Friday, July 19, 2013

North by Northwest - June/July Trip - Day 8

The next morning, we left the Hampton Inn in Mitchell, SD after a really nice night of sleep and headed due north for the Laura Ingalls Wilder Homestead in DeSmet, South Dakota.
 When I was a little girl, my grandmother would send me one of the 'Little House' books every year for Christmas.  Starting with Little House in the Big Woods and ending with These Happy Golden Years, I read each book cover to cover, totally mesmerized by the story of Laura's life on the frontier.  I still cherish those books, only now I read them out loud to my own children.

I could hardly believe that I was going to visit the actual land that Pa, Ma, Mary, Laura, and Carrie had homesteaded all those years ago.
I was totally geeked out!  :-)

The only buildings on the land that aren't reproductions are the church and the school house.  The church has nothing to do with Laura whatsoever, but was instead placed on the land for it's historical significance and the school house wasn't one Laura attended or taught at, but it was one where one of her pupils eventually taught.

The visitors center was nice and they had an informative movie playing about the land, DeSmet, and all the Laura Ingalls Wilder attractions in the area.

They have every stop on the homestead mapped out in a nice circle.  First you visit the first school building, which houses a Laura Ingalls Wilder museum of sorts.

Next you visit the hay roof barn.  For me, it was so cool to compare the visions in my mind of what a hay roof barn looked like to an actual hay roof barn.

They had a calf, a few chickens and even a barn cat here.

Next were the dugout and the shanty.  It was neat to compare the two and consider the question, "Which would I have wanted to live in as a homesteader on the prairie?"

More chickens/ chicks:

Super cool heirloom vegetable garden:

Outside of the home rebuilt to look exactly like the home the Ingalls built on the land (even facing the same direction and in the exact location!) ML got to wash clothes the old fashioned way!

 And there were cart and pony rides:

And then we hitched a ride in the covered wagon over to the school house:

Inside the schoolhouse volunteers, ours was a retired Kindergarten teacher, talked about and demonstrated what a school day was like over 100 years ago in DeSmet, South Dakota.

 So fun!

After our wagon ride back, there were lots of fun things to do - button necklace making, fabric rug braiding, rope making, corn husking, corn husk doll making, etc.  While everyone else was busy with those activities, I took the walk down to the church by myself.

I was still in awe that I was standing on land Laura once looked at with her own eyes!

The church was beautiful and had a really neat history typed up inside:

Sadly, it was soon time for our visit to come to an end.  We needed to get on the road toward home and I had a goal........... one more thing I wanted to see before we left DeSmet........

 We went by the Surveyor's House, an ACTUAL house where Laura and her family lived during the 'long winter' on which her book The Long Winter is based.  So cool.  But what I really wanted from the visitors center here, were directions to Silver Lake!

I went and stood on the shores of Silver Lake and texted my sister, so she could share in my joy.  :-)  And then we were off toward home!
Up next:  Final day(s) driving home!