Okay, where were we? Oh, yes, S and I screaming bloody murder at one another in the laundry room and agreeing to put disagreements aside for the sake of the girls. Next morning we woke up super early and were headed to Pepin, WI. Now, you will have to excuse me on this post because from here on out things get really fussy, mixed up, etc. This trip was so traumatizing that I lost all track of days, hours, etc. Some things may be out of order. For instance, did we stop for breakfast first before going to Pepin? Pretty sure we did but not positive. I know we went to the place where Red something shoes are made, those famous shoes. (I know.... I could look it up, but I am just too stressed to do so.) ** Update: Red Wing Shoes
We left lots of things behind in S's apartment. American Dolls which cost &80 each. All of the video playback equipment. Souvenirs we had bought in Minneapolis/St. Paul, clothes. We just took a few days' worth of clothes, cameras, video camera. We had to travel light cuz S had a small car. S had a suitcase and the three of us shared one suitcase and left the other suitcase in Minneapolis.
But the main thing about that day is this: We stopped at a cafe for breakfast. Again, S insisted that K11 figure out the tip, which ended up in not understanding, feeling stupid, and in tears. Finally, S said to me, "Fine, if she is not going to figure up the tip at every meal, then I am no longer paying for any of your meals OR your hotel!" We were all four supposed to stay in one room, so what she was telling me was that I was to get one room for the three of us and pay for it myself, and she would have her own room. After being at Mall of America and a couple of other souvenir places, I had about $100-$150 in traveler's checks left. I had saved them for Laura Ingalls Wilder souvenirs because that's what the kids had really come for.
For the rest of the trip I only ordered food for the girls, and I just ate any leftovers they had, which was difficult, because once the girls were done eating their fill, S was ready to hit the road. At the cafe, I called my ex and explained to him the situation. He said that we had about 50-100 dollars in the checking acct. and to only use it in case of emergency. But how was I going to pay for motels for a few days? I explained this to S and that maybe we should turn around and go back to Minneapolis, but she said no, that she wanted to go on this trip, and she was going!
We got to Pepin, Wisconsin, which is directly over the border from Minnesota. There is basically nothing there. A replica of the cabin Laura was born in and a small "museum/gift shop" if you want to call it that. S bought K7 - okay now I'm really losing it because I can't remember if it is K7 or K8 ha ha. Okay. It's K 7 cuz her birthday was at end of July) all kinds of t-shirts and souvenirs. She bought K11 nada. So me with my $100-$150 bought a few cheap things for K11. She never complained, although I did see her cry once or twice.
Then we got back on the road. We went through the town where Grumpy Old Men was filmed. Can't think of the name of it. Again, I am too stressed out to look, but let me tell you it was GORGEOUS!!!!! ** Wabasha. Then the shit started hitting the fan. There is a highway that runs across Minnesota. I want to say it is HWY 13??? Haven't been able to find it and too stressed out to research. Anyway we got on it around 8 in the morning and started driving west toward DeSmet, South Dakota. Evidently that is where all the action is. We passed Walnut Grove and were going to come back and see that later.
Going west, the girls were in the back seat. By now S is seriously pissed off about the tip, etc., and I'm sitting in the passenger seat trying figure out how the hell I'm going to come up with enough money for a motel for the night. The sun is pounding in the back window from the east on the girls. S refuses to turn on the A/C, only open the moon roof. I was sweating profusely, and the girls were sweating even more because of the sun. I continued to ask S to please turn the A/C on for at least a little while. She refused. Remember: the girls are wearing homemade dresses and aprons from the 1800s plus bonnets. Those bonnets did not stay on. All the way down the highway she played a CD or cassette of Native American music full blast. Now, I don't have anything against Native Americans, but the constant loud drumming from the back seat speakers, mixed with the heat was just too much for my girls. I looked back there, and they were holding hands.
All down the highway there was nothing but prairie and windmills. I had no signal on my cell phone anymore. My ex was going to try to borrow some money and put it in the bank, but he had no way of contacting me. Whenever we would see a gas station, which was rarely, I would ask S to stop so that the girls could go to the bathroom. Again, she refused. Somewhere in between Walnut Grove and DeSmet, South Dakota, we found a motel. It was in the middle of nowhere, but it was only about $40 a night. I was thrilled! I had enough! I had been afraid that the locals would try to rip Laura Ingalls fans off, but they didn't. S said that we would stay at this motel for a couple of nights. It would be our base. That way we could travel back and forth from DeSmet, Walnut Grove, and Burr Oak at our leisure.
We checked in and went down to the car. S hit the accelerator before my girls' seat belts were fastened and my door was still open all the way. We kind of spun in a circle in the parking lot,which was just dirt. She began speeding, about 80 or 90. She would scream at me each time I would lean over to look at the speedometer. We still had several hours to get to DeSmet. The girls were thirsty, hot, and were complaining of headaches because of the music. It was the same CD/cassette over and over. She never changed it once.
I am sure I leaving things out. When we got to DeSmet we went through the Ingalls home, saw the sod house, lots of things. The girls should have been thrilled. But they were feeling downtrodden and overheated. The girls did a few craft projects, we took tons of pictures. A man takes you in a covered wagon through the slough where baby Carrie got lost. It is about 1/2 mile ride to the one-room schoolhouse they had set up there. The man chose K11 to drive, commenting on her 1800's attire. She was so proud of herself driving those horses. All during this field trip, S would not say a word to any of us.
When we got to the school house, there was a school marm there. My daughters had been on a field trip to a one-room school house in League City twice, so they were having fun making observations about what was different from the two schoolhouses. We were listening to the school marm recite her expected speech. All of a sudden, I turned around, and I saw S walking away from the school house towards the main house/parking lot/gift shop. I have a video of that. She never told us goodbye, I gotta pee, see ya later, nothing. Panic hit me. We are in South Dakota, I really have no idea where DeSmet is on the map. S is our only transportation. My cell phone won't work. Who would I call anyway? My ex was a thousand miles away.
When the school session was over, we rode the wagon back to the main building/gift shop. S was in there drinking something, buying souvenirs. I told her the girls really needed to get out of those hot dresses. They were thirsty and hungry. She said, "They can change into shorts, but they had better hurry. I am ready to leave! I had to help them get changed. Bought them a few cheap souvenirs (pretty much spent the last of my cash). Was trying to buy them lunch, but S said we had to leave NOW and that she had grapes in the trunk. Whoopee.
By now the girls are hungry, hot, and extremely stressed. We went into DeSmet and saw gravesites and the house in town Pa built for Ma. Again, it was wonderful, but none of us enjoyed it, especially me. I was trying to figure out how the hell I was going to pay for more food, etc.
We drove past the motel and into Walnut Grove, where I was looking around for a police station, anyone who could help me. I had asked S several times if she would just drive us back to Minneapolis so we could get our stuff out of her apartment. I had two plans: get our stuff and stay in a hotel until our plane left that weekend; or get our stuff, rent a car and do the tour ourselves. This all depended on, of course, ex finding some money to borrow.
We ended up in the square in Walnut Grove. S parked across the street from a park where there seemed to be some kind of flea market going on. She got out of the car and locked us all in. I unlocked the car and we went across to the park, trying to catch up to her. I could not lose her; she was my ride. She was looking at some merchandise on a table. I went up to someone and asked if there was a police station nearby, and swoosh, S took off running to her car, leaving me and the girls in the park. She drove around the block, I guess, and finally came back and yelled, "GET IN!" Again, before we had seat belts on or doors closed, she hit the gas.
We drove back to the hotel. When we got to the parking lot. I asked S what we were going to do next. She said, "Well, I don't know what you guys are going to do. I AM GOING TO THE LAURA INGALLS WILDER PAGEANT IN WALNUT GROVE BY MYSELF!" Okay, now this pageant is supposed to be wonderful. This is every little girl's dream come true. The girls were very upset, crying inside the room. I went to S's room and we had it out. She finally conceded that we could go with her and drove us there. She bough K7 treats during the show and a Laura Ingalls sweatshirt. Luckily, admission was only $7. I had enough to get us in. (When we got back home I purchased a sweatshirt for K11 online to make up for this.)
The pageant was the most amazing production. The girls did not want it to end. They even cried when it ended.
Okay. I will leave you with this last part and then I will have to continue another time. When we got up the next morning, we thought we were going to Burr Oak or back to Walnut Grove. They have lots of things there from the TV show. When we got to the car, S screamed at me, "Where is your suitcase?" I said, "It's upstairs." She screamed at me, "We're not staying here! We're leaving! I never said we were staying here two nights!!" She most certainly did.
I left the kids in the car, ran up the stairs crying, packed as quickly as I could, and came back downstairs to the parking lot. She then said, "I don't have enough room for your suitcase in the trunk. You will have to carry it in your lap!" Well, I took the tray of orange juice that the girls were drinking and slung the entire thing at S, covering her with orange juice. Then I told her to go behind the building. The girls tell me now that they had never ever heard me yell like that at anyone (obviously, they had not heard me in the laundry room). S said she was going to report me to the police for physical assault. I said I just wanted to go back to Minneapolis and get our stuff. She said she might never ever take us back to Minneapolis. She had the whole summer off. She said she would drive in a different direction from now on, away from Minneapolis. AND SHE DID. And there I sat in the front of her car with our suitcase on my lap, hungry, praying to God for the safety of me and my kids, watching the windmills go by. We never made it to Burr Oak. We never made it back to Walnut Grove. If I had been alone, I would have hitchhiked, but I could not do that with my kids. Several times S asked me what I was doing. I always responded, "I am praying." The girls were great. They cried but not outloud. They held hands. I leaned back and held on to them. I felt that the safety of my kids was in God's hands. By now, K7 had stomach cramps and diarrhea. I felt as if we had been kidnapped. I told them everything was going to be alright. God was going to take care of us and that I would not leave them. As you will see in the next part, I HAD TO LEAVE THEM in order to get them home safely.
I hope to finish the story next time.