I had a great trip this last weekend. I only wish it could have been a longer trip, but hopefully next year I’ll be able to stay for Sunday and Kitty Latane’s Pepin in Laura’s time program. I tried a different route up to Pepin this year that I was told was shorter. It ended up being within 15 minutes of the other route. It did take me through some different country.
One new place I stopped was New Hampton, Iowa. They have a great public library. It’s the prettiest new construction library I’ve ever seen and I recommend anyone considering an addition or new construction of a library to visit them.
I stopped along the way at Spring Valley, MN. I had lunch at the A & W there. (It’s a genuine drive-in and I highly recommend it to anyone whose passing through the area.) The Laura Museum was closed and I was in route so I didn’t try to find anyone. I did get some more photos of the Wilder barn while it’s still there. (You’d think they could at least move the boat so you could get some decent photos while it’s still standing.) I also tried for more downtown photos since it was such a lovely day and visited Royal in the cemetery. It is the hardest stone to get a decent photo of I’ve ever seen. I’ve been there at several times of year and at different times of day and it’s always in shadow. I didn’t take time to stop at Historic Forrestville this time, another stop I always recommend, but hope to make it back there again.
I pressed on towards Pepin. I stopped at the Reads Landing museum described in the “Little House Guidebook,” but at present it’s only open on weekend afternoons. I thought I may have made it back over on Saturday, but as you will see another opportunity came up instead. I stopped at Anderson House to check in. Since I was working, I didn’t get one of the cats which you can get with your room. I really enjoy the food there and would encourage anyone heading to Pepin to make a side trip at least to eat there.
Next stop was Pepin. I got some photos of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Highway sign with the coulees in the background (makes quite a change from the prairie stops) on my way into town and then headed for the museum. The crowd there was surprisingly small, but not many people seem to come down for the Friday. Almost all of the special events don’t start until Saturday, but it’s a good chance to see the museum and the birthplace without a lot of people around and still see all the events the next day. You might want to try it for yourself next year.
There have been a few small changes in the museum, but not much. You should especially look for Anna Barry’s photo and autograph album, the pig bladder balloon, the button string, the records showing Mary and Laura’s enrollment in school, 2 of the 5 variations of china shepherdess replicas, and a quilt made by Laura. Also, be sure to notice the photos (now unavailable) showing the Franklin House of History’s Almanzo exhibits. Not to be missed are the scrapbooks assembled by Fern Mercks in the bedroom. I stayed at the museum with the scrapbooks until they closed. Then I drove out to the birthplace.
I got another shot in the doorway to add to my through the years collection. I had much better luck taking photos with my digital camera than my film inside the cabin. I worked again at trying to take photos to make the cabin look like it’s in the woods and to take photos of other sides of the cabin than the front. Two miles farther on I stopped at the Little House Store in Lund, which always has some unique stuff. I stopped and got some Big Woods photos and some Lake Pepin photos and I’m glad because the sky was much bluer Friday than Saturday.
I met Linda Starbuck, a fellow Laura fan from Iowa City, and her mother. We had supper at the Garden Pub, the restaurant without walls in Pepin and headed back to Wabasha for the night.