Day 82, Austin to Abel, Iowa 214 miles
"Asking is the beginning of receiving. Make sure you don't go to the ocean with a teaspoon. At least take a bucket so the kids won't laugh at you."
Brace yourself for fun. We went to the (PP!) Spam Museum!
That's the only
Product Placement warning I'm putting in today, so put up your defensive
purchasing shields, because we're talking a lot of Spam here. Just like the Barbed Wire Museum in LaCrosse, Nebraska, the Spam Museum exceeded our highest expectations. Upon entering, we were greeted with a large caricature of a can of Spam, along with thousands of them on display. Cans of Spam shuttled overhead on a conveyor, and we stepped into the theater for a fifteen minute video of the life of Spam.
An actor friend of George Hormel created the name, from 'spicy' and 'ham'. He
received $100 for winning the naming contest. He should have asked for a
Hormel has sold over 6 billion cans of the stuff. Amazing. Hawaii leads the
world in Spam consumption.
Spam helped the Allies fight World War II, as it shipped, stored and remained
edible for so long. After the war, Hormel hired veteran women to market the
product. They sent the girls, 60 of them, all over the country in white
Chevrolets, to entertain and promote Hormel products. 'The Hormel Girls' would drive to a city, spread out and go door to door giving away coupons, then meet at supermarkets for promotional pictures, then get on radio programs to market, too. They entertained in the cities with dancing, singing and big bands. They competed in parades as a marching band. And they sold Spam. Hormel's sales exploded, doubling in one year. However in 1953, their sixth year, Hormel cancelled the troupe, as they cost $1.2 million.
The museum wasn't afraid to laugh at themselves either. A video played, 'Monty Python's Flying Circus' (truly a lesson in high culture) where the man and woman sit in a restaurant and the waiter tells them what's available. Spam and ham, Spam and sausages, Spam and eggs, and so on. The woman says she hates Spam. The waiter informs her they have Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, eggs and Spam. Remember? If you do, you are a person of culture. They also played the Spam song from Spamalot. You don't have musicals about Wonder Bread, now do you? Great museum. I suggest you leave your husband or wife and the kids, catch the first plane to St. Paul, drive South to Austin and check out the Spam Museum. It's that important. So much for Product Placement.
Off we went on the MotoBago to state thirteen, Iowa! As we traveled south, the sky cleared and temperatures rose. Soon the Gold Wing gauge read ninety-six. Next we entered Des Moines.
Another big city. Concrete and cars, traffic and trucks, and noise. Just the
roaring of cars and trucks on the pavement nearly drove me to distraction. We
rode west out of town and settled into a KOA. A quick setup and a refreshing
plunge in the pool and we regained our will to live.
Corn covers the area to the horizon, left of our tent. The tassels have turned the green carpet to an amber hue. The sun sets and the cicadas start their racket. And the temperatures drop. Hallelujah.
Tomorrow we visit Fons and Porters Quilt Shop (of national prominence,
seriously), John Wayne's birthplace and the bridges of Madison County. See you tomorrow.
Excuse me while I crank open a can of Spam.