Back in 2018 when we visited this area to see some of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s homes, we spent an overnight at Lake Thompson Recreation Area near DeSmet, South Dakota. At the time we’d been wishing for a lakeside campsite, but last night on waterfront Site 39 we were buffeted by wind and rain and found ourselves wishing we’d chosen an inland site. Still it was beautiful and we enjoyed watching the fishing boats out on the lake this morning. Later in the morning as we were heading south we discovered we were traveling past another significant site in the life of this beloved author whose Little House novels chronicle one family’s pioneer experience. Without having planned it, we stopped and immersed ourselves in the Ingalls Homestead. In February 1880 Charles Ingalls filed a homestead claim for this land just one mile from the town of DeSmet. Here he first built a shanty then a house to serve as the family home, dug a well, planted cottonwood trees that survive to this day, and farmed the land until 1887 when the family moved back to DeSmet. The current owner of the quarter claim has dedicated a portion of it to a interpreting life on the farm in the 1880’s designed to create an hands-on experience for youngsters and their parents. The two of us participated in a couple of the kids’ activities when we made a corncob doll and a jump rope. We loved touring the dugout and the prairie shanty but instead of riding in a covered wagon to the one room schoolhouse, we planted ourselves in front of a video monitor upstairs in the barn and watched the amazing hour long documentary “America’s Prairie: Where the Sky Began” we only wish we could find a dvd or digital copy instead of only this excerpt. Overall we truly appreciated the opportunity to step back in history for a few hours. Next time we visit this area, we need to remember we could even spend the night here in our own camper, a covered wagon, or a bunkhouse!

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Cobh on Our Own

Cobh on Our Own

For our first adventure together on the Emerald Isle, we walked the streets of Cobh, County Cork, explored St Colman’s Cathedral, and visited the Cobh Heritage Center.