I hope you girls enjoyed the De Smet post:) I'll try to describe our trip to Walnut Grove without making you read a book!
We left De Smet and in two short hours were in Walnut Grove. I know this was a big move for the Ingalls family and Ma and the girls went by train, but it was just a hop, skip, and a jump for us. In fact, route 14 goes right through both towns, so we didn't even have to change roads.
We arrived at the visitors center to find it absolutely crammed with people. This was the first night of the pageant which portrays the Ingalls at Plum Creek and people had come from far and wide to see it. In fact, an entire bus of Amish men and women were clustered about in the gift shop, and waiting in the line for the bathroom. Hurry people!!!! I was a little confused as to how Amish can take bus trips when they can't do modern things, but that's a question for another post.
The boys were all Ingallsed out for the day, so we let them off the hook and only bought two tickets for the museum. John was such a good sport to traipse around this site with me, but he knows how much it means to me. The boys went outside to play hackysack (wonder what the Amish thought of that!) The museum was filled with lots of pictures, most of which I'd seen before, but there were some neat new things for me. A quilt Laura and Rose had made together was displayed, her little fur cape and muff from On the Banks of Plum Creek was there as well. A big buffalo coat like the one that Pa wore was behind glass and John thought it was pretty spiffy since it was double breasted and had a different kind of fur (muskrat I think) on the collar.
There was also a picture I had not seen, of Laura and a grown up Rose standing behind bushel baskets of apples from Rocky Ridge Farm. Pretty cool.
The rest of the site was a combination of buildings brought to the town block for display. They were not actual buildings associated with the Ingalls family, but fun to look at. One was a duplicate sod house and was much nicer than the one in De Smet...it had whitewashed walls...and another building was supposed to be a replica of the house Pa built for Ma...the wonderful house. It was certainly nicer than the shanties, but was innacurate because it didn't have the loft and the ladder for the girls to climb to bed. I'm a stickler for accuracy and I thought they could have gone the extra mile and put the loft in.
Also on display were items from the television show. Two little house replicas were charming and lots of little girls were clustered around them, oohing and aahing. Lots of autographed pictures of the stars were on the walls, but what I found to be the neatest was the actual fireplace mantel and hearth from the show. The props guy had donated it the museum:) Doc Baker had donated his black suit and doctor's bag too.
We were finished with this little place in no time, but we HAD to get over to Plum Creek. Remember in the books that Pa and Ma undertook a journey into town several times, one time returning on runaway oxen and the other time, Pa was stranded by a blizzard, only being saved by his buffalo coat, eating the Christmas candy in a snow cave. So the little drive, 2 miles, seemed such a short distance to go when I've read about all of the dreadful things that could have happened along the way.
We drove down a little lane, past the farm of the people who are current owners, put our 4 dollars in the drop box and went on to the creek. Parking in the shade, we hopped out in a hurry, ready to get our feet in the creek. We had listened to Plum Creek on CD on the way out, so everyone was up to date and looking for familiar territory. A sign pointed us in the direction of the dugout, so we crossed a little wooden bridge and within seconds were standing by the sign marking the home. It has been washed away, but there is a little indentation and with a great imagination, it's entirely possible to see Laura standing by the rushing creek, getting soaking wet in her nightdress and cap. We walked the little path and imagined Laura and Mary paddling in the creek and looked for the big gray rock and the table land where the girls climbed one hot afternoon with Pa. All of this is still there, but the rock has been covered by silt and the size is not visible. The table land is covered by trees in one part and, again, a person has to use all the powers of the imagination to visualize it.
We went down to the creek and waded and let the minnows nibble at our toes. They were flashing around like litte silver darts in the sun dappled water and I could have stayed there all day. I met some grouchy ladies from Kansas who were disgruntled that they had paid 4 dollars just to see a muddy bank and a little creek. I told John I would have paid a lot more that 4 bucks to see it, but again, I have an imagination and I can picture what it must have been like.
I picked a little black eyed susan and pressed it in a book and found a couple of stones in the creek as keepsakes and we got into the car and drove away. As much as I hated to see it end, my day with the Ingalls was over.
There you go, pigpen girls. I hope I was able to help you see these two very far away places, and someday, maybe you all can go see them for yourselves. Just remember, take along great imaginations and you'll be able to see Laura and Mary in the creek, Pa catching fish in the fish trap, and Ma and Carrie standing on the hillside waving everyone in for supper.