Touring Walnut Grove, Minnesota
Before we could read, Mom read the Laura Ingalls Wilder books to my brothers and me. Once I could read them on my own, I devoured them, bordering on obsession with Laura, Mary, Ma and Pa, and what life was like in a time and place far removed from anything I knew as a girl growing up in the 70s and 80s in a suburb of Cincinnati.
But reading those books — that was a long, long time ago, and now I recall very little from the books themselves and more from the television series. I’m sad about this and intend to remedy it by re-reading the original eight “Little House” books.
This idea didn’t just come to me out of the blue. Rather I was planning a camper van trip in Hers, with the Puppy RV Venturer, ZuZu, when the idea hit. I knew I wanted to spend a few days in Minneapolis, but where else should I visit while in Minnesota??
I pulled up the map, and what jumped off the laptop’s screen but Walnut Grove. Wait. *THE* Walnut Grove?? Sure was, and just a few hours farther west than Minnie.
Roger that. I’m heading that way, I decided.
I really did not know – and did not much care – what was still there that would connect me to Laura, the Ingalls, and life on Plum Creek. I knew just being in Walnut Grove would be enough.
I stayed in Plum Creek Park, just a couple of easy miles and from downtown Walnut Grove. The park’s campground is wonderfully convenient to tour Walnut Grove’s sites!
“Downtown” Walnut Grove is kind of a sad, little town. I assumed it would not be hopping with activity, but I had hoped for some charm. Oh well. No matter. The real reason I wanted to be in Walnut Grove was to see the dugout area where the Ingalls first lived.
First though, I headed into town to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum and Gift Store.
After spending a short time there, I drove a few miles to the dugout area.
Being here at the Dugout Site, with no noise but those of the nature, made the 900+ mile drive completely worth it. It was so quiet, and I felt the connection I wanted.
ZuZu and I had the dugout area to ourselves for about an hour. We walked around, reading the helpful, informative signs that are placed throughout, and just envisioning what the land would have looked like in Laura’s time. Again, just being there was worth the hundreds and hundreds of miles on the road.
Have you been there? Or to the other Ingalls family sites? If so, please share your experiences! I’d love to hear from you!