Oh yes. We left me speeding down the road toward Mansfield, MO, in the middle of the afternoon. Right? That’s been so long ago you’ve probably all forgotten about that. I’ll try to do better, but remember that I am working a lot right now! The season is upon us and thus I am working more hours. Such is farm life.
It was a pleasant afternoon as I drove down Highway 5 south. Went through Lebanon and then it became more rural again. I like the quiet country roads best. The scenery’s better from there. Anyway, went through a few small little towns and wide places in the road. Enjoyed the slightly rolling hills, the small farms, the old houses, everything! And the car ran well, and I was pleased and thankful.
Then I came down a hill and saw I was entering another little town. Mr. and Mrs. Hart, wonderful leaders of my awesome Bible study, this is for you. The town was called Hartville, and I had to stop and take a picture of the sign. So that’s what that picture is. There was a semi coming down behind me, so I grabbed my camera, pointed, slowed down and alllllllllllmost stopped and shot a picture, then sped up again so no one would crash into me, then promptly slowed down again because I was entering the town. It was a real cute little town.
Several miles down the road, I passed the sign for Baker Creek Seeds. I’d arrived!!!!!!! I was super excited. But there was still quite a bit of the afternoon left. So I drove on, having something else in mind. In just a few short more miles, yes, just 60 short yards of road, I entered Mansfield.
Almost on two wheels, I careened through Mansfield, followed the signs, and ended up in a parking lot just outside town which happened to be, amazingly enough, the parking lot across the road from the Laura Ingalls Wilder house!!
I had made it. Wiping my brow with a very damp handkerchief, and flexing my fingers to get some feeling back into them after having gripped the steering wheel so tightly, I climbed out of the car and looked it over. Not in bad shape for having come into Mansfield on two wheels. Little alignment problem, nothing big though. Doesn’t every car meander over to the left when you’re keeping the steering wheel straight?
No? Well you’d better see a mechanic then.
Ok, that was free.
Then I saw it!!!! The other thing I’d really been hoping to see on this little trip. Can you guess what it was? If you’re up on your history, then you’ll know that Mansfield, Missouri, is where Laura Ingalls Wilder and her husband settled after they left South Dakota. And there before me I saw the humble little white house in all its simple country beauty sitting on a small knoll outside Mansfield.
I was amazed, and thankful, once again, at the Lord’s working in my timing. In spite of having to turn around and all to see the state park I told you about earlier, it all turned out for good, because I arrived here at the house in just enough time to get a thorough self-guided tour (those are always the best ones) of the house and check out the little museum housed in a very ugly 70’s or 80’s building, before they were offering the last tour of the day of the other house they’d lived in for a short time, the stone house their daughter Rose had built for them. Everyone around at the time drove another half mile down the road to see that house, which was nice, but I liked the original one better, then came back to go to the gift shop and spend money and all.
The picture above shows you most of the house. The part to the far left was already on the property when Laura and Almanzo bought it, it was originally part of a log cabin. They simply moved it to where they wanted it, and lived in that until they eventually added on more and more. That room (with the two windows facing the camera and the screened porch) is now the kitchen. Since Laura was short, the whole kitchen is built to a miniature person’s size. By the look of things, Almanzo was a master craftsman. Unfortunately they would not let you take pictures inside. But it was a very cute little kitchen.
The part of the house to the left was built later, I don’t remember when. Parts of the back of it were also added on at different times as they had money. The stairs to the upper level were very narrow and steep, we couldn’t go upstairs but there probably wasn’t much to see anyway. Then the part with the stone chimney was all added on in 1917, and is the grandest, biggest part of the house. There is exposed wood on the ceiling, a little library, and a fancy front staircase. The whole house is kind of unique because you have different rooms built in different styles in different years, very much a personal history kind of house. Still solid. Almanzo must have been a very good builder. I really really enjoyed getting to look through the whole house. The pictures below show you the view from the front porch, and a couple other pictures.
The stone house that was built in 1927 was down the road a piece, and I was able to be there in time for the last tour of the day. It was not quite as homey a house, and it was mostly empty as well, but it was neat to see it too. This was the house that Rose built for her parents. After Rose left again, they moved right back into their old house. I would have too.
It was gettin’ on later in the afternoon. Was planning on spending the night at Baker Creek, which was only a few miles back up the road, but I wasn’t planning on half freezing like I’d done the night before. So I stopped in at a little grocery store in Mansfield and asked if they had sleeping bags, which of course they didn’t. I hadn’t really expected a small little store like that to carry such items. It’s not like they get crazy gypsy farmers coming in every day wanting one since they forgot to bring such gear. However, the young kid at the check out directed me to a Wal-Mart another 12 miles or so south in Ava, Missouri.
I thanked him, hopped in the car, and sped down to Ava. The trip was quite pleasant as part of it was quite hilly and had rocky cliffs on both sides of the road. Got a chance to see some nice views and enjoyed that.
I arrived in Ava and went into Wal-Mart with a heavy heart. Heavy because I do. not. like. Wal-Mart. At all. But what was I going to do? Freeze? Eat raw beans and raw eggs and raw potatoes for the next three days?
I thought not, and decided to be grateful that there was a store not too far away that supplied gypsies for a fee. Add to that fee, of course, sales tax. I keep forgetting that most other states have sales tax.
I found a sleeping bag. And a small camp stove. And some propane and a couple lighters and some bug gel (in case I got eaten during the night by southern insects) and perhaps a few other things that I can’t remember at the moment. Anyway I got all set up for camping, which is what I should have done before I left but oh well. Bought all the stuff and traipsed out of Wal-Mart with it all bulging out and around me, crammed in bags that I was holding. And I stuffed it all into the faithful old car.
Sped back up to Mansfield and found the road to Baker Creek without too much trouble. Eagerly, and not without a bit of trepidation, for the road was old, small, rutted, and rather empty of traffic, I turned onto it. The country looked a bit hill–billy-ish to me. Ah well. That suits me. I drove on.
Down, around, through, I drove on. Past little farms and old houses and hollows and creeks and over grazed pastures and old dead Fords in front yards. Past houses with tarps on the roof and dead Fords in the drive. Past old barns and little pastures and hills and vales with little old houses with firewood stacked beside the house and a couple old dead broken-down Fords in the front. The road was narrow. It was late afternoon. The road was rutty. It got to be later afternoon.
Then the road turned to gravel. I passed over a little creek, and by an old house with a stone foundation.
This did rather look like a dead end road, I thought. Oh well. The sign said this way, right?
I drove on.
And then, all of a sudden, I saw a sign!!!
I had arrived.