In the conclusion of VinoVerve’s video of the keynote address from the 2013 Wine Bloggers’ Conference, James Conaway, author of Napa and Nose takes questions from the audience.
The third part of James Conaway’s keynote speech at the Wine Bloggers’ Conference in Penticton, British Columbia, Canada. In this segment, Mr. Conaway reads from his latest novel, Nose.
Day three!!! They Holy Grail on Ingalls! The Wilder side of Little House! De Smet, SD is the motherlode of Laura. By the Shores of Silver Lake, Little Town on the Prairie, The Long Winter, These Happy Golden Years and The First Four Years all happen here. Houses that the family lived in are here. Ma, Pa, Carrie, Grace, and Mary are all buried there. Whew. I am not sure where to go first. I am actually hoping to arrive the evening before so I can get my fill. Some of it will be odd. Silver Lake has dried up into a marsh. I think Big Slough is still there but I am not likely to go wandering into it. I learned that from Laura. No death trap dugouts just the ability to freeze to death in a winter with 32 blizzards and dwindling food supplies. And I am guessing no wine. Which would suck. Big time. Especially while you are grind wheat in a coffee grinder and twisting straw into logs until your hands bled. Bah. The town is largely laid out the way it was. The old General Store is still there and later in the summer they host a pageant. Not my thing but great for little girls I am guessing. And there is wine there now. Did I mention that before?
After leaving DeSmet, it is on to Montana to get ready for my bonus trip into Yellowstone. Cross your fingers on that one. At least I have learned from my trips of the past and have made a hotel reservation. Trying to find a room on a summer night in Montana is a bitch. And I really don’t want to roll into Missoula that late again. VOLCANO! Geysers, which I will pronounce like GEEZERS in an homage to Dr. Brian Cox, the James Blunt of Astrophysics on the Science Channel and the BBC (or the Beeb, as it is referred to in my abode)!!! I might start mumbling about ME-thane too. I will think of more stuff, never fear.
Even along this route there WILL be wine. At least nine wineries are located within a few miles of my pathway so this should be fun. The wineries include:
On the road again….
Oops. Wrong song, wrong theme. So, by now I should be in Minnesota. We have said our sad goodbyes to the Big Woods and to poor Freddie and Ma’s dream of a more comfortable widowhood…We are on to Plum Creek, Walnut Grove and Mankato. I don’t remember what the deal was with Mankato, except that it was the big city nearest to Walnut Grove.
What do I remember about this book? The Ingalls family lived in a house dugout of a hill literally on the banks of Plum Creek. This seems unwise and dangerous seeing how creeks often flood. In fact, the dugout is gone. Washed away by Plum Creek. I would have told them so, if they asked, but they didn’t. While living in this underground death trap, the Ingalls lost pretty much every crop they grew because the area was over run with crickets (Rocky Mountain Locusts). Oh, and baby Freddie was born here. Hard to believe that a child living in a dark, dank pit didn’t thrive. Oh, Freddie.
Oh, there might have been a couple issues with birthday parties, Nelly Olson and leeches. Hard to believe that I haven’t re-read the books, eh?
Walnut Grove has a museum and the folks that own the old Ingalls property let people come look at the spot where the dug out used to be. I know I sound negative about it, but don’t think for a minute that I will skip it.
Nearby wineries include:
- Painted Prairie
- Doppeleichein Vineyards
- Morgan Creek Vineyards
- Harbo Cider
- Javens Family Vineyard & Winery
- Indian Island Winery
And now? Off to the Little House motherlode, South Dakota!
First day on the road. Whew. This means that I have survived prom 1a, prom 1b and prom 2 and assorted after parties. Also graduation. And making sure Kevin and the girls managed to make their flights to Luxembourg. Oh, and I managed to pry myself away from my sweet puppy.
But finally. I will be on the road and it is all wine and Little House on the Prairie all the time. Well, not the prairie today. Today, it will be the Little House in the Big Woods in Wisconsin. Do you know how many years it took me to realize that Lake Pepin was really the Mississippi River? Or more specifically like a lake with a major river running through it.
The fun part of this voyage is that there is wine along the trail. Lots of it. Like nearly 100 wineries in Wisconsin alone. WISCONSIN. And there are nearly 20 within a couple of my route.
So this leaves the Big Woods. In and a round Pepin, Wisconsin. There is a replica of Ma and Pa’s cabin at a roadside stop and then Pepin, itself. I don’t think there is much left of the old town, but I will see soon enough. Then I cross over into Minnesota where I will skip over to a couple of places never really mentioned in the books. Laura’s Uncle Peter had a farm in Zumbro Township. While staying with her Uncle, Laura’s only brother Charles Frederick died at 9 months. He is buried in a nearby.
As you may have noticed, I head out on a road trip nearly every year. Last year was the exception but only because my girlies started school the day before WBC12 began. Hm. Miss the last first day of school for daughter #1 after making a consecutive 14 previous? or skip the road trip for the year. Yeah. You know how I went on this one.
But this year, I am off again for adventures. I’ll be heading west to Penticton, BC for WBC13. This is the first Wine Bloggers’ Conference held in Canada and I am looking forward to it. The bummer? I need a passport this time. I know that this need seems self-evident for most of you, but as a gal who used to cross the border for dates in high school it seems a little crazy to me. Strangely enough, it isn’t getting into Canada that is the issue, but rather coming home and I am loathe to risk another lecture from a self-important douanière (long story).
Since I am largely taking the route that I took to Walla Walla for WBC10, I am looking forward to seeing some sights that I missed on my way out there – namely all the Little House on the Prairie historic sites. Knowing me as you do, you can’t be surprised that I want to do something so nerdy. I loved those books and know that I would have to make these stops sans ma famille. Why? Well, the girls would never put up with more than one stop. Heck, I couldn’t get them to even read the books. It breaks a mother’s heart, it does. But luckily I will indeed be on the road without them and am looking forward to stopping where I please. Oh. Did I mention that there is wine nearby at every stop. Yup. It’s true. Because of this, I have dubbed this trip: Little Wine on the Prairie.
Since Laura Ingalls Wilder never made it further west than the eastern portion of South Dakota, I’ve had to put on my thinking cap (bonnet) to come up with other plans. Here are a couple of ideas that I have thrown around:
- Sturgis, SD – the location of the big biker rally every year. I believe it is in August. Good lord, I hope it is in August.
- Yellowstone National Park – Yeah. I want to see the sites but I don’t want to camp or stay in the cabins and develop Hanta Virus (yeah, I said it). Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic Spring, Mud Volcano and the Mammoth Springs are tops on my list. Oh, and if I could figure out where the caldera edge for the mega volcano is, that would be swell too.
- Lake Okanogan, BC – Naturally, I will be seeing the lake as I will be staying on it. But I think an extensive search of the lake to find the Ogopogo, the lake’s native monster. Is it a plesiosaur like the Loch Ness Monster and Champie from Lake Champlain are thought to be or a basilosaurus like other cryptozoologists think? Either way. Or not. With my luck my camera will jam as I am eaten by the thing.
But first? Before I leave, I must survive high school graduation. Not mine, of course, but rather Celia’s. Cross your fingers and hope for the best both before and after graduation.
Is the printed word dead? Wow, I hope not.
In a continuation of her keynote address at the Wine Bloggers’ Conference this summer in Charlottesville, Jancis Robinson discusses the past and future of wine books…
Gretchen Neuman, VinoVerve Editor September 6, 2011