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2017-09-15 Westbound; De Smet, South Dakota…

We have a leisurely morning of hot showers and grocery shopping…  We drove about two hours to De Smet, SD.

2017-09-15 Map South Dakota

We pulled into the Ingalls Homestead RV Park.  This is adjacent to the Visitors Center. This is the actual homestead where the Ingalls family lived for several years, about a mile from the town of De Smet.  They have several displays and buildings, from the authentic to the replication.  They also offer covered wagon rides across the prairie.  We weren’t interested in the ride, but it was really cool to see a covered wagon pass by on the horizon:

2017-09-15 LIW 03 Homestead Covered Wagon

They had a real dugout/sod house to view:

2017-09-15 LIW 05 Homestead Dugout

2017-09-15 LIW 06 Homestead Dugout

And here is a replica of the claim shanty Pa built here on the homestead claim:

2017-09-15 LIW 07 Homestead Claim Shanty

It was fun to stand here on the prairie and see what the Ingalls family saw 135 years ago:

 

2017-09-15 LIW 02a Homestead Prairie

We asked at the visitors center how far it was into town to see the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum there.  We were told that it is less than a mile; she knew, she said, because the Ingalls girls walked to town to go to school every day.  Well, if three little girls could walk to town, certainly we could, too.

It was 1.6 miles to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society…

The first stop was the Surveyors House:

2017-09-15 LIW 15 De Smet Surveyors House

This was the Ingalls family’s first home in De Smet, even before De Smet was started. The Surveyor’s house was built  for the advance crew for the railroad; it was probably built somewhere east of here and dragged along from place to place as the railroad proceeded westward.  Pa Ingalls was asked to stay for the winter after all the railroad crews left to safeguard the railroad equipment, so the Ingalls family moved in.  To them, this was a mansion!  They lived here their first winter in South Dakota, with the house serving as an unofficial hotel/boarding house for settlers coming through on their way west.  The family was living here when Pa walked the 40 miles to Brookings to file his homestead claim.  As soon as he could, Pa built a single room of his claim shanty (see above) and the family moved to the homestead that spring.  At the time, the house was located By the Shores of Silver Lake.  When the Railroad was done with the house, it was bought by a family here and moved to town.  It was later bought by the LIW Memorial Society and moved to this location.

Also on this site is a replica of the Brewster School, where Laura taught when she was 15 years old:

2017-09-15 LIW 14 De Smet Brewster

2017-09-15 LIW 15 De Smet Brewster

Our guide said this replica is probably bigger than the original…

The best thing here is the original schoolhouse, the first school built here in De Smet:

2017-09-15 LIW 12 De Smet School

This is the actual location of the school that the Ingalls girls walked to from the Homestead…

The interior:

2017-09-15 LIW 13 De Smet School

The school had been used as a home for many years before it was acquired by the LIW Memorial Society and restored.  The original blackboards are here… These desks are not original, but the school did have store-bought desks, not the home made desks you saw above in the Brewster School.

After seeing these buildings here we went over through downtown De Smet; Pa built a store here in town as an investment; the family lived in the store during The Long Winter, in 1880-1881.  The store is no longer there, but we were able to see the location, here in “downtown” De Smet:

2017-09-15 LIW 12 De Smet Main Street

We then arrived at the Ingalls house, just around the corner:

2017-09-15 LIW 12 De Smet Ingalls House

The family only lived on the homestead for about seven years; Pa built this house, room by room, and the family lived out their lives here. (Laura never lived here; she had married Almanzo by the time the house was built…)  Carrie and Grace lived here until they married and moved a short distance away.  (Grace lived in Huron, Carrie lived in Keystone…)  Mary, Ma, and Pa lived here for the rest of their lives.  Pa wasn’t much of farmer, and he made his living as a carpenter, Justice of the Peace, and just about any other odd job he could get… They also took in boarders to help pay the bills.  All of the family had had constant health problems, probably due to malnutrition throughout their lives.  Only Laura lived into her 90s.  (Laura died in 1957 in Mansfield, Mo.)

So after this great time seeing the history of this family we walked back to the Villa, hoping to beat the predicted rain; we made it with no problems.  We met our neighbors, who had just pulled in, with tent trailers.  One was from Hull, Iowa, a town full of Dutch people.  This guy had even been an adjunct professor at Dordt College!

Lynda went to walk around the homestead, and she climbed the observation tower to see the views:

2017-09-15 LIW 01 Homestead

2017-09-15 LIW 22 Homestead Villa

There were awesome clouds:

2017-09-15 LIW 10 Homestead Clouds

2017-09-15 LIW 09 Homestead Clouds

Our neighbors had set up their chairs and prepared a campfire.  They invited us to join them… But we politely declined, as we already had begun dinner, and there was football to watch… And then it began to rain. And rain hard.

Our neighbors re-grouped inside their trailers and we settled in for Happy Hours and dinner.  Later that evening we looked out at and saw more beautiful cloud formations, accented with flashes of lightning.  No thunder, just flashes of lightning. Amazing. We had never seen such a thing…

2017-09-15 LIW 11 Homestead Clouds

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017-09-14 Westbound; New Refrigerator and Minnesota…

We were up at 5:00 am to get the Villa ready to be moved into the service bay here at Shorewood RV, just outside Minneapolis.  All went well, and by 6:15 the Villa was in the Service Bay and we were on the road to the town of Elk River, about 6 miles down the road…

2017-09-14 Elk River 01

Elk River is a delightful town along the banks of the Mississippi River.  The town has been around a long time, but recent developments have nicely enhanced the town and the feel of the downtown business district.  As you see in the photo above, the historic buildings are on the left and a new apartment building is on the right.  The new building fits the scale of the street, contains retail spaces at the street level, and provide a very human scaled space.  The same thing is going on around the corner:

2017-09-14 Elk River 02

We walked about the town, then had breakfast at the Olde Main Eatery.  It is what a small town diner should be:  friendly people, regulars sitting at their regular tables, with olde time photographs on the wall.  We enjoyed a nice breakfast and looked at maps to better understand the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore.  We hope to be there the day after tomorrow (Saturday).

After breakfast we walked down to the Mississippi River; it was very quiet in the early morning light:

2017-09-14 Elk River 04 Mississippi River

2017-09-14 Elk River 03 Mississippi River

The town has developed a nice waterfront park with an informal amphitheater for community events.  All in all, it is a very nice town!

We returned to Shorewood RV to find out thet there was a small snag in the parts that had been delivered, so it was going to take a little longer to complete the new refrigerator installation.. We spent the morning in their lounge, planning our stays for the next few days…

By 11:30 the refer was done and we were hitching up.  We were underway just before noon.  We are heading west, across most of Minnesota, but first we had to get out of Minneapolis.   We even encountered our first detour of our trip; we were led off the southbound freeway and re-routed back north again for five miles, then west and south again.  Hopefully, we won’t see this type of thing again any time soon.

Once we were out of the city we traveled easily along two lane roads through endless farmland.  While it was quite beautiful, it was not as lush as Wisconsin.  On the other hand, it is one week later and fall is clearly on its way.

These photos show what we saw all day:

2017-09-13 Minnesota Farms 03

2017-09-13 Minnesota Farms 04

2017-09-13 Minnesota Farms 02

 

2017-09-13 Minnesota Farms 05

2017-09-13 Minnesota Farms 01

We did see a little Minnesota humor adjacent to one gas station:

2017-09-13 Minnesota Humor

And then, out of the blue, the road was closed.  We had to head back east about 15 miles before we could go south and then west again.. These detours are maddening!  Why can’t they put up better signs and prior warnings?

There are also some small towns that we passed through.  Some are really tiny; this is Gibbon.  It is a little more substantial than many:

2017-09-13 Minnesota Town 01

2017-09-13 Minnesota Town 02

2017-09-13 Minnesota Town 03

2017-09-13 Minnesota Town 04

And churches.  Lots of churches:

2017-09-13 Minnesota Town 05

Our mid-day break was to stop and see the town of Walnut Grove and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum:

2017-09-14 Walnut Grove LIW 01

The Ingalls family lived in Walnut Grove in two increments of two years each.  In between, they moved to Iowa and managed a hotel for two years.  In contrast to the Little House on the Prairie TV Show, they had a miserable time here.  They lived in a dug-out, and their wheat crops were wiped out two years in a row by grasshoppers; they pretty much lost everything and moved to Iowa. Also, Mary had a stroke (not scarlet fever) that left her blind, and a newborn baby boy died.  After their years in Iowa they returned to Walnut Grove, and “Pa” opened a butcher shoppe, while Laura worked as a housekeeper in the local hotel.  But I digress…

The museum has very little memorabilia that is actually from the Ingalls family.  There are lots of historical references, photos, book excerpts, and antiques gathered from many sources that attempt to show what life was like on the prairie.  It was interesting in a modest way.  But, in general, a giant waste of time…

2017-09-14 Walnut Grove LIW 02

They have a re-creation of a typical dugout, but it is made from reinforced concrete…

2017-09-14 Walnut Grove LIW 03

They have a recreation of a typical school house from the 1880s; Laura taught school for two years, starting when she was 15 years old, but it was not here:

2017-09-14 Walnut Grove LIW 04

To prove to you readers just how old I am, I actually did attend a two-room school, and we had desks exactly like this… (We never could figure out what those holes in the desk-tops were for…)

So we moved on; tomorrow we visit De Smet, the actual “Little Town on the Prairie”…

We drove to our RV park for the night, in Pinestone, MN.  We have full hook-ups (water, sewer, power), plus good internet access and satellite TV.  We had a quiet night, with Happy Hours and burritos for dinner.  Tomorrow we can shop to re-stock the refrigerator.

An an enjoyable time was had by all…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017-09-13 Westbound; Leaving Thunder Bay!

Today is the day!  We are finally leaving Thunder Bay, a full two weeks after we arrived…

2017-09-13 Thunder Bay Leaving

Our destination today is Shorewood RV, just outside Minneapolis; we are scheduled to get out refrigerator replaced.  (You recall our refer failed in PEI about one month ago…)

It was an uneventful trip, traveling southwest from Thunder Bay, continuing southwest to Minneapolis, then west to Anoka and Shorewood RV.

We stopped about every 1 1/2 hours or so to break up the trip.  We try to walk a bit and keep out Apple watches happy.  This rest stop was about one hour south of Duluth:

2017-09-13 Minnesota Rest Stop

The truck once again performed flawlessly, and we easily rolled along.  We arrived at Shorewood RV at about 3:30, and checked in to the Service department to make sure everything was on schedule.  They told us where to park, so we pulled in and set up for the night:

2017-09-13 Shorewood RV

A few minutes later they called to tell us the refer was here and they would be picking up the Villa at 6:00 am tomorrow morning…

We have good power, good internet access, good satellite TV, and air conditioning – it is 88 degrees and very humid!  We did add a sticker to our map:

2017-09-13 Map Minnesota.JPG

Happy Hours ensued and an enjoyable time was had by all…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017-09-09 Westbound; Stranded, but escaped from, Thunder Bay, Day 9…

Today we return to Thunder Bay; we had a great time in Wisconsin, even though we were living in cheap motels and not the Villa; we were also driving a cheap rental car, not the Silverado, so no satellite radio, no navigation system, no wifi, and no 110v electrical outlet to charge our devices.  On the other hand, we could park in regular parking stalls like normal human beings…

We left early, stopped at Starbucks, headed northwest.  It was an uneventful drive. Eventually we passed through Duluth, into Minnesota. Finally we stopped for lunch at the Ledge Rock Grill:

2017-09-09 Ledge Rock Grill

This is a nice full-service lodge, right on the shore of Lake Superior; after lunch I needed a little nap:

2017-09-09 North Shore 05

We drove on; we stopped at Brighten Beach and once again walked along the shore:

2017-09-09 North Shore 03

2017-09-09 North Shore 01

2017-09-09 North Shore 02

A few miles short of the border is the little town of Temperance; of course we had to stop at the liquor store:

2017-09-09 Temperance

We crossed the border with no hassles, and returned to the Villa in Thunder Bay;

We unpacked and cleaned the Villa; then, because it is Saturday, we went looking for a Sports Bar to watch the USC-Stanfurd football game.

We failed.  Apparently Sports Bars in Canada only show hockey and curling.  No college football.  We returned to the Villa and powered up my iPad with Sling Box. We were able to watch the first quarter of the game before Verizon cut off my band width…

Never the less, Happy Hours ensued; an enjoyable time was had by all…

(PS:  Stanfurd lost.  Yay!)

 

 

 

2017-09-06 Westbound; Stranded, but escaped from, Thunder Bay, Day 6…

We escaped this morning at about 5:30 am.  We headed south, towards the Minnesota border, just like we had planned for last Friday, except that we are in the rental car and we are not towing The Villa.  The border is about 35 miles from Thunder Bay; we passed easily through, although when we handed them our US passports they immediately asked why we were driving a car with Ontario license plates…

Soon we were in Minnesota, and we stopped for breakfast in Grand Marais:

2017-09-06 Judy's 01

Judy’s was a perfect roadside diner, full of regulars hanging out before going to work. Probably waiting for it to get light, or to get above freezing temperatures…

They did have a painting on the wall that appears to be a friend of ours, from Pasadena, in a former life:

2017-09-06 Judy's 02

You know who you are…

We continued our drive southwest, about 135 miles to Duluth. This is what locals call the “North Shore”, and it is packed, all along the way, with waterfront vacation homes, motels, lodges, and the like. It was dark most of our drive, but we could see that it is a beautiful place. Once we reached Duluth it was clear that these houses along the shore are in a fabulous setting.

From Duluth we turned southwest and we crossed over into Wisconsin.  By 4:30 pm or so we were in Spring Green, a tiny town in the Wyoming Valley, also called the Wisconsin River Valley.

Wisconsin is beautiful farm land as far as the eye can see…..

2017-09-06 Wisconsin 07

2017-09-06 Wisconsin 06

2017-09-06 Wisconsin 04

2017-09-06 Wisconsin 03

2017-09-06 Wisconsin 02

2017-09-06 Wisconsin 01

We checked into the Round Barn Lodge.

2017-09-06 Round Barn

It turns out it really once was a barn…

The Round Barn was built in 1914 and was used as a dairy barn; in 1949 it was converted to a truck stop diner.  Sometime after that it was moved 125′ closer to the road to be more convenient to the customers.

In 1952, the diner was renovated into a full service restaurant and bar.  In 1974, a 27-room lodge was added, designed by James Pfefferkorn, a former Frank Lloyd Wright student and Taliesin Associate. The two-story lodge wraps around a beautiful wood-domed indoor pool, whirlpool and sauna.

The Round Barn Lodge claims that onetime local resident, Frank Lloyd Wright, said about the Round Barn Lodge, “They don’t build them like that anymore”.   Take that statement any way you like…

After sitting all day in the car we needed some exercise, so we walked through the nondescript neighborhood.  (Tomorrow we find out that “downtown” Spring Green is a lovely place – in fact, quite descript…).  We were able to walk over to Arthur’s, a traditional Wisconsin supper club.  (The Red Barn Lodge had given us free drink tickets, so it was a bit more difficult to walk back a few hours later…)

Dinner was nice, the walk home was refreshing, and an enjoyable time was had by all…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017-09-05 Westbound; Stranded in Thunder Bay, Day 5…

Stranded, Day 5:

2017-09-01 GMC 03

Tuesday; Labor Day is over and the world resumes its normal activities.  The happy merry workers at Dominion Motors GMC return to work and we get to sit in their waiting room, drink their coffee, watch their TV, use their internet, and use their restrooms (washrooms here in Canada…).

There is no word on the truck.  They have run their diagnostics and sent the data to technical support in Detroit.  Maybe they will hear back today or tomorrow; for now it looks like a blown engine; the normal fix for this is a complete engine replacement.  We might be here for awhile…

So we did some sight-seeing and checked out the local artisans; first, we went to Thunder Oak Cheese Farm:

2017-09-05 Cheese 01

The Thunder Oak Cheese Farm specializes in Gouda cheese, and all things Dutch:

2017-09-05 Cheese 02

We tasted their cheeses and even cheese curds; Lynda wanted some Komijne Kaas, and they have it!  Also some dropjes…

Around mid-day we visited The Persian Man; “he” or “it” is located within Bennett’s Bakery.  Apparently Persians are a “Thunder Bay Specialty”.  But I’m all, “What’s a Persian?”

A Persian is an oval-shaped, cinnamon-bun-like sweet roll with a sweet, pink icing made of either raspberries or strawberries.  It is credited to have originated at Bennett’s Bakery in, and remains particular to, Thunder Bay.  It is sometimes confused with a Pershing or a Persian bun which are regional items in parts of the United States but are a completely different baked good made with doughnut batter as opposed to being a sweet roll.  So there!

2017-09-05 Persian Man

It happens that we are “camped” right around the corner from Bennett’s Bakery; also, Syd, an employee of the GMC dealer where we are camped, stopped by on Saturday and gave us a gift certificate to have Persians at The Persian Man at Bennett’s Bakery. Around the corner.

So we  walked around the corner to The Persian Man at Bennett’s Bakery, and had coffee and Persians.  It was interesting…

2017-09-05 Persian 01

Later in the afternoon we walked around the corner to Dawson Trail Craft Brewery. We tasted 4 very nice craft beers and chatted with the owner about what it’s like to be a craft brewery in Thunder Bay.  While it is a small town (108,000), there is only one other brewery, no distilleries, and there are no wineries or wine tasting rooms… So while this sort of craft/artisanal business hasn’t really caught on here on the north shore, it is an up and coming thing, and they are optimistic…

2017-09-05 Dawson Trail

Since we still haven’t heard anything about the truck’s prognosis, and since our time here is seemingly endless, we did two things:

  1. We planned to go to Wisconsin in our rental car to see the Frank Lloyd Wright buildings that had always been on our itinerary for this week…
  2. We went to dinner at our favorite Thunder Bay restaurant, Bistro One. The fact that we have a favorite restaurant tells us we have already been here way too long; we have a standing reservation for every Tuesday night…

2017-09-05 Bistro One

After dinner we turned in early; tomorrow is a 10 hour drive across the border and through Minnesota, into Wisconsin, down to the town of Spring Green.

And a not too awful time was had by all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017-08-10 Nor by Nor’east Caravan – More Lobster!

Today we had another day on our own; we spent the day planning the remainder of the trip and enjoyed some quiet time.  We need to rest up, because tonight is: More Lobster!

2017-08-10 Lobster Dinner 03

Once the caravan ends (in five days) we have about 2 months to get home; we will travel back through Canada, through New Brunswick and Ontario, stopping off to see the 1000 Islands; we will stop at CanAm RV in London, ON, then meet up with the McAnoys and see our Grandchildren on Boblo Island, located between Lake Huron and Lake Erie. After that interlude, we head north, over the top of Lake Huron and Lake Superior, through Thunder Bay, and back into the USA in Minnesota, all by September 1… After that, we’ll go through Wisconsin, Minnesota, and South Dakota, checking out all the Frank Lloyd Wright and Laura Ingalls Wilder sites we can manage.

But tonight we have a dinner at St. Ann’s Lobster Galley. This is a very nice restaurant set on a lovely lake.  Once again we enjoyed time eating together; meals like this create opportunities to get to know the other caravanners and enjoy a stress-free time together.

2017-08-10 Lobster Dinner 01

2017-08-10 Lobster Dinner 02

2017-08-10 Lobster Dinner 06

2017-08-10 Lobster Dinner 07

2017-08-10 Lobster Dinner 04

2017-08-10 Lobster Dinner 05

We had a Drivers Meeting to discuss our last travel day within the caravan; tomorrow we take a ferry from Caribou, NS to Wood Islands, Prince Edward Island…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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