Since we don’t get to see Stephanie’s Aunt Mary that often, Stephanie and I, and the kids, paid her a visit while KK and PK slept in and took it easy. Mary has only lived in Iowa for a few months, so we might have been some of her first visitors to her new place. She moved to Iowa to be near Matt, and has an apartment in a very nice multi-phase facility. When you walked in, it had a general store, hair salon, café, and even a pub.
Aunt Mary has traveled the world and she had interesting memories of her trips throughout her apartment. A picture of her on a camel in Tunisia, rugs from Turkey, and a painting of a church in St Petersburg. She could tell a lovely story about each piece.
Mary told a humorous story about when Matt took her to see his office at John Deere for the first time. She noted that the grounds looked immaculate. Matt told her, “Well, we are a lawn equipment company…”
We visited about an hour and it was time for us to be on our way. Until next time, Aunt Mary!
We met up with KK and PK at a convenience store north of town. When we finally got on the road to get the vacation started today, it was nearly 12:30. We take leisure travel to the next level.
There was not much on the agenda for the first half of the day. We drove along the Iowa state highways admiring the corn fields and family farms. The farmers around here do take pride in their operations. No junk piles, no shaggy yards.
At one point, we were needing a restroom stop. Most of the “towns” we were driving through did not even have convenience stores. As we drove through St. Ansgar, I noticed a sign on Main Street that indicated bathrooms to the right. So we followed the signs, and they led us to City Hall. So we pulled into the parking lot, and we all used the facilities in the St. Ansgar City Hall, just outside the council room. That was a first for us.
We also noticed a City Park sign in town, and after a few blocks we ran right into it. A great park with multiple picnic tables and lots of shade. KK suggested that Kansas City send their Chamber of Commerce to Iowa to see how to run a park. Good idea!
Not far outside of St. Ansgar, we crossed the Minnesota state line. We exited the road and parked near the sign so Marissa and I could dance across the state line. Dance #3!
Our first featured stop in Minnesota was the SPAM Museum in Austin. As we traveled down Main Street in Austin, we were greeted with a street lined with flags honoring Hormel’s 125th anniversary. We followed the flags to the museum, which was quite easy to find.
We walked up to the museum at 3:30, and even though I had researched it would be open until 6pm today, we were thwarted by fate. Turns out the Hormel Board of Directors were in town, and the museum would be closed to the public from 4pm to 5:30. So we found ourselves with 30 minutes to see the museum and visit the gift shop. It turned out that this was not too much of a challenge.
We were greeted as we walked in and notified about the early closing of the museum. The greeter identified himself as a Spambassador, and asked us to have a spamtastic day. As we toured the small museum, there were employees practicing their lines as they would be delivering them to the board members just a few minutes later. Our group decided that the museum would never be as clean as it was right then. So that was fortunate.
The museum had many interactive exhibits, and had a large section devoted to the use of SPAM in the military. It included a letter to a Hormel executive by President Eisonhower. I did learn there were about 30 different flavors of SPAM. That is roughly 29 more than I thought.
With a few minutes to spare, we did make our way to the SPAM gift shop. Our group picked up a half dozen exotic flavored cans of SPAM, Christmas ornaments, and other assorted souvenirs.
Even though our time was cut short, this was a very fun stop and I think you would have a spamtastic time there.
We made it to Minneapolis before 6:30. After the assignment of the bedrooms and the unloading, we made a grocery store visit to get our food for the next few days.
Tomorrow, we will see what this town has to offer.