Thursday, 11 August 2011

In the Big Woods of Wisconsin

Two truly awesome things happened today. Ever fulfilled a life-long ambition and felt the buzz that goes with that? Ever fulfilled the same one twice and not quite believed your good fortune? That was me today. For the second time in my life (and not the last, according to the Mouse) I find myself in Pepin, Wisconsin. It's a sleepy little town, pretty much in the middle of wide Wisconsin nowhere, but it also happens to be the birthplace of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Here are two photos of us at her birthplace. See if you can spot the difference:

Yes, it was a little colder last time, the Mouse was much smaller (that's her in my arms) and not a resident of the 19th century. Check out the pioneer outfit: my mum made that for me in 1977!

The cabin is a reconstruction of her birthplace, but it's in the right spot and built to the same dimensions. For a family of four (later five) it really is very tiny. I reckon our RV (that's 'Campervan' in English) is possibly slightly more spacious.

That's not Laura: it's the Mouse in disguise!
We had a picnic lunch outside. TR was very taken with the ants, who carried away his picnic crumbs, as fast as he could shed them. Mr Ruby explained that, were an ant the same size as a human, it could lift a car. TR was mightily impressed and spent the rest of our lunchtime exclaiming, 'An ant can lift a car?!' The notion of scale was too much for him. As far as he's concerned, an ant can lift a car.

The second awesome part of our day (not counting the car-lifting ants) is that we spent all of it with our neighbours from Farnborough, 'The Pilgrims', who now live in Minnesota. That's awesome, right? And so are they. Here's a picture of Mr Ruby, the Pilgrim Father and the Pilgrim Mother, cooking sausages over a camp fire:

The Pilgrims school Mr Ruby in the ways of American campfires.

We also visited the Laura Ingalls Museum in Pepin, where the Mouse spent her holiday money on a pioneer outfit for her American Girl doll, Felicity, and the beach at Lake Pepin. Lake Pepin is really a wide section of the mighty Mississippi river. We had a go at swimming, but the dead fish rather put me off and I had to content myself with paddling. After that we stopped to buy sausages, which we later cooked on the fire. Then the Pilgrims taught us how to make 'S'mores': divine!

In other news, I got myself a tour of a 1964 Airstream caravan. It is parked near to our RV and I've been admiring it. In the end I wandered over and asked if I might look inside. I probably wouldn't dare do that at home, but I'm finding the English accent acts as currency here and my host was most gracious and showed me all around. It really is a thing of beauty: looks like a tin can from the outside, but inside it is like a Tardis - so well thought-out and beautifully designed, with a lot of '60's glamour and charm!

The Pilgrims and the Rubies. From L-R: The Firestarter, The Mouse, Pilgrim Mother, Tabi-Cat, TR, Mrs Ruby, Mr Ruby,  Pilgrim Father and Hannah Minnesota.

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