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Sunday, June 20, 2004

 

St. Paul

I left North Loup Friday afternoon. It rained off and on all afternoon and evening, so I broke out my poncho to keep the worst of it off. I passed the Happy Jack Peak Chalk Mine (a local historical site and very minor tourist spot) about 5 miles southeast of North Loup, along Highway 11. A few miles further I passed a local scenic lookout, which offers a nice view of the North Loup River and the opposite bank. There are several other views that are nearly as good at various spots along the highway, if one is taking the time to look and not speeding by, and I was too tired, footsore, and anxious to find better shelter to enjoy it much, and it was already getting dark. This stretch of road runs close to the river and in a hilly area, so there were more trees and fewer farms on this leg. Cotesfield is one of those "if you blink as you're driving through, you'll miss it" spots, and it was well after dark by the time I arrived. Just before I got there, a sheriff or deputy stopped to make inquiries; he was about as polite about it as any I've met, and he even offered a ride the last few hundred yards, I mentioned that I intended to find an empty spot and lay out my sleeping bag and crash for the night. He didn't object. When I got there, I did just that. About sunup I woke up and and headed on out to St. Paul. I passed Elba, which is a little bit bigger, but the highway goes around rather than through it. This stretch of highway goes away the river and there is more flat land, so more corn farms. I didn't see much animal life except for farmer's dogs, a cottontail rabbit, and a poor little chipmunk running for its life and barely keeping pace with my shuffle...until it zigged and I went on by. Lots of birds, a bumblebee sipping from a thistle (So it is a weed: it still had a pretty purple flower!), crickets, and even frogs.

I got to St. Paul rather earlier in the day, about 6 PM;
talked to a group of men and their families who were doing some kind of clearing and burning. I found the city park, taked with a few young teen boys and and elderly lady who was watching a couple of her granddaughers, stayed the night in the park without being disturbed, except by the noise of rowdy teens out for Saturday Night cruises. I made sure to find a place with a roof, since the forecast was for nightime showers, but if it did rained, it wasn't much: I had a nice sound sleep.

St. Paul doesn't have an LDS branch of its own; the nearest ward is in Grand Island. I tried to contact the Bishop there to see if there were any members in St. Paul who could take me to church, but could't reach him. I did reach one of his counselors, but only managed to confirm that there are indeed a few LDS families in St. Paul. My attempts to arrange for a ride to services in Grand Island and back were unsuccessful.
So, this morning as I was looking for the library to do this update, I ran across The Happy Church, a small one of the evangelical-pentecostal variety that had only about a dozen people at the service. They were friendly, inquired a little about my trip, and let me change and freshen up as much as I had time to do before the service started.
I found no fault with the sermon; it was good biblical teaching (regarding the Fatherhood of God, fitting for a Father's day theme) The pastor and his family were friendly enough to offer buy me a lunch and point out one of his LDS friends.

One of the most common reactions I've found when I've talked to people, is amazement that I'm intending to walk the whole way. I've declined several offers of rides in the last few days.
Yes, I could reach my intended destination a lot faster with less inconvenience (cold, wet, windy, sore shoulders, back, and feet, no place to wash or clean up, to name a few). But the point of this trip is not so much getting to the destination as what I experience along the way.

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