Monday, June 02, 2008

Backroads: Bella Goes to Mansfield

Bella took her Christmas trip this weekend. She's a big fan of the Little House book, and like any fan, knows that Laura Ingalls Wilder lived in the Missouri Ozarks in the tiny town of Mansfield.


This is her little white farmhouse. It is an absolute jewel. I could barely breathe when I was inside, I was loving it so much. It's preserved today exactly the way it was when Mrs. Wilder died in 1957. Exquisite.


A tiny front porch with low white rails, a gray-painted floor, beadboard ceiling, and a view of the sloping green front lawn shaded by pecan trees.


No interior photos allowed (a shame!), but a detail of the upstairs window. The all-white guest bedroom and its organdy curtains. Oh, there were ruffled and tied-back organdy curtains in the dining room as well. Shelves of depression glass. Green tins in the kitchen. Chenille spreads on the beds.


Laura and Almanzo were supposed to "retire" from working their farm in this fairy-tale stone cottage built on their property by their successful daughter Rose. They lasted eight years before getting homesick for the farmhouse and moving back. But. This house is a Sears and Roebuck mail-order plan house. Tiled windowsills. Little arched alcoves with shelves. An unbelievable tiled arched shower. The kitchen sink drainboard! The drawers built into closets! So human and comfortable. Warm yellow walls. And I love the brick terrace.


We rented a tiny cottage across the highway from the museum. Unprepossessing from the outside, but actually quite lovely inside, clean and fresh and well-furnished. And a lovely deck overlooking a pond with a Muscovy duck. We picked up a supper picnic and ate outside in the evening air.


After dark we sat out listening to an owl, until finally he swooped down in front of us in a flash of pale feathers and was gone.

A truly unexpected bonus with our rental was the presence of the ruins of a Renaissance Fair. Apparently the previous owner had tried to run one of these for a few years, and the set pieces were hanging around decomposing.


Fortunately not *right* where we parked.


The next morning we did a little low-key spelunking in a magnificent cave on the property. A perfect limestone tunnel with a stream running out of it--we were told it runs 1.8 miles underground, but we only made it to the first few turns.


We topped that off with a hamburger stop and then an afternoon at a water park. Fun for Bella, fun for us!

44 comments:

Julieann said...

I so enjoyed this tour--I am such a big fan of the Little House!! Thank you!

Julieann

YayaOrchid said...

Anna, am I understanding correctly that your babies get trips to a destination of their choice as Christmas gifts? That is so cool! I mean, I think it's something really different. A trip can be educational, as in the ones you've given your children, and can leave long lasting positive effects than a mere toy or knicknack. Hmm...interesting concept. I just might have to rethink our traditional gifting.

Renna said...

You have me wanting to visit that place. Thank you for the tour!

Traci said...

That sounds like so much fun. My husband just did not understand why while on our honeymoon to Prince Edward Island I HAD to do the whole Anne of Green Gables thing. I'm sure he would really not understand if I dragged him many states away to quell my Little House curiosity. Although he has come to expect such things from me. *sigh*

Do the kids pick their own Christmas trips or do you surprise them with a plan?

Tracy said...

Thank you so much for sharing this trip! My family & I just love Little House on the Prairie. If I ever make a visit to the US by some miracle, I will have this at the top of my to-do list!!!! I had no idea it was even there to see.

Robb said...

Anna,

I have been a reader of your delightfull blog for over a year now. I have the utmost respect for all the various choices you and the Composer have set out for your children. However, the one thing I have noticed is that Daisy is always the center the of attention. It is especially noticibly when you take the other the other children out for the Christmas trips. I't just my opinion that they might like some one on one time with you.

I am speaking to you as the mother of an uber-5 year old and we truly can not get pregnant fast enough. Our daughter's name is Bella and we have handed her the moon. I love your ideas of Christmas trips and will probably start them next Christmas. Thanks so much for providing a first rate blog that I am always eager to read.

Oh lastly, when you get a chance could you outline your approach/schedule for prek-1. Obviously with all your childrens' success you and the Composer are going something right.

With Warm Regards,

Robyn

Mrs. Bonnie said...

My mom is also a big L.I.W. fan, and has a number of books about her life. My fav being the one with pictures of the farm house and cottage- any vintage lovers dream come true. What a fun trip for Bella!

Davene said...

Someday I would so much love to visit there! Thanks for sharing these photos with us!

angela said...

I am SOOOOOOOO jealous!!! I would love to go to Rocky Ridge.

Edi said...

Thanks for the photos. Every time we go to Branson, MO we say "we need to stop off at the Little House place on our way home." We never do. Then by accident a couple of weeks ago we drove right past Mansfield (we had taken a wrong turn and didn't realize it for 1/2 hr) but were too concerned about our now possible 2 hr delay due to the wrong turn - that we did not even try to stop there. But I'm still hopeful it may happen "some day".

Suzanne said...

Isn't it the most serene setting. The trip must bring the books alive for Bella:-)

Mrs. H said...

Hi Anna,
I have read your blog for several years now, but I don't think I have ever commented! I should have said thank you long ago, since I have gotten so much joy and inspiration from your posting. I loved this post on Rocky Ridge. I was blessed to visit the home in Mansfield two years ago when my husband took our family on a business trip to St. Louis with him. My family just didn't understand when I burst into tears as we walked through the door of Laura's home! I especially loved the tiny kitchen and low cabinets, being short myself, like Laura! Please tell Bella, she made a wonderful choice for her trip and it brought back memories for this blog reader! I'm heading to get out my photo album now. :-) Thanks for all the wisdom and joyfullness that you share with us. Also, I must mention Giles' outstanding photographs! Your family has touched many lives.

Mod Girl said...

The shady, sloping lawn took my breath away. I believe I could sit on that tiny front porch all day!

Mrs. H said...

Also, Bella might be interested in Miss Sandy's blog www.quillcottage.blogspot.com this month. She is hosting an "I Remember Laura" blog-a-thon. :-)

Ms Dale said...

Bella made a very good choice for her trip and the
photographs captured everything as usual.
The picnic table was a real eye-catcher. Again,
thanks for sharing such a wonderful experience.

Ms. Dale

I'm Jessie. said...

My daughter would be in heaven. A little white farmhouse and a beautiful stone cottage...Mrs. Wilder really had it all!

shaybert said...

Anna, thank your for the beautiful tour. I've been a coupla times to Rocky Ridge and am always so inspired each visit. In fact, I have a postcard posted in my classroom of what an earely 20th century kitchen looked like.
Could you share the info on the cottage where you stayed? Sounds fun and quirky for a weekend getaway. Blessings, Shay

Herbs and Me said...

We just got back from Mansfield just a few weeks ago. I am glad you had a good time. We just loved it!!

We went to the Bakerscreek Heirloom seed companies festival it was wonderful.

Blessings,

Renee

Mrs. Rabe said...

We have been to Laura's farm several times, but never saw that darling stone cottage! How did we miss it? I guess we will need to go back.....

Janet said...

Visiting Laura's house is something I want to do before I die! Thank you for allowing us to see the pictures!

Rachel Marie said...

How fun! I am a huge little house fan and I think I will have to go there someday. I want to see the insides of the houses!

Sarah said...

What fun! Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

Rhoto said...

What a wonderful Christmas trip, Bella!!
Warm greetings,
Rhonda in Montreal

Angie said...

Wow! What a fantastic trip! I really enjoyed your photo tour!

Linda said...

Thank you for sharing your trip Bella. How I would love to see Laura's home. It is just as I pictured it would be - a perfect farm house. What a wonderful adventure.

A Dusty Frame said...

Thank you for sharing this:). It looks like a wonderful experience.
One I hope to have someday!

Lizzie

ellemenope said...

We visited the Ingalls homestead in DeSmet, SD last year as my daughter was running the state track meet in nearby Watertown (we live in SD) It was well worth the trip and we camped out right on the homestead. I was in heaven waking up to the same sounds that must have awoken Laura and the family so long ago. Like Mrs. h, I was in tears the whole time we were there.

The really fun part was, because we were camping on the homestead, they left the exhibits open until about 10pm so my kids could play in them. They had a ball doing "pretend" laundry and playing little house IN the actual little house. Yep, pure heaven.

Elle said...

Oh my goodness, I want to retire to that little stone cottage. Can I tell you how many times I went as Laura for Halloween in the 70's (far more times than was really appropriate!). Last summer I read
The Laura Ingalls Wilder Country Cookbook (with the farmhouse on the cover). So fun- great photos of the interior (I loved the kitchen). I just couldn't get over how much food they ate- especially breakfast. Farm work must be great for the metabolism.
Thanks for sharing.
L

Secondstreetdesigns said...

oh....... i have always wanted to see that farmhouse! what a great trip!

Bauman said...

I, too, have been so intrigued by your Christmas trip gifts. Please do tell how you choose the destination, how you plan it - how much is a surprise, how much input do the children have?

secondofwett said...

What a wonderful trip to make with your children. It seemed very peaceful.

Bethgem said...

Okay, I'm going to go die of envy now.

Sue B. said...

Oh I'm thrilled to see your photos. We are in middle of The Long Winter. My daughter will be so excited when I show her.

Sharonnz said...

I can hardly wait to show Miss 8yrs these photos. We are all huge fans here. (I even bought fabric to make LHOTP dresses yesterday!) Pity New Zealand is so far away from special spots like this.

Beverly said...

I grew up in Missouri and remember with fondness a childhood visit to Mansfield. A beautiful place. Still remember the musty smell of the museum. Thank you for the memories of her house.

Beverly said...

One more thing...I am a regular reader of your blog and put in a link to you on May 27. The top of my (husband's) dresser just looked too lovely not to photograph in the style of Giles/Pleasant View.

Polly said...

What a great trip--I love the photographs, and as usual I love your description of everything.

Anna said...

You all love Mansfield! I too love the Country Cookbook that was mentioned--wrote about it here:
http://pleasantviewschoolhouse.blogspot.com/2006/07/laura-ingalls-wilder-country-cookbook.html

I must say that the photographs do not do these interiors justice. Nor do they capture the extreme tininess of everything! Laura's kitchen work surfaces hit me at mid-thigh!

Sarah's In the Midst of It said...

I love the idea of a trip instead of stuff! I've read of others you've taken in the past, and this one would've been my favorite--my Little House books are still treasured on my shelf! Thanks for posting the pictures :)

Pam said...

Oh how lovely! Thanks for the tour! Beautiful pictures - even though just the exterior. We have a Laura Ingalls Wilder museum near us. We now must go!

good_to_be_home said...

Bella must be a kindred spirit, 'cause it's my dream to go there, too! Good for you! The pictures are lovely. . . .

Elizabeth G. said...

Thank you so much for sharing this trip with us. I will have fun sharing your photos of the Wilder house with my children, one of whom read all those books this year!

Laura of Harvest Lane said...

You know, I've lived a couple of hours from Mansfield for years and haven't gone yet. L.I.W. was my heroine growing up. I wanted to be just like her. I think that's a little of what gives me my ability to make do through hard times
laura

salina said...

Thanks for the beautiful pictures of your trip. Since I will probobly never visit there myself, I wonder if there is a website that shows pictures of the inside of both houses. I'll have to check that out.
Anyway, love to visit you from time to time to see what your extraordinary family is up too. It is always a truy inspirational visit.
Thankyou!
Salina

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