautiful wildlife, scenery, and hear and watch all these things people do not get to see or experience every day. One of the funny things is there were these baby hawks raised in a nest near our homes but mom has slowly moved one tree down at a time until she is gone. It is time for the baby hawks to be on their own. All I can say is they are so noisy and annoying sometimes. They are flying and trying to hunt but they screech so much! Who knew they could be so annoying lol!
On the other hand apparently there are bears in the area. Someone sighted a baby black bear cub in the Cove. That was news to us. Now we are looking to see if we can see it. Yes I’m sure there is a mama bear somewhere nearby.
One of favorite spots I enjoy when I have a moment to sit and relax is at the baptismal font on the Homestead in the Sweetwater. I have wondered what a baptism would be like there. I was able to be a part of one recently. Sister Scussel’s grandson was baptized and she asked some of the missionaries to sing for part of the program. It was such a special experience and I am so glad I was able to be there and experience it. The water is still a little deep and cold. It came up to his shoulders.
On a whole different subject—Work Crew. Elder Sigmon usually gets a lot of mechanical jobs (I know, shock!) but an assignment he got was welding a new gate for Bertha our place we burn our trash. Elder Crist spent some time measuring and drawing out how he wanted Elder Sigmon to weld the bottom gate. The old one was needing to be replaced. Well let’s just say they do have a very nice welder and I am afraid somehow it is going to end up costing me money. I think Elder Sigmon is considering getting rid of the welder he has to get something similar to this one. All I hear whenever he uses it is how nice that welder is. Wish me luck. Something about you get what you pay for.  Elder Hough was helping him hold things. It was funny because when we met for lunch Elder Hough was covered in soot and Elder Sigmon was clean as could be. So I asked Elder Hough “Who is working out there? You or Elder Sigmon.” Then Elder Sigmon said that his dad always said “If your hair isn’t messed up you aren’t working hard enough.” Then he takes his hat off to show his messy hair. Elder Hough has no hair so all we could do was laugh including Elder Hough. Then he starts twirling along the side of the barn saying “I’m just rolling around out there while he’s working.” I am not sure if they are having more fun than they are getting work done. Those two are quite the pair! Here is the finished product.
Oh I forgot to mention that someone had thrown some trash in there and it started burning so it made things a little more difficult trying to get the job done. Never a dull moment and nothing is as straight forward as it may seem lol.

Elder Sigmon forgot to mention that we had some additional visitors to his family. The day before his family came I got a text from a friend I’ve known since I was young saying her and her husband (Duey ‘Doreen’ and Ray Halls) were passing through on their way to Montana and would we be available to say hi. It worked out perfectly. We had just finished our shift and they stopped by our trailer and we had a great, quick visit. It was good to see them. We haven’t seen them since we left to go to the MTC and stayed at their house. It was a great surprise!  It turns out that Ray knew one of the missionaries that is serving here, Elder Smart. Their offices weren’t too far from each other—Family History and the Church History Museum.
L-R: Ray, Me (Sister Sigmon), Elder Sigmon, Duey (Doreen) Luckily Ray has long arms and we were able to take a selfie.

The first part of Karl’s family arrived about 11 a.m. We had a great time eating lunch under the trees on the picnic tables and showing them the Visitor’s Center, Martin’s Cove and Fort Seminoe.
 L-R: Elder Sigmon, Lona, Radeen, Gwen

Robin and Morris showed up just as we finished with the Visitor’s Center so they were able to join us as we went up into the Cove and then over to Fort Seminoe. This picture was taken at the summit of the Cove. It is kind of sad because I keep taking pictures trying to capture the feelings, view and everything I love about being up there and I just can’t get it in the photo. Which means when I leave I will be leaving all those feelings, thoughts and one of the many views I love to see on a regular basis and has become such a part of me over these last months I have been here. (Don’t think about it! Sniff)
It was great weather for a day up in the Cove. That is something we are always thinking as we head up. Will there be a breeze, how hot will it be, how about a cloud, maybe a few drops of rain to help cool things off. This day was cooler and very pleasant! I’ll take it!

Since things are slowing down we are able to have a little more time and energy to go and see things we haven’t been able to see. I think we are like the last ones on the mission to go and see Devil’s Gate. It entails walking a half a mile from the Homestead over to it. There is also the view from the top of it by climbing up the side of the mountain. People tell me it isn’t a bad climb. Then they explain how you can really see a lot if you go with Elder Ward. There is a place he will lean over and hold out his arm and if you hold onto his arm then you can lean over and look out from up there and it is unbelievable! I’ll say it is unbelievable! To think that you think I am going to hold onto someone’s arm and hang off the top of Devil’s Gate and then look down to a view that is going to make my heart drop a million times into my stomach! I DO NOT think so! I am still trying to decide if I am even going to work up the courage to try and climb up the side of the mountain. This being afraid of heights is such a hindrance. I can say that Elder Sigmon and I did walk out to Devil’s gate from the Homestead and it was another beautiful and relaxing place. I’m glad we took the time one afternoon to see it.
That is not the rock I am talking about them climbing. Look to the top right of this picture and that is where I am talking about. 

We also had the opportunity as a mission to go and climb Rocky Ridge. We had two choices which were to go to the top of the Rocky Ridge ascent of about 600’-700’ and then back which would be about 8 miles. Or continue on into Rock Creek Hollow which would be 14 miles. I was not sure how well I would do but I really wanted to see Rocky Ridge for myself. I knew I could not go the whole way into Rock Creek Hollow but I was going to give it a whirl and see how far I could make it with the up and back version. So we split into two groups with the one going all the way leaving ahead of those going up and back. We had people from both Martin’s Cove and Sixth Crossing in each group. It had rained pretty good and hard the night before but when we got to where we were going to start the rain had stopped. Which was awesome. I know when I was at Sixth Crossing and hiked their trails they are harder on me because there are more rocks in their dirt and so it makes it an uneven surface for my feet to go over. Martin’s Cove is more smooth and if there are rocks they are very small and don’t cause the uneven surface I get from Sixth Crossing. I went off with a prayer in my heart I would be able to do it because I really wanted to see Rocky Ridge for myself. 

As we headed out within the very first few feet we were hit with this mud that was the most stickiest mud I have ever encountered. It literally stuck to the bottom of your shoes within the first 2 steps and then built up in an uneven sole to the sole of your shoe.  It was like walking with weights on the bottom of your shoes and your shoes were mud shoes instead of snow shoes. If you found a rock to scrap it on it was quite the task to try and get it off because it would not just fall off if you scraped it or walked with it. I ended up walking in the sagebrush as much as possible to try and avoid this mud but that also comes with its own problems. Here is a picture of the start of the building of my mud shoes. Crazy!
We had a breeze as we hiked and this ended up helping in drying up this wonderful mud and so it was only for the first leg of this climb. As we walked along we came across this cute face. We wondered who had left it from the first group. Sister Edlefsen said that her husband was the one who did it. He will always will leave these for her to let her know he’s thinking of her and okay. It was cute.
I was able to make it all the way to the top of Rocky Ridge and even got a view of Lewiston Lakes from there. It is totally different than what I had envisioned. It put a whole new perspective on the term Rocky Ridge.
 This picture is looking up Rocky Ridge. It isn’t just a few rocks it is sheets of rocks! Now this next picture is a view looking back.
Sister Harris wasn’t sure she could make it and was going to turn around at the Lower Monument. When she found out no one else was turning around she continued on. She, like me, was so glad she continued on.

Can you imagine the handcart wheels dropping off those rocks? I wish I could see what it was like as they youth take their handcarts over this area. I can’t even totally begin to image it. I have heard some of the missionaries talk about how there is a spot the cart just drops because there is nothing else you can do and how bad it is. Now I see what they might be talking about. I am so glad I was able to come and do this hike.  We took a group photo and ate lunch on these rocks. Sister Edlefsen also told us some stories.
A couple days later while working I had an unexpected call on the radio asking if I could come to the Visitor’s Center. Someone wanted to say “hi” to the Sigmons. So Elder Sigmon met me and it was fun to see Mark and Janet Anderson. They were in our ward since our kids were little and recently moved. They were in Casper and decided to stop by and say hi. It was really good to see them!
Things are always changing and evolving on a daily basis here depending on what is going on. One minute our District Leaders the Scussels are asking us if we want to do a District outing and then the next thing we know they are packing up and preparing to leave because their house is in the middle of the Lolo Peak Fire in Montana. The Crists and the Scussels are both from the same ward and the area where the Scussels live are in mandatory evacuation and the Crists house which is about 2 miles away is close but not in evacuation mode yet. Elder Scussel being x-forest fire fighter knows the drill and that there are times they will let you in to grab some of your stuff. But you need to be there to do. They managed to have some friends move some things but there are still pictures and genealogy which would be valuable to have. So instead of leaving around September 7th they are leaving much sooner than planned. Needless to say it was a shock and sad to see them go. We took some last District photos.
  L-R: Wards, Scussels, Sigmons and Swingholms.

 I guess I can be tall enough to block part of Elder Sigmon’s face. lol  Here is our funny one.
While working at the Visitor’s Center one day there was this family that came by and their two little girls were dressed so cute. They were the usual kids trying to rip off their bonnets. If their hair got in their face they gently brushed it back so they would keep the bonnet in place. I commented to the mother how good they were being about wearing their pioneer clothes. She told me her daughter has been wearing her clothes since Pioneer Day (July 24th). She loves it! I just had to take a picture because they were so stinkin’ cute!
Well we can’t skip the eclipse. I must say we had prime seats and we didn’t even have to make our reservations 3 years in advance. We were back from the road in a meadow by a stream. They area dropped down just a bit so we couldn’t see any of the traffic on the dirt road or people who stayed by the road to look at the eclipse. It was perfect! They only problem was getting across the stream. Some could easily jump it. I just knew I would land in it so I placed my folding chair as a step in the stream and it worked perfectly.
Here we are with our glasses so we could be safe as we watched the eclipse. We went with the Wards and their friends who came to visit them. They came out the day before and scouted out the area. We packed hot dogs, chips, peaches, etc for the event. We even had a camp stove to cook the hot dogs on since there was a fire ban in effect. I think because of all the people who were in Wyoming. They didn’t want to risk any fires.
The Ward’s friend, Dayna (sp?), set up an observatory for us with some binoculars and poster board so we could see the eclipse in two ways. It was nice so I could get pictures of the different stages because it wasn’t working too well with my phone. It only looked like a round circle every time I tried to use my phone to take the picture. Here it is as it is just about to go into total eclipse. You can tell it is starting to get darker. The temperature also dropped. It got chilly and I wished I had brought my sweatshirt with me from the truck.
 Another cool thing was the sunset which was 360 degrees. It was amazing!
When it was totally dark we were even able to see a few stars. The wind quit blowing and before it went totally dark it was a weird grey and heavy feeling. It was kind of eerie. I am glad we were able to experience it in an area where we got totality.

The funny thing was after it was over we gathered up our stuff and headed back for home. We took a nap and when I woke up Sister Ward was returning an item to me and mentioned the traffic out on our Hwy 220. Apparently it was backed up and at a standstill from all the people trying to get back home. Have I mentioned we are living rural? Not a lot of traffic, internet, etc. So this I had to see. Sister Ward and I jumped into the truck and drove closer to the road so I could get a picture and see this event.
It lasted for about 4-5 hours. They were at a standstill and then start to move a little and then come to a standstill again. We came to find out that some of the merging places like Muddy Gap, etc were having one side go from Rawlins and then the other side coming from Casper and hence the stop and then go. I bet people who were planning on being back the next day to work or whatever didn’t plan on the 4—5 hour wait. We would have people flying down our road, use our camping restrooms and then head back out to the traffic jam. The gas station/store at Muddy Gap said they had a line for their restroom out the door and around the side of their building. They sold out of most drinks and snacks. It was quite the phenomenon!

Here is the picture of the sighting of a black bear cub in the cove.
I know this place will forever be a part of me and I will love the Pioneers even more than I had before. Their stories, their examples, their lives have been written in my heart and I hope I will always remember they did hard things and so can I. They believed and died for things that were important to them. I need to have that faith, that courage, that desire in my life and I cannot be a wimp and complain when things get hard. 

We love you and hope all is going well with you and everyone is doing great!
Elder & Sister Sigmon

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Rock Creek Hollow Time!

Short Version:
We spent the week at Rock Creek Hollow. I did get lost driving to it. I ended up in the middle of nowhere and had to ask some people on 4-wheelers for directions. I basically came into it the way the handcarts do. Luckily we were ahead of them but I found it. I was getting a flat tire the last 3 or 4 miles but I did make it all the way in and then the tire went flat. I had this particular tire fixed 2 times before so needless to say I am buying new tires today. 

President Hinckley has said that Rock Creek Hollow is hallowed ground. His definition of hallowed ground is a place where the Savior has walked. The spirit is very strong there. We enjoyed our time there with treks coming in, camping overnight and leaving the next day. We also had visitors that come to visit the site. We had many opportunities to teach and testify this week. We stay in a 25’ camper and of course everything is small in a camper. Although it was a great week, I could hardly wait to get back to Martin’s Cove where my feet wouldn’t hang off the end of the bed. It’s around 1,000 feet higher there. You can see the Windriver mountain range in the distance and they still have snow on them. Therefore the mornings were brisk and cool. I was able to see deer and also flocks of sage hens. They remind me a lot of grouse. They would perch on the benches and picnic tables at night. But of course that means someone is going to have to clean them all the next morning. But all in a day’s work. 
Love you all,
Elder Sigmon

Read on for the longer version:
Before going to Rock Creek Hollow we had what we believe will be our last trek. There were more that week and a few to come over the next couple weeks but they are few and we probably won’t have another one. I could be wrong. But as I looked through pictures for this email it brought on a bunch of emotions realizing these were probably the last photos I will take of the busy trekking time.

1—A river crossing with handcarts and people putting on their water shoes.
2—All the times we have started with a group up into the cove. 
3—A talk by a leader to their group about doing hard things or whatever they felt their group needed to hear. Just doing what the spirit guided them to do and say. There are two places they can do this—Dan W. Jones and Lower Amphitheater. 
4—A picture from my favorite Amphitheater. The Lower one. It is further up to the cove and has shade. It can only hold about 75 people so it won’t accommodate the bigger groups but the view is wonderful. And the hike the rest of the way up the cove isn’t as long so it makes it nice after a break.
5—Meeting awesome people.
6—Handcarts lined up in front of the Trek Center ready to go or leave for Sixth Crossing. This was perfect trekking weather!
7—Trail Charts telling who is coming, how many people, how many vehicles, what time, who is trekking with them, what they need and where.
I must admit it has been a crazy, busy 10 weeks of trekking with all the groups coming in. We actually have a total of 12 weeks but these last 2 weeks are going to be very slow comparatively speaking. For example we only have 2 treks this whole week and next week we only have a few and then they are all done. We don’t even have anyone in the campgrounds any more. They will be staying over at Sixth Crossing or Rock Creek Hollow but not here. It is weird how there really isn’t a transition to the end of the trekking season. It was fast, hard and busy and then like we just stopped.
Now to tell you about Rock Creek Hollow and our week there. Not every couple has the opportunity to serve a week there. There are two couples there at all times starting in July through the beginning of September. One couple comes from Sixth Crossing and their week is Monday to Monday. The other couple comes from Martin’s Cove and they come Thursday to Thursday. So you spend time with 2 different couples during your week. They bring up 2 trailers one for the Sixth Crossing couple and one for the Martin’s Cove couple. Ours was the one on the right.
The Sage hens were cool to see but Elder Sigmon neglected to mention the girls were the ones who ended up cleaning the tables and benches and I must say I don’t like them more than I didn’t like pigeon’s presents! 

The week we were to be there we knew there was a Stake called Pleasant Grove Manila coming with 800 people. The nickname for it was “Monster Manilla.” Talking to the person who did all the coordination and contact person he would have liked it to be known as “Mega Manilla.” Too late Monster Manilla is what stuck. We knew there were a lot of buses and a lot of kids. I was very curious as to how this was all going to be. Luckily they were the only group there and so they had the whole campground to themselves at Rock Creek Hollow.

The other thing we knew was we had a connection to this group. We needed to keep our eye out for a brother to Bishop Sheffield from our ward back home. (Karl served with him as one of his counselors) And also the son of our Home Teachers (Bishop Sheffield’s parents also in our home ward). We had never met him before but knew his name was Allen Sheffield. We asked some of the support people if they knew him and several had no idea who he was but we finally found one gentleman who did and said he would point him out to us.

Support staff came in early and they were very organized! It was so cool to watch. They had a person in charge of making sure the buses knew what to do and where to go. They only had 13 of them to deal with (being sarcastic.) After consulting with us and the best way to handle them it was a matter of making it happen. Here is a picture of them all starting to come in.
There were no kids on the bus just their stuff. The kids were already on the trail with their handcarts going over Rocky Ridge and coming into Rock Creek Hollow. The support staff used handcarts to off load the buses and put them in organized piles according to color so the kids, ma’s and pa’s could set up camp when they made it in for the day.

The first part of the week we were there (Thursday through Saturday) we did not lack for food. We were invited to breakfast, lunch and dinner. The last part of our stay (Tuesday through Thursday) was a little different story. We were invited to one dinner. But they also invited us to their evening fireside and morning devotional which was very nice of them. It was the only devotional we were invited to. Well I shouldn’t say that because Monster Manila invited us but with 800 people all trying to fit into an amphitheater we did not want to cause someone else to have to stand or be able to fit because we were there.

Back to Monster Manila. . .We were able to see Allen and Carrie Sheffield and it was great to meet them. We even ate breakfast together the next morning! The reason I am in what we call “blues” is because after the kids come in off Rocky Ridge their carts are muddy and dirty. We have them take them into camp and unload their stuff and bring the carts back empty so we can pressure wash them and then the handcart wranglers come and load them and take them back around so when the next trek comes to go over Rocky Ridge they have handcarts ready to go. This group had 67 handcarts and I had washed a lot of them!
What we didn’t know was we had one more connection to this group! When the first truck of support staff came in I saw on their name tag “Dan McRae.” Having worked with Sister Scussel and scheduling and trail charts I have become very familiar with people who call in, come in, etc. The contact person for each trek. So I had recognized the name as a contact person so I asked him if he was the Trek Leader which is usually the case of the contact person. He told me “No, no, that’s my son. My wife and I served a mission here last summer at Martin’s Cove and when he had some of his support people have to back out at the last minute my son asked if we would be willing to come. We had to think about it for about 2 seconds and said yes we would love to come and help you. So here we are.”

I didn’t think any more about it and then after meeting Allen and his wife we were over by handcarts and we hear this “Sigmons—Dan McRae from Bernalillo!” We turn around and there is this guy who hasn’t changed and used to live in our ward. He moved from our ward 6 years ago. Unfortunately his wife, Holly, didn’t make it on the trip because she broke her ankle 8 weeks prior. It would have been great to see her but it was so good to see Dan! (Who was the other people’s son! So that was his parents we had met earlier! Crazy!) For those of you who know Dan, he hasn’t changed a bit has he?
We served with the Taylors from Sixth Crossing who happen to live where one of my aunt and uncle’s live in Rancho Cucamonga. And they actually know them and she went to Seminary, High School and one semester of Ricks College with my cousin. Crazy! We ended up calling my aunt and uncle to tell them and my cousin so she could talk to her.
Okay don’t laugh at my clothes. I knew I wasn’t seeing a lot of people and they are functional. (The skirt doesn’t blow up in the wind, lightweight and cool.) The other funny thing is that there isn’t a lot of shady places to hang out at and one day a person walked up as we were sitting in front of this building and asked us if this was our Visitor’s Center. (Actually it is the bathrooms). It still gives us a good laugh.

Here is a picture of me pressure washing some of the handcarts. There are 2 pressure washers and so someone else is also helping and people are taking them after they are cleaned to be loaded into the trucks. This was my last evening of being there and it was the only day I actually had to wear something because it was cool. Usually I was in my short sleeves and grateful for the mist coming from the pressure washer because it was refreshing.
All I can say is there is such a spirit to this place and it is hallowed ground. We loved it! It was busy and we worked but it was quiet in the fact we didn’t have the radio chatter we have at Martin’s Cove and we were in beautiful country. The people who came were changed and touched for being there and it was just a great experience. We enjoyed telling visitors and others the stories of this site and the people who had come through here.

Let me tell you a little bit about Rock Creek Hollow. It pertains to the Willie Handcart Company. When the snow and weather caught them they were near Sixth Crossing. They took refuge in the willows there. When they woke in the morning there was at least 4” of snow and still falling. This was October 19, 1856. It was a few days later when some rescuers met up with them. They left 6 wagons with them and 8 went on to find the Martin Handcart Company and Hunt and Hodgetts Wagon Companies. On the 23rd of October when they woke up the Willie Company faced their hardest day that would test them like no other. They were still 260 miles from Salt Lake City and they needed to cross Rocky Ridge into Rock Creek Hollow. It is about 14 miles with a climb of 600 feet over a distance of about four miles and across a boulder-strewn blockade at the top. The trail continues down a long grade descent and crossed several streams before reaching the camp site. These people were already worn down by hunger and fatigue. They left early in the morning and for some it took 27 hours to get to Rock Creek Hollow. 

They were going through 12-18” of snow and a blizzard as they traveled up Rocky Ridge. One story is of James Kirkwood who was 11 came with his widowed mother, Margaret, and his three brothers. One of his brothers, Thomas, was crippled and had to ride in the handcart. James’ primary responsibility on the trek was to care for his little 5 year old brother, Joseph while his mother and older brother Robert pulled the cart. When little Joseph become too weary to walk, James had no choice but to carry him. Left behind by the main group, James carried Joseph up the hill on his back. When they reached camp James put Joseph down and then collapsed and died from exposure and overexertion. Joseph survived. James is buried in a mass grave at Rock Creek Hollow with 12 others. The next day 2 of those who helped dig the grave died and were buried nearby. There is a memorial there to these 15 people who are buried there. These people sacrificed so much for what they believed and at the same time so many had charity towards others too.

We loved to walk around and look at the campground, Remember Rock, the Memorial, amphitheaters, etc. This was my favorite amphitheater here because from here you could see the tracks of the handcarts coming in on one side and going out on the other. You have to go over a bridge to reach it and the Rock Creek River is right there.
There were also some beautiful sunsets. 
This was another sight we would see as the treks were leaving. This was usually the last stop for most of them and so they were trying to give away the food that was left or it would have to be thrown away. She was just so cute about it I had to take her picture!
The last couple we were with from Sixth Crossing was the McMillians. We also enjoyed our time with them too. We had two great couples to spend time and work with.
While we were at Rock Creek Hollow we missed our people and wondered how everyone was doing. I mentioned to Elder Sigmon this is going to be how we feel when we go home from our mission but we won’t be able to look out a window or see them. So as we drove into our street off the highway called “Avenue of Rocks” I was getting a little sentimental. I told Elder Sigmon “We are home again! But there is going to be a time when we will be going down this road for a last time.” Of course I started to cry. Elder Sigmon just pats my arm and tells me “It will be okay!” Bless his little heart.

But. . .as we drove up into our drive way I couldn’t believe my eyes. I just started saying “Look! Look what Elder Ward did! I love it!” Then I was just laughing. I needed that laugh! It was great!

Before you see the picture I need to do some explaining. When we came they had these signs with our names on them in everyone’s front yard. Well there is a Sister who thought it would be so fun if we would do things to decorate our yards and then have a “yard of the month” sign show up on the cutest or best one that month. She doesn’t know the Sigmon’s very well because I don’t have a lot of small items in my home because then you would have to dust them. I also knew if I had things in my yard I would have to take time to get it or take care of it. Uh No! I knew I would be too busy or too tired to have to worry about it. But every time I drove up I kind of got the feeling it could look like a grave marker. So then I asked our neighbors the Wards who have a little crazy sense of humor if they thought I maybe could get yard of the month if I was able to find a tombstone and put it behind our name sign and write on it “Here Lies” so it was above the Sigmon. I thought it would be hilarious but I just wasn’t sure if other people would think it was funny. If it was around Halloween time I so would have done it but of course it wasn’t. 
So I guess since then Elder Ward had a plan. I put a thought into his head. He had found some wood and glued some pieces together and then cut it out. Then he hid this piece of wood in the woodshop trash can so we wouldn’t see it. While we were at Rock Creek Hollow he pulled it out and patiently and lovingly worked on it. I guess some other people saw it and didn’t think he had a good sense of humor. But he reassured them it is exactly what I would want. And he was so right!!! It is coming home with me!!!!
Isn’t it awesome!!!  We hope you are all doing well and talk to you soon.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

We had Exciting Visitors!

Short Version:
A lot of the same thing. The highlight was my son Lance and his family coming to visit us. We have had a couple of smaller treks which were spiritual and awesome. I can’t believe I am missing the 24th of July celebration in Manassa. I always look forward to that. I love the pioneers and all they have done for us. Next week we will have the opportunity to serve at Rock Creek Hollow. This is where the Willie handcart company camped after crossing Rocky Ridge. I am looking forward to that experience.

Love you all and hope you are having a great summer.
Elder Sigmon

Read on for longer version:
I am not sure how long this version is going to be. Like Elder Sigmon said we have had Lance’s family come and visit us. It truly was the highlight. They were here for only a short time but quality was priceless! They arrived at noon and the hugs were awesome! Family just give the best hugs! It was fun to introduce them to our friends while we ate lunch in the barn with everyone. After lunch we headed out to do a trek into the cove. I gave them the option of not taking the handcart since time was limited but they wanted to take one. They were able to cross Pete’s creek. If you are good you can make it across on the rocks and not step in the water but it is tough navigating a handcart through the rocks and water.
The kids did pretty well for the most part. Kate and Jaelyn had a little trouble with the heat but I had some neck coolers and we reminded them to drink. They were troopers and it was so good to spend this time with them and share the scenery and the experiences with them in person. Pictures and stories are just not the same as being here and experience it. It was such a special experience to sit in the Lower Amphitheatre with them and talk about these people and their experiences and what they went through. Then to ponder why the Lord didn’t temper the weather which we know he could have. Lance mentioned there was a reason the pioneers had this experience as their refiners fire. We all will probably have an experience which will be our refiner’s fire where we come to a point where we just can’t do it by ourselves. We need help and the Savior can give us that help. Will we take it? 
There was such a sweet spirit and I love the view from this spot. The meadow, some shade and benches to sit on. It is almost to the summit but gives you a chance to rest before moving onto the summit. We headed onto the summit and misted ourselves off and refilled our water bottles. On the way back down we were able to see a spotted fawn. It ended up being two of them.
We had special permission to eat dinner with them in Rawlins and bid them farewell as they were leaving in the morning onto other adventures on their vacation.

The very next day we went on a trek with the West Bountiful Ward with about 50 people. There was such a sweet spirit with this ward and I enjoyed visiting with some of the adults and the youth. They are great people and doing wonderful things. I wasn’t sure how I would do since I had just gone with my own family the afternoon before. So I had asked Elder Swingholm if he would be willing to go with Elder Sigmon through the cove and I sit with his wife at Handcart parking if I was having a hard time. But when I got to Handcart parking I felt I was doing fine and so I did end up doing the whole thing after all. I am very grateful for people who are so willing to step in and help and are more than happy to do it. I also had Elder Scussel our District Leader asking me if I was going to be okay before we even left because he knew I had been out the day before. So many kind people.

This group had their bulk of their program at the Rescue Statues and had 4 girls sing a beautiful song called “Bring them In.” The words are very moving and they did a great job.
Now I will tell you the rest of the story of the rattlesnake from the last post. After the snake was killed we had put it in the freezer for Elder Taylor when he got back from Rock Creek Hollow. Well he used his tanning kit and it came out quite nice! He plans to use it for a hat band. 
Today is preparation day and after correlations we came out to a flat tire. We are in the wait and see mode whether or not they will be able to repair it or if we will be buying new tires all the way around. They were able to fix our tire! Yay!

We also finally found Bessemer Bend on our way into Casper today. This is where the Martin Handcart Company was found by the rescue party for the first time. The Platte River is behind me. This isn’t where they crossed the Platte. It was further back in Casper but it took them 4 days to go 10 miles from Casper to Bessemer Bend in subzero temperatures and in at least a foot of snow.
That’s it for now. Hope all is well with you and you are enjoying your summer.
Karl & Monica