by Kathleen Ernst
Last month I visited the Laura Ingalls Wilder Park & Museum in Burr Oak, Iowa. It is a tiny historic site in a tiny village. The Ingalls family only spent a year here, helping to run a small hotel while trying to recover from a grasshopper plague-induced financial crisis.
It’s not a place most readers are familiar with. I stopped because I loved the author’s “Little House” series as a child. I was in the area anyway. Also, I write and blog about historic sites, and so am always on the prowl.
I took a tour with a French family of four, and a father-daughter team. The family had come to the US to do the grand circle of sites relevant to Laura’s life and work. The dad seemed particularly enthused. He carried a French-language edition of one of the books, and explained that the “Little House” television series had been extremely popular in France when he was growing up. He’d watched the entire series several times, and read all the books.
The dad-daughter duo was also making the grand circle tour of all LIW sites. The daughter had just graduated from high school, and it looked like the two were having a wonderful road trip adventure. “I just love all those books,” the daughter said happily. “I’ve wanted to do this for a long time.”
It was joyful to see fans so excited about an author’s stories that they planned entire vacations around them.
My sisters and I have talked about doing the LIW “circle,” although the right time has not presented itself. (I’d love to visit the sites relevant to the “Anne of Green Gables” series, too.)
But the settings for my travel-to wish list isn’t limited to books I read decades ago. I’ve enjoyed travel to certain places largely because an author had intrigued me with plot, character, and/or setting.
So…what about you? Has a book ever inspired a vacation? Is there a place you’d love to visit in real life, having “visited” within the pages of a beloved book? I can’t imagine a better compliment for any author!
On a different note – I have been surprised and touched and delighted to hear of people pre-ordering a copy of Old World Murder. If you have, or do, drop me an email with “Old World Murder” in the subject line. k.ernst -at- kathleenernst.com (use normal email formatting). No receipt necessary—I trust readers! On October 1, I’ll draw two names; each will receive a bookstore gift certificate.