Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Love Obsession With a House

I absolutely love my new house. No, it isn't mine yet... still waiting... but soon! Like Mary Poppins, it is practically perfect in every way -- for my needs anyway.

But that isn't the house I'm referring to in my title. No, the house with which I have a love obsession is the final home of Laura and Almanzo Wilder, the farmhouse at Rocky Ridge Farm. (That rock house is very appealing, too, but there's just nothing like the farmhouse.)

I'm not sure what it is exactly; I guess it's that Laura and Almanzo lived there for so many years, and loved their home there. Built it the way they wanted it, and cultivated the land with their own hands. It's as if their presence can still be felt there -- not in any weird kind of ghostly way -- just in a warm fond remembrance kind of way.

I went out this past fall to celebrate my birthday there with a friend -- because where better to celebrate one's birthday than in the home one is obsessed with, right? :)

We knew we were more obsessed than most with LIW and with Rocky Ridge itself, but that trip revealed to us both just how far beyond obsessed we apparently are. It began with the owners of the place where we were staying.

"You're staying... FOUR nights?" they questioned. We nodded. "And you're going to the Wilder Farm?" We again nodded our agreement. "Oh," said they, "And what else are you going to do?"

We just looked at them. "We're going to the Wilder Farm," we finally responded.

They exchanged glances, and we thought to ourselves, "They think we have no idea what's there and we're going to be sorely disappointed."

So the next evening, they came hurrying over to meet us when we returned from our day at Rocky Ridge, and asked us how we liked it. "You were there ALL DAY?" they questioned, and we nodded. We discussed our day for awhile, and then they said, "So what are you going to do tomorrow?" Surely these ladies have now figured out they've done absolutely everything there is to do out there... they must have been thinking.

"We're going back to the Wilder Farm..." we answered. They just looked at each other and didn't say a word.

They weren't the only ones wondering about us. By the third day, we were starting to get some quizzical looks from some of the staff members who were now recognizing us. They were polite enough not to ask us why on earth we kept coming back ;) but they had to have been wondering.

But the icing on the cake... the event that convinced us that we are just beyond insane when it comes to this place... occurred on our last night there.

We had both come in separately as we don't live anywhere near each other, so we had our own cars. We had somewhere to be VERY early the next morning so knew that was our last day at Rocky Ridge. That evening, we went out to get something to eat, and we drove separately so we could each fill up on gas rather than have to worry about it at dark o'clock the next morning.

After we ate, my friend called her husband as she didn't get reception on her cell phone at the place we were staying, so I told her I was heading on back to our place and I'd see her there. On my way back, however, I remembered that we only had one key -- and she had it.

"Oh, well," thought I. "Rather than sit in the car and wait for her, I'll just take this opportunity to head back over to the farmhouse!"

Yes, it was night. Yes, it was long since closed. Who cares? I could LOOK at it, couldn't I?

I told you I was obsessed. Just gazing lovingly at this beautiful home from the roadside was an appealing thought. So off I went, and as I approached the house, I slowed down almost to a stop so I could look over.

But just as I did so, another car came from the other direction, and rather than just driving on past as I expected they would do, they too slowed and were staring at me. I quickly sped up and drove on past, so as not to look suspicious. I wasn't doing anything wrong, of course, but I recognized that it might be considered unusual behavior to slow to a crawl outside the Wilder home at night and therefore the townfolk might get a little suspicious, and perhaps the person in that car was a staff member or something so was concerned that something was amiss here.

"No big deal," thought I as I drove on. I'll just drive out to the Rock House and turn around and come back.

And so I did. And daggone it, despite the complete lack of traffic on that road, once more just as I reached the house, I saw approaching headlights. Again, I slowed and hoped they'd go on past, but no, they slowed too, and then came to a complete stop.

"You've got to be kidding me!" I thought. "What, do they just drive back and forth and patrol the place all night or something, to keep crazy people like us from staring at the house after hours!?"

I gave up and figured okay, I'll just drive on and turn around again and come back. But this time as I passed, I saw the car turn into the parking lot. "Oh, great," I thought. "Of all the luck -- it must be someone who works there, now I have no hope of going back. They totally will not understand that I just want to LOOK at it from the road!! That has got to be too weird for the average person to comprehend."

But then as I glanced in my rear-view mirror at the car that was now in the parking lot, I recognized the car. Before it had been too dark to see it clearly, but now there was a faint light shining on it. It was my friend!

She pulled out of the lot and followed me back to the place we were staying. We got out laughing and asking each other what on earth we had been doing.

And, of course, we had been doing exactly the same thing. She too had been on her way to take one last look at the house, and she too was thinking, "Oh, no!" when *I* slowed my car as she couldn't see mine to recognize it either until it was past.

Too funny! So neither of us got a good look at the house on our last night out, but the next day after arriving at our respective homes, we did learn that each of us, on our way out from the place we spent the night, did another drive-by in the wee hours of the morning and got a lovely view...

Of Rocky Ridge in deep fog. :)

Now that, my friend, is obsessed. Guilty as charged. :)


Rachel said...

That is hilarious!!
I remember sitting out in front of it one night for a short while in the car. We actually turned in the little driveway place, remember? Good Times.

Maria said...

Hehe! Yes, just a tad ;o) But sweet.

Prairie Rose said...

Rachel: No, I don't remember actually, but that isn't surprising. Unless it's recent history, I can't be expected to recall it. :)

Maria: If you went there, you'd understand. Come. Come to America. I will take you to Rocky Ridge. You will see. Just come. :)

Christine said...

He he!! LOVE That story.

I've been to DeSmet to the surveyors house and before you can go in you need to buy a ticket next door. (You've probably been there too I imagine) I was on a business trip to Sioux Falls and took a day off to drive to DeSmet. Anyway, I was all alone, so thus had NO ONE to share with what a big deal this was to me. So I'm in that house next door buying a ticket and I am REALLY excited. REALLY excited. And I was talking about a mile a minute to the woman there about this being a lifelong dream of mine, she has no idea how excited I am. etc.... She's pretty quiet and I say "Um, you probably hear this a lot....Right?" She just smiled!!

While I was there this woman shows up with her husband and her son. Her husband waits in the car. She gets out with the son and they stand outside the surveyors house but don't buy a ticket. She was really excited because she never thought she would see it and they were passing through and she made her husband stop. BUT, he wouldn't let her buy a ticket and go in because he didn't want to waste time. I could have cried for her and she was darn near close to crying herself. This was obviously a big deal to her too. She said she didn't think she would ever get back there. I couldn't help but think of how glad I was that I married someone who would never do that. Whenever I think of that trip I think of her and how heartbroken I would have been if I only got to stand outside that house.

Prairie Rose said...

Christine -- no, I don't think most of the staff members at the sites truly get it, and they must think us all crazy. :) We went to a small museum locally once and were astonished to discover that people come from all over the world to see it, as it was SO small and here we'd lived right by it all our lives and this was the first time we'd even bothered to come check it out -- and we thought, "Okay, this is what the locals must think of all us Little House freaks... HUH? WHAT is the big deal?" :)

As for the poor lady you met -- how sad indeed. I don't understand people like that. He didn't care enough about his wife to give up a half hour so she could do something she'd always longed to do? Good grief. I'd give up a half hour for a STRANGER if I knew it meant that much to them -- how much more, your SPOUSE?

Every time I'm at the museums, I see people come in, tell where they're from, sometimes from several states away, and they ask how much to tour, and then DON'T BUY THE TICKETS. I'm always just amazed. You came all this way to see this, and you won't pay a few bucks to REALLY see it?

I just don't get it.

Heidi said...

I've never been to any of the Wilder sites, do you have pictures of your "House o' Dreams"?

Prairie Rose said...

Heidi: There's an album from that trip on Facebook.

Strangers, and Heidi too: If interested, you can view the house in this youtube video: