Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Little Elle on the Prairie

You may recall that several weeks ago Elle and I took a little road trip to see some historical Laura Ingalls related history.  It was a joy to spend those days with just Elle.  She was funny and sweet did the most adorable things.  She also broke something in pretty much every location we went to.  By the end of the trip I was calling her Hurricane Elle because it turns out that girlfriend has a serious case of the klutz.

So join me if you will on a pictorial journey down memory lane as I tell the story of that time Elle and I drove to South Dakota and then back again.

The trip began as so many in American history have - in a covered wagon. 

Actually, that's not true.  The trip really began in my car which we had packed to the gills with cheese sandwiches (remember how excited she was about the cheese sandwiches?  Maybe not, I might have mentioned it on facebook) hard boiled eggs, activity books, Barbies and changes of clothes for one very picky little dresser.

The first stop on the trip was the Laura Ingalls museum in Walnut Grove, MN.  Laura and her family lived here for a time but the town is mostly known for being the setting of the odd and inaccurate tv series based on the books.  In turn the museum is really more about the show than it is about the real Laura Ingalls.  Here Elle stands with the real fireplace used in the show.  I think that's what it was.  It's hard to get a close look at things when you're touring with a five year old who cares less about what she's seeing than she does about what else she can see.
There were lots of other exhibits that Elle really enjoyed as well.  It's a pretty neat little museum with lots of hands on stuff for kids so if you have a kid into pioneer stuff this would be a good place to go.  They had a little church with an organ you could play.  Elle really liked that.
 They also had some old fashioned toys you could play with.  This was another big hit with Elle.  I guess playing with dominoes makes her look like she's 12.  Odd.
I forced Elle to try on these pioneer clothes.  She looked so cute that this older lady who was in the museum started kind of ... following us around and wouldn't stop talking to us.  We finally had to go into another building in order to lose her.
 Then there was this odd military exhibit. I guess to highlight Laura's military career?  Elle did not enjoy trying on this helmet but I made her do it anyway.  Can you tell that the thing weighed about as much as she did?
 Next up was a jail cell.  Always good for a laugh.

The next exhibit was a pioneer dugout house.  Elle was fascinated with the bed made of rope and furs.  As someone who has an unnatural fear of bedbugs I was pretty much horrified when she insisted on trying it out.  Yuck.  The good news is that she seemed to come out relatively infestation free. 
Then it was time for a quick phone call.  Just because you're exploring the prairie doesn't mean you can't use modern technology.
 After that was a visit to the school house.
We walked though this big area of weed and overgrown grass to get to this fiberglass horse.  I don't know why Elle looks like she hasn't brushed her hair in a week.  Pioneers didn't have hair brushes either.  I think.
Elle's favorite part of this museum was the outhouse exhibit.  This sign made us laugh and laugh and laugh.  For the rest of the trip Elle kept asking if she could poop in whatever exhibit we happened to be in at the time.
We drove all the way to Walnut Grove to play with some old toys.  I told Elle my grandparents used to have that same toy barn when I was a kid. This led her to believe that I had been a pioneer.  Not pictured, this stuffed goat that you could squeeze and then it would yodel.  We only did that about a million times.  We only stopped because the old lady who had been following us before caught up to us and we had to move on again.
This little area where you could pretend to be a pioneer grocer was Elle's favorite part of the whole museum.  We spent a REALLY long time here buying butter and canned goods from each other.  I have to admit that Elle is the one that finally put an end to this game.  (What?  It was fun!)  Not pictured here is the large glass front of this counter.  Moments after I took this picture Elle ripped the entire thing off.  I don't know how she managed it but somehow with her puny bare hands she pulled the glass front and wooden frame off.  There was no one else in the building at the time but I looked around and there were security cameras.  Maybe somewhere there exists film of me frantically shoving the thing back together while Elle happily rings up another order of butter and eggs.
The last stop on this tour was the old post office.  Museum karma caught up with Elle and as we were leaving this area she tripped and when stumbling across the room and crashed into a wooden telephone booth.  I almost laughed because it looked so damned funny but then I heard a pathetic little moan from inside the booth.  Elle, being the drama girl that she is, started to cry as soon as I got over to her so I used the phone to call the pioneer doctor.  That made her laugh and then she wanted to call the pioneer doctor too.  When she hung up the phone the receiver snapped off.  In her defense the receiver had been duct tapped on so I don't really think she can take the blame here but cripes.  It was clearly time for us to leave.
Stay tuned for the next installment where we visit Plum Creek and Elle manages to break something else.  That's right, my baby broke something at a creek.

Three years ago today I had a conversation with the neighborhood brat.
Six years ago today I was OMG, boring.


Barbara said...

Oh I love this! I'll have to take Kirsten in a few years... :D

Anonymous said...

Jen, what a wonderful story and the pictures are great!! I know you and Elle had a fun time! It's good for Moms and daughters to bond like that! I look forward to the next installment!


Grandm Judy

Emily said...

I totally remember that barn. HAHA! Elle thought you were a pioneer!!! ;)