Road Trip 2014-Day 6 (July 7, 2014)

(click here for today's pictures)
Home on the Prairie!

Those dandy clothes pins of ours keep the light out so well that we almost slept a bit too late this morning.After staying out late swimming, the kids were exhausted still this morning.  I took a picture of Campbell and Anderson-my two worst sleepers-who slept all night on the pull out bed.  We were able to scurry around and and still make it to breakfast about the same time as usual.  Breakfast this morning was the same as before-the boys have really taken to the sausages and of course the waffles were still a hit.

Since we were on the first floor, Robby was able to load the car without the cart-which was a good thing because he could never find one.  He bought some ice and then we were on the road to the Ingalls Homestead.  Most of the way there, it rained on us but we were able to eventually get out of the rain.  After driving for about 30 minutes, Graham said “now we are getting into the country” which is kind of funny because for the last 2 days all we have seen is farmland and have been in the middle of the country.

When we arrived at the Ingalls Homestead in De Smet, the weather was threatening rain but we crossed our fingers and hoped for decent weather.  The homestead is just a few houses on this beautiful prairie land.  I actually never read any of the Ingalls books but the kids and I have read (or in the process of reading or listening to on CD) the first four books.  Even Robby has become a bit interested in the books as we drive around listening to them on CD.  So we were really excited about this stop and it had come highly recommended to us so my hopes were high!

And it did not disappoint.  We started off by climbing up a look out to survey the beautiful prairie land. Then we went to the next building-it had old timey playground equipment around it, so the kids really enjoyed playing on those.  And then it was time to see a dugout and a shanty house.  I could hardly imagine living in a dugout.  By this time, it was starting to sprinkle really well and the wind was picking up.  We hurried over to a sod roof barn to walk around-they had cows and chickens in the barn.

Then the lady driving the covered wagon asked if we wanted to take a ride to the school house so of course we hopped on board.  After we boarded the wagon, she asked us to change wagons to one that had the sides down so we all moved.  The reason she found the one with the sides down was because it was about to rain and rain it did.  As the kids all took turns driving the mule train the rain flew in the front of the wagon on them.  

Once the wagon stopped, we heard the school bell ring and we all went into the school house.  The teacher was there and helped the boys put on their hats and the girls put on their bonnets and smocks.  The teacher explained how school would go during the day and my sweet Keaton and Campbell sat together listening intently to everything the teacher said.  

After school was over, we climbed back on the wagon and rode back to the stables.  By this time, the rain was passed and the sky was absolutely beautiful.  Back in the stables there was a precious baby horse-it was so tiny and whenever it came near Whitman he would just smile.  The kids looked around there and then we went to the garage.

In the garage, we made corn cob dolls and twisted our own rope.  You had to put the corn in a machine to take off the kernels and then the lady showed everyone how to make the doll.  They also had where you could grind your wheat to make flour.  It would take 4 hours of grinding to make enough flour for one meal.  Then to make the ropes one person would hold the rope and another one would turn the handle to twist the rope.  The lady made the ropes the perfect size for the kids to jump rope with it...or make it into a lasso.   And that is exactly what the boys did with their ropes.  After the rope making, we all walked to the church.  It was a perfect walk and beautiful.  We quickly looked around the church and then walked back up the prairie road.

We had thought about having a picnic on the grounds but it was just too windy to manage a picnic so we finished the last few things and decided to eat in the car.  Back at the stables, they had a wagon pulled by a shetland pony that also had a pony with a saddle for the kids to ride on.  The boys were the first in line for this-Anderson rode first while Graham steered the wagon and about half way on their walk the lady switched them.  

Then when they pulled up the girls hopped on.  Reagan was pretty determined that she was going to ride the horse first but when Keaton walked up to the lady and told her that she wanted to ride the horse the lady let her.  Keaton sat up on that saddle and looked like she had ridden a horse before. Her eyes did grow big when the horse started walking but she didn’t say anything-not afraid of riding a horse but ran screaming from the dugout because there was a cat! I walked with them until they switched riders so I could take a few pictures and then I walked back to the stables.  They were gone the longest time and Reagan said that they had stopped to get grass to feed the horses on their walk.  
When they returned, we went to see Ma’s house.  Graham had already been inside while waiting on the girls and listened to some of the man’s speech.  He returned to Robby and told him some of what he had learned.  And then we all went and he heard the speech again.  But the highlight was being able to wash and dry the clothes outside.  

Back in the gift shop, we walked around and found ourselves an ornament.  Then we pottied and headed out.  We had the best time there and I could have stayed there longer...probably could have even spent the night there in that covered wagon.  We seriously debated doing this but didn’t want to have to rent 2 covered wagons (seriously!) and I didn’t think I had room to bring our own bedding in the van.  When I come back, I am staying in the covered wagon-may just put sleeping in a covered wagon on bucket list.

It was after 2 and the kids were hungry and fussy and so we were we (well, we weren’t really fussy!). Robby had said that we might just get a good snack but he did see a Dairy Queen while we were driving through town.  So we had ourselves hot dogs on the road.  Anderson was so thirsty (he said) so we let them drink until they could drink no more.  

That was probably the reason that we had to stop later for Reagan to go to the bathroom.  That was our first potty stop at a gas station. The kids slept, watched a few Little House episodes, worked on their travel journals from yesterday (it was too late last night for that) and even played with a few stickers.  

Overall the drive to Minnesota was fairly uneventful.  Whitman would occasionally scream “slug bug” which would cause havoc with the other kids who would twist their necks around like owls trying to see the slug bug.  Whitman does not yet know what a slug bug is but when Robby and I would repeat his “slug bug” and the others couldn’t find one, they would become so very upset-afraid that he would win this imaginary slug bug contest they have going.

Robby drove, I drove, Robby drove, I drove-in our 4 hour drive to Minneapolis we only stopped once and then a few times for driver changes.  Robby would get a bit sleepy so we would switch spots and as soon as he climbed out of the car and walked to my seat he was awake again.  So he would spend his time searching for the next thing to do or changing hotels.  

Tonight's hotel is part of the Comfort Inn brand-we are staying mostly in Comfort Inns this trip...stay 2 nights and get 50 dollars (thus the reason that some nights are hotels are only 15 miles apart from each other!)  This is a Cambria and our room is huge-at least 800 square feet with a large bedroom and a really large living area.  All this space and we are still going to all sleep in the same room (well, except for Whitman who is cozy in the bathroom...and Graham who is sleeping happily in the closet of the bedroom)  A large hotel room is nice in that we can spread out some but it is also tough because we spread out some and that means a whole lot more trouble packing up.

Robby let the kids swim tonight and when they walked in someone said “this is the tiniest pool ever.” It was pretty small but that didn’t stop anyone.  The water was decent so Robby got in and the plan was for Whitman and me to just go and watch for a bit and then come back to the room to organize and start on supper.  But Robby felt sorry for Whitman so he took him out of the stroller and the baby was able to swim for bit-clothes, diaper and all.  And when I finally took Whitman to go back to the room, Keaton decided that she needed to come too.  We checked on the laundry (2 loads washing tonight) and then went back upstairs.

I didn’t have much done when the others came back to the room-they had showered downstairs by the pool so they didn’t need baths and Whitman and Keaton were happily entertaining each other in the tub.  So I worked on supper-sandwiches or tortillas, chips, grapes and oranges.  Then the kids had a drink and cookies and before too long it was time for bed.

When the others brushed, Whitman started going nuts because he wanted to brush and was not happy that he wasn’t handed everyone’s toothbrush.  Then he started opening the mini fridge and pulling out our sandwich meat-gracious.  All of that just meant that it was bedtime for him.  The others played on their kindles for a bit-Robby did stop them to read our Bible story and then it was lights out for the little Dennies.  Robby and I are sitting in the other room on the couch eating our supper (sandwiches too), using our computers and about to fold 2 loads of clothes.  

Today was another fun day and I do believe that so far this has been my favorite day of our trip. Robby told the kids that he really enjoyed the Ingalls Homestead today and Reagan said “that was awesome”-successful day!

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