We started planning on visiting DeSmet, South Dakota last summer, after visiting the Little House museum in Pepin, Wisconsin. It was the perfect "last hurrah" of our busy and fun summer!
We picked up the Clarks and set out for South Dakota, making one stop at Camden State Park. It was rainy, but we found a picnic shelter to eat lunch in. Because of the rain/clouds, it was pretty dark inside, so we ate by the light of our battery-powered lamp.
We made it to DeSmet between 4:30-5 and got checked in to our covered wagon at Ingalls Homestead. It was the perfect size for our little group--two side beds for myself and Tiffany, an upper bed for the older girls, and a mattress that rolled out in the middle of the floor for Henry and Norah. We weren't sure if it was going to rain or not, so we unpacked the car before checking out the homestead. The last covered wagon right was going to leave at 6, with the staff leaving shortly after, so we headed there first. The kids had fun holding the reins and driving the covered wagon pulled by mules.
The wagon ride took us to the one-room schoolhouse, where we learned about what school would have been like for Laura. The girls dressed up in aprons and bonnets, and Henry was given a straw hat to wear. Abby and Olivia had to recite a lesson in the front of the room, and all of the kids got to ring the school bell when we left.
After our wagon ride back to the barn, the kids all had a chance to take a short horse ride.
We headed into town for supper--there wasn't much in town, but we found a DQ/Subway combo and ate at the DQ. When we came back to the homestead, the weather was still nice, so we decided to check out a few of the buildings. We had been told that even if the staff wasn't there, we were welcome to look around and explore. We found a calf and some chickens in a little barn, looked inside Ma's house, and walked along a path through a cornfield that took us to a little church. The kids had fun playing the organ and playing wedding inside the church.
After the church, it was starting to get dark, so we got our pajamas on and settled in the covered wagon for a movie night. Tiffany had brought her Ipad with a couple of movies on it in case of rain...the weather was nice, but the kids still had fun watching Frozen and eating popcorn inside the wagon.
After a rough night's sleep (the wagon was comfortable, but we had kiddos with leg aches and allergies keeping us up all night), Tiffany got up with Henry at 7 and the rest of us slept until almost 9! We ate breakfast at our picnic table and got ready for the day. There was a lot more exploring to do now that it was light out and the staff was back. The kids loved everything about the homestead--driving the pony cart, making jump ropes and corn husk dolls in the garage, grinding wheat, doing laundry and seeing Ma's house in the daylight, visiting the claim shanty, playing in a covered wagon, checking out the sod house (even though they thought it was stinky!), and especially holding baby kittens in the hayloft.
We left a little before 1, and stopped at Subway before leaving DeSmet. Other than a quick bathroom break in Redwood Falls, it was a smooth ride home! It was definitely worth the drive!