The Little House on the Prairie

A quick overnight stop in Minneapolis gave us just enough time to take in a Twins game.

Fortunately, Rizzo did great in her crate with no concerns whatsoever.

Little House and Laura Ingalls Wilder

I remember spending many afternoons reenacting scenes from the Little House on the Prairie series with my best friend. We’d take turns being Laura or Mary and pretend to go through some of the hardships. 

I still feel I learned many life lessons from that show. Lessons that have stuck with me to this day.

About 5 years ago, I had the chance to visit Laura’s homes in Mansfield, MO.

These were the homes where Laura originally wrote Pioneer Girl and later recrafted it into the Little House on the Prairie series of books.

So, when I saw we had to get from Minnesota to South Dakota in order to make our way back home, I was super excited to add the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Highway to our itinerary.

US Route 14 was given this designation by Minnesota and surrounding states for its significance in the history of LIW. We drove the route from Mankato, through Sleepy Eye, stopping in Walnut Grove and then heading to De Smet, SD.

Along the way, we stopped near Sanborn, MN at the Sod House on the Prairie. There were three types of homes common on the prairie due to the lack of trees. Those were sod houses, dugouts, or shanties. Sod houses were literally built out of chunks of dirt carved from the earth.

While it sounds dirty, these homes were sturdy against the wind and provide great protection from either the heat or cold. The gentleman who lovingly built these homes, Stan McCone, passed away in 2017 but his wife keeps up with the property today.

At one time, the McCone’s allowed overnight guests to stay in the sod house for the real prairie life feel. Hmm… Would I have been brave enough to try that?

Our next stop was in Walnut Grove where we had just enough time to visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum. The museum shared the history of Laura and her family as well as the show including the original mantel from the show with CI + CI carved into it.     

Sticking to the theme, we stayed at the Ingalls Homestead, a living prairie site that was once the property owned by Charles Ingalls. The property has four spaces for RVs (and some conastoga wagons you can stay in as well).

I may have had my inner kid come out a bit while we stayed here. I may have inadvertently pissed off the little girl who got to drive the wagon on the way to the schoolhouse when I took the invitation to drive it on the way back (see that stink eye…)

Jeff enjoyed sharing a few roping lessons from his roping arena days. Granted this particular calf wasn’t moving.

But they did have a baby calf and barn kittens for petting.

We also learned how to twist grass to make fire logs since wood is scarce. It really didn’t burn that well though. Yes, we tried.

This time of year, we mostly had the place to ourselves and were able to wander the entire property all evening. But, typical prairie fashion, the wind was blowing something fierce and we stayed safely in our tin box travel trailer!

Up next, the Black Hills of SD.