Saturday, July 31, 2010

17 Years

July 31, 1993 was one of the happiest days of my life.
God has truly blessed me through my husband David.

One benefit of a pastor writing his sermon is that he can give a copy to the wedding couple. Pastor Stache, my pastor, did that, and I love being able to read what God said to us, through his sermon on our wedding day.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

De Smet

All of us went to tour De Smet together. We left and arrived in time to eat lunch at
Here we all are around the table, all 16 of us. My family on the left and Melanie's on the right. She was babysitting for her two grand nephews which accounts for the two littlest boys in the picture.
After lunch we went on our scheduled tour of the surveyor's house, the Brewster school, the first school of De Smet, which are all right together, and then we drove over a few streets to the house Pa built in town.

The Surveyor's House in which Laura and her family spent the winter as described in By the Shores of Silver Lake. It is no longer on the lake as the lake was drained many years ago. Pictures were not allowed to be taken inside, but it was so neat to go in and see the rooms and imagine Laura and her family living there.

The Brewster School where Laura had her first teaching job.

The first school of De Smet and where Laura and Carrie attended.
The house Pa built in town for himself and Ma and Mary and Carrie and Grace after Laura had married Almanzo. Again, pictures aren't allowed to be taken inside.

After the scheduled tour we went downtown and saw the following.

Loftus's Store is still the original building from Laura's day.

Right across the street is where Pa's store was in town and where the family lived during the long winter. Today it is a brick building. I was told that the original was taken down a long time ago and the wood used to build other things.

Then we drove outside of town to the homestead. Those are the five cottonwood trees Pa planted for Ma and in the distance just beyond the road is the big slough with the small tree lines in the distance being the town of De Smet.

And the necessary birth order picture taken under one of the big cottonwoods.
L to R: Samuel, Hannah, Ellie, Grace, Rachel, Nathan, Luke, Abby, Sarah, and Samuel.

We then drove out to the cemetery and saw the gravesites of Pa, Ma, Mary, Carrie, Grace, and her husband, the infant son of Laura and Almanzo, and various other people Laura mentions in her books.

Then after driving back to Melanie and Steve's for a quick, yet delicious supper, we drove south to finish up our vacation by visiting my brother-in-law and his family for a few days.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Walnut Grove

After spending a night at home in which we washed and dried all our clothes (and unfortunately David's cell phone), we repacked the next morning and headed west. We now turned our attention away from state parks and instead to visiting the sites of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

We had visited Walnut Grove, MN and De Smet, SD several years ago after reading aloud the series of books. But the younger three were too small to remember. So once again, I've been reading them aloud and off we went to see the sites again.

Our first stop was about fifteen miles east of Walnut Grove, where a farmer has built sod houses and planted prairie grass all around in order for visitors to see.

Walking through the prairie grasses to the sod houses.

Here is a typical sod house.

Here is a typical log cabin that was about the size of the dugout. The dugout didn't have the loft though.Then we continued to drive west to Walnut Grove. In Walnut Grove, there is a museum that houses some of the historical items that belonged to Laura or members of her family. There are also replicas of many of Laura's or her family's posessions, items that are from other people but of the same time period, and a whole room dedicated to the television show. There are also replicas of dugouts, jail cells, a church, and also a neat, little covered wagon out front which is perfect for a picture:
Of course the main attraction at Walnut Grove is a mile and a half north of town, next to a little creek. Here are some of the kids standing on "the big rock" Laura describes in her book, On the Banks of Plum Creek. Notice that it doesn't seem so big now, because as the silt is deposited it is continually burying the rock.

I think it is very nice that people have tried to replant the prairie grasses and flowers all along and surrounding the dugout so we have a better understanding of what it looked like in Laura's day. Fortunately for us, they have mowed a nice path for us to walk on. On the right is the bank of Plum Creek and behind to the right is the big rock.

After crossing the creek we followed the path to:

Can you see the depression?

Standing at the foot of the dugout looking toward the creek, which is at the foot of those trees.

Standing at the creek looking back up toward the dugout.

And this is the table land Laura describes in her book. It is behind the place where the dugout was and from this hill onward to the right forms a sort of table with the place I'm standing and the dugout lower than it.

After leaving Walnut Grove, we continued west to South Dakota where we stayed the night with our friends Steve and Melanie and their five children.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Last Day Up North

At Tettegouche State Park we hiked to see the upper falls.

We took a break so the kids could once again enjoy hiking around all the rocks and wading in the water.

We also took time for a photo op.

And a kind fellow hiker took our family picture.

My favorite park of this state park was that the trails felt most like walking in the woods. They weren't as paved or as many wooden planks as we found in other parks.

Instead of going back the way we came to get to our van, we decided to cross the Baptism River and make it easier. It was a little deep and swift crossing by the falls, but David helped each person across. The only tricky part was that the rocks underneath were quite slippery and we had to make sure we had our footing before placing our weight on that foot.

We then stopped briefly at Jay Cooke State Park and saw this beautiful waterfall,

from the middle of this swinging bridge.

We stopped at Moose Lake State Park, but we didn't do any hiking.

We only stayed inside the park office and looked at the displays of agates. They had a list of ones to search for in the cases that looked like different shapes. It was fun, but we needed help from the park ranger to find three of them.

After that we were all ready to finish the drive home, happy, yet tired after seeing 13 state parks on the North Shore in 4 days.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Long But Fun Day

Today we drove to our northern most point, which is also the northern most point in Minnesota on the north shore, Grand Portage.

Here are the falls, and Canada is the right side of this picture.

This is why it is called Grand Portage.

Along the trail we found raspberries, which some of the kids found a delightful treat.

Then we drove to Grand Portage National Monument, a historical site, where we learned how the Ojibwe lived and tanned beaver pelts.

How the French Canadian Voyagers worked for the Northwest Fur Trading Company.

How birch bark canoes were built.

How beaver pelts were made into hats and how much they cost.

And even tried on some of the felt coats and hats.

After a nice picnic lunch we then began hiking at various state parks on our way back to our hotel.

Our most grueling hike came at Judge CR Magney State Park. We hiked for 1.25 miles in one direction to see Devil's Kettle.

After all those steps we were glad to rest beside the falls and enjoy the scenery.

Next we went to Cascade River State Park and hiked to see more waterfalls.
The root beer color is from the decaying organic matter from the swamps and bogs where the water comes.

At the end of the day we stopped at Temperance River State Park. We didn't have to hike nearly so far to see this waterfall.

Next time we've made a note to bring our swimsuits so we can join in the fun.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Mine, A Lake, A House

We took the kids to:
After watching a brief introductory film, Hannah decided she was too scared to go. The rest of us put on our hard hats and were herded into the shaft elevators and then went down, down, down, down, down into the ground.

(that's about a half mile underground!)

It was a constant 51 degrees in the cave and of course we were wearing shorts. At least we had sweatshirts! It was also very fresh smelling, very clean.

We rode in these trains for three fourths of a mile before climbing a spiral staircase to a stope where we saw the places the miners would have worked, what tools they used, how dark it would have been for them (they turned out all the lights and showed how much light one candle would give), and how loud (they turned on one of the drills at half volume).

It was really fascinating. Some of the other children were scared when we first went down that elevator - it was a bit scary - but during the presentation, they were asking questions and enjoying themselves. Our guide was fantastic and really was able to answer all of our questions.

After that we drove to Bearhead Lake State Park. At the park office, we saw a sign that said there was archery available that day and there was still some time left. So we hurried down to the site and the kids were thrilled that they were able to participate.

After that they were able to take off their shoes and wade a bit in the lake before we had to leave.
The very last thing we did was tour the house of Dorothy Molter, aka The Root Beer Lady, who was the last person to live in the boundary waters. I had read her book awhile ago and it was neat to see her house. Our guide was a personal friend of hers and that made the tour quite interesting.