Thursday, September 17, 2009

Alexandria, VA

Dear Friends,

We reached our destination last night.  From the beginning it was our hope to post along the way about  interesting and beautiful sights.  As adventures go, this has been a smooth one, although we did not have much luck at hooking up the laptop to wireless...not enough bars to log on!  I want to share some highlights:

Driving east through South Dakota on the grassy prairie, I started reading aloud "My Antonia" by Willa Cather.  It is a story of the early immigrant settlers of Nebraska and life on the prairie.  It seemed to us a suitable book to read.  I love to read aloud, and Rae who has done the lion's share of driving, said she liked to be read to.  Our stop for the night was one of my favorites.  We had selected the Ingall's Homestead in DeSmet, SD, as it was described in 1000 Places to See before I Die, the United States and Canada Edition.
What a wonderful place.  It was easy to imagine the Ingall's life on the homestead where "Pa" built the half-house for "Ma" and the family in the " Little "Books.  They have recreated the original house, a barn with a hay-covered roof, complete with a calf and chickens, as well as a dug-out and a shanty.  We were the only visitors for the night and could experience the prairie for 360 degrees.  The starlight at night was amazing.  Zander got to run around and around until he was silly.

Our next stop was in Minneapolis, MN to visit Rae's cousins, Annette and Tim Gagliardi.  We spent Saturday evening and Sunday with the family, ate delicious home-cooked meals, and I enjoyed meeting 3 of their 4 daughters, 2 husbands, and 1 granddaughter, Hazel, who so reminded me of my own wonderful grandchildren.  Sunday morning, we went to the Minneapolis Farmer's Market very early.  It may be the largest farmer's market I have seen and everything offered was pick of the season.  Of course, we have lots of pictures but we are still trying to figure out the upload.  It was so nice to have a day off from driving too.

The next three days were the push to get to Alexandria.  We did stop at 2 very good quilt shops, one in Lake Preston, SD, and one in Eau Claire, WI (we liked it the most).  We spent one night on Lake Michigan at the Indiana Dunes State Park and the next at the Tall Timbers Campground on Lake Erie.  No WiFi, but beautiful campgrounds.  Going through Chicago was during rush hour (aren't we crazy?), and we finished reading "My Antonia" along the way.  We will read "O Pioneers!" on the way west, probably as we drive through Nebraska.  We are in Alexandria now, having driven 3164 miles and almost $1000 in gasoline.
Rae was so excited to see Brooke, Derek, and her granddaughters, Leah and Sarah.  It has all been great!  I hope Rae will post and give her impression of the trip.  Tomorrow I take Amtrak to Hampton, VA for a visit with Nancy and Mike.  Ellen

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