Article in the Pioneer Press

My search for Laura Ingalls Wilder letters has made it into the Pioneer Press. I appreciate their help with this important and ongoing project. Read it here:

http://www.twincities.com/ci_8901531?source=email

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Country School Association Re-Designs Website

The CSAA has re-designed it’s website in time to promote the 8th annual conference in June. Please take a look. It’s at the same address as before. http://www.countryschoolassociation.org/

You might also have noticed the blog was down awhile last week. Regular readers will know that I’ve been having trouble with my web service provider. Unfortunately, it seems to have spread to problem with the web service  provider working with WordPress. I’m about at the point where I’m ready to give up and find another provider. However, I’m taking one last stab at getting everything worked out. (They did finally manage to get almost everything, but the photos working on the new site.) So you may see some up and down in the next week or two. I hope not.

St. Ansgar, Iowa and its Blue Belle Inn

A Lovely Bed and Breakfast

Just approximately 25 miles from Austin, MN, St. Ansgar, Iowa is barely off the Laura Ingalls Wilder trail. While there wasn’t anything on my life list to cross of in St. Ansgar it is a very well preserved and still active little town. Its active main street (complete with antique shops and a soda fountain) and neighborhoods of big Victorian homes (still with the large trees lining the street), look much like the old photo postcards you see of DeSmet, SD.

While I was there, I stayed at the Blue Belle Inn, a bed and breakfast that also serves as a tearoom at lunch time. The outside is painted in the colors of the blue belle flowers (probably closer to the Virginia variety of blue belles which is what we grow at home rather than the Texas version). The rooms are decorated after classic children’s books. If you only go for tea, you can tour any unrented rooms.

Anne’s House of Dreams

I stayed in “Anne’s House of Dreams,” after the book by L.M. Montgomery. Although the owners’ style of decoration seems to fall closer to buying things related to rather than creating a setting from the book, I did enjoy it. I should warn you if you want to stay in that room that it is in a smaller house behind the main Victorian which has some advantages, but it is also the room that is designated handicapped accessible, including the shower (which can be a wet surprise if you haven’t used one before).

Plum Creek

The big news is that they have a Laura Ingalls Wilder themed room. They call it “Plum Creek” and besides many of the books scattered around they have a framed original Sewell book jacket and their version of Laura’s red velvet dress (not a very close one) on a dressmaker’s dummy in the corner. Plus several versions of quilts mentioned in the series are used as quilts, pillow, and wall hangings. You can see their page for the room here:

http://www.bluebelleinn.com/html/plum_creek.html

A final room of special note for Laura fans is the one for “Heaven to Betsy” named for the book by Maud Hart Lovelace, another SW Minnesota author who is also enjoyed by many Laura fans.

Other Laura Bed and Breakfasts

This is the third b and b I’ve found with a Laura room (the other two are in Tracy, MN and Springfield, MO) if you know of any others please let me know!

info@trundlebedtales.com

UPDATED April 8 2017: I added the headings, the signature block and made a few minor edits for corrections.

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.

April Sesquicentennial Calendar – Pepin Depot

This month’s Pepin Sesquicentennial’s calendar photo is of the Pepin Depot. In the historic photo it’s a pretty happening place with a train arriving and people on the platform. The depot was moved into a corner of Laura Ingalls Wilder Park in 1985 and re-opened as a museum to transportation in the area covering everything from railroads to paddle wheel boats. It’s a bit of a hodge podge, brimming with interesting odds and ends, including a very nice Laura Letter and a tribute to Fern Marcks who for many years served as secretary of the Laura Museum. This is also the group that marked Laura’s teacher Anna Barry’s grave with the brass plaque that makes it easier to find in the Pepin cemetery.

Pepin Depot MuseumThey have an open house during Laura Ingalls Wilder Days in September. Several craft people are set up inside as a fund raiser. It’s right next to the public bathroom building so stop in when you come through. The photo is one I took of the Depot during Wilder Days with the tents set up around it.

Audubon County, Iowa

The first half of my experiment worked, so I’ll be including photos a little bit more often from now on. The second half didn’t, but that will have to wait for another day.

Anyway, I was giving a program recently over in Audubon, Iowa and I wanted to let everyone know who much I enjoyed the trip. First, I should explain that we raise Hereford cattle (they are beef cattle, red with a white face, blaze down the back, belly, and stockings). So it’s long been a lifelong dream to see Albert the Bull, the largest Hereford in the world. This gigantic statue sits outside of Audubon in it’s own park. I thought I had seen some large cement Hereford bulls before (there is a lovely one in Minnesota on the way to Pepin), but I was wrong. They wouldn’t even look like calves next to Albert. He’s HUGE! The informational display lets you push a button and he’ll talk to you. It’s great, well worth the wait.

Sarah and Albert

Another thing I crossed off my life list was the Plow in the Oak. The story goes that a farmer left for the Civil War and left his plow leaning up against the oak tree. He never came back and over the years the tree grew around it. Whether the story is true or not, generations of Iowans have trouped to see this wonder, but it was actually more interesting when the oak was smaller and you could see more of the plow. I was surprised by how few photos this pulled up in an image search since I’ve seen lots of them in various publications over the years, but you can see one at the attraction link below.

http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/12357

Plow in Oak

Also, down the road in Kimballton is a replica of Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid that was made in his honor in Copenhagen. I always figured I may not see the original, but I hoped one day to get to this copy honoring the town’s Danish heritage. Unfortunately I didn’t realize Kimballton was so close until after the time schedule was set.

Those I knew about before, but I was surprised how well Audubon honored its namesake John James Audubon. There is a statue of him in the town square. Many copies of his prints hang in the town library and this spring over 400 tiles showing his art will be in the sidewalks around the park. They have done a great job and I was pleasantly surprised.

You can see some of the sites of Audubon here:
http://www.auduboncounty.com/tourism/attractions.aspx

I should also thank Taylor Hill Lodge where we stayed. A converted 19th century barn served as the bed and breakfast. It’s situated on a century farm about 5 miles outside of Audubon. They really did a nice job with it. There were 6 rooms with baths connecting in between. I should mention it’s probably someplace you enjoy more with a group or at least one other person. There are trophy heads from an African safari and if I was all alone I might have found it just a little creepy, in the deep, dark night. However, it was a beautiful view during the day and a nice breakfast in the morning. It was still a frozen tundra when I was there, but when the garden is in full flower in must be breathtaking. If I was looking for a good central place for a family reunion, this would be perfect.

The Lodge

Visit their website at: http://thlodge.com/

UPDATED February 20, 2016: I still love Albert the Bull and when I found a lovely blog post by a fellow Albert fan I just knew I had to add it to this post.

http://www.wanderingworldslargest.com/stories/2016/1/20/albert-the-bull

I also fixed the link to the tourist information site about the Plow in Oak in Exira, Iowa and the link to a page about Audubon attractions. I made my normal few edits for clarity and added my signature block.

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.

Spring Lambs

Spring LambsThis post is an experiment. I’m trying something new with the site to see if it works. If it does you’ll see a close up of one of this springs lambs. We have three so far that lived and some more should be coming soon.

P.S. I wrote this before I published it and we had a set of twins and a single calf and a set of triplet lambs in between. Things are really hopping on Robansuefarm.