Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Last Day in St Louis

Today we went to the arch.

Between chance of rain and the weekend's protests being in that area we weren't sure we were going to be able to but today was sunny (and HOT) and things were quiet in the area, at least during the day, I haven't looked at news to see if there were any more protests this evening.

When my parents were here this summer there were long lines and you had to order tickets ahead but with school started, we had no waiting other than the unavoidable wait so everyone can board the pods at the same time.

Waiting to board

We rode up in a little pod. Little Bit was rather freaked out. Lexie and Ashlyn loved watching out the window at the infrastructure of the arch. They decided it would be the perfect setting for a Cyberman attack on Dr Who.

I thought Little Bit would be over her nervousness once we were at the top but she was still nervous. Her sisters were great at distracting her by pointing out various things out the windows but as soon as she wasn't distracted she was nervous again. The views were awesome:

I wasn't concerned she'd really freak out when we went down because it's faster. Takes 4min to go up and only 3 to go down. But she actually liked the faster speed, whew!

Once we were back down, the museum is closed for renovations but Little Bit and Dad got their passport stamps

And we watched the video about how it was built.

After lunch we went to the museum exhibits in the Old Courthouse to finish the Junior Rangers. One option was to stand in the middle of the rotunda and look up, then draw what you saw.

The girls and mom all earned their Junior Rangers.

We finished our day, and our time in St Louis, with supper at the Old Spaghetti Factory! Yum!!!

posted from Bloggeroid

Monday, September 18, 2017

U S Grant National Historic Site

Today we went to US Grant's National Historic Site.

This site is the farm that was owned by Grant's wife's family, the Dents. Interestingly the house is called White Haven after Julia's father's family home in MD. Apparently the house was never white, but the awful green approximates the color Grant chose when he took over ownership.

We toured the house and out buildings including the summer kitchen

And chicken coop

The winter kitchen was in the basement. While the main living spaces were all plastered and finished, the ceiling beams in the kitchen were logs with the bark still on.

The large horse stables that Grant designed and had built is now a museum. This quote amused me.

And, of course, the girls and my mom earned their Junior Rangers.

We were planning to also visit "Grant's Farm" across the street from the historic site. It has the Anheuser-Busch Cleidsdales and other animals. But unfortunately, is only open weekends this time of year, so we'll have to skip it.

Next we enjoyed a yummy "lunch" of frozen custard from Ted Drewes. YUM

posted from Bloggeroid

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Rocky Ridge Farm

Today was our last little house site of the trip.

Rocky Ridge Farm is the farm Laura and Amanzo bought when they moved from De Smet, ND to Mansfield, MO when their daughter, Rose, was 7. They lived here for the rest of their lives.

Today was Wilder Day, so it was a lot more crowded than any of the other sites have been. As I suspected, the museum here has most of the actual things that exist from her life. Unfortunately, they don't allow pictures inside the museum. So I'll just tell you about the things I was most excited about lol.

Pa's fiddle, obviously!!!! After all the entire point of our timing ever since Labor day has been based on being here TODAY to hear the fiddle!

Ma's pearl handled pen.
The lace that Ida Brown slipped into Laura's hand as a wedding present.
The little china box Laura got off the Christmas tree on Walnut Grove.

Also was fun to learn that Rose shared my love of BIG coffee cups and see a couple of hers.

After the museum we went up to the farm house to tour it.

When they first bought the farm there was a one room cabin. They lived there the first winter then added a second room. The following spring they moved to new room to it's current location and added a second room and an attic bedroom. That became the first phase of this farmhouse.

Again, no photos were allowed inside. The original 2 rooms eventually became the kitchen, with counters built extra low so they were easy for 4 ft 11 in. (or 5ft depending what you read) Laura. And a dining room with built in storage and a pass thru window from the kitchen. Later they added a bedroom, music room, and parlor with a very cool library nook to the main floor and a proper staircase and another bedroom upstairs.

After we toured the farm house a shuttle took us to the rock house.

After Rose was grown and successful she purchased a house plan or kit (depending who you ask lol) from the Sears catalog. She had the rock house built for her parents because she thought they needed a more modern house.

Again, no pictures allowed inside. It's a cute little house. Love the big living room windows and there are great built in shelves and wall niches throughout. After about 7 years Laura and Almanzo moved back to the farm house because this house didn't feel like home. I can't say that I blame them. The farmhouse has a bigger, nicer kitchen and the awesome library nook. And while they were living in the rock house Rose lived in the farm house and added a bathroom on so now it had indoor plumbing too. They spent the rest of their lives in the farm house. They used the rock house as a rental for awhile then sold it.

(Random picture of Little Bit)

Next we took the shuttle into town where there were street vendors and other festivities going on. Nothing too exciting . . .we did go to the town historic society museum. Saw a few more of Laura's things there, again no pictures allowed. As Ashlyn pointed out, while I totally understand no flash, the Smithsonian allows pictures why do all these little museum think they're more important? I especially found it absurd at the historic society where they provided free coffee that you could drink while wandering through the exhibits. So obviously the no pictures rule wasn't to keep from damaging historic items. Anyway . . . Lexie ended up talking to a lady whose parents knew the Wilders. Her mother worked at the bank. Said Laura took care of all their financed. And her father did some electrical work for them. Said Laura tried to tell him how to do the wiring and he said later that if he'd done what she said it would have caused a fire.

After lunch we went back to the farm house to see Pa's fiddle played! The man who played it said it was what was known as a seed fiddle because Pa won it for buying enough seed. Another site we were at, I don't remember which, said nobody knows where Pa got his fiddle, so nice to hear at least one theory lol. Obviously it wasn't a very fancy fiddle but it's held up well. He said the only thing they've changed is putting new tuning keys on it. I assume they've also replaced the strings, probably multiple times.

I also took a video of him playing but the app I'm using won't let me add a video so I'll do it as a separate post straight in blogger.

After he played Pa's fiddle they had the final part of the fiddle-off that had been going on all day. That was fun to watch.

And thus ends our Little House tour. The one major site we didn't go to was the Wilder home in NY. We're hoping to hit it during another trip to Boston and/or PEI.

In the morning we'll start heading north east with stops along the way.

posted from Bloggeroid

Video of Pa's Fiddle

Friday, September 15, 2017

Little House on the Prairie

This morning we went to the site of the Ingalls family's cabin near Independence, KS.

In the book, Laura says it was 40 miles from Independence but actually it's only 12 miles. She also says she was 6 when actually she was 3.

The only thing original to the site is the well that Pa hand dug. They "capped" with concrete. I really wish they had either capped it with plexiglass or just put a fence around it, or both, so you could still see in it.

The original cabin is gone. Something I read earlier this week online indicated that the reproduction cabin is built on the original footprint of Pa's cabin but the lady there today said she thinks it was actually closer to the well, so who knows. This trip is definitely making me want to read Laura's autobiography, Pioneer Girl, because so much information seems contradictory.

The cabin has been damaged to the point that they don't let you in it but you can look in to see it set up like Laura describes it in the books.

An old post office building was moved to the site and is set up like it would have been in that era.

An old school house was also moved to the site. This sign describes it.

Inside the school.

The quilt pattern on the barn is, "dove in the window" the pattern of the quilt Laura made for her hope chest and Amanzo made up the bed with when they got married.

There were donkeys by the barn. This one was super friendly and came over to be petted.

This afternoon we're driving to Mansfield, MO to go to that site tomorrow. Little Bit entertains herself while we drive.

I was amused to see pay phones at the MO welcome center. When I pointed them out to Little Bit she said, "you mean like the TARDIS?!?"

posted from Bloggeroid

Fort Scott

Yesterday we went to Fort Scott, Kansas. I ended not taking many pictures because I was busy helping Little Bit with her Junior Ranger.

It was an interesting park, and the Junior Ranger did a good job of making us go over the whole thing.

I think we would have enjoyed it more if it wasn't SO hot! There's something more . . .intense about the heat out here. And the northern part of our trip got us ready for fall, making the heat here seem even worse.

The volunteer at the desk made the kids happy by just giving them their badges, and Civil war trading cards, without making them say the pledge. He also took time to go through the trading cards with Little Bit and tell her a little about each one.

posted from Bloggeroid

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Long Day

Today was by far our longest day so far on this trip. Last night we parked in a parking lot at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska. A friend of my parents who lives in the area had told them the college had RV hook ups and arranged with the college for us to park there what she, and therefore we, didn't realize is that the hook ups are in a regular parking lot on campus with cars parked all around them. We got parked by waiting till the lot cleared out some in the evening. So . . .this morning my dad woke up a little after 7 and realized the lot was filling up and we could get parked in. We woke Little Bit up enough to move her from the floor to the sofa, got everything ready to go, including slides pulled in, then woke the big girls enough to get them to turn the other direction in their bunks so their feet were pointed to the front, not their heads, and pulled out. Dad stopped at the entrance of the lot to hook the car on the back and while he was doing that, literally minutes after we pulled out of our spot, someone came and parked in a spot that would have blocked us in! Drove a few miles to a Walmart lot and stopped to let kids finish waking up and all of us make our coffee and eat breakfast then headed to the Homestead Memorial national park site. Spent the morning there . . .

Not surprisingly, the homestead memorial is on the prairie. It has its own kind of beauty but the girls and I are in agreement that we have no desire to live on the prairie. So flat and hot and . . . Flat!

This was in the eclipse's path of totality, so they still had stuff about that here. My favorite was the series of small quilts they had showing the stages. So gorgeous!

All 3 girls got their Junior Rangers but as usual, Ashlyn didn't want her picture taken.

They had a "Not so Junior Ranger" book here do mom did that one and got a different pin.

We left Homestead around 1pm and ate while dad drove into Kansas to the Pony Express Museum there. It's small, but very cool!

The original pony express stop for this area is still on it's original location! It was used as a home until the 1940s. The interpreter at the museum said recently a woman in her 90s came to see the museum and said she had actually lived in this house! So cool!

Inside the original building they have a place where the show the different "layers" in the wall.

The building still has it's original floors and at some point in it's history someone flatten out tin cans and used them to patch the floor. Talk about using everything you had!

Riding gloves.

There was a telegraph key in the museum that you could try. Lexie taught Little Bit how to use it.

The people who lived in the wayside house when the pony express was in operation were German. This is s German Bible.

So we spent a couple hours there then decided to do a couple hours of driving to get closer to tomorrow's stop, Ft Scott. We found a campground that looked like it would work well but dad didn't have good cell reception there at the museum so we figured we'd drive a little bit then stop and dad could call and confirm they had a spot available. We discovered that cell service was spotty most everywhere and places to stop were minimal . . . By the time mom could call it was after hours and the recording gave no indication of if there was a way to stay there if you hadn't planned ahead. So, new plan . . . Found another campground, called and actually talked to a person. She said they did have a spot, so we drove to this campground (which happens to be in a town named "Peculiar" I've been making tons of jokes about that, the girls don't find me as funny as I find me lol).

Didn't get to the campground until after 8, then had to get parked, not an easy task to back a motorhome into a spot in the dark. Get leveled and hooked up . . . By then it was bedtime!

So today was our earliest time pulling out, by at least an hour, and our latest time parking, by probably 2 hours, first time parking after dark. Long day, and hard on dad, doing so much driving, a lot of it on 2 lane roads with quite a bit of wind. I'm proud of my girls for handling the uncertainty without complaining, and generally being great travelers.

This campground has laundry facilities and showers so I'm going to get laundry going in the morning and take a much needed shower (with so many of us, we have to be careful about water usage if we spend very long at sites without water hookup and/or a dump station. So, while the shower in the motorhome works fine, we've been conserving water so no showers since we left DeSmet Monday morning). And hopefully the kids will sleep in a bit.

posted from Bloggeroid

Sunday, September 10, 2017

De Smet Day 2

Today we stayed on the homestead and enjoyed all that it has to offer.

Mother Nature apparently thought we needed to truly experience the prairie so we had warm, but strong, winds all day long! I can't say it made me have any interest in living out here! Ashlyn commented that she didn't realize there could be wind like this with rain or cold.

The horse's name is the same as Little Bit's.

Ready to ride.

Nobody knows what happened to the original claim shanty that Pa built on the homestead but town records give us the dimensions so they built one the same size. This is the room the 4 girls shared after Pa added on the first addition (2 bedrooms). The "main room", that was the whole house for the first year, is twice the size of this bedroom.

The whole shanty as it would have looked after 1883 when Pa added another room to house the organ they bought for Mary.

Kids could try their hand at doing laundry outside the shanty.

We took a wagon ride out to a school house. Not on it's original site, and not where Laura taught, that one burned down and this was built in it's place and continued to be used until the 1960s.

Inside the kids dressed up in bonnets and pinafores. And a retired teacher told about school back then.

The water bucket and dipper. So hygenic.

The exterior of the school. The teacher said up to 30-some students attended there!

Little Bit got a turn "driving" on the way back.

When we got back from the wagon ride the big girls had to love on the horses.

The colt we met yesterday was happy to see us. He's only a month old and friendly as can be. Comes up and rubs against you if you're ignoring him.

Little Bit wanted to drive the pony cart so Lexie rode along.

Ashlyn took a turn driving the pony cart too but I didn't get a picture. She said the guy told her that pony doesn't have to be tied to the rail between rides, she stays put EXCEPT during the summer they stop at 6:30. That pony can tell time and right at 6:30 if she isn't tied up she'll start toward home lol.

The pony waiting, not tied, between rides. I love how she rests her chin on the rail.

Lexie's turn riding the horse.

Ashlyn's turn. Notice the colt waiting for her to come love on him some more.

Even though the Ingalls never lived in a dugout in SD, there's a replica of one here on the homestead. Based on the indentation left by the one on Plum Creek, I think this is pretty accurate as far as size.

I knew it was small, but the thing that struck me when I went inside was that somehow it being dark and having dark, solid, thick walls made me feel a LOT more claustrophobic in the dugout than I have in the various small cabins and shanties.

Shudder . . .even realizing that it would be warmer in winter and cooler in summer, I'm not sure I could stand to live there.

While the Ingalls' shanty is long gone, they do have a claim shanty from the time period that they moved to this property.

After we'd finished exploring Lexie decided to hang out on the front porch of the gift shop since their WiFi seems to ONLY work there. Later, I went looking for her and didn't see her on the porch at first, then I found her tucked into a corner of the buggy they have on the porch lol

And finally, one last cat picture. The cats are super friendly. This little guy had been "talking" to us then went over in the sun to sleep but instead of laying flat on the porch he decided to lay with his neck bent at a terribly uncomfortable angle against the planter leg. And promptly went to sleep like that.

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