I'll admit to shamelessly looking like a tourist while taking pictures on this trip!

I'll admit to shamelessly looking like a tourist while taking pictures on this trip!

Last month after my semi-annual sojourn to Missouri, we took a “side trip” to North Dakota. (Prince Charming is from North Dakota.) But on the way to North Dakota from Missouri is South Dakota. And South  Dakota boasts De Smet which was one of the places Laura Ingalls Wilder lived. Like many American girls, I became smitten with Laura when my elementary school teacher read the “Little House” books to us during rainy recess periods. I related to Laura because I had mud-brown hair as did she (and all the charmed people had golden hair), and I was born in Mansfield, Missouri, where she lived a great deal of her married life.

DeSmet was full of these giant locust trees whose blossoms had a most pleasing scent.

DeSmet was full of these giant locust trees whose blossoms had a most pleasing scent.

Her house in Mansfield has been turned into a museum, but I have not taken my children there, even though we visit so often.  We took many field trips there when I was in elementary school, an I must admit I was a bit bored with it. Touring houses full of antiques does not hold the attention the average 5- and 7-year-old, so I decided long ago to wait until my girls were older to do that. Plus we are near there twice a year, so we can do that any time.

The surveyor's house where Laura lived when her family first moved to South Dakota. This house has been moved from its original site.

The surveyor's house where Laura lived when her family first moved to South Dakota. This house has been moved from its original site.

But DeSmet is different.  There are two areas devoted to Laura Ingalls Wilder. One is mostly in the town of DeSmet, and one is at the old homestead. The Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society runs the town portion, and they have some very fun things to do.  They have collected several original buildings, or point out where you can see them, and made replicas of others. We did not tour houses and schools for the same reason we have not visited Mansfield (though I personally REALLY wanted to–but we’ll be back there again), but they had a fun scavenger hunt that was just perfect for our girls. They got to ride in a “covered wagon” all over town while Prince Charming pulled them. At various stops (landmarks from Laura’s books), they found postcards to put in a mini scrapbook. They had a blast. They were Laura and Mary, I was Ma, Prince Charming was Pa, and our dog was Jack. (This  happens quite often, but they were really in the spirit of it there.)

What is better than being in a "covered wagon" pulled all over town?

What is better than being in a "covered wagon" pulled all over town?

This post includes  a few stops we made in the above wagon. Next week I will take you to the Homestead.

At the depot we found a letterbox AND a scavenger hunt postcard. We were lucky enough to get there when a train was coming through. The girls were mesmerized.

At the depot we found a letterbox AND a scavenger hunt postcard. We were lucky enough to get there when a train was coming through. The girls were mesmerized.

At the site of the memorial society is a replica of the school where Laura taught. My girls honest could have spent at least a couple of hours there pretending to be teachers and students.

At the site of the memorial society is a replica of the school where Laura taught. My girls honestly could have spent at least a couple of hours there pretending to be teachers and students.

This was the house the Ingalls family had in town. It was, however, too far away from the town center (a very few blocks) during "The Long Winter," so they moved to the a place on Main Street during winter. This house offers tours. Hopefully next time...

This was the house the Ingalls family had in town after Laura married. This house offers tours. Hopefully next time...

"Pa" helped build the frames for the stained glass windows in this church. The Ingalls family would probably flip if they saw the VBS program they were doing this summer.  (The same one my church did which nearly made me flip.)

"Pa" helped build the frames for the stained glass windows in this church. The Ingalls family would probably flip if they saw the VBS program they were doing this summer. (The same one my church did which nearly made me flip.)

This was a replica of the school Laura and her sisters attended. Inside was a hands-on discovery area. In this photo, Chic is writing her name in braille by gluing split peas to paper.

This was a replica of the school Laura and her sisters attended. Inside was a hands-on discovery area. In this photo, Chic is writing her name in braille by gluing split peas to paper.

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