Can you believe it’s been a whole year since LauraPalooza 2010? Can you believe it’s only a year to LauraPalooza 2012?
Since I first heard about a possible conference with only one subject – Laura Ingalls Wilder – I was in. There was no question. I’d get there one way or the other, no matter where it was. I planned for it (we rarely take trips longer than long weekends), I talked about it (a lot), I worried (I always do), but most of all…I was excited!
However, in the last couple of months before LauraPalooza, my mom, who had been in poor health for several years, began to have more health problems and was in and out of the hospital. I wavered back and forth about going. I was afraid to be away if something happened, but I knew that my mom, who had always supported my love for Laura Ingalls Wilder since I first started reading her books, would want me to go. I talked to family and they all encouraged me to go. I believe I even posed the question on facebook. I wrestled with myself. In quiet moments in those last days leading up to leaving, I even talked to my mom about it. At this point, Alzheimer’s and illness made conversation, which my mom so loved, next to impossible. She was stable though and her condition seemed to be improving, so I decided that we would head to Mankato, Minnesota State University and LauraPalooza. That was the day before we were set to leave. I had yet to pack, gather up paperwork, books and make sure that I was leaving my business work all caught up. Earlier in the year I had made tentative plans to stop in Burr Oak, Iowa (the homesite that Laura doesn’t mention in the books) and Spring Valley, Minnesota (where Almanzo, Laura and Rose lived with Almanzo’s parents for a year). I was hoping that we could still squeeze them in. They were “on the way” after all. 🙂
And on to LauraPalooza 2010 we headed! Looking back, especially going through the videos that Sarah Uthoff has posted for the past week, I realize that much of my time was clouded with worry about my mother. I was determined to have the wonderful time that she would have wanted for me though. My first best memory? Seeing my Laura friends for the first time “in real life”. Through the past several years, I’ve made a handful of Laura friends…all through the computer. I have to say that I would consider these friends some of my closest and those who know the real me. It was really special for me to actually be able to see (and hug) so many of them. Since I already felt such a bond with them, being able to sit down and share together meant the world to me. I would see a familiar face and…it was just so wonderful to finally be able to be there with them spending this time together. And the new friends? I love every little conversation that I had with everyone who shared my enthusiasm. And after that, I am far from a Laura expert, just a fan who always wants to learn more, and it was so great to listen to the presenters, learn tons of new stuff that I didn’t know (some things that I didn’t even know I could know!) and be with other people who love Laura in the same way that I do.
And one more thing…I was never a “Little House” tv show watcher, but I gained a whole new admiration and respect for Dean Butler. I really love the work that he’s been doing to preserve Laura and Almanzo’s legacy.
We did get to visit Burr Oak and Spring Valley on the way to LauraPalooza. And, since my husband very patiently accompanied me on the trip, the stops on the way home were all about him. Antique stores, an old iron mine, the largest pump engine in the world, a couple of “junk” stores…you get the picture.
Sadly, my mom passed away just days after our return and I was never able to tell her all about my adventure. I know she would have been so very happy and excited for me.
So LauraPalooza 2010 alumni – share, spill, let us in on it! What are some of your favorite moments? What are some of your best memories?