Day 2: Pepin, WI

Trip Start Jul 21, 2010
Trip End Jul 29, 2010

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Where I stayed
Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum and Homestead

Flag of United States  , Wisconsin
Thursday, July 22, 2010

As we drove from Minnesota to Pepin, WI we stayed largely along the edge of the Mississippi River (I really can't spell that word without slowly saying the rhyme in my head..."M-i-ss-i-ss-i-pp-i").  This is a large river!  It's not hard to understand why explorers and pioneers were so turned off by it when they reached it in the middle of this otherwise hilly, green terrain.  In order to get across it, even today, you kind of have to meander through one of the many, many little towns along the edge to to find a bridge, so we did just that (see picture).

When we arrived in Pepin, we immediately saw the large image of a little girl in a bonnet that marks the Pepin Historical Museum and Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum.  These museums clearly exist only to satisfy the desires of people like us who head off every so often to visit the sites of Laura Ingalls Wilder's books.  The Pepin Historical Museum tried to claim a few other noteworthy facts about its history but, basically, this town is only on the map because of Laura.   The Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum was not exactly spectacular but did have an adorable replica of a period bedroom and kitchen complete with tin cups like the one Laura and Mary shared in the books. The gift shop had endless copies of the books about not only Laura but her daughter, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. We were there at the same time as two other families who then also traveled the seven miles outside of town to the see the Laural Ingalls Wilder Wayside.

The Wayside is located on the approximate site of the "Little House in the Big Woods," and it is a replica of the log cabin Pa, Ma, Mary, Laura, and Baby Carrie lived in.  According to one of the biographies in the Museum, Laura actually only lived in this house until she was three. However, when she wrote about this time period for her first book, her publishers refused to believe that she could have any memories from being three and so they insisted that she write the book as if she were a five-year old.  (I also learned that the "Lake Pepin" that Laura refers to in the book is actually a widening in the Mississippi River.) The Wayside was very cute.  The log cabin was tiny (even without two adults and three little children living in it) and very sweet.  There is a large bulletin board with information about Laura's life including the record of births and deaths from the Wilder family bible and a record of school attendance with Mary and Laura's names on the roster.  There was also a letter that Laura had written to school children who had written her letters after reading the Little House Books.  In the letter she explains that the world she grew up in was very different to the world now (this was back in the 1950s shortly before Laura's death), but that, still, some things hadn't changed.  Specifically, she said:
‎"It is still best to be honest and truthful;
to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures and
to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong."I thought this was very accurate.

More pictures of days 1-2 at
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Vern Crawford on


The picture of you in the cut-out of Laura looks so much like the vivid picture I still have in my head of you playing the young pioneer with "Bro" back in Boulder.

I do believe that you have absorbed the main lessons to be gleaned from Laura's works, as she said herself:

"It is still best to be honest and truthful;
to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures and
to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong."


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