Friday, June 28, 2013

June 25 Laura Ingalls Wilder homestead

Today was the big day for the Laura Ingalls Wilder homestead. I remember watching Little House on the Prairie as a young kid & to be honest I never knew it was based on an actual person. I never read the books so I just thought it was some tv show. It makes it more interesting to know that it was all true & not made up (well except for the Hollywood spin off part). I was excited to get out there & see what the fuss was about. My 5 year old daughter had no idea about the whole thing & I tried explaining it to her ahead of time. I definitely want to sit with her & watch the tv shows so she can get an idea of what life was like back then. Kids today have it so easy…haha. I know one thing, I don’t think I could make it living out there in those conditions working my butt off 24/7. I’m barely surviving now with all the modern conveniences. Then again maybe that’s the problem. Maybe we have too many conveniences & perks. Perhaps simplifying life to the bare essentials is what it takes? Eh who knows??

Before the tour in town the kids did hands on stuff at the discovery house across the street. It looked like an old school house & I can’t remember now if it was one that had been used in the past or not. Hubby & Annika sat at a table & used Lincoln logs to build a home, both kids sat at the old desks for a photo & they wrote on old chalk board slates. Annika sewed with yarn & used the old style stencil to write her name the way Mary (the blind sister) used to use. From there we started the main tour at the old surveyor’s house where the Ingalls family lived for a while after being at their homestead. It was small & the stairs were really steep, but it was plain & simple. From there we drove down the house that Pa built in town (at least I think he built it…shoot now I can’t remember). You see this is why I have to write this stuff down as I go versus going back & trying to remember. Sheesh. We saw 3 buildings on the first part of the tour & one of them was an old school. Annika was able to grind wheat in an old coffee grinder & again they sat in the seats. I tried listening as carefully as I could when the 15 year old tour guide was speaking, but it was hard to understand her.

Anyway on to the really fun part; the homestead. There were lots of hands on things for the kids to do. They started out climbing to the top of this very tall lookout tower where they could see the entire property (160 acres).  Then there was a small building with lots of memorabilia from the books Laura wrote. Then there was an old merry go round (the wooden type that looks like an octagon). The kids got on & daddy spun them around….a little too fast for Dalton who had that scared look on his face then started to scream. Then it was on to the very long teeter totter (or see saw as I’m used to calling it) & this is where the injury takes place. You know we have to have at least one a day. There were no handles on this thing so the kids had to hold on to the side. I knew Dalton would fall off & hubby let go & Annika went down on her end a bit too hard & the thing bounced, which made Dalton’s butt jump up off the seat & he started to fall off. Thankfully hubby caught him before he hit the ground, but not before he bumped his mouth/lip on the wooden seat. Ouch! No blood thankfully, but he ran to mommy for the magic hug & kiss. My poor baby. He recovered quickly & it was on to the dugout. Yuck. You see back then when the folks got their land they had to first build their shelter & it was usually a dugout. They would dig underground, usually under a mound, & create their home. It was probably 8 ft by 8 ft & had a stove, one window, a table & a bed (although I didn’t see a bed in this dug out). It was sod everywhere & the ground was dirt. When it rained, water could drip inside up to 3 days past the end of the rain. Not fun in my book. I do remember them saying that the family lived in that dug out for one year! Ugh can you imagine? Yes it was cooler in there & safe for tornado weather, but that would be the only time I’d go in there. They also had a shanty that Pa built & to me it looked more like an oversized out house. I’m pretty sure I remember them saying it was 8ft by 6 ft, although hubby thinks it was bigger. It was all wood & tiny with the bare necessities. Laura had 2 other sisters plus her parents all living in this tiny shack. Talk about being close together. Guess you were forced to be outside with nature, although in the winter time that would get really claustrophobic. No thanks.

From there the kids went on to pump the actual well & water came out  & down the slide into the bucket. We explained to Annika that once she filled the bucket she would have to carry that to the house to use for washing (at least twice each time for dishes) then she’d have to do the same & carry it to the barn to give to the animals. It was a hike up hill & the bucket was heavy. Dalton was too short to pump the well, but he was determined & he finally got it going. He was so proud & pointed with his hand up (like Vannah White) & said “see mommy, wa-eerr). I think he’d adjust easily to prairie living. From there they had the house that Pa eventually built & it was bigger, but still small in comparison to today, but then again it had the bare necessities we need for survival. On the side of the house was a wash tub where people could wash laundry the old way. Annika took the soap & scrubbed the towel on the wash board then rinsed it on the other side then ran it through the wringer to get the water out then she carried it over to hang it on the line. I was surprised she did it all & didn’t give up saying it was too hard or boring. I told her “just think of all the diapers you would have to wash like this”. She didn’t think that was fun at all. Dalton also wanted to try, but we just let him hold the plunger looking thing & rinse the towel to satisfy his urge. From there they had a fake calf & rope where you could try out your hand at roping. I was in the house looking around, but the kids were out there giving it their all. Our last part of the fun stuff was the covered wagon ride….oooohhhh. The kids were looking forward to that because they love horses & ponies. Inside the barn was a pony & after the wagon ride they were able to ride the pony. We got in the back of the wagon & sat up front where we could see these 2 giant black horses. They were the size of Clydesdales, but without the furry legs/hooves. Each kid was able to take turns steering (holding the reins). We headed towards the old school house for a tour….or so I thought. They sat inside that classroom for at least 20 minutes dressed up in their prairie clothing, which was cute, but ugh I was ready to go. The “teacher” did a lesson in math, geography, history & English (poem). I took Emry out back to feed her & hubby took Dalton outside who wouldn’t sit still. When school was over the kids were able to take turns ringing the bell. There was a long rope hanging down & I thought for sure it would lift Annika up off the ground, but it didn’t. It was cute, but they really need to slim down that portion of the tour. There were 2 outhouses on the homestead & you could still use them, but I don’t know why you’d want to. Hubby said they were disgusting & he’s one of those “whatever I’ll use it if I have to pee” but he said “no way” so it must have been pretty gross.  We headed back to the horse barn & it was Annika’s turn to hold the reins. She loved it, but she loved the pony ride even more. They let us do whatever we wanted on the pony ride. They said “here ya go” & hubby asked “where do we go?” and she replied “oh wherever you want”. We were surprised they weren’t strict. So Annika went first & daddy held the rope to make the pony go, but she stopped dead in her tracks like a donkey. Nope she wasn’t going. After I took a couple photos I grabbed the rope & somehow made her go. I let Dalton hold the rope too, but if you didn’t hold the pony’s head up she’s stop to eat grass. We let her have a few bites then got her walking again. We went around the big windmill then headed back so Dalton could have a turn. He was a little skiddish, but I held his hand as he rode & Annika took the rope & led the pony. They enjoyed it & from then on it was “how come we can’t have a pony? I want a pony”. Ugh really? I explained to her that horses & ponies were a lot of work, but she said she could do it. Uhhh huh. I had to remind her daily to feed her one beta fish. I think we’ll just let her work at a horse farm when she gets older.

We were finally done with everything & headed to the….oh no don’t say it….the gift shop. Yep melt down strikes again. There really was nothing in there that would have been good to have & I wasn’t about to buy another horse figurine since she has about 30 horses already. I’m hoping my daughter doesn’t turn into a hoarder as she gets older. I bought the first book to read & we headed out with her crying & throwing a fit. So embarrassing & all I wanted to do was hog tie her & toss her into the back of the suv, but I’m sure someone would have called social services on me. Her gift shop meltdowns sure get old. So you’re probably saying “then why go in them?” well it’s hard to avoid them when they put them right there at the entrance & exit of the darn places we’re going to. Believe me we try to avoid them like the plague.

We drove back to town so I could take a photo of the old post office. Anytime I see an old post office I take a photo & send it to my dad. He likes to see them since he spent almost 40 years working as a post man. He said maybe one day he’ll do a book of a bunch of old unique post offices so I’m helping out in case he decides to do it one day. While we were in town we decided to order pizza since we didn’t eat lunch & it was nearly 3pm. We got to camp & Dalton was zonked with his mouth wide opened. After we ate I wanted to nap, but Emry woke up from her nap & was ready to play. Dalton was still snoozing so I read a chapter of the Laura Ingalls Wilder book to Annika while we waited on little man to wake up. She then went outside to sit with her daddy. Dalton finally woke from his nap & ate his pee-puh (pizza). I decided to go ahead & give him an early bath to get it over with. He wasn’t going outside so I figured one down now & the other 2 later. Oh while the baby was sleeping one of the other older rv neighbors invited Kurt to go over & eat some fresh Walleye fish they had caught. Annika went too & had fun because they had 3 little dogs she could play with. I couldn’t go & leave the baby who was now asleep again for the evening so he brought me a piece & it was good & I’m not a fish lover. It didn’t taste fishy at all. In fact Dalton ate almost 3 pieces & Annika ate some too saying it was “delicious, I love that fish”. Score! Oh & apparently the host was sitting out there as well & Kurt got to chit chat with him. He later came in with his whole big eye raised eyebrow look & told me the guy was a little “wacko”. The guy mentioned something about engineering something the size of a pin head to put into people’s bodies to make them do what he wanted. Yeah ok time to go.

Side note: Dalton has a thing for dumping out his drinks. He dumps the last bit of his water & juice in the garbage or on the floor. He likes to squeeze the juice boxes when they are almost empty. It irritates us because he usually makes a mess. I told hubby he needs to only have his sippy cup from now on, but we usually forget when we’re out & about. At the homestead he dumped his water into the pony’s water bucket. Oi that kid.

Another side note: Both kids love to watch Toy Story & sing the songs. They’ve probably watched part 1 & 2 20 times since we hit the road. “Woody Buzz Woody Buzz” is what Dalton says when he wants to watch the movie. They both can recite multiple lines from the movie. I’m thinking those 2 movies might have to get “lost” for about a week or longer.

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