Tuesday, April 17, 2007


My Laura Ingalls Wilder Tour (Part 2)

After the sod house tour, I arrived at Walnut Grove. I went first to the Ingalls Dugout Site. It was, of course, On the Banks of Plum Creek. I was very happy to be there all by myself as this was my first actual Little House site. I was nervous and excited.

This sign greets you:

(I borowed this from the Walnut Grove site linked above.)

There is a small hollow where the "house" was in the creek bank. I can't imagine living in a tiny little hand-made cave.

I climbed up past the sign and was standing in a wheat field.

This is the first time I had ever seen a wheat field in person, in real life. I was surprised that is is not tall. I thought it was like corn and grew over your head. Nope! Don't know why I thought that, maybe because sugar cane is also very very tall? (See what happens when you grow up on an island? Then again many tourists think pineapples grow on trees...so there you go.) The wheat was beautiful. Driving through the plains in July really made the words "amber waves of grain" come to life.

I spent a while quietly walking around the dugout site and creek, just soaking it up. Then I returned to the car and went back to town where I walked through the Wilder Museum where they have historical objects from the 1800s and also a quilt that Laura made with her daughter Rose. It's a small town with not a whole lot to see in a day. As I mentioned, I met up with the family from Maryland and we sat togehter on a picnic table and chatted.

Then I moved on to Tracy. I had booked a room in a B&B there for the night. Laura wrote about her very first train ride in By the Shores of Silver Lake. She (and Ma and Mary and Carrie and Grace) went from Walnut Grove to Tracy. She said it took an hour (it was a fictional account.) It took me about 15 minutes--it's 8 miles.

The night at the Valentine B&B was very exciting. I was the only guest in this HUGE old Victorian house that the owners were in the process of fixing up (the inside was done and lovely, the outside was still being worked on.) Their link is not working, otherwise I would have linked immediately...oh well. It was an exciting evening because a storm blew in and I had my very first tornado warning. The owners knocked on my door about an hour after I went to sleep and we sat in the kitchen listening to the radio, ready to run down into the basement at a moment's notice. The wind was whipping and the thunder and lightening were fabulous. We talked about tornadoes vs. earthquakes and we all agreed that it's nice to have some warning. The storm soon passed and we got an all clear and I went to bed.

The next morning, after a lovely breakfast, I was saying goodbye to the woman there (I have to dig out my journals to get some names.) and she mentioned that as I was driving, if I saw a tornado, I should drive to the closest farm and knock on the door, find shelter. (Highway 14 is a two lane road.) And of course she was dead serious. Freaky for a Hawaii/California girl! Luckily, I didn't have to do that and it seemed that once I crossed into South Dakota, there were mostly beautiful blue skies all the way. It looked like this most of the time:

(This is on the way to Mount Rushmore, further east--I mean WEST!!-- in S. Dakota.) (Another symptom of growing up on an island--not know east/west/north/south.)

I was very excited to get into South Dakota because soon I would be in DeSmet. Goose bumps.

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