Laura Homesites Open for the Season 2017

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Season has officially gotten underway again. If you plan a Laura trip before they open, make sure you call ahead. The homesite museums that are not fully open, may or may not be able to accommodate you by opening the museum, etc. or giving lists of what there is to see.

Independence, Kansas
Independence, Kansas

2017 Opening Dates

Pepin, WI – Opens May 12, 2017

Independence, KS – Opened March 1, 2017

Walnut Grove, MN – The visitor/gift shop stays open all year round with reduced hours in the off season. April 1, 2017 the ground open and the hours expand to include weekends. They add Saturday 10:00am – 4:00pm and Sunday Noon – 4:00pm. May 1, 2017 they expand weekend hours again to Saturday 10:00am – 5:00pm and Sunday Noon – 5:00pm. June 1, 2017 hours extend to 10:00am – 6:00pm daily.

Dugout Site normally not open until May, but this year it reopened this week. The date is dependent on weather conditions, if there is still snow or if it’s flooded it won’t open as early. Call ahead and check.

Burr Oak, IA – Opened May 1, 2017 MonSat limited hours through May. Hours expand with Memorial Day.

DeSmet, SD –
Memorial Society – Opened limited hours in January – April, expand to Saturday during May, and then go to 7 days a week June 1st.

Ingalls Homestead – Opened Memorial Day Weekend for regular hours 9am -7pm every day with activities from 10am -6pm. They host school visits M-F through May so if you plan on a visit before they officially open next year, you may not be out of luck.  Visitors are welcome to join up with a school group, but should call or email first to get specific times as they vary daily.  800-776-3594 – mail@ingallshomestead.com

Mansfield, MO –
Opened March 1st, 2017

Malone, NY
Opened Sat., May 27, 2017

Spring Valley, MN
Regular hours on Memorial Day Weekend, Sat., May 27, 2017.

Keystone, SD – Opened June 1, 2017

Vinton, IA – Since they are kind of in a different situation, being part of an institution that has to be open all year. They don’t have stated open hours, but will gladly give a tour by appointment. Pat Barr wrote “We  will give a tour any day Monday through Friday. They may call Justin Ruegg at 319-472-5221, Extension 1226 or myself at 319-472-5221, Extension 1110.”

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+ LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

April 2017 Laura Ingalls Wilder Events

Sarah S. Uthoff, "In the Pioneer Kitchen With Laura Ingalls Wilder"
Sarah S. Uthoff, “In the Pioneer Kitchen With Laura Ingalls Wilder”

April is a big month for Laura Ingalls Wilder programs, but you don’t see as many events. We do have two this month including one I’ve been looking forward to all year.

South Dakota State Historical Society History Conference
April 28 – 29, 2017| Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Missouri Cherry Blossom Festival – Marshfield, Missouri – Reunion of the TV show cast – Alison Arngrim, Dean Butler, and Charlotte Stewart – April 27-29, 2017

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her onFacebookTwitterGoogle+ LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Travel Times Part 2 Disney Books

Before you check out my Disney Books podcast, check out what my friend Disney lover Richard Simms recommends for Travel Times podcast listeners and the first podcast of looking ahead (there is some strange audio at the beginning on this one, but I think it’s still OK) to my Disney trip.

Note that this was recorded well before I did the post so I put the current editions of these books in the descriptions below.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/trundlebedtales/2015/10/10/travel-times-disney-world-part-2-books

Walt Disney World
WDW 2017

Disney in December, BABY!

Also my opinion, I read these through except things I knew for sure like cruises or Universal

Website Subscriptions

The main trust of today’s podcast is books, but there are lots of websites. While there are a lot of free websites out there others require subscriptions for access or full access. I would recommend subscribing to all of these.

Touring Plans – It gives you information about rides, menus, and optimized touring plans that you can readjust “optimize” at any time as life might interfer with your premade plans. Purchasing the Touring Plans book listed before gives you a discount on the website subscription.

Kenny the Pirate – Just the best information on character appearances that is always up to date.

UPDATE  WDW  Prep School still has its amazing podcast and a free website, but since I recorded this I also have a subscription section. I haven’t subscribed yet, but since everything else they do is top notch and my favorite, I’m sure this will be too.

Books

Birnhaum Guides. Birnbaum’s 2017 Walt Disney World: The Official Guide. Disney Editions, 2016. ISBN 1484737776

Birnbaum’s the Official guide **** MUST BUY ****

Coupons mostly if staying off grounds or have a lot of out of park time

It gives the party line, things Disney expect you to know about

Compact for easier carrying than others

Meal section most useful especially character meal chart

Also special tours section

You want most current, comes out towards end of September so frozen in August of previous year (so this year’s 2017 book was frozen in August 2016). For trips after September hold out for the next year’s or get both.

Marx, Jennifer, Dave Marx, and Alexander Marx. PassPorter’s Walt Disney World: The Unique Travel Guide, Planner, Organizer, Journal, and Keepsake. 19th ed. Ann Arbor, Michigan: PassPorter Travel Press, 2016. ISBN 158771163X ****MUST BUY****

One of two I would consider a must by, skip the section about accommodations if you’ve made yours already and dive into the stuff about the parks. Although it doesn’t start quite as basic as I’d like to see it for someone who knows nothing about the parks, it gives a lot more basic information than any of the other guide books I read. It has just beautiful maps by far the clearest and most useful I’ve seen in any book. The name labels are on the buildings so you don’t have to flip between a numbered list and the map to figure out what is what.I also liked the routes and walk times that were included to give you a good idea for routes. The descriptions were fairly straight forward and what opinion there was was given in one voice so you could decide if you agreed with it or not. Another nifty feature is that they highlight changes made from the previous edition so you can see what’s changed right away.

Downsides include its format (a plastic spiral that constantly was twisting out, an especially poor choice for a book they encouraged you to carry around and to rearrange and take pages out of it – a binder format would have been a far better choice), the fact that it really didn’t have many charts and what charts they did have were very detailed so there wasn’t much in the way of quick summaries, and that towards the end of the book they were kind of heavy on advising buying other titles from them both in paper and as e-books. Also be aware that the last quarter of the book is taken up by hard cardboard pockets (one for each day of your trip) that they encourage you to use while touring.

Be aware the new edition comes out in December so late in the year information may be out of date towards the end of the calendar year. I caught several things that I knew weren’t true anymore just from my other research.

Sehlinger, Bob and Len Testa. The Unofficial Guide Walt Disney World 2017. Birmingham, AL: Keen Communications, 2015. ISBN 1628090669

My friend Kelly really loves this resource and it has a lot of information, but it’s not one of my favorites. Personally when I read a how to book from an expert I want their opinion and the constant second guessing and quotes of opposite opinions from various readers get on my nerves. But if you want a well rounded set of opinions on absolutely everything, this is the book for you.

One of the positive things is that it rates attractions with advice on different age levels. They give advice and tips how to do it. There are lots of useful single color maps of things like resorts and highway approaches in addition to main park maps and charts and still more that are black and blue. At 848 pages it’s by far the largest and most comprehensive of the books I got. However, there are large sections on Disney Cruises and Universal Parks which explains some of the extra length.

***** I’d say this is a maybe buy. If you want lots of details and a lot of extra opinions, plus detail maps, lists and suggestions for various ages, you’ll want to buy the book. If you want a single voice that you can figure out if you agree with or not, this probably isn’t the book for you. In addition this same group of people put out a subscription website called Touring Plans. The website was a lot more useful to me than the book. If you can only do the book OR the website, do the website in my opinion.

Birnhaum Guides. Birnbaum’s 2017 Walt Disney World For Kids: The Official Guide. Disney Editions, 2016. ISBN 1484737784

*****Buy if have kids the age to read on their own (at least Magic Treehouse series level)

Note that it’s NOT WITH kids, FOR kids. They expect kids to be the ones reading this one.

Colorful, easy to read

Written in narrative format

Rating system scary, dark,or loud

Activities to do

Includes kids in planning

Must say was disappointed in how much our kids like it but I think others would

Touring plans book — Optional

First chapter apologizing for format

Information Disney wouldn’t tell you

System of opinions based on age

Maps not overly clear

Wilk, Roger. Discover the Magic: The Ultimate Insider’s Guide to Walt Disney World. 2nd ed. n.p.: n.p., 2015. ISBN 9781505687491 **** Don’t Buy ****

I admit I was on a bit of a Disney book buying binge and I bought this strictly based on its cover. Seriously this is the second most pick me up and buy me cover that I’ve ever seen. If he didn’t design it himself, I want to hire whoever did it for any book I write. Sadly the cover is the best part of the book. The inside clearly says self-published. There are good self-published books, but most of them are crying out for want of an editor and this is no exception.

Apparently Wilk defines insider as someone who has been to Disney on several trips since 2008 as a normal tourist and in those last seven years apparently spent a lot of time in the parks. However, he didn’t learn a lot because you could get absolutely everything else in this book from other guide books. The only exception are his personal opinions which certainly aren’t worth buying the book for. The opening of the book starts with him getting kind of irate at the fact that people posted negative comments on Amazon (which I totally should have read) and seemed especially focused on the fact that people complained that his photos weren’t in color. He seemed to think people didn’t understand that color photos cost more in a book. Frankly to me the photos even in black and white were one of the few pluses in the book because I do have to give him credit that he illustrated more things he was talking about with photos than the other Disney books I’ve read. However, they were nothing special and you could find just as good or better images doing a quick image search.

Note that the edition I got was the second. It seems that according to the interior text it was greatly expanded from the 1st edition which must have just been a pamphlet or something. Also, Wilk has the nerve to have published 3 more books about Disney when he didn’t really have enough to say to fill this one.

*****If it is the only Disney book available to you, it covers the bare essentials of information well enough, but a strong do NOT buy.

Final – Disappointment have to still have your physical Disney credit card to get discount, kids glad to go

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+,  LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Anderson House 2017

Unlike some other Laura homesite towns, Pepin, Wisconsin, can boast two motels and assorted bed and breakfasts, so you may not want to look elsewhere. However, if the Laura stop is just part of your visit and you’re looking for a place to enjoy the views and relax you may consider staying in the next big town to the south, right on the other side of the Mississippi River in Minnesota. There are a variety of places to stay in Wabasha (setting of the movie Grumpy Old Men) including a chain motel with a pool, but if you want something with a little more old world charm Anderson House might be right for you.anderson-hotel-by-permission3

Rich Heritage

Anderson House was built in 1856 as a hotel. It was the kind of hotel that even within living memory had the bathroom down the hall. This was the kind of hotel that Laura and Almanzo on their car trips might have stayed in. It was that kind of place full of period charm. It’s featured in both editions of The Little House Guidebook by William T. Anderson. One feature that it was especially known for was checking out cats for you to have in your room for the duration of your visit. It was even the subject of a picture book. How many places do you stay can say that? I’m glad I got to stay there twice during this period. Sadly it was no longer a sustainable model and with the economic downturn it closed its doors in 2009Anderson Hotel Ext

Fresh Start

In 2011 the historic hotel was given a fresh start when it was purchased by local business owners, underwent some remodeling and reopened to the public. Sadly the restaurant is no longer part of the business, but an expanded retail space and conference style meeting area is.

anderson-hotel-by-permission1

Plan Your Visit

Anderson House is now part of a larger conglomeration of various properties to stay in near Lake Pepin.

http://eaglesontheriver.com/lodging

According to their website: “The Historic Anderson House Hotel is a great place for a large family reunion and/or weddings. The staff has worked with large groups helping them get the right place to stay.” It’s right downtown in Historic Wabasha about a block from the Mississippi River. Even if you don’t plan to stay you can check out their giftshop for unique souvenirs of the area.

It is important to note that the guest rooms are on the second and third floors and an elevator is one update they haven’t made.  Be prepared to carry your luggage up steps.

All rooms now have their own private bathroom, central heat and a/c, and flatscreen TVs with expanded cable. Free wifi is offered throughout the hotel and rooms come with a complimentary breakfast. Some rooms even have whirlpool tubs and there are levels of rooms similar to a bed and breakfast. So personally I recommend calling when you make a reservation to make sure you are aware of and pick the right options for you.
Because tourism is rather seasonal there in the SE corner of Minnesota, the hotel is open from the last weekend in February to the first of November and closed over the winter months.
 anderson-hotel-by-permission2

Reservations

To make a reservation call 800-482-8188 or 651-565-3509 or book your room online.

Website
http://eaglesontheriver.com/lodging/historic-anderson-house-hotel

Online Reservations
http://eaglesontheriver.com/reservations

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on  FacebookTwitterGoogle+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

T-Shirt of the Month March 2017

When I post my video diaries I always get comments about my Laura clothes. No, not my period dresses, but my Laura Ingalls Wilder t-shirts that I wear for travel and Laura trips. I thought everyone might enjoy a closer look at them. So enjoy our new monthly series where we look at a Laura shirt each month.

Clothes are one of those things that I once kept as a firm line not to cross as part of my efforts to restrict my Laura collection to a reasonable size. That totally failed when I discovered how great it is to have a Laura t-shirt on when traveling. It really makes it feel like your trip has already started once you get in your car.

Nellie's Restaurant T-shirt
Nellie’s Restaurant T-shirt

One of the things the actual town of Walnut Grove has done to mirror the TV town is to call the local restaurant Nellie’s. On the show Mrs. Oleson opens a restaurant to give Nellie something constructive to do. It ultimately brought in the character who would become Nellie’s husband. The real restaurant doesn’t look much like it’s TV counterpart.

Nellie's Restaurant Exterior
Nellie’s Restaurant Exterior

It was on my list of things to do to eat there, but I hadn’t made it for several trips. When I finally made it, I made sure to buy the t-shirt.

Sarah at Nellie's Restaurant
Sarah at Nellie’s Restaurant

It was a fun mom and pop style restaurant. I had a lovely breakfast. I hope you make it on your next Walnut Grove trip.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on  FacebookTwitterGoogle+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

One More On the Way: Niland Cafe

I’ve posted about the famous Lincoln Highway (now roughly followed by US 30) before, but it wasn’t more than a few years ago that I learned there was a Jefferson Highway (now roughly followed by US 69) too that went north-south. (The Lincoln Highway goes east-west.) The Jefferson Highway had the advantage of a neat nickname. It was known as Pine to Palm. Where these two once mighty roads cross is the little town of Colo, Iowa.

colo-hamburger

Bypassed For Bigger Roads

Much like Route 66, in the dilemma depicted in Cars, towns that once made their living off travelers stopping found themselves drying up as they were bypassed and larger and newer restaurants, gas stations, etc were built to cater to the interstate traveler. These Lincoln Highway gas stations establishments were actually small garages – where they could fix cars as well as pump gas – despite being a lot smaller than those we know today.  They had a porch extending out from the building and usually featured those globe top gas pumps that are prized by collectors today. (Those globes lit up and helped guide motorists in at night before the days when it was always as light as daylight by a gas station.) One famous manufacturer of the pumps was the Tolkheim company that designed all sorts of pumps for various purposes right here in Cedar Rapids, Iowa – visit a display on them at Ushers Ferry Historic Village.

The Mom and Pop Cafe

lincoln-and-jeffersonNearby was often a mom and pop style cafe and sometimes the type of motel that was small individual cabins. You will sometimes see these buildings still there or preserved as museums or rotting by the side of the road. It’s much rarer to find one up and working. There is the Youngsville Cafe near the turn off 30 to Vinton, Iowa, but this is the only example I know of where you can actually eat in the real cafe (now themed with Lincoln and Jefferson Highway artifacts) AND stay in the real hotel. The gas station is just a regular type museum that displays artifacts from the two roads that you can view from the outside.

The pole above is inside the restaurant. It dates to a time before roadsigns when highways were designated by painting on telegraph, telephone, or electrical poles whichever were close to the road. The L is the symbol for the Lincoln Highway and the JH symbol is for the Jefferson Highway.

Cabin Type Motel to Stay In

This motel isn’t QUITE that old. This version of the motel was built in the 1940s as one of the first “modern” motels in Iowa which basically meant the cabins were smashed together in a row sharing interior walls. Six units were restored to resemble the 1940s period in 2008, except with updates like bathrooms, wireless access, cable and self-controlled heating and cooling.

Reed/Niland Cafe

Named for two sets of owners, Reed/Niland Corner was originally started in the 1920s. In 2003 it was restored to the 1940s and serves a roughly 1940s style menu. They advertise “hot beef sandwiches, ham and bean soup with corn muffin and homemade pies.” Plus milkshakes from a real milkshake machine.

http://www.reednilandcorner.org

I’ve stopped there twice and eaten there once. It’s worth a stop, especially if you’re tracing one of the routes or if you’re passing nearby on the modern Highway 30.

If you’ve read  A Little House Traveler, these are the types of places where Laura and Almanzo would have stopped on their journeys, so try it for yourself.

**I will note that service was not great at the cafe when we were there. They were understaffed. I understand that, but we were not offered any of the apologies that servers normally give to customers in that situation (we were there before a large group came in and only got a chance to order well after them). In fact, we were pretty much ignored for long stretches of time. I had to get up and walk over to the waitress for her to take our order. After we finished we had to wait a long time for the check even after hunting down the waitress again to ask for it until finally we gave up and asked at the cash register to get our bill. I have not had anyone else I’ve talked to about the cafe who had had this kind of experience, so we probably just caught them on a bad day, but I thought it was fair to say.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on  FacebookTwitterGoogle+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.