I haven't read The Long Winter to Lucy yet but we did just finish On the Shores of Silver Lake so it was fresh it her mind. We started with the city's tour of Laura Ingalls's Wilder homes - the surveyer's house where they spent the winter in On the Shores of Silver Lake, the school house so attended when taught by Eliza Jane, a replica of the first school Laura taught at and the house Pa built for the family when they decided to move back into town.
I don't have any pictures of the Surveyor's house because they weren't permitted but we started out this tour with three grumpy kids and by the time we left this house, those attitudes had mostly been turned around. We especially liked seeing the "whatnot" because we were confused by that in the book. And the pantry stocked with canned peaches, pickles and crackers!
The schoolhouse was probably my favorite. I didn't get a pictures but the front showed the layers as it had been restored and their were several places with the original blackboard. And Jonah's seat has one screw removed so kid's could reproduce Carrie's desk rocking incident.
Grinding wheat by hand. Lucy's prefers my bosch :-)
The one kinda sad part about these stops is that Lucy found out Laura marries Almanzo. We had read Farmer Boy and she even mentioned that it was weird that Laura knew all about Almanzo when he was a boy and asked about it but we just said "hmm, I wonder why" and left it at that. But during this tour they mentioned it and that she had a daughter and showed some pictures. Not the end of the world and I'm still glad we have saved those books for a little later as I think she'll appreciate them more when she's older but it was a bit of a spoiler.
Next up was the Ingalls Homestead. Lucy has been wanting and saving for a bonnet for a little while and I had a feeling their gift shop might have one. So we got her one and Jonah a coonskin cap. We don't normally get anything at giftshops so they were both pretty excited about it.
Making a corn cob "superhero" for Jonah. Lucy went with the more traditional doll.
Making jump ropes.
Wagon ride to the schoolhouse
The kid's turn to drive the wagon. They had to wait for the way back but both were patient and so excited it was finally their turn!
Jonah concentrating very hard on keeping those horses in line.
Then they got to drive the pony wagon and take a pony ride.
Playing with a kitten while waiting for their turn.
Washing and drying clothes outside the homestead. Inside we made button toys, explored the layout of the room, played a pump organ like Mary owned, and learned more about life on the prairie. We came at a great time as we were almost always the only person at each building and were able to ask questions and talk to the workers.
We knew that our day in De Smet would have to be a short driving day but we ended up spending even more time here than we thought and we didn't even get to the cemetery like we had wanted. It was just so much fun. But we were able to make it to our hotel in time to meet up with some family. The kids and I swam with some second cousins of theirs and Craig used his cousin and uncle as an excuse to escape the cold water...seriously, why are hotel pools always so cold?!
To make up for our short drive the day before, we really had to push through on our last day. 6-7 hours of "google driving time" seems to be about what we can handle before everyone falls apart. This day was 8. And our one fun stop was The Federal Reserve in Kansas City. Turns out, it's pretty boring. But it was free bathrooms and a/c and a chance to get out of the car. And we did all get free bags of shredded bills.
Still kinda happy but hours of driving to go
But we all were quite glad to be home again!