Monday, August 25, 2008

A Visit to the Land of Little House

Okay, so I've been back for a week now, and I'm finally getting around to reporting on my trip. It was really fun!!

We started out with a visit to the Guthrie theater to see the Little House on the Prairie musical. This was actually what started the whole trip idea in the first place. Although it MAY go to Broadway or on a national tour, we couldn't take the chance that it might not and we would totally miss it. And if we were going all the way to Minneapolis anyway, well we just couldn't not go to Walnut Grove and De Smet, now could we? I didn't think so.

I'm a planner by nature. I love to plan trips, I think half the fun of a trip is in the planning of it! This particular trip was planned and re-planned so many times it isn't funny. We kept changing our mind about what we wanted to work in and when. Despite our careful planning, we had a last minute disappointment in that one place we very much wanted to visit wasn't going to be open on any day that we could possibly get there. So at the last minute, we totally reworked the trip, and ended up spending an extra day at De Smet as a result. It worked out to be a wonderful change in plans, so we're glad it happened and we'll get to the other place some other time. :)

So back to that play. Although it's the real Laura Ingalls Wilder and her books that I'm TRULY in love with, I can't deny a nostalgic link with the television series. After all, I grew up watching it faithfully. And I LOVE Melissa Gilbert. So that was another reason to make sure we got to the Guthrie to see it -- you never know if Melissa will stay with the musical even if it DOES go on to show elsewhere. And we couldn't miss our chance to see Melissa.

I had ordered some photos of Melissa to ask her to sign, and we took them along with us, but partway during the show, it hit me that those photos never came in with us. They were still in the car. So at intermission I dashed out to the parking garage to get them. The weirdest thing happened. I swear our car moved.

I clearly remembered parking on level 2. We had taken note of the letters where we parked and everything so it should have been very easy to find. Yet I walked over to the area where I just knew it was parked, and it wasn't there. I clicked the button to make it beep, and I heard it, but I couldn't place where the sound was coming from, it was so faint. I started walking and kept hitting the button. Every time I would hear it beep at me, so I knew it was there somewhere, but I absolutely COULD NOT find it. I walked up and down EVERY ROW in that garage on level 2 and it simply wasn't there. At times it would get a little louder, but I'd look everywhere and it wasn't there.

I ran up to level 3 just in case I was mistaken, but it wasn't there either, nor did I even hear it beeping there. There were only 3 levels total, and we had ridden the elevator down to the ground floor after parking, so there was nowhere else to look.

I finally gave up in frustration. I didn't want to miss the play and I'd been gone quite awhile now. I had to get back. I had no idea how we were going to get home, considering the car was invisible and all, but hoped perhaps my friend would have better luck finding it. It was such a disappointment to not have those photos to be signed, though.

I took the elevator down and on a whim, just before heading back across the street to the theatre, I stepped into the level 1 lot and clicked the button. LIGHTS! I saw lights across the lot flash at me and the beep was louder! I ran over and there was our car. On level 1. I have no idea how it got on level 1, but was thrilled to see it! I grabbed the photos and dashed back in the theater. They were making an announcement that the play would begin in two minutes just as I got there, so I didn't miss anything.

I asked my friend where we had parked the car, and she replied, "Level 2."

"That's what *I* thought," I said, "But apparently it moved." I told her the story. She was as floored as I was, so it was NOT my imagination. I was relieved as I really was beginning to think I'd lost my mind. When we left the theatre to go home, and went to the car on Level 1, she too was very surprised at its location and did not remember it being there. I don't know what happened, but it was weird.

Anyhow, we did indeed get to talk with Melissa after the show and she signed our pictures, so all's well that ends well. :) I got one done for Little Girl too. She likes watching Little House when she stays with Grandma. Which is like, every day. :)

Moving on... the next day was our big driving day. I'm sure everyone is wondering how Zenobia treated us. Apparently she has something against the Laura Ingalls Wilder Highway, aka Highway 14. We had no idea where she took us, but we never saw Highway 14. Then out of nowhere, there was the Ingalls' farm at Plum Creek! We drove right by it, not expecting it, then it dawned on me just WHERE we were. So we quickly turned around and went out to the farm. Not a soul was there, which was awesome. It was all ours.

It was so peaceful there. We spent some time walking around near the creek and along their new walking paths which make it so much easier to walk out to the tableland area now than it used to be years ago when we fought our way through the fields because we really weren't supposed to be back there. ;) I guess the owners figured if people are going to walk through their crops to get there, they were better off to just make a path and let them. :)

After we left Plum Creek, we headed into town (Walnut Grove) to tour the museum. I was thrilled to find a scrapbooking store with Laura stamps! How fun! We stopped in at Nellie's to eat, and do you know they only serve chicken? I found that funny, because do you recall the Little House episode where Nellie's restaurant becomes franchised, and they only serve three different meals, and all the customers get angry and it doesn't work out and they finally restore it back to just being the old Nellie's again, and then Col. Sanders comes up at the very end and says he has a great idea, he wants them to link up with HIS franchise, and they'll only serve one thing -- chicken. Nellie informs him that it will never work, and of course the joke is on her, since viewers all know the success of KFC. Except for the fact that Col. Sanders wasn't even born yet in the mid 1880s when the show supposedly takes place. But anyway -- I think it's really funny that Nellie's restaurant in Walnut Grove only serves chicken. :)

Our next stop was De Smet, where we spent the night at the Prairie House Manor. It's under new ownership, and the Todds are great hosts! We enjoyed our stay there very much!

We spent most of the next day at the museum and around town, and as I mentioned before, due to our last minute change, we had decided to spend an extra night in De Smet, and we did so in a covered wagon on the Ingalls Homestead. Were we ever glad our other plans didn't work out, because this was the coolest thing ever.

I'm hoping to take Little Girl back next year if it works out, and if we do, we are SO totally staying in the wagon. She'll love it!!

We loved being on Laura's land with nobody else there. Yes, there were other wagons, and a tent and an RV, but those people just stayed put, so we had the rest of the land all to ourselves. 160 beautiful prairie acres. Actually 159 because one acre belongs to the Memorial Society. Or maybe it's only 153 because I believe for some reason Pa's land only worked out to be 154 acres instead of the typical 160. Poor Pa, he got gypped in everything he did.

Anyhow. We took an evening walk. Visited the buildings, now empty of other guests, of course. Played with the baby kittens. If Little Girl stays there and they have kittens next year again, I don't know that we'll actually get to sleep in the wagon, as she'll want to be in the barn all night with the kitties. :)

We finally went back to the wagon and went to bed, and awoke to a beautiful sunrise over Pa's land. Does it get any better than that?

We couldn't bear to leave so we spent a good part of the day there, then finally had to head back to Minneapolis to fly home the next day. We left our hearts on the prairie though, so now we have a good excuse to go back. :)

And as for Zenobia... well. Remember I said she was prejudiced against Highway 14? We wanted to stop in Mankato on the way back, which I knew was on Highway 14, so when Zenobia -- who had been instructed to take us TO Mankato, not Minneapolis -- told us to take another road, I told my friend to ignore her and stay on 14. Every two minutes she was telling us to turn. Then she wanted us to U-turn. For about a half hour, she kept wanting us to U-turn and drive all the way back to where we had ignored her! Then she showed us driving NOWHERE, no road even on the display. The poor thing was so confused. We just stayed on 14 and she finally got over it, but boy was she annoyed with us for awhile.

Then in Mankato, we wanted to see Maud Hart Lovelace's home, and I had entered the street address so she would take us right to it, and apparently there are two identical street addresses in Mankato with different zip codes. I didn't know which zip code, so I just picked the first one. It wasn't the right one. It took us to some office building in the middle of the city. Next time I take a trip, I'm arming myself with maps for every single place I might want to go, the way I did in the olden days before Zenobia, and just using her for backup. She is so unreliable.

So that was the trip. It was awesome, and I can't wait for my next one!


jonni said...

I have a love/hate relationship with Zenobia but she did get us out of Minneapolis so she's good for something.....I'm bringing maps next time too though. ;-)

A Dusty Frame said...


Are you able to share how to stay in the covered wagon? We really hope to take a trip someday!

Prairie Rose said...

Of course! Here's the info:

I really hope you get to make that trip soon! What an awesome experience that would be for James! :) Next summer perhaps? :)