Dave and I decided that we have driven the standard route from Michigan to Arizona a few times, so we needed to change it up. We also wanted to visit with friends in Portland, Oregon. We laid out the map and set to planning. Dave was the chief navigator. He visited much of the U.S. as a kid, so he knew of many spots of interest. While planning the ride, I looked at his route and mentioned really wanting to visit Laura Ingalls Wilder's home in De Smet, SD. I noticed we would be driving across South Dakota and thought it might work. Fortunately it did.
Ingalls Homestead. We arrived late in the year, so the planned activities were over. Instead we were able to wander the original quarter section of land Pa homesteaded back in 1880. We walked through many historical buildings, which were indicative of the time. We saw a historical recreation of the home Pa built for his family as well as the hay barn. The kiddos recalled excerpts from the Little House books as we toured. They wondered about certain aspects of the books and inquired about Almonzo's childhood home (we were listening to Farmer Boy at the time). We sat in a one room schoolhouse and rang the school bell many times.
The prairie grasses were still prevalent, and we saw the slough first hand. I remarked about how easy it would be to lose a child in such tall grasses. Aine remembered that tale from one of the books as well, although we couldn't remember if it was Carrie that was lost. The kiddos talked about how they would jump and yell, so someone would find them. Dave mentioned the sound of the wind through the grasses and their continual movement. It would have been tough to find a little person in such an environment.
To top off the visit, we spent the night camping at the homestead. This was no little feat as temperatures dipped into the low 30s. To make it easier, we opted for a covered wagon. The wagon was such a treat. The kiddos marveled at traveling across the U.S. in one. They noticed the tiny space and remember the list of good the settlers would have carried. I wondered how it worked and felt fortunate that my family doesn't have to rely on a wagon for transportation. All of us fit nicely into the wagon, but there would have been little spare room.
The homestead was so quiet at night. There were no other visitors and it was quite peaceful. I am so glad we were able to stop and see this piece of history. It was a great visit that really brought so much of what we had read to life.