People don't road trip like they used to, right? I'd even suggest that people avoid driving if they can. I used to be wary of road trips, but now I've actually come to prefer them. Our car is a sanctuary with a view of the world. Our soundtrack varies, depending on our mood, from all genres of music to riveting audiobooks to the gentle hum of the car on the road. We've driven through rain and snow, sunsets and sunrises, and seen hidden parts of the country only accessible by miles and miles of open road. We know what it means to take the road less traveled and experience how it makes all the difference.
This stop, a 2 hour detour on our long drive home from Utah, is the perfect example of what we miss when we don't take to the road. Devil's Gate was a landmark sight along the Oregon Trail and the Mormon Trail west. It is a gorge created by the Sweetwater River not too far from Independence Rock in Wyoming. It is marked now by a simple sign along the highway and posts over the plains at regular intervals marking the path that thousands of wagons and handcarts took throughout our young country's expansion west.
I have ancestors who made that trek across the plains, who left so much behind to follow their faith, who left a legacy for me and all those who came after them. It was incredible to walk where they walked and see what they saw, to feel the stiff and unceasing Wyoming wind and step into the cool water of the Sweetwater River.
But it was also a sobering experience. We stood at the place where tragedy, heartbreak, and loss occurred for a group of handcart pioneers who started their journey too late and found themselves stranded there. Devil's Gate and the Sweetwater River have become synonymous with their peril and hopelessness, and yet these landmarks also show the resilience of faith and the power of sacrifice. I have grown up hearing the stories of three young men who carried a company of desperate, stranded handcart pioneers across the freezing Sweetwater River, one by one, and now I have felt of the spirit of that place and let those same waters flow over my feet.
This stop alone was worth the drive to me. It made our day and our drive a little longer, but it's an experience well worth it.